For a large number of visa applicants, there is a cloud of confusion around the difference between Schengen and National visa applications for Europe.
How is the Schengen visa different from the National visa application? Do they have different requirements? Do both of them facilitate travel across multiple EU countries?
This article will clear up some common questions about the Schengen vs. National visa for Europe.
What Is a Schengen Visa?
A Schengen visa is a short-stay travel authorization that grants you the privilege of crossing the internal borders of Schengen countries without undergoing identity checks.
Nationals of non-EU countries that do not have visa agreements with Europe must apply for a Schengen Visa before traveling to Europe.
You can apply for a Schengen visa for various purposes, such as tourism, business, study, medical purposes, etc.
You can find the list of countries whose citizens must get a Schengen visa here.
What Is a National Visa?
An EU National visa (category “D” visa) is a travel permit that grants long-term residency in a specific EU country.
Typically, you can get a National visa for reasons such as work, study, and family reunification.
All non-EU citizens must apply for a National visa before traveling to Europe.
Pursuant to Regulation 265/2010, individuals holding a National visa and valid travel documents have to right to move freely within the Schengen Area for up to 90 days every 180-day period.
Schengen and National Visa Application: What’s the Difference?
The key difference between the Schengen and National visa is the length of stay granted by each visa type.
A Schengen visa enables you to reside in the Schengen Area for up to 90 days within any 180-day period.
On the other hand, a National visa allows you to reside in Europe for a period longer than 90 days.
While each Schengen Embassy may have slightly different requirements, all Member States generally standardize the Schengen visa application process. This means that applicants must follow similar procedures regardless of the specific country they apply to.
Unlike the Schengen visa which follows a standardized application process, each EU country has its own requirements for the National visa.
As a result, the National visa application process varies from one country to another.
Another difference between Schengen and National visa lies in the travel purpose for which they are granted.
For instance, if your travel purpose is tourism, you can solely apply for a Schengen visa. You cannot stay in Europe as a tourist for a period longer than 90 days.
For other travel purposes, such as work or study, the decision on whether you must apply for a Schengen Visa or a National visa depends on your duration of stay.
For example, if you want to work in Europe for less than 90 days, in most cases you must apply for a Schengen visa.
On the other hand, if your work period in Europe exceeds 90 days, you have to apply for a National visa.
The Bottom Line
To sum up, the differences between Schengen and National visa for Europe are as follows:
- Duration of stay: A Schengen visa enables you to stay in the Schengen Area for up to 90 days within any 180-day period. On the other hand, a National visa allows you to reside in the EU for a period longer than 90 days. Typically, this period lasts for one year and it can be extended if necessary.
- Application process: The Schengen visa application process is generally the same across all Schengen Member States. On the other hand, the National visa application process varies by country.
- Travel purpose: Depending on the duration of stay, both Schengen and National visas can be issued for the same travel purposes (e.g., work, studies, business, etc.). However, the Schengen visa exclusively covers certain travel purposes, such as tourism and transit.