Schengen Visas: your go-to guide

Europe remains an extremely popular destination for many South Africans, with Paris, London, Rome, Venice, and Prague featuring amongst the top five cities visited. As a case in point: in 2019, South Africa was rated within the top 15 countries whose citizens had applied for the most short-stay visa applications.

Considering the many changes brought about by the pandemic, it stands to reason that there exists a level of confusion around Schengen visa requirements for South Africans. Given our many years’ experience, we aim to take the guesswork out of travel – ensuring the most seamless journey possible.

What is a Schengen Visa?

The Schengen area covers 27 countries without border controls between them. A Schengen visa is a short-stay visa that allows visitors to travel to a Schengen country for leisure or business travel, for up to 90 days. It is important to note that if you intend on working or living in a Schengen country for more 90 days you will need to apply for a national visa for that specific European country instead of a Schengen visa.

Which countries form part of the Schengen states?

If you are planning to visit any of the following countries you will need to obtain a Schengen visa: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Croatia and Switzerland.

Non-Schengen Countries

If you hold a Schengen visa this allows you to visit countries that do not form part of the Schengen zone, such as: Albania, Antigua, Barbuda, Belarus, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Colombia, Croatia, Northern Cyprus, Georgia, Gibraltar, Kosovo, Mexico, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Sao Tome, Principe, Serbia, and Turkey.

Categories of Schengen Visa

The Schengen visa is classified into four types: A, B, C and D with the most common being the Uniform Schengen visa that includes types A, B, and C.

  • Type A is a transit visa for airports. This visa is required if you plan to spend time at the airport en route to another Schengen country.  However, you will be UNABLE to leave the airport.
  • Type B allows you to travel from one Schengen country to another, with the transit period limited to five days.
  • Type C is a short-term visa that permits you to stay in a Schengen country for a fixed period. This is further sub-divided into Single Entry, Double Entry and Multiple Entry visas.

Visa types:

Single Entry Visa: You may enter any Schengen country within the period stipulated on your visa and expires once you exit the country.

Double Entry Visa: Allows you to enter and leave a Schengen country twice within the specified time frame.

Multiple Entry Visa: You are permitted to enter and exit the Schengen area as often as you like.  However, this is only valid for 90 days every 6 months.

The documentation required for the Schengen visa is extensive.  However, to prevent delays we encourage you to rigorously follow these guidelines: 

  • Fully completed visa application form
  • Two passport photographs (taken within the last three months).
  • Your passport, which must be valid for at least three months after you intend leaving the Schengen area.
  • A round trip itinerary that includes dates and flight numbers, indicating entry and exit dates from the Schengen territories.
  • A travel insurance policy that proves you have travel health insurance for the entire Schengen territory, with a minimum coverage of 30,000 Euros in case of any medical emergency and repatriation in case of death. insurance
  • Proof of accommodation that indicates where you will be staying whilst in the Schengen zone.
  • Proof of financial means that demonstrates that you have enough money to support yourself financially during your visit.
  • Proof of paid visa fee/s
  • A cover letter detailing the purpose of the visit to the Schengen country.
  • A letter from your employer that describes the purpose of the travel as well as the itinerary of the days spent within the Schengen zone.
  • An invitation letter written by the partner company in the Schengen zone. This letter must appear as an invitation to attend meetings or other relevant events.

Obtaining a Schengen visa is currently taking far longer than usual. To avoid unnecessary delays, we strongly recommend that you apply for your visa at least four weeks prior to your intended departure. 

To ensure you are never caught off-guard we encourage you to access our travel hub HERE to keep you in the loop on all the latest travel requirements.