Central Visa Unit Sec Page – Schengen Visa

Central Visa Unit

The Schengen area and cooperation originate from the Schengen Agreement of 1985.


It represents a territory where the free movement of persons is guaranteed. The signatory States to the agreement have abolished all internal borders in lieu of a single external border. Therefore, common rules and procedures are applied to visas for short-stays, asylum requests and border controls. Simultaneously, cooperation and coordination between Police services and judicial authorities guarantee security. Schengen cooperation was incorporated into the European Union legal framework by the Treaty of Amsterdam of 1997.


A Schengen visa is an authorization issued by a Schengen State with a view to:


  • transit through or an intended stay in the territory of the Schengen States of a duration of no more than 90 days in any 180 days period (“short stay visa”);
  • transit through the international transit areas of airports of the Schengen States (“airport transit visa”).

Schengen Member States


To date, a total of 29 countries adhere to the Schengen Agreement; 25 EU Member States and another four (4) Associated States (non EU Member States) have abolished border control and have fully implement the Schengen acquis in relation to the issuance of a visa. The 29 Schengen Member States are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland*, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein*, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway*, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland*

(* Non EU Member States)


While One (1) EU Members State – Cyprus – is not yet fully-fledged member of the Schengen area and another two (2) – Ireland and the United Kingdom – maintain autonomous visa, immigration and asylum policies and do not participate in Schengen cooperation.


Key Rules


The key rules adopted within the Schengen framework include:


  • Removal of checks on persons at the internal borders;
  • A common set of rules applying to people crossing the external borders of the EU Member States;
  • Harmonisation of the conditions of entry and visas rules for short stays;
  • Enhanced police cooperation (including rights of cross-border surveillance and hot pursuit);
  • Stronger judicial cooperation through a faster extradition system and transfer of enforcement of criminal judgments;
  • Establishment and development of the Schengen Information System (SIS).