Europe’s Schengen Visa Goes Digital: Easier Online Process Coming Soon
Great news for travelers to Europe! The process of getting a Schengen Visa Goes Digital, making it easier and faster. This new system, expected to start in a few months, means no more visa stickers in passports and no need to visit consulates.
It covers 23 European Union countries and neighbors like Switzerland and Norway. Travelers will simply upload their documents and pay fees online. While first-timers might still need an in-person appointment, most will receive a digital barcode as their visa. Additionally, visitors from countries like the USA and Canada will need to apply online for a quick pre-travel check starting mid-2025.
By the end of 2024, the EU will also introduce a system to track all entries and exits, further streamlining travel.
Schengen Visa Goes Digital: The European Union is transitioning the Schengen visa application process to an online platform.
Elimination of Physical Stickers: No need for a visa sticker in passports, simplifying the application process.
Online Application Process: Applicants will use an online platform to submit documents and pay fees.
Anticipated Implementation Timeline: The digital visa system will be operational after several months of technical work and publication in the EU’s administrative gazette.
Schengen Area Coverage: Includes 23 EU member countries and associated neighbors like Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein.
Ease of Application: Grande-Marlaska notes that the new system will simplify the travel process.
Requirements for Applicants: Upload documents, data, and biometric information electronically.
Cryptographically Signed Barcode: Approved applicants receive a barcode for print or digital storage.
Exceptions for In-Person Appointments: First-time applicants and those with new biometric data may need an in-person meeting.
ETIAS for Visa-Waiver Countries: Countries like Australia, Britain, Canada, etc., will use ETIAS for pre-screened entry from mid-2025.
Automated EU Entry/Exit System (EES): Set for end-2024 implementation to record entry, exit, and biometric data of all visitors.
EES Objectives: Monitors overstays and refused entries, enhancing border security.
Schengen Visa Goes Digital , The digitalization of the Schengen visa process marks a significant advancement in the visa application system for the Schengen area. This new initiative is expected to simplify and streamline the process for travelers while enhancing security measures. Here are the key aspects of the new digital Schengen visa system:
- Online Application Platform: The European Union will introduce an online platform for Schengen visa applications. This platform will allow applicants to enter their details, upload necessary documents, and pay visa fees online. The digital visa will replace the traditional visa sticker with a cryptographically signed 2D barcode, making it more secure and less vulnerable to theft and fraud.
- Biometric Data Collection: For first-time applicants or those with a new travel document, an in-person visit will still be required to collect biometric data. This is to ensure that the biometric data is up to date and to verify new travel documents.
- Transitional Period: The transition from the traditional paper-based application process to the new digital system is expected to take several years. During this period, applicants may choose to use either the current paper-based procedure or the new digital procedure. The EU Visa Application Platform (EU VAP) will be the central system for this transition, and member states can opt to continue issuing visas in the traditional form if they choose.
- Enhanced Security and Convenience: The Schengen Visa Goes Digital aims to improve security by reducing the risks associated with physical visa stickers, such as falsification and theft. It also promises a more seamless and convenient travel experience for applicants, reducing the need for in-person consulate visits.
- Required Documents: The typical documents needed for the digital Schengen visa application include recent photos, a valid passport, round-trip reservation or itinerary, travel health insurance, proof of accommodation, and proof of financial means. These documents can be submitted electronically through the online platform.
- Eligibility and Scope: The Schengen Visa Goes Digital will be applicable for both short-stay and long-stay visas and will also be issued by EU countries that are not yet fully applying the Schengen rules, like Bulgaria, Romania, and Cyprus.
This digital transformation is expected to make the visa process more efficient, cheaper, and user-friendly, benefitting both travelers and the administrations handling the applications. The implementation and full transition to the digital system will mark a significant change in how visas are processed and issued for travel within the Schengen area.