If you’re from outside the EU and studying in the UK, you’re on the doorstep of Europe. You might want to see the sights of the diverse and historic cultures of EU countries, and if you’re travelling from somewhere like China or India, then this might be a rare opportunity.
But before you jump on a plane, remember that non-EU citizens may need a visa to visit the area. Luckily, the majority of EU countries have an agreement whereby non-EU citizens only need one visa to visit the majority of its member states. These countries are part of the Schengen Agreement.
You will also need suitable travel insurance to get a Schengen visa.
What is the Schengen Agreement?
The Schengen Agreement is a legal understanding between 26 European countries (listed below) that allows people travelling legally in the EU to enter multiple countries without encountering border checks. It effectively removes national state limits from central Europe and helps support the European ideal of free movement of people.
What countries are in the Schengen Agreement?
Want to know where you can go in the Schengen area? Here are the 26 countries you can currently visit:
- Czech Republic
What countries are not included in the Schengen Agreement?
There are a few European countries that are excluded from the Schengen Agreement:
- United Kingdom
These countries will have their own visa processes, so if you want to visit one of them, you will need to arrange a visa with their embassy directly.
Travel insurance for a Schengen visa
You are required to have adequate levels of insurance for a Schengen visa. This is so you are covered in the event of accident or medical emergency while travelling, but also comes with a range of extra benefits such as cover for lost luggage.
It’s important that you get the appropriate level of cover. Make sure that your policy covers you for medical expenses, such as emergency medical costs and repatriation. If you have existing travel insurance, double check your policy to see whether you have the right level of cover.
Insurance requirements for a Schengen visa
EU law states that the minimum amount of medical cover you must have is €30,000 (thirty-thousand euros). Your insurance must cover you for the entire EU area, so when you are buying travel insurance, make sure that your policy covers this and doesn't exclude some countries, such as Cyprus or Spain. This is the case even if you are only going to visit one Schengen country. It can also need to cover you for any medical needs – including death and repatriation – that could occur.
It’s important to remember that €30,000 is the minimum amount of medical cover required, however it may not be a sufficient amount in other respects. You may not be fully covered for the activities you’re planning with standard cover. For example, if you wanted to ski in a Schengen country then it’s crucial you get the appropriate add-on to be fully covered.
To be eligible for travel insurance you must reside in Great Britain, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man and you must be registered with a GP in Great Britain, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.
For more information on eligibility and what you will need to provide, consult the EU Commission's website. Some insurers, such as Post Office, are accepted by embassies as offering valid Schengen policies.
Do citizens of my country need a Schengen visa?
There are a number of countries whose citizens do not need a Schengen visa. These include the USA, Canada, Japan, Israel, Australia, New Zealand and the UAE. For further information on the Schengen visa, please click here.
If you are from a country where no Schengen visa is required, it is still important to understand the visa requirements between your country and the countries you wish to visit.
What do I need for a Schengen visa?
You should apply for your Schengen visa directly to the embassy of the country you plan to visit. If you want to visit more than one, then apply to the country where you will be spending the most time. They will be able to inform you of the specifics of their process, however the processes of Schengen countries are broadly very similar. Here are a few key things:
- Two passport-sized photographs
- Details of your travel itinerary (such as countries, dates and invitations)
- Travel insurance documentation
You'll also need to provide evidence that you can afford to support yourself during your trip, so having your most recent bank statements and anything else that will help you demonstrate that is important.
Different countries might have different requirements for Schengen visas, so check what else you need to bring (and what validity your passport needs) with the embassy most relevant to your trip.
Don't forget that if you're a student, you may be required to provide evidence of your studies, so make sure you have access to your enrolment and course documentation.
Get covered with Post Office
A Post Office policy is accepted by EU embassies as providing the necessary minimum cover for Schengen travel insurance.
It isn’t only for medical expenses. Regardless of Schengen requirements, having the necessary level of insurance is important any time you go abroad to protect you in the event of misfortunes such as cancellation, missed or delayed departure, legal expenses or loss of property while away.