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 set up a common visa policy for short stays, i.e. stays up to three months, which is applied through the delivery of so-called "Schengen visas". In 2015, the present 26 Schengen States issued around 14.3 million Schengen visas. You may find the complete data on short-stay visas lower in this page.

Main elements of the common visa policy

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