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What is a Schengen Visa and Do I Need One?

Melanie Danko | Feb 4, 2019


Are you a  a citizen of one of these countries listed here and planning a trip to Europe? You may be required to get a Schengen Visa. So, what is a Schengen Visa? Simply put, a Schengen Visa is an authorized document necessary for visiting and traveling within the Schengen Area. 

Haven’t heard of the Schengen Area? After the signing of the Schengen Convention in Luxembourg in 1990, the Schengen Area was created to allow free movement throughout the 26 countries. Out of the 26 countries in the Schengen agreement, 22 are part of the EU and the other 4 are part of the EFTA. The 26 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, Switzerland

If you are a citizen of the Schengen Zone member country, you’re able to cross the international borders without any border checks – as if it was just one country. If you are a U.S. citizen with a U.S. passport traveling to the Schengen countries for tourism or business, you will not need a visa as long as you spend 90 days or less in these countries. Under this agreement, you may enter the Schengen area as long as your stay does not exceed 90 days within a 6-month period.

It can get a little confusing once you get into the process of applying for a Schengen Visa and you must apply at the appropriate embassy/consulate of the designated country. Additionally, there are a few different types of Schengen Visas that can be issued, such as a Uniform Schengen Visa, Limited territorial validity visas and National Visas. You can read more information here about the different Schengen Visa Types.

Even if you are not in need of a Schengen Visa, if you are planning on entering one of the 26 European countries that are in the Schengen area for either a personal or business trip, or even just passing through to a non-Schengen country, your passport must be valid for at least three months past your date of departure. Most countries assume all travelers will stay the entire three months permitted for visa-free visitors. It is recommended for U.S. citizens traveling to these countries that you:

  • Have at least six month’s validity remaining on your passport whenever you travel abroad.
  • Check the expiration date on your passport carefully before traveling to Europe.
  • Carry your passport with you at all times.

It’s important to remember that anyone required to obtain a Schengen visa must have travel insurance in place while traveling in one of the Schengen countries.

Important insurance requirements:

  • Covers expenses for urgent medical attention and/or emergency hospital care or death.
  • Includes benefits for repatriation for medical reasons.
  • The plan maximum must be at least 30,000 euros (approximately $50,000 USD depending on currency variations).  
  • The traveler must purchase the coverage prior to obtaining their visa, or the visa can be refused.
  • While not publicized on the website, most embassies/consulates require a $0 deductible.


Check with your travel insurance agent to learn more or feel free to contact our sales team at sales@sevencorners.com or 1-800-335-0611.


    Guest contributor: Melanie Danko

About the Author

Melanie Danko is a former Seven Corners team member. She is curious about exploring the world and has a passion for writing and hearing other peoples’ stories. In her free time, you can find her spending time with friends and family (including her mutt, Drake … yes, named after the singer)

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