We know every new year brings about sparkling new travel plans for most of us. The urge to go on a backpacking trip through Europe is as strong as ever. However, it might cost a bit more than before. All those eyeing a trip to the Schengen area should brace themselves for increased expenses, with news of a potential surge in Schengen visa costs making headlines. The European Commission's proposal to raise the basic fee for Schengen visas in 2024 is expected to impact the overall trip budget for prospective visitors.
The proposed fee hike doesn't stop there. The European Commission is also considering additional increases for countries deemed to have 'insufficient cooperation on readmission.' This move could mean an added financial burden for travellers from certain nations.
For those unfamiliar, the Schengen area comprises 27 European member countries operating under a unified visa policy. While citizens of these member nations enjoy visa-free travel within the Schengen area, citizens from non-European Union member countries, such as South Africa, Pakistan, India, China, and Sri Lanka, must obtain Schengen visas for entry. Britain, the United States, Canada, and Australia citizens are exempt from Schengen visa requirements.
If the proposed adjustments go through, the cost of obtaining a Schengen visa is set to increase by 12.5 per cent. For adults, this means a rise from €80 (INR 7158) to €90 (INR 8053), while children will see an increase from €40 (INR 3579) to €45 (INR 4026). Additionally, in cases where countries fail to cooperate on citizen readmission, the visa fee for children is slated to rise from €120 (INR 10,738) to €135 (INR 12080), and for adults, it will escalate from €160 (INR 14317) to €180 (INR 16107).
The European Commission presented the revised Schengen visa fee draft on February 2, opening it up for feedback until March 1. This initiative gained momentum in December 2023 during a meeting with member states, where experts expressed overwhelming support for the revision of visa fees.
The rationale behind the proposed surge in Schengen visa prices is attributed to the escalating inflation rate in the European Union. The European Commission argues that adjusting visa fees is necessary to align with economic realities.
As part of the proposed revision, external providers of Schengen visas will also be authorized to increase their service fees. Visa agencies, for example, can charge a maximum fee of €45 (INR 4026), up from the previous €40 (INR 3579), representing half the value of the standard cost. It's worth noting that the fee for extending a Schengen visa will remain unchanged at €30 (INR 2684).