Migration and Home Affairs

Visa policy

The border-free Schengen Area cannot function efficiently without a common visa policy which facilitates the entry of legal visitors into the EU, while strengthening internal security. The EU has established a common visa policy for transit through or intended stays in the territory of a Schengen States of no more than 90 days in any 180 days period and for transit through the international transit areas of airports of the Schengen States. In 2016, the 26 Schengen States issued 13.9 million "Schengen visas". You may find the complete data on Schengen visas lower in this page.

Main elements of the common visa policy

  • Citizens from some non-EU countries are required to hold a visa when travelling to the Schengen Area. The EU has a common list of countries whose citizens must have a visa when crossing the external borders and a list of countries whose citizens are exempt from that requirement. These lists are set out in Regulation No 539/2001 and its successive amendments. Generally, a short-stay visa issued by one of the Schengen States entitles its holder to travel throughout the 26 Schengen States for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. Visas for visits exceeding that period remain subject to national procedures.


Credit: EC-GISCO, Administrative boundaries ©Eurogeographics ©UN-FAO

This map is for reference purposes only. The rules in force regarding visa requirements are set out in Regulation No 539/2001. The designations employed and the presentation of material on this map do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the European Union concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.

List of individual Schengen States’ ATV requirements

Decisions on visa free access to the Schengen Area may follow from bilateral negotiations. They are based on the progress made by the countries concerned in implementing major reforms in areas such as the strengthening of the rule of law, combating of organised crime, corruption and illegal migration and improving of administrative capacity in border control and security of documents.

Visa reciprocity

The EU aims at achieving full visa reciprocity with the non-EU countries whose nationals are exempt from the visa requirement. Thus, EU citizens would not need a visa either for travelling to these non-EU countries.

For that purpose, a visa reciprocity mechanism has been set up.

Visa facilitation agreements

So far, the EU has concluded visa facilitation agreements with the following non-EU countries. Based on these agreements, both the EU and non-EU citizens benefit from facilitated procedures for issuing visas.

Visa facilitation agreements Entry into force
Albania Agreement between the European Community and the Republic of Albania on the facilitation of the issuance of visas 01/01/2008
Armenia Agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Armenia on the facilitation of the issuance of visas 01/01/2014
Azerbaijan Agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Azerbaijan on the facilitation of the issuance of visas 01/09/2014
Bosnia and Herzegovina Agreement between the European Community and Bosnia and Herzegovina on the facilitation of the issuance of visas 01/01/2008
Cape Verde Agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Cape Verde on facilitating the issue of short-stay visas to citizens of the Republic of Cape Verde and of the European Union 1/12/2014
FYROM Agreement between the European Community and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on the facilitation of the issuance of visas 01/01/2008
Georgia Agreement between the European Union and Georgia on the facilitation of the issuance of visas 01/03/2011
Moldova

Agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Moldova amending the Agreement between the European Community and the Republic of Moldova on the facilitation of the issuance of visas 
(amending the Agreement between the European Community and the Republic of Moldova on the facilitation of the issuance of visas)

01/07/2013
Montenegro Agreement between the European Community and the Republic of Montenegro on the facilitation of the issuance of visas 01/01/2008
Serbia Agreement between the European Community and the Republic of Serbia on the facilitation of the issuance of visas 01/01/2008
Russia Agreement between the European Community and the Russian Federation on the facilitation of the issuance of visas 01/06/2007
Ukraine

Agreement between the European Union and Ukraine amending the Agreement between the European Community and Ukraine on the facilitation of the issuance of visas
(amending the Agreement between the European Community and Ukraine on the facilitation of the issuance of visas)

01/07/2013

Visa facilitation agreements are linked to readmission agreements. Readmission agreements establish the procedures for the return to the EU or to the partner non-EU country of persons (own and third country nationals or stateless persons) in irregular situation.

EU States may also individually negotiate agreements on local border traffic with neighbouring non-EU countries. These agreements enable border residents of well-defined areas to cross the EU external borders, under certain conditions, without having to obtain a visa.

Complete statistics on short-stay visas issued by the Schengen States