Schengen Visa Process To Go Digital: Here's All You Need To Know

The EU Council recently gave the go-ahead for the digitisation of Schengen visa applications. This will eliminate the need for a visa sticker on your passport, and the queues at a consulate
By 2026, the EU plans to launch a completely new system for obtaining a Schengen visa
By 2026, the EU plans to launch a completely new system for obtaining a Schengen visaSavvapanf Photo/Shutterstock

If you intend to visit multiple countries within the Schengen Area while in Europe, you must apply for a Schengen visa, which allows you to stay for up to 90 days in any of the 27 member states. However, getting a Schengen visa can be a hassle, as all travellers to Europe would know. Here's some good news. The EU Council has given the green light to digitise the visa procedure, allowing travellers to apply for a Schengen visa online.

The Timeline

By 2026, the EU plans to launch a completely new system for obtaining a Schengen visa, making it easier for travellers to apply for the visa. Digitalisation will eliminate the need for visa applicants to obtain a visa sticker on their passport. This is much safer and will prevent the falsification of documents and theft of visa stickers. The new process will also be much more efficient and convenient for travellers, as they won't have to make multiple trips to the consulate or service providers’ offices. The EU intends to fully digitise the application process for short-term European visas by 2028.

While announcing this, the Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, said: “A modern visa process is crucial to make travel to the EU easier for tourism and business. Half of those coming to the EU with a Schengen visa consider the visa application burdensome, and one-third have to travel long distances to ask for a visa. It is high time that the EU provides a quick, safe and web-based EU visa application platform for the citizens of the 102 third countries that require short-term visas to travel to the EU.”

A road sign for Schengen town on the western bank of the river Moselle, Luxembourg.
A road sign for Schengen town on the western bank of the river Moselle, Luxembourg.maloff/Shutterstock

How Will It Work?

You will be able to apply for a visa and pay the visa fee online through a single EU platform, regardless of which Schengen country you intend to visit. The platform will automatically determine which Schengen country is responsible for examining the application. It will also provide up-to-date information on Schengen short-stay visas, as well as all necessary requirements and procedures (such as supporting documents, visa fees, or the requirement for an appointment to collect biometric identifiers).

The visa will include cutting-edge security features, making it more secure than the current visa sticker. In case you are worried about uploading your biometrics online, the EU Council has reiterated that the new system will always ensure the protection of fundamental rights. The decision regarding whether or not your visa is approved will also be communicated to you electronically.

Application form for Schengen visa
Application form for Schengen visaAn Mazhor/Shutterstock

First-Time Applicants

If you are a first-time Schengen visa applicant, appearing in person at the consulate would be mandatory for the collection of biometric identifiers. In-person visits will also be applicable if your biometric data are no longer valid. For more information, check here.

How Will It Help Indians?

The online application process for Schengen visas is expected to offer several benefits to Indians, including:

  • Convenience: The online process will allow Indians to apply for Schengen visas from anywhere in the world, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This will save them time and effort, as they will no longer need to travel to a visa application centre in person.

  • Efficiency: The online process is expected to be more efficient than the paper-based process, as it will automate many of the tasks that are currently done manually. This should lead to faster processing times and fewer errors.

  • Transparency: The online process will provide applicants with more information about the status of their applications and allow them to track their progress online. This should make the process more transparent and accountable.

Overall, the online application process for Schengen visas is expected to be a positive development for Indian applicants. It will make the process more convenient, efficient, transparent, and cost-effective.

About Schengen Visa

The Schengen Area comprises 27 European countries, 23 of which are members of the European Union and four of which are members of the European Free Trade Association. These countries are Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. These governments have eliminated internal border controls between member countries. Citizens of foreign countries who do not have visa-free travel arrangements must apply for a Schengen Visa to enter and travel within the area.

Depending on the country you apply to, the processing time can be as long as 60 days, and you may face delays, rejections, or additional requirements. So, if you want to avoid the stress and uncertainty of applying for a Schengen visa, you should choose a country that issues it quickly and easily.

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