The border-free Schengen Area cannot function efficiently without a common visa policy which facilitates the entry of legal visitors into the EU while strengthening internal security. The EU has established a common visa policy for transit through or intended stays in the territory of the Schengen States of no more than 90 days in any 180 days period and for transit through the international transit areas of airports of the Schengen States. In 2016, the 26 Schengen States issued 13.9 million “Schengen visas”. You may find the complete data on Schengen visas lower in this page.
Main elements of the common visa policy
Citizens from some non-EU countries are required to hold a visa when travelling to the Schengen Area. The EU has a common list of countries whose citizens must have a visa when crossing the external borders and a list of countries whose citizens are exempt from that requirement. These lists are set out in Regulation (EU) 2018/1806. Generally, a short-stay visa issued by one of the Schengen States entitles its holder to travel throughout the 26 Schengen States for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. Visas for visits exceeding that period remain subject to national procedures.
Credit: EC-GISCO, Administrative boundaries ©Eurogeographics ©UN-FAO
This map is for reference purposes only. The rules in force regarding visa requirements are set out in Regulation No 1806/2018. The designations employed and the presentation of material on this map do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the European Union concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.
Decisions on visa-free access to the Schengen Area may follow from bilateral negotiations. They are based on the progress made by the countries concerned in implementing major reforms in areas such as the strengthening of the rule of law, combating of organised crime, corruption and illegal migration and improving administrative capacity in border control and security of documents.
The EU aims at achieving full visa reciprocity with the non-EU countries whose nationals are exempt from the visa requirement. Thus, EU citizens would not need a visa either for travelling to these non-EU countries.
For that purpose, a visa reciprocity mechanism has been set up.
Visa facilitation agreements
So far, the EU has concluded visa facilitation agreements with the following non-EU countries. Based on these agreements, both the EU and non-EU citizens benefit from facilitated procedures for issuing visas.
Visa facilitation agreements are linked to readmission agreements. Readmission agreements establish the procedures for the return to the EU or to the partner non-EU country of persons (own and third-country nationals or stateless persons) in an irregular situation.
The EU States may also individually negotiate agreements on local border traffic with neighbouring non-EU countries. These agreements enable border residents of well-defined areas to cross the EU external borders, under certain conditions, without having to obtain a visa.
- Visa statistics for consulates, 2018
- Schengen visas issued in 2018 at external border crossing points
- Visa statistics for consulates, 2017
- Schengen visas issued in 2017 at external border crossing points
- Visa statistics for consulates, 2016
- Schengen visas issued in 2016 at external border crossing points
- Visa statistics for consulates, 2015
- Schengen visas issued in 2015 at external border crossing points
- Visa statistics for consulates, 2014
- Schengen visas issued in 2014 at external border crossing points
- Visa statistics for consulates, 2013
- Schengen visas issued in 2013 at external border crossing points
- Visa statistics for consulates, 2012
- Visa statistics for consulates, 2011
- Visa statistics for consulates, 2010