The Schengen area is composed of the following countries: Austria,Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Liechtenstein, Luxemburg, Malta, Norway, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
What is the Schengen Agreement?

The Schengen Agreement signed on June 14, 1985, is a treaty that led most of the European countries towards the abolishment of their national borders, to build a Europe without borders known as “Schengen Area”. Signed in Luxemburg, initially by only five EU countries, the agreement remains one of the world’s biggest areas that have ended border control between member countries. These following four territories are also other integral territories of France, located also outside of the European territories that are not members of the EU or Schengen Area: French Polynesia, French Southern and Antarctic Lands, Caledonia, Saint, and Wallis and Futuna. These following six territories are integral parts of Netherland in the Caribbean: Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba (BES Islands) and Aruba, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten (independent countries of the Kingdom of The Netherlands).  None of these territories is part of the EU nor of the Schengen Area, and they have their own visa policy and regime. The territory of Svalbard is an integral part of Norway that under the International Law enjoys a special status but it is not part of the Schengen area. This territory does not imply any visa regime for entering in there, yet any non-national cannot enter it without travelling through the Schengen Area.

The countries whose citizens are not required to obtain a Schengen visa
in order to enter any member country of the Schengen Area for tourism
or business purposes are:

  •  Albania*
  •  Andorra
  •  Antigua and Barbuda
  •  Argentina
  •  Australia
  •  Bahamas
  •  Barbados
  •  Bosnia and Herzegovina*
  •  Brazil
  •  Brunei
  •  Canada
  •  Chile
  •  Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Dominica
  • El Salvador
  • Georgia
  • Grenada
  • Guatemala
  • Holy See (Vatican City State)
  • Honduras
  • Hong Kong S.A.R***

The Uniform Schengen Visa stands for a permit of one of the Schengen Area Member Countries to transit or resides in the desired territory for a certain period of time up to a maximum of 90 days every six months the period starting from the date of entry.
Holder of a Uniform Schengen Visa can travel to these countries: 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, and Switzerland.
According to the purpose of traveling the Uniform Schengen Visa applies to all of the two categories, “A” and “C”.

  •  “A” category stands for the Airport Transit Visa which allows its holder to travel through the international zone of the Schengen Country Airport without entering the Schengen Area. Airport a transit visa is mandatory for the citizens traveling from one non- Schengen state to another non-Schengen state through a change of flights in a Schengen country airport.
  •  “C” category stands for a Short-term visa which allows its holder to reside in a Schengen Area for a certain period of time depending on the visa validity. This particular category, according to the holder’s purpose of the travel can be obtained in a form of:
  •  Single-entry visa,
  •  Double-entry visa and
  • Multiple-entry visa.

A single-entry visa allows its holder to enter the Schengen Area only once, within the given period of time, as mentioned in the visa sticker affixed to their passport. Once the visa holder exits the Schengen territory, he or she can no longer
go back, even if they have not spent there the number of days as permitted by the embassy that issued them the visa. Some people confuse the single-entry visa, thinking that it is about the number of countries the visa holder is permitted to
visit and that it allows them to enter one single country. In fact, the territory you are permitted to visit is given close to the “Valid for” tag in your visa sticker, whereas the time you are permitted to stay is given close to the “Number of
entries” tag. Double-entry visa In general, a double-entry visa applies the same way as the single-entry visa explained above. The sole difference between a single-entry and a double-entry visa is that the second gives you the chance to go once more back to The Schengen territory once you have left it. You should be very careful not to exceed the number of days you are permitted to stay in the Schengen Zone, as well as the period within which you can spend these days in the EU. Once again, do not mix the “double-entry” tag with the number of countries you are permitted to enter and remain within the given time. With this visa, when you leave the Schengen Area for the second time, you no longer have the right to go back, even if you have not spent all of the days you were permitted to remain there. However, if you have obtained a double-entry visa more than once, and you are a frequent traveler to the
Schengen zone, you are more likely to be granted a multiple-entry visa, as explained below.

A multiple-entry visa allows its holder to go in and out of the
Schengen Area as many times as he or she wants, as soon
as they do not violate the 90/180 rule.
Based on how frequently you travel to the Schengen zone, you
may apply and obtain one of the following multiple-entry visa

  •  1-year multiple-entry visa
  •  3-year multiple-entry visa
  •  5-year multiple-entry visa

1-year multiple-entry Schengen visa

You can obtain this visa provided that you have obtained and lawfully used three visas within the previous two years. When you apply for this visa, you will need to show proof of your previous visas and the trips you made to the Schengen Zone.
The 1-year MEV visa gives you the right to enter the Schengen Zone as many times as you want, as long as you do not remain more than 90 days within this period.
3-year multiple-entry Schengen visa
The 3-year MEV is granted to applicants who have obtained and lawfully used a previous multiple-entry visa valid for one year within the previous two years. This visa gives the right to its holder to enter the Schengen An area as many times as they wish within a period of three years. However, even in this case, the visa holder is limited to remaining in the EU no longer than 90 days within a 180-day
5-year multiple-entry Schengen visa
5-year MEV is granted to people that have obtained and lawfully used a previous multiple-entry visa valid for at least two years within the previous three years.

This visa permits you to enter 26 countries in Europe as many times as you wish, within five years, as soon as you do not violate the 90/180 days rule.

The national visa of the “D” category is granted to certain individuals who are to be studying, working, or permanently residing in one of the Schengen countries. The national visa can be of a single entry, granted to the people who are in the need of residing in the Schengen country for a certain period of time and for the sole purpose after which they shall return to their country. On the other hand, a multi-entry national visa is also granted for certain individuals, allowing its holder to travel in and out of this Schengen country as he/she pleases and also travel throughout the whole Schengen Area without additional visa requirements.

Difference between Visa Validity and Duration of Stay
Aside from a multiple-entry visa, which enables you to remain in the Schengen area for a maximum of 90 days within a 180 days period, the validity of your single-entry visa or double-entry visa depends on the embassy. The embassy appoints the number of days you are permitted to stay in any of the Schengen countries, as well as the first date you are permitted to enter Schengen and the last day that you are permitted to remain.

Duration of Stay – is the maximum of days you are permitted to remain in the Schengen. The first day you enter Schengen is counted as “Day 1”, even if you enter just a few minutes before midnight. Whereas, the “Last Day” is counted as the day

you leave Schengen, even if it is just a few minutes after midnight.
Visa Validity – on the other hand, is the period of time from which to which you can use your visa to enter and stay in the Schengen Area.
For example: the duration of stay in your visa is 10 days, whereas the validity of your visa is from 1 January to 20 January. In this case, you can enter the Schengen Zone
anytime within this period. You can enter i.e. on 3 January and leave on 12 January.  On the other hand, if you enter on 15 January, you will still have to leave on 20 January, despite not having spent the number of days you were permitted
to stay.

How to read a Schengen Visa Sticker?
words are written «ETATS SCHENGEN» or «SCHENGEN STATES», then it means that the visa is valid in all Schengen states, and the visa holder can visit each of them, once inside the territory.

On the other hand, the letters A, B, CH, CZE, D, DK, E, EST, F,
FIN, GR, H, I, IS, LI, L, LT, LVA, M, N, NL, P, PL, S, SK, SVN –
are acronyms for the Schengen countries where the visa is
valid, and they stand for:

A – Austria
B – Belgium
CH – Switzerland
CZE – Czech Republic
D – Germany
DK – Denmark
E – Spain

EST – Estonia
F – France
FIN – Finland
GR – Greece
H – Hungary
I – Italy
IS – Iceland
L – Luxembourg
LT – Lithuania
LVA – Latvia
M – Malta
N – Norway
NL – Netherlands
P – Portugal
PL – Poland
S – Sweden
SK – Slovakia
SVN – Slovenia
If there are listed just some of the acronyms of the names of these countries i.e. «LVA, M, N, NL, P, PL» then this means you are permitted to enter only Latvia, Malta, Norway, Netherlands, Portugal, and Poland