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Frequently Asked Questions

In this page, you could find answers of some frequent asked questions regarding general Schengen visa rules, application process and detail requirement of documents. Please check the relevant contribution. You can also click “Ctrl+F” and type in the key word. You will then receive a suggestion with relevant answers.

If your question cannot be answered here, you can Contact Us.

1. General Information

2. Application Procedure

3. Visa Documents

4. Biometric Procedure


Schengen Area

The Schengen Area is composed of 26 countries.

  • European Union Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden.
  • Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland.

European Union Member States that are outside the Schengen Area are: UK, Ireland, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia.

The Principalities of Monaco, Andorra, San Marino and Holy See (Vatican City State) allow entry to their territories without any formality to Schengen visa holders.

Schengen Area Map

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European Union

The following countries are currently members of the European Union:

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom.

European Union Map

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Visa obligation

Citizens of some countries are exempt from the requirement to hold a valid visa to enter the Schengen Area for a short stay or transit, for details please check here.

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Schengen, national visa and airport transit visa differences

Schengen visa (short stay)

A Schengen visa (type C) is a visa issued by one of the Schengen member states and is valid for a short stay, limited to 90 days within 180 days period, only for Schengen countries.

A short stay (Schengen) visa can be issued for either single entry or multiple entries into the Schengen zone:

  • Single entry visas allow the visa holder to enter and stay in the Schengen area continuously for the length of the visa duration, to a maximum of 90 days;
  • Multiple entry visas allow several entries and stays in the Schengen Area, of which the total duration cannot exceed 90 days in 180 days period. The stay can be continuous or divided into several periods within the length of your visa’s validity. A Schengen circulation visa is a special type of multi-entry visa that is generally valid from 1 to 5 years, decided by the Embassy or Consulate General.

National visa (long stay)

A national long stay visa (type D) is only valid for an establishment or a stay of more than 90 days in the country which issued the visa.

Any stay longer than 90 days falls under national jurisdiction and is not part of the Schengen Agreement.

Please be aware that if you are going to Switzerland for an internship in an International Organization, you must contact the Embassy directly via email on london.visa@eda.admin.ch to find out about the requirements regarding documentation you need to submit with your application.

Airport transit visa

An airport transit visa is required depending upon the country of your citizenship and whether you have residence permits or visas of certain countries. The visa allows the travelers transiting the Schengen territory and who will not leave the transit area of the airport.

Please consult the European Union’s website of the Migration and Home Affairs to know if your country of citizenship requires an airport transit visa in order to transit through a Swiss airport.

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How to read the visa sticker

Visa Sticker

DURATION OF STAY………DAYS indicates the number of days you may stay in the Schengen area. The days should be counted from the date you enter the Schengen area (the entry stamp) to the date you exit the Schengen area (the exit stamp), i.e. both days included.

The period of time between “FROM …UNTIL” is usually longer than the number of days printed in the “DURATION OF STAY” field. The difference in period is meant to give you flexibility to plan your entry into and exit from the Schengen area, but your stay in the Schengen area must never exceed the exact number of days in the “DURATION OF STAY …DAYS” field. No matter how many days you have stayed in the Schengen area, you must leave no later than the date printed in the “UNTIL” field.”

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Place of application submission

Visa applications for Switzerland are received by Swiss Visa Acceptance Centre, except for some categories that are still received by the Embassy of Switzerland in London directly, see Documents and Visa Types.

You are required to submit your visa application at the Swiss Visa Acceptance Centre or the Embassy/Consulate nearby where you are currently living.

  • If you intend to visit only one Schengen country, you must apply at the Embassy or Consulate of this country;
  • If you intend to visit several Schengen countries, you must apply for a visa at the Embassy or Consulate of the country of your longest stay;

If the visits in different Schengen countries are of equal length, the first destination shall be the determining factor.

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Time of application submission

You may only submit your visa application within the 90 days period prior to the intended date of arrival in the Schengen Area.

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Application submission through a representative

Personal appearance is mandatory for all visa applicants, unless you are exempted from biometric data capturing.

Starting from 20.11.2015 all diplomatic representations of the Schengen member states in the United Kingdom have to capture the biometric data (finger scans and facial image) of persons applying for a Schengen visa.

The data will be kept in the Visa Information System (VIS) for 5 years. 
If your finger scans have not been collected yet, personal appearances when applying for a Schengen visa is mandatory.

If your finger scans were collected within the last 59 months, then you won’t have to give new fingerprints for your next visa application(s) and personal appearance is not necessary. However, you have to provide a copy of your visa sticker issued after 20.11.2015. If you are not sure or do not remember whether your fingerprints have been captured for a Schengen visa within the last 59 months, you have to appear in person. 

You will still have to appear in person to give your fingerprints in case the previously collected fingerprints prove to be of insufficient quality.

Personal appearances and fingerprint scan is not necessary for children under the age of 12. 
The Swiss representation still reserves the right to ask the applicant to appear for a personal interview after checking his application 
Should a representative apply on your behalf if your finger scans have already been collected it is mandatory to provide all the documents mentioned on the requirement list and additionally the following documents: 

  • A letter of authorization from you (for the representative letter sample click here
  • Your representative’s original passport and a copy 
  • A copy of your visa sticker in case biometry data have been collected successfully after 20.11.2015 

Please make sure that this information appears on TLS website wherever it is appropriate. For example I checked and this information can be found under “Biometric data capture in Visa Acceptance Centre” but not under “Application submission through a representative”.

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Visa section’s request of additional documents or information

The Consulate may request you to provide additional documents or to attend an interview according to your personal situation, even after you have submitted your application at TLScontact.

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Special requirements for minor applicants

About self-presence

If the minor needs to enroll his/her biometric data during the application, he/she has to come in person, see “Personal biometric data capture in the visa acceptance center”.

Please note that minors are not allowed to submit applications by themselves, they must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

In the eventuality that the representative is not the parent or the legal guardian of the minor, the representative must present an authorization letter signed by one of the parents or the legal guardian. Please click here to download.

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Passport collection

Once your passport is back from the Swiss Consulate Authority you will be notified online on your personal account page and by SMS.

There are three ways to get the passport back:

Express Courier Return

You may have your passport returned to you by express delivery service; it will be sent directly to your convenient chosen address. Please click here to check the service availability.

Passport self-pick up

Please provide the following documents if you would like to retrieve the passport by yourself during Opening Hours:

  • Visa application checklist;
  • Your original identity card;
  • A copy of your identity card.

Passport pick-up by a representative

A representative may retrieve your passport on your behalf during Opening Hours. The representative must provide:

  • Your application checklist;
  • A copy of your ID card;
  • The original and a copy of your representative’s ID card;
  • An authorization letter signed by the applicant.

Please kindly note that passports which have been returned by the Swiss Consular Authority to TLScontact and have not been collected from TLScontact within a period of 4 months from the moment of application submission will be returned to the Swiss Consular Authority.

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Processing time

Provided your application is correct and complete, the average processing time for short-stay individual applications is 7 working days from time of submission to the visa acceptance center, excluding weekends and public holidays.

In the following cases, the processing time can be longer:

  • If the Embassy needs to investigate an application further.
  • For the following nationals the visa processing time takes up to 14 working days: Afghanistan, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus (applies only to holders of diplomatic or service passports ), D.R. Congo, Egypt (does not apply to holders of diplomatic and service passports), Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, North Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russian Federation (applies o nly to holders of service passports), Rwanda, Saudi Arabia (does not apply to holders of diplomatic passports), Somalia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan (does not apply to holders of diplomatic passports or soldiers and police officers who travel for the purpose of exercising their duty), Vietnam, Yemen, Palestinians, Refugees, Stateless Persons.

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Visa application form

The Schengen visa application form (visa type A and C) will be provided to you during the registration process and can be filled online.

The paper versions can also be downloaded here.

If you need support with the form or don’t have time to fill it, we have the Form Filling Assistance available in some Visa Acceptance Centre, our experienced visa application staff will support you. Please click here to check the service availability.

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Passport requirements

Before applying for a visa you must make sure that your passport is valid.

  1. Check the expiration date on your passport.
    • For a short stay visa (less than 90 days), the expiration date must be no earlier than 90 days after the date of your return from the Schengen area.
  2. Make sure your passport has two or more completely blank and unmarked visa pages.
  3. Make sure your passport has not been altered.
    • Check if the original laminated film (the transparent safety film that covers the passport photo) has been tampered with. If this is the case, you must ask a passport-issuing authority to re-tamper proof your passport.
    • Make sure no pages or surfaces have been laminated (as this will invalidate your passport).
    • Check for scratching or alteration.
  4. If your passport was issued over 10 years ago, even if it is still valid at the time you submit your visa application, you must apply for a new passport from the authorities or the Embassy or Consulate of your country of origin, before being able to apply for a visa.

It is advised that you do not apply for a visa on a passport issued for multiple persons (e.g. parent and children together).

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Photo requirements

The two photographs required for any visa application must be:

  1. Color photo on a white background
  2. Format 3.5 cm x 4.5 cm
  3. Taken from the front, without obstruction
  4. Recent (less than 6 months old)
  5. With the mouth closed

A compliant photo machine is at your disposal within the TLScontact Centre to take photo and ease your process. Please click here to check the service availability.

The table below shows examples of non-compliant photos “✗,” and the correct equivalent “✓”, according to Schengen requirements.

Photo Requirements

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Travel health insurance

Due to a regulation of the European Union (Decision 2004/17/CE of December 22nd 2003), there is a requirement to hold a travel insurance, which is a compulsory document. The travel insurance should be:

  • Valid for the Schengen area if you apply for a short stay visa;
  • Valid for Switzerland if it is required in the document list and you apply for a long stay visa.

Your travel insurance must be valid with a minimum cover of €30,000 in order to face any expenses that may arise in connection with your repatriation for medical reasons, urgent medical attention or emergency hospital treatment. The travel insurance should fully cover the period of your stay in the Schengen Area.

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Bank statement

Bank statements are supporting documents for a visa application.

Bank statement’s general requirements:

  • Copy of UK current account bank statements for the last three months.
  • The last balance should not be older than one week.
  • Online statements are accepted, provided the name of the account holder and account details are shown.

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Declaration of guarantee

If the applicant has no or insufficient financial means, the Visa Section might provide him/her with the “Declaration of guarantee”, after having evaluated his/her visa application.

This “Declaration of guarantee” must be sent by the applicant to the inviting person (host) in Switzerland. The inviting person/host will have to complete the declaration and submit it to the competent Swiss cantonal authorities.

In the case of a “Declaration of guarantee” the visa-procedure takes several weeks. Applicants are therefore advised to submit their visa application well in advance.

Please take note that the Visa Section reserves the right to request a declaration of guarantee in any case.

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Biometric data capture in Visa Acceptance Centre

Personal appearance is mandatory for all visa applicants, unless you are exempted from biometric data capturing.

Starting from 20.11.2015 all diplomatic representations of the Schengen member states in the United Kingdom have to capture the biometric data (finger scans and facial image) of persons applying for a Schengen visa. The data will be kept in the Visa Information System (VIS) for 5 years.

If your finger scans have not been collected yet, personal appearances when applying for a Schengen visa is mandatory.

If your finger scans were collected within the last 59 months, then you won’t have to give new fingerprints for your next visa application(s) and personal appearance is not necessary. However, you have to provide a copy of your visa sticker issued after 20.11.2015. If you are not sure or do not remember whether your fingerprints have been captured for a Schengen visa within the last 59 months, you have to appear in person.

You will still have to appear in person to give your fingerprints in case the previously collected fingerprints prove to be of insufficient quality.

Personal appearances and fingerprint scan is not necessary for children under the age of 12.

The Swiss representation still reserves the right to ask the applicant to appear for a personal interview after checking his application

Should a representative apply on your behalf if your finger scans have already been collected it is mandatory to provide all the documents mentioned on the requirement list and additionally the following documents:

  • A letter of authorization from you (for the representative letter sample click here)
  • Your representative’s original passport and a copy
  • A copy of your visa sticker in case biometry data have been collected successfully after 20.11.2015

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Biometric data capture exemptions

There are 3 cases of exemption:

  • Children strictly under the age of 12;
  • Applicants who are physically unable to submit their fingerprints for scan (hand/finger/arm amputated). However, if it is possible to scan at least one fingertip, then applicants have to go through the biometric step. In the case of a temporary inability to provide the fingerprints (plaster, bandage, etc.), the applicant still has to come in person and have the most possible fingerprints scanned. As only a part of the fingerprints have been collected, the applicant will have to come in person to allow the fingerprints scan again the next time when applying for a visa;
  • Applicants who are applying for a new Schengen visa within 59 months from the moment of the last fingerprint data capture and have already submitted their biometric data during a past Schengen visa application. Applicants in this case will have to provide the visa sticker number and a photocopy of the previous visa. However, the local consular authority may request you to submit the biometric data again.

Further information on VIS is available on the following homepage.

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Copy of fingerprint scan from a previous UK/US/national visa

VIS is a system for the exchange of visa-data between Schengen countries. If fingerprints have been previously provided for a visa application to the US or UK, the fingerprints cannot be used for the Schengen-Visa application. Fingerprints that have been provided for a national visa can also not be transferred because of different databases.

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