Travelling Outside the UK: Schengen Visas
Travelling to Europe: Schengen Visa Scheme
The Schengen Visa Scheme enables people to visit certain countries within the European Economic Area (EEA) by travelling on one visa.
At present, there are 26 countries within the EEA that are signed up to the Schengen Agreement and make up the Schengen space. These countries are:
Austria | Belgium | Czech Republic | Denmark | Estonia | Finland | France | Germany | Greece | Hungary | Iceland | Italy | Latvia | Lichtenstein | Lithuania | Luxembourg | Malta | Netherlands | Norway | Poland | Portugal | Slovakia | Slovenia | Spain | Sweden | Switzerland
Please note that the UK and Ireland are NOT part of the Schengen space.
Not all nationalities need to apply for a Schengen visa to enter the Schengen area. To find out whether you need a Schengen visa please check the EU immigration website.
Important Information to Consider Before Applying for a Schengen Visa
- Completed application form: download this from the relevant embassy website.
- Passport / official travel document: you need to have at least two blank pages in your passport. You also need to have at least three months left on your passport, as well as 90 days left on your UK visa (some Schengen countries require six months) on the day you plan to travel back to the UK. Please check with the embassy of the relevant country.
- Passport-sized photographs
- Certificate of student status: you can obtain a Schengen visa letter from the College online confirming that you are enrolled and attending a programme of study. (Please note a letter can take between 5 to 10 working days allow plenty of time to get a letter from registry).
- Evidence of sufficient funds to cover visit: recent bank statements and credit card statements showing the current credit limit.
- Evidence of purpose of visit: e.g. official letter of invitation, confirmed return airline ticket or a confirmed hotel booking.
- Evidence of travel insurance to cover medical costs: for the entire trip, most countries state a minimum of 30,000 Euros.
Types of Schengen Visas
There are three types of Schengen visas:
- Short stay visa: for single or multiple entries
- Airport transit visa
- Transit visa
The short stay visa allows a visit of up to three months in any six-month period. This is the visa that most students who wish to travel within the Schengen space as tourists or to attend conferences/field trips will require.
The two transit visas are to be used if entering a Schengen country briefly in order to pass through to another country outside of the Schengen space.
Where to Apply for a Schengen Visa
If you intend to visit a number of Schengen countries, you must apply for a visa at the embassy of the main destination country.
If you are applying for a Schengen visa to travel to a number of countries and do not have a main destination, you will need to apply to the embassy of the country that is your first entry point.
Travelling to Countries Outside the Schengen Space
If you wish to travel to a country that is not within the Schengen space, you will need to visit the country's embassy website to find out what type of visa you will need and how to make an application.
Ireland is not a Schengen country so you will need to check if you need to apply for an Irish visa.
Visas for Ireland: www.inis.gov.ie
Visa for the USA: uk.usembassy.gov
Re-entering the UK After your Trip
You should check that your student visa permits you to re-enter the UK after your travels and avoid making trips abroad when your student visa is near to its expiry. Always seek advice before travelling. If you are travelling during the weekdays in term time please make sure that you complete an authorised absence form which is available from your programme administrator. This needs to signed by the head of programme approving your travel.
As part of your Tier 4 responsibilities, you should not be travelling for long periods of time in the weekdays during term time unless it is related to your programme.
The UK border officer will contact the college to check if your travel is authorised. If the college is unable to confirm this the border officer has the power to cancel your visa and not allow you entry back in the UK.
Advice for Travelling Abroad
Remember to keep your documents safe when you are travelling abroad. Look out for opportunist thieves, who often target students for their passport and visas.
It is best to leave your documents locked in a hotel safe if possible. If you must carry them when you are in the cities/towns, guard them carefully, especially on public transport or when in busy areas.
We recommend you take a copy of your passport and visa with you as it will be easier to apply for replacements.