Understanding Schengen Visas: Single Entry, Double Entry, and Multiple Entry

A Schengen visa is a unique visa. This is a special tourist or visitor visa that is not for a particular country. Rather it is for an entire zone in the European continent. A person with this visa can have a short visit to 27 European countries belonging to this zone. There are several aspects of Schengen visas. One is its different types. You can determine how many times you can enter the zone depending on the type of visa you have. Here is a complete guide to the different types of Schengen visas.

Schengen Zone

The Schengen zone is not the same as the European Union. Both the entities have a few common countries. The Schengen zone is the world’s largest free travel area. It removes border control amongst the mutual borders of the 27 member countries. These countries are Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

Short-Term Schengen Visa

Short-term Schengen visa is the most common amongst Schengen visas. It is also called Type C Schengen visa. People apply for this visa to visit the Schengen countries for business, personal, and tourism reasons. The Schengen short-term visa allows the visa holder to stay in one of the countries in the zone for 90 days within a 180-day period. This visa allows you to explore the Schengen countries and attend business meetings and conferences. It also allows you to attend sports, religious, and cultural events. You can also get medical treatment in one of the Schengen countries with this visa. But this is not the visa you should get if you want to stay or work in the Schengen zone for a long time.

Types of Schengen Visa

On the table is an application for Schengen Visa

You can apply for three types of short-term Schengen visas: single entry, double entry, and multiple entry. The validity rules of all these types of visas might be the same. What makes these visas different from each other is the number of times you can enter the Schengen zone. You can apply for one of these as per your requirement and eligibility.

Single Entry Schengen Visa

The single entry Schengen visa is shown as “1” on the visa stamp. The holder of this visa can enter the Schengen zone only once. The visa becomes invalid as soon as the person leaves the zone, even if the validity of the visa has not expired. In case the person needs to visit any Schengen zone immediately, he/she needs to apply for a fresh visa. The single entry Schengen visa is ideal for short visits like business meetings and short holidays.

Double Entry Schengen Visa

The double entry Schengen visa allows you to enter the Schengen zone twice. This visa is best for those who are on a Europe tour and want to visit non-Schengen countries in between two Schengen countries. This will be a useful visa for those who must enter a non-Schengen country while traveling between two Schengen countries. This visa ceases to be valid when you exit the Schengen zone the second time, even if your visa has not expired. This visa comes as “2” on the sticker.

Multiple Entry Schengen Visa

You can enter the Schengen zone as many times as you want (till the validity of your visa expires) with the multiple entry visa. This visa is for those who must visit one or more of the Schengen countries frequently for business or personal reasons. This is ideal for those who want to make regular visits to the zone. But the point to be noted is that you can stay in the country for maximum 90 days during a 180-day period. Multiple entry visas are available in three forms:

One Year Multiple Entry Visa: It is valid for a year. You need to have used three single entry or double entry Schengen visas in the last two years to be eligible for this visa.

Three Year Multiple Entry Visa: The validity of the visa is three years. You need to use one year multiple entry visa in the last two years to apply for this visa.

Five Year Multiple Entry Visa: The person who has this visa need not apply for a new Schengen visa for the next five years. You can apply for this visa if you have used multiple entry visas for a minimum of two years in the last three years.

Important Note: The duration of your stay in the Schengen zone will be assigned by the immigration officer. You cannot stay for more days than mentioned in your visa sticker. Those who overstay will have to pay a fine and will also be banned from entering the Schengen zone for at least 2-5 years.

FAQs on Types of Schengen Visas

Are the documents required to submit the same for all types of Schengen visas?

Yes, you need to submit the same documents for all types of Schengen visas:

  • Application form (need to mention the type of visa you want)
  • Passport – minimum 3 months’ validity
  • 1-2 passport-sized photographs (you need to adhere to the Schengen visa photo size guidelines)
  • Travel itinerary (purpose of visit, dates of travel, and details of accommodation)
  • Proof of finances (bank statements and letter from employer)
  • Travel insurance
  • Additional documents (letter of invitation, enrollment certificate from an institute in the Schengen country, proof of employment, etc.)

Is it possible to extend a single entry Schengen visa?

No, you cannot extend a single entry Schengen visa. This rule stays even if you have not used the visa. You will have to apply for a fresh visa.

Is it possible to apply for a multiple entry Schengen visa the first time I am visiting the Schengen zone?

Multiple entry Schengen visas are usually assigned to seasoned travelers. It means those who have visited Schengen zone several times in the past. Still, you can apply for one. Approving it or not is solely the discretion of the visa officials at the consulate or embassy.

What is the right time to apply for a multiple entry Schengen visa after having a single entry Schengen visa?

You should apply for a multiple entry visa once your single entry visa has expired.

Can I convert my single entry visa into multiple entry visa?

No. Visa conversion is not possible for Schengen visas. You need to apply for a multiple entry visa before you fly to a Schengen country.

Is it possible to enter any Schengen country with a Schengen visa?

You can enter only those Schengen countries mentioned on your visa sticker with a Schengen visa. You need to mention the names of countries you want to visit at the time of application.

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