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Frequently Asked Questions

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Schengen visa information

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Passport validity

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 3 months 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 Turkish 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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Schengen visa

A Schengen visa is required when staying in the Schengen Area for up to 90 days.

A Schengen visa is granted in the form of a sticker affixed to the passport, travel document or other valid document that entitles the holder to cross the border between Schengen countries. Possession of a Schengen visa does not confer automatic right of entry. Entry will only be granted if the other conditions laid down by the Schengen Convention are met, i.e. the justification of the purpose and conditions of the trip, minimum amount of funds travelers must have at their disposal and the possession of valid travel insurance.

With a Schengen visa, you may enter one country and travel freely throughout the Schengen Area. It is issued to citizens of countries who are required to obtain a visa before entering the Schengen Area.

A Schengen visa allows the holder to travel freely within the Schengen Area for a maximum stay of up to 90 days in any 180 days period. If you wish to stay longer than 90 days you will need a national long stay visa or a residence permit.

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Nationalities requiring a Schengen visa

Bound by Regulation (EC) No 539/2001, modified by Regulations (EC) No 2414/2001; No 453/2003; No 1932/2006; No 1244/2009, No 1091/2010, and No 1211/2010 the list of third-countries whose nationals are subject to the visa requirement, when travelling to any EU Member State is as follows:

Afghanistan, Albania (*), Algeria, Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia-Herzegovina (*), Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burma/Myanmar, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Rep, Chad, China, Comoros, Congo, Cote D’ivoire, Cuba, Dem Rep Of Congo, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Fyrom (*), Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Grenada, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kiribati, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Maldives, Mali, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Micronesia, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro (*), Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, North Korea, Oman, Pakistan, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Russia, Rwanda, Samoa, Sao Tome & Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia (Excluding Holders Of Serbian Passports Issued By The Serbian Coordination Directorate (In Serbian: Koordinaciona Uprava)) (*), Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, St Luciast Vincent And The Grenadines, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Tonga, Trindad & Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Nationalities requiring prior consultation:
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, Kazakhstan (does not apply to holders of diplomatic passports), Kenya, North Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestine, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen, Refugees, Stateless Persons.

Notes:
British Citizens who are not nationals of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland for the Purpose of community Law:


  • British Overseas Territories Citizens who do not have the right of abode in the United Kingdom;
  • British Overseas Citizens;
  • British Subjects who do not have the right of abode in the United Kingdom;
  • British Protected Persons.

Palestinian Authority
Kosovo (as defined by the United Nationals Security Council Resolution 1244 of 10th June 1999)
Taiwan (**)

Additional Notes:
A limited set of derogations and exceptions exist for specific categories of persons, notably on grounds of international law or custom. Member States may therefore exempt from the requirement to carry an EU visa, or reintroduce the visa obligation when they would otherwise be exempted, the following categories of persons:


  • Holders of diplomatic passports, official duty passports and other official passports;
  • Civilian air and sea crew;
  • Flight crew and attendants on emergency or rescue flights and other helpers involved in disaster or emergency relief;
  • The civilian crew of ships navigating in international waters;
  • The holders of laissez-passer issued by some intergovernmental organisations to their officials.

(*) Biometric passport holders are exempted from the visa requirement. Visa facilitation agreement (VFA) continues to apply to holders of non-biometric passports.
(**) Nationals of Taiwan holders of passports issued by Taiwan which include an identity card number are exempted from the visa requirement.

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Schengen Area

The Schengen Area is composed of 26 countries.

  • At present, 22 European Union Member States enforce the Schengen Convention (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.);
  • Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland integrally enforce the Schengen Convention, but are not members of the European Union.

The six other European Union Member States still outside the Schengen Area are the UK, Ireland, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia.

Schengen map

The EU Member State, Cyprus, is not yet a fully-fledged member of the Schengen Area. Border controls between Cyprus and the current members of the Schengen Area are to be maintained until the EU Council decides that the conditions for abolishing internal border controls have been met. However, Cyprus considers the Schengen visa, as well as residence permits from other EU Member States, as equivalent to its national visa for the purpose of a transit that does not exceed 5 days.

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.

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European Union

The following is the list of countries that 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 and Sweden.

European Union map

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Visa photo

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).

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

Schengen requirements

The examples above come from IACO (International Civil Aviation Organization) recommendations regarding machine readable travel documents (document IACO 9303).

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Short stay visa

Short stay visa allows the traveler, assuming all other conditions are met, to enter the territories of any Schengen country to pay a single continuous visit or multiple visits, the duration of which does not exceed 90 days in any 180 days period. A short stay 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 (e.g.: from July 1st to September 28th);
  • Multiple entry visas allow several entries and stays in the Schengen Area, of which the total duration cannot exceed 90 days in any 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.

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Long stay visa

If you plan to stay in Switzerland for more than 90 days, you should apply for a long stay visa.

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

There are different types of long stay visas:

  • Family reunion;
  • Studies in Switzerland;
  • Work in Switzerland.

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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 travellers transiting the Schengen territory and who will not leave the transit area of the airport.

Airport transit visa does not apply to Turkish citizens. However, if the transit involves a change of airport, a regular transit visa is required. If you are of other nationalities and you are going to transit through a Swiss airport, please click here to check if you need an airport transit visa.

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Brexit

The EU has revised Regulation (EU) 2018/1806 on visas in the light of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. With the revision of this regulation, UK citizens are exempted from visa requirements for a short-term stay (90 days in any 180-day period) for the Schengen area (therefore including Switzerland). This amendment applies from the day that the UK leaves the EU.

The current provisions continue to apply up to the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020; i.e. UK citizens do not need a visa to travel to Switzerland during this period.

For more information please visit the following website.

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How to book an appointment on TLScontact website?

You can find more detail information on how to take an appointment on TLScontact website here.

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Do I need a Schengen visa?

Turkish passport holders
All Turkish nationals must have a valid visa to enter the Schengen Area, regardless of the duration of their stay and no matter what kind of travel document they have, except if they have a valid residence permit which enables them to stay in the Schengen Area.
Please note that holders of Turkish diplomatic or special passports i.e. red, green, grey passports can travel visa free for stays up to a maximum of 90 days within 6 months.

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

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Where can I apply for a visa?

Visa applications for Switzerland are now received by TLScontact, except for some categories that are still received by the Consulate General of Switzerland in Istanbul directly (see Jurisdiction).

  • 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 you intend to visit several Schengen countries but do not have a main destination (i.e. the duration of your stay is the same in different countries), you should apply for a visa at the Embassy or Consulate of the country that is your first point of entry.

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How do I apply for a visa?

To apply for a visa, you should first Register on this website, and then follow the instructions. For more details about the procedure, please click here.

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When should I apply for a visa?

You may only submit your visa application 180 days before your date of departure. The average application process time is 6 to 8 working days, but it can take much longer under certain circumstances (e.g. missing documents, work visa, etc.). The Consulate General advises you to submit your application at least 15 calendar days before the scheduled departure.

Persons who are applying for a long stay visa can make an appointment with the Swiss Consulate up to 5 months (150) days before their departure date. Processing time can take 6-8 weeks, so it is suggested the application is submitted as early as possible.

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What kind of visa do I need to apply for?

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Where can I get a visa application form?

The visa application form is accessible on the Links and Downloads page.

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Could the Visa Section request me to provide additional documents or informations?

Yes, the Consulate General of Switzerland may request you to provide additional documents or information, according to your personal situation.

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What are the requirements for 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 and be valid for all Schengen Member States.

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How can I collect my passport?

Passports can be collected in

  • Istanbul: from Monday to Friday, 08:30-12:30 and 13:30-16:30
  • Ankara: from Monday to Friday, 08:30-12:30 and 13:30-16:30

at TLScontact. When your passport is ready to be collected, you will be notified online on your personal account page and by SMS, informing you to come to the TLScontact center with your visa application checklist and the original and a copy of your identity card. If you chose to have your passport returned to you by UPS service, it will be sent directly to the address you have specified.

Long-term applicants: The applicant may be contacted by the Cantonal authorities in Switzerland or can directly contact ist.visa@eda.admin.ch.

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Can TLScontact send me my passport by express mail?

TLScontact offers an express registered mail service, allowing you to receive your passport directly at your home or your office. Please inform us if you wish to use this service when you submit your application at the TLScontact center. If you choose to cancel this service after your application has been submitted, the courier fee cannot be refunded. Recipient address and information for the courier service must be filled in by the applicant or representative during application submission appointment. Once the application has been submitted, no changes can be made to the recipient address and information. We therefore kindly ask you to confirm recipient address and information before the application submission.

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Can someone else apply for a visa on my behalf?

Since 25.09.2014, all diplomatic representations of the Schengen member states in Turkey are capturing the biometric data (finger scans and facial image) of persons applying for a Schengen visa. The data is being kept in the Visa Information System (VIS) for 5 years.

If your finger scans have not been collected yet, personal appearance when applying for a Schengen visa is mandatory. If your finger scans were previously collected (within the last 5 years) and a visa with the mention “VIS” has been granted, then you won’t have to give new finger scans for your next visa application(s) and personal appearance is not mandatory.

You will still have to appear in person to give your fingerprints should the previously collected fingerprints prove to be of insufficient quality or should the Consulate General wish to conduct an interview with you.

Finger scans are not required from children under the age of 12.

An information leaflet of the European Union relating to the introduction of the VIS and the capture of biometric data can be found in the following link.

When a representative applies on your behalf it is mandatory to provide the documents stated below:

  • Your ID copy;
  • A letter of authorization from you (for the representative letter sample click here);
  • Your representative’s original ID and a copy;
  • Your VIS previous Visa sticker number in case biometry data have been successfully collected after September 25th 2014.

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Can someone else pick up my passport for me?

Yes, a representative may retrieve your passport on your behalf provided that they bring:

  • 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 you.

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What is the difference between a Schengen visa and a national visa?

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

The decision to receive and issue such visas is made by the consulate of the country of destination. In case of a trip in multiple Schengen countries, the main destination is determined by the purpose of the trip or duration of the stay. Professional reasons for a stay in a Schengen country outweigh its jurisdiction on the grounds against tourism, family or private visit in another state.

A national long stay visa (Type D) is only valid in connection with taking up residence in Switzerland and for stays of more than 90 days.The national visa allows, however, transit through other Schengen countries.

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Which browsers does TLScontact support?

TLScontact supports the latest versions of these browsers:

  • Chrome (Win 10 and Android for Mobile / Tablet);
  • Edge (Win 10);
  • Firefox (Win 7);
  • Safari (OS X and iOS for Mobile / Tablet).

Make sure your browser is up to date and get into the habit of installing software updates whenever they are available.

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Why isn’t Internet Explorer supported?

Internet Explorer (IE) 11 was released in 2013, and no feature updates released by Microsoft in years, which puts this browser behind others in terms of its ability to support new technologies. While Microsoft will continue to provide support for users of IE 11 for a few more years, the new default browser is Microsoft Edge.

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