Author: By Maureen Kasuku
There’s simply is no way to tour Europe and not be awestruck by the natural beauty, epic history and dazzling artistic and culinary diversity it has to offer. But did you know that as a Kenyan you can visit 26 European countries with just one visa? Let’s break it down for you:
A Schengen visa is a short-stay visa that allows a person to travel to any members of the Schengen Area, per stays up to 90 days for tourism or business purposes.
The Schengen Area is a zone comprised of 26 European countries who abolished their internal borders to allow free and unrestricted movement of people.
The 26 Schengen countries are: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
The documents you need to provide when entering the Schengen Area are:
- Valid Passport. Issued within the previous 10 years and valid for at least 3 months after the date you intend to leave the EU.
- Schengen Visa. If you are a citizen in one of the third countries in need of a visa.
EU/Schengen border officials may also ask for other information and documents such as sufficient funds, proof of accommodation, how long you intend to stay, a round-trip airline ticket, purpose of your entry, travel insurance, invitation letter, etc.
Please, make sure that the border officer gives you an entry stamp in your passport when you enter the Schengen area. Without a stamp, you could be fined or detained.
Application Process (10 steps)
Applicants can apply up to 3 months but no later than 15 days before the planned travel. As per the Schengen Visa Code the decision about the visa application is taken within 15 calendar days (in specific cases up to 60 days).
Harmonized Schengen Visa Application Requirements: (EU Regulations)
- Get application form from point of entry country embassy/website completed duly and legibly, signed by the applicant (in case of applicants under 15, the application form should be signed by the parent/legal guardian; in case of applicants aged 15-18, a written consent of their parent/legal guardian should be presented. In all such cases the parent/legal guardian’s passport copy should be provided)
- Original passport (*) + copy of all relevant pages (ID page, previous Schengen visas, etc.) – the passport must be valid for at least 3 months after the intended departure from the Schengen Area. Furthermore, the document must have been issued within previous 10 years and contain at least 2 blank pages. For the table of recognized passports consult the website of the European Commission;
- One recent (not older than 6 months) passport-size photograph (*) (compliant with ICAO standards, light background and neutral expression necessary, no head covering acceptable except for religious reasons);
- Individual travel medical insurance (not required for diplomatic passports holders and EU citizens’ family members)- valid for the Schengen area and covering the entire period of intended stay plus 15 days. The minimum coverage should amount to 30.000 EUR and include all costs that could arise as a result of emergency medical assistance, emergency hospital stay or repatriation. The applicant should have the insurance provided by specific companies.
- Air ticket reservation, including return flight (the original ticket may be required at the collection of the visa) or proof of other means of transport to be used (if travelling by private car: copy of international driver’s license and car license);
- Confirmed hotel reservation(s) or other proof of accommodation for the whole duration of stay in the Schengen Area (if not covered by any other document – see below);
- Photocopy of the national ID card (both sides) or residency permit (the permit validity must exceed the planned stay in the Czech Republic/Schengen Area by at least three months);
- Payment or proof of payment of the visa application fee (*)(where applicable);
- Proof of sufficient financial means for the intended visit of the Schengen Area:
- valid credit card issued on the applicant’s name – account statements for past 3 months containing the credit card limit, stamped by the bank;
- traveller checks issued under the name of the applicant, duly signed, presented in original and copy;
- original applicant’s bank account statement for the past 3 months is required (online print-out statements need to be stamped by the bank);
- if the applicant does not receive his/her salary in the bank account, salary slips are requested;
- official invitation form from the host person, certified by the Foreigners’s Police, in which the host undertakes to cover all expenses related to applicant’s stay in the Schengen area;
- in case of travellers depending on direct relatives/other persons directly linked to them for covering trip expenses: the Embassy may accept a guarantee letter, which shall be done according to the national legislation of every Member State, from the person paying for the trip. Subsequently, proof of financial means from the inviting person shall also be provided (see details above);
- complementarily, other means of the financial independence, such as the proof of real estate property.
- The Embassy may ask for several of the abovementioned document to verify the sufficient financial means.
10. A valid yellow fever certificate
*Source EU Website