European Union
European Union
Travel requirements

European Union visa policy

The visa policy of the European Union describes travel requirements that were introduced by the European Parliament. It applies to the Schengen countries and the EU member states. The goal behind the imposed restrictions was to facilitate travel for foreign visitors and control the number of travelers entering the EU.

According to Directive 2004/38/EC, all citizens of the European Economic Area (EEA) may enjoy freedom of movement. This rule applies to member states of the European Union (EU), the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), and the Schengen Area. Their nationals may stay within the selected areas for up to 90 days within a period of 180 days.

In 2001, the EU authorities introduced a Visa Waiver Agreement. The program was accepted by 63 countries whose nationals may enjoy the freedom of movement while traveling through the Schengen member countries. As long as they possess valid passports, they can travel visa-free for up to 90 days within the 180-day time period.

The ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System) is an electronic visa that allows eligible travelers to visit EU countries for up to 90 days. With the visa, they will be granted multiple entries to selected Schengen Area countries within a period of 3 years. The visa will be easily obtainable online. The launch of the ETIAS visa is scheduled for 2024.

The Schengen Visa is mandatory for foreigners visiting the EU. It may be issued by Schengen member states. Eligible travelers must schedule a visit at the Embassy and submit the visa inquiry in person. You should apply for a Schengen Visa at least 6 months prior to the planned date of travel. The visa is valid for any Schengen Area country unless stated otherwise.

According to the visa policy of the Schengen Area, as long as foreign visitors passing through any of the EU countries do not leave the airport’s transit area, they can travel visa-free. The only exception is 12 nations whose citizens must have an Airport Transit Visa. Otherwise, they will not be allowed to travel to the Schengen Area.

Moreover, before leaving for the journey to any of the EU countries, ensure you have all the required documentation. Without a valid passport and an approved visa, you will not be allowed entry. In some situations, additional documents may be needed.

Who can travel to the EU countries?

In general, all foreign travelers who meet the mandatory travel requirements are allowed to enter the Schengen Area. They should have a passport that will remain valid throughout the entire journey abroad and a Schengen Visa, allowing for a hassle-free trip.

Moreover, all EU citizens and nationals of the Schengen member states can enjoy the visa-exemption. Their travel may last up to 90 days. The only document they should prepare before the travel is a national ID card (depending on the destination).

Members of the Visa Waiver Program, despite not being a part of the Schengen Area, due to an official directive, are permitted to visit the Schengen countries for short-term travel related to tourism. The Visa Agreement includes 63 foreign nations.

Entry requirements for European Union countries

Before leaving for a journey abroad, make sure you have all the required documentation. It is important to collect the mandatory documents beforehand so that your trip is problem-free.

The EU citizens do not need to prepare a lot of documents to be allowed entry to a different country in the Schengen Area. All they need for travel is a national ID card. For short-term journeys related to tourism and leisure, no additional documentation is required.

If you are not a national of the Schengen Area nor you are a participant in the Visa Waiver Program, you need to meet the particular requirements for entry. Keep in mind that travel rules may vary depending on the country you plan to visit. Therefore, it is recommended to verify the current regulations on the Embassy websites of the nation you wish to visit.

Document checklist for entering the EU with a Schengen Visa

  • passport that will remain valid for at least 6 months from the planned travel date
  • approved Schengen Visa
  • proof of booked hotel reservation (if applicable)
  • proof of purchased flight tickets (if applicable)
  • evidence of possessing sufficient funds (if applicable)
  • additional documentation in accordance with the internal policy of the selected country

Currently, it is not essential to have a valid EU Digital Certificate for COVID-19 vaccination. According to the authorities of the European Union, member states should not impose any restrictions on travelers on the grounds of public health.

Methods of getting a visa for EU countries

Prior to proceeding with the visa application, check available methods of getting an EU visa.

Electronic visa (ETIAS)

The electronic visa ETIAS may be easily obtained online as long as you meet all the visa requirements. The visa application process consists of a few steps – completing the registration form, submitting the required documentation, and paying the processing fee.

The ETIAS Visa Waiver allows eligible travelers to visit countries of the Schengen Area for up to 90 days. Once approved, it remains valid for 3 years, during which the applicant may enjoy multiple tourism-related journeys abroad.

As for now, ETIAS remains unavailable – the online visa program is scheduled to be launched in 2024. It is recommended to regularly check the website for updates.

Regular visa (Schengen Visa)

The Schengen Visa is a type of visa that should be requested at the Embassy at least 6 months prior to the travel. Citizens of non-EU countries are required to have a valid Schengen Visa while traveling to any European nation.

To apply for the Schengen Visa, schedule an appointment at the Embassy of the European country you would like to visit and complete the registration in person. You also need to participate in a consular interview. Make sure you comply with the current visa requirements.

When approved, the visa remains valid for any Schengen Area country unless it has been stated otherwise. On arrival abroad, you may be required to report your presence to a local police station within 3 working days of crossing the EU border

Countries and regions which require a visa for entry into the EU countries

Below, you can find lists describing foreign nationals eligible for particular visas to the countries of the Schengen Area.

Visa-free entry

  • AustriaAustria
  • BelgiumBelgium
  • BulgariaBulgaria
  • SwitzerlandSwitzerland
  • CyprusCyprus
  • Czech RepublicCzech Republic
  • GermanyGermany
  • DenmarkDenmark
  • EstoniaEstonia
  • SpainSpain
  • FinlandFinland
  • FranceFrance
  • GreeceGreece
  • CroatiaCroatia
  • HungaryHungary
  • IrelandIreland
  • IcelandIceland
  • ItalyItaly
  • LiechtensteinLiechtenstein
  • LithuaniaLithuania
  • LuxembourgLuxembourg
  • LatviaLatvia
  • MaltaMalta
  • NetherlandsNetherlands
  • NorwayNorway
  • PolandPoland
  • PortugalPortugal
  • SwedenSweden
  • SlovakiaSlovakia
  • SloveniaSlovenia
  • RomaniaRomania

Visa Waiver Program

  • AndorraAndorra
  • United Arab EmiratesUnited Arab Emirates
  • AlbaniaAlbania
  • ArgentinaArgentina
  • AustraliaAustralia
  • Bosnia and HerzegovinaBosnia and Herzegovina
  • BarbadosBarbados
  • BruneiBrunei
  • BrazilBrazil
  • BahamasBahamas
  • CanadaCanada
  • ChileChile
  • ColombiaColombia
  • Costa RicaCosta Rica
  • SerbiaSerbia
  • DominicaDominica
  • MicronesiaMicronesia
  • United KingdomUnited Kingdom
  • GrenadaGrenada
  • GeorgiaGeorgia
  • GuatemalaGuatemala
  • Hong KongHong Kong
  • HondurasHonduras
  • IsraelIsrael
  • JapanJapan
  • KiribatiKiribati
  • Saint Kitts and NevisSaint Kitts and Nevis
  • South KoreaSouth Korea
  • Saint LuciaSaint Lucia
  • MonacoMonaco
  • MoldovaMoldova
  • MontenegroMontenegro
  • Marshall IslandsMarshall Islands
  • MacedoniaMacedonia
  • MacauMacau
  • MauritiusMauritius
  • MexicoMexico
  • MalaysiaMalaysia
  • NicaraguaNicaragua
  • New ZealandNew Zealand
  • PanamaPanama
  • PeruPeru
  • San MarinoSan Marino
  • El SalvadorEl Salvador
  • Timor LesteTimor Leste
  • TongaTonga
  • TuvaluTuvalu
  • TaiwanTaiwan
  • UkraineUkraine
  • United StatesUnited States
  • UruguayUruguay
  • Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesSaint Vincent and the Grenadines
  • VenezuelaVenezuela
  • SamoaSamoa
  • SingaporeSingapore
  • SeychellesSeychelles
  • PalauPalau
  • Trinidad and TobagoTrinidad and Tobago
  • ParaguayParaguay
  • KosovoKosovo
  • Solomon IslandsSolomon Islands
  • Antigua and BarbudaAntigua and Barbuda

Airport Transit Visa (ATV)

  • AfghanistanAfghanistan
  • BangladeshBangladesh
  • CongoCongo
  • EritreaEritrea
  • EthiopiaEthiopia
  • GhanaGhana
  • IraqIraq
  • IranIran
  • Sri LankaSri Lanka
  • NigeriaNigeria
  • PakistanPakistan
  • SomaliaSomalia

Schengen Visa

  • AfghanistanAfghanistan
  • ArmeniaArmenia
  • AngolaAngola
  • AzerbaijanAzerbaijan
  • BangladeshBangladesh
  • Burkina FasoBurkina Faso
  • BahrainBahrain
  • BurundiBurundi
  • BeninBenin
  • BoliviaBolivia
  • BhutanBhutan
  • BotswanaBotswana
  • BelarusBelarus
  • BelizeBelize
  • CongoCongo
  • Central African RepublicCentral African Republic
  • CameroonCameroon
  • ChinaChina
  • CubaCuba
  • DjiboutiDjibouti
  • DominicaDominica
  • Dominican RepublicDominican Republic
  • AlgeriaAlgeria
  • EcuadorEcuador
  • EgyptEgypt
  • EritreaEritrea
  • EthiopiaEthiopia
  • FijiFiji
  • GabonGabon
  • GhanaGhana
  • GambiaGambia
  • Guinea BissauGuinea Bissau
  • GuineaGuinea
  • Equatorial GuineaEquatorial Guinea
  • GuyanaGuyana
  • HaitiHaiti
  • IndonesiaIndonesia
  • IndiaIndia
  • IraqIraq
  • IranIran
  • JamaicaJamaica
  • JordanJordan
  • KenyaKenya
  • KyrgyzstanKyrgyzstan
  • CambodiaCambodia
  • ComorosComoros
  • North KoreaNorth Korea
  • KuwaitKuwait
  • KazakhstanKazakhstan
  • LaosLaos
  • LebanonLebanon
  • Sri LankaSri Lanka
  • LiberiaLiberia
  • LesothoLesotho
  • LibyaLibya
  • MoroccoMorocco
  • MadagascarMadagascar
  • MaliMali
  • MyanmarMyanmar
  • MongoliaMongolia
  • MauritaniaMauritania
  • MaldivesMaldives
  • MalawiMalawi
  • MozambiqueMozambique
  • NamibiaNamibia
  • NigerNiger
  • NigeriaNigeria
  • NepalNepal
  • NauruNauru
  • OmanOman
  • Papua New GuineaPapua New Guinea
  • PhilippinesPhilippines
  • PakistanPakistan
  • Sierra LeoneSierra Leone
  • SenegalSenegal
  • SomaliaSomalia
  • SurinameSuriname
  • SyriaSyria
  • ChadChad
  • TogoTogo
  • ThailandThailand
  • TajikistanTajikistan
  • TurkmenistanTurkmenistan
  • TunisiaTunisia
  • TurkeyTurkey
  • TanzaniaTanzania
  • UgandaUganda
  • UzbekistanUzbekistan
  • VietnamVietnam
  • VanuatuVanuatu
  • YemenYemen
  • South AfricaSouth Africa
  • ZambiaZambia
  • ZimbabweZimbabwe
  • QatarQatar
  • RwandaRwanda
  • RussiaRussia
  • Saudi ArabiaSaudi Arabia
  • SudanSudan
  • South SudanSouth Sudan
  • Sao Tome and PrincipeSao Tome and Principe
  • Cape VerdeCape Verde
  • EswatiniEswatini

Entry requirements for children

Children should comply with the same travel rules as adults. For those enjoying the freedom of movement or included in the Visa Waiver Program, it is only essential to have a valid passport or an ID card. Otherwise, they need a Schengen Visa for the journey.

Keep in mind that depending on the selected destination, minors may additionally need an official document signed by their parents or guardians authorizing them for travel.

Transit information

According to the Schengen Area visa policy, foreign travelers passing through the EU countries on their way to another destination do not need a Transit Visa as long as they do not leave the airport’s transit area.

Visa-free travel is granted to everyone apart from 12 non-EU countries whose nationals should apply for an Airport Transit Visa.

Important information

  • The visa policy of the European Union is a set of rules related to current travel restrictions, applicable entry requirements, and available visa applications. It states who may enjoy the freedom of movement between the member states of the Schengen Area.
  • All citizens of the Schengen member countries are considered visa-exempt nationalities. They are allowed to travel between European countries with a valid ID card only. A single trip organized for purposes of tourism and leisure may last up to 90 days.
  • Nationals of around 60 countries worldwide can enter the EU visa-free. The European Visa Waiver Program allows selected visitors to travel to the Schengen Area only with a valid passport as long as their tourist trip does not exceed 90 days.
  • The EU authorities introduced ETIAS – an online visa issued for eligible foreigners, allowing for short-term travel to Europe. The main idea is to facilitate the application process and encourage more people to visit Europe. It should be launched in 2024.
  • As for now, if you wish to visit the European Union, you should apply for a Schengen Visa. This visa may be obtained at any European Embassy and will be issued to every traveler that meets the essential visa requirements.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Do I need a visa to travel to the EU?

All nationals of non-EU countries should apply for a Schengen Visa before traveling to Europe. This visa may be easily obtained at the Embassy - submit your documentation in person and take part in a consular interview. The only exception from the visa requirement is member states of the Visa Waiver Program.

What are the methods of getting a visa for the EU?

A Schengen Visa should be requested at the Embassy of the selected European country. As soon as it is issued, you will be allowed to visit the EU for the purpose of tourism and leisure. In 2024, an additional online visa, ETIAS, should be available. The electronic visa will be obtainable through an easy online application procedure.

Can I apply for the ETIAS visa?

The ETIAS online visa has not yet been launched. However, according to the EU authorities, the electronic visa should be available for all foreign citizens from 2024.

What are the requirements for going to the EU?

The requirements for entering the EU differ depending on your nationality. Those who come from visa-exempt countries need an ID card for effortless travel. Visa Waiver members are allowed to visit the EU for a limited time period with a valid passport. Other visitors, apart from a passport, should also have a valid visa. Additional documentation may be required.

Do I need a visa to transit through the EU?

You do not need a Transit Visa while passing through European countries as long as you do not leave the transit zone at your selected airport. If you need to leave the area, it is essential to have an Airport Transit Visa.

What are the requirements for children traveling to the EU?

Children must obey the same travel rules as adults while leaving for a journey to one of the Schengen member countries. Those eligible for visa-free travel should have a valid passport or a national ID card. Others must apply for a Schengen Visa. Minors should also have an official travel authorization signed by their parents or guardians.