Schengen Visas

The Schengen Visa Scheme allows people wishing to visit certain countries within the European Economic Area (EEA) to travel using only one visa for a trip that could last up to 3 months.

At the moment, there are 25 countries which have signed the Schengen agreement and which make up the Schengen space. These countries are listed to the right with links to the Embassy websites.

If you are planning on visiting more than one country, you should apply for your Schengen Visa from the country that you enter first or in which you will be spending the most time.

Types of Schengen Visa

There are various types of Schengen visas available. These include:

  • Airport transit visa – allows you to pass through the transit area of an airport of a Schengen member state but not to visit the country, before flying on to your final destination (for example if you pass through Amsterdam airport en route to Nigeria)
  • Transit visa – allows you to pass through one or more Schengen member states on your way to another country outside the Schengen space
  • Short-stay or travel visa – allows you to visit Schengen member states for up to 3 months in any 6-month period. This is the visa most students will need to apply for if they want to travel within the Schengen space. This visa does NOT allow you to travel to and from the Schengen space at will. You  will be usually be expected to submit details of travel and accommodation for all trips with your application

The University has produced a document check list to assist you in making your application.  You should download and print the checklist before continuing to make the application.  The checklist is a guide to the documents you will need for your applcation, and you need to use the individual embassy links on this page for each country to get  specific  document and applicaiton informaton for your application.

Please note that it is a student’s responsibility to apply for Schengen visas for their own travel and that the University can not do this for you. 


Some points to remember:

Some embassies have a limit on the number of applications they will accept each day. You should aim to arrive at the embassy very early if you are making your application in person. Other embassies require that you make an appointment for an interview. Embassies close on days which are national holidays in their own country.

Please be aware that visa information lines can be very expensive and only give pre-recorded basic information. It is better to use the embassy websites.

If you are in the UK on a C type visitor or Short Term Study Visa it may be very difficult for you to apply for a Schengen visa from the UK.  Many embassy's will not accept the C Type (visitor) visa as proof you are resident in the UK and so will not accept an application from you.  Each embassy will list on their website if they will accept applications from C Type visa holders.  In the event that the embassy will let you apply with a C Type visa, you may experience longer application processing times.



How long will it take?


When you have had your documents checked at your appointment, the Embassy official will retain your passport, and any other documents they need for a decision to be made. The Embassy should confirm how it will return your documents and how long it will take for your applicaiton to be decided.  You can also check average processing times on the Embassy websites. Most Embassies aim to return your passport within a few days but it can take a few weeks.

You will find information on getting to the VFS Centre or Embassy on the Embassy websites listed on this page.  Its worth checking the closest underground station to the embassy and planning your travel route carefully. A map of the London Underground is available.


If you are attending in the morning, you will probably have to book overnight accommodation in London to ensure that you arrive in time. Make sure you plan your route across London on a map before you go. If you're getting to the Embassy early in the morning, try and have a practice walk of the route the day before your appointment. You will not be seen or offered an appointment if you miss the opening hours.


See www.megabus.com for cheap bus travel between Cardiff and London, www.nationalexpress.com/coach/index.cfm for National Express coaches to all destinations and www.thetrainline.com  for trains between all stations.

See www.moneysavingexpert.com/travel/cheap-hotels or www.hostelworld.com for cheap hotels and hostels. In London, you may also be able stay at The International Students House - Contact them direct for details.

The IISA Team does not offer a service whereby they make your Schengen visa application or appointment for you. This is because generally travelling outside of the UK during your studies is for your personal pleasure. They can however check through your documents before sending/your appointment.

If you would like an adviser to check your documents for you, you should email international.advice@southwales.ac.uk stating which country you are applying to and the date of your appointment. Please note that this service is not guaranteed and is subject to staff availability and IISA commitments.

You should start making your Schengen visa application at least 8-12 weeks before your proposed travel date.

Are you thinking of travelling to Europe for Christmas or at any other time during your studies? If so, check out the Travelling to EU countries page for information and tips on where to start.

The UK is an ideal starting point for travel in Europe and it may be cheaper than you think to see some famous sites. Whether you want to travel by plane, train or car it is fairly easy to plan an exciting vacation somewhere new.

The Immigration and International Student Advice team has put together some information to help you get started and give you some guidance on where to look but it is still worth checking the internet and local travel shops for any other possible bargains!