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Schengen visa, Schengen area European Union

Schengen visa

A Schengen visa is required when staying in the Schengen Area for up to 90 days.

A Schengen visa is granted in the form of a sticker affixed to the passport, travel document or other valid document that entitles the holder to cross the border between Schengen countries. Possession of a Schengen visa does not confer automatic right of entry. Entry will only be granted if the other conditions laid down by the Schengen Convention are met, i.e. (among others) the justification of the purpose and conditions of the trip, minimum amount of funds travelers must have at their disposal and the possession of valid travel insurance.

With a Schengen visa, you may enter one country and travel freely throughout the Schengen Area. It is issued to citizens of countries who are required to obtain a visa before entering the Schengen Area.

A Schengen visa allows the holder to travel freely within the Schengen Area for a maximum stay of up to 90 days in any 180 days period. If you wish to stay longer than 90 days you will need a national long stay visa or a residence permit.

Schengen area

The Schengen Area is composed of 25 countries.

  • At present, 22 European Union Member States enforce the Schengen Convention: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden;
  • Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland integrally enforce the Schengen Convention, but are not members of the European Union.

The six other European Union Member States still outside the Schengen Area are Ireland, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia.

The EU Member State - Cyprus, is not yet a fully-fledged member of the Schengen Area. Border controls between Cyprus and the current members of the Schengen Area are to be maintained until the EU Council decides that the conditions for abolishing internal border controls have been met. However, Cyprus considers the Schengen visa, as well as residence permits from other EU Member States, as equivalent to its national visa for the purpose of a transit that does not exceed 5 days. The Principalities of Monaco, Andorra, San Marino and Holy See (Vatican City State) allow entry to their territories without any formality to Schengen visa holders.

European Union

The following is the list of countries that are currently members of the European Union: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

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What is the difference between a Schengen visa and a National visa?

Schengen visa (type C) is a visa issued by one of the member countries of the Schengen area and is valid for a short stay, limited to 90 days within any 180 days period, only for Schengen countries. Local competence to receive and issue such visas lies with the Consulate/Embassy of the country of the destination. In case of a trip in multiple Schengen countries, the main destination is determined by the purpose of the trip or duration of the stay.

National long stay visa (type D) is only valid for an establishment or a stay of more than 90 days in the country which issued the visa. The National visa allows, however, transit and travel through other Schengen countries.

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Do I need a Schengen visa?

Domestic passport holders - All South African nationals must have a valid visa to enter the Schengen area, regardless of the duration of their stay and no matter what kind of travel document they have, except if they travel on a South African Diplomatic passport or have a valid visa type D or residence permit which enables them to stay in the Schengen area.

Nationals of other countries - You can check on the following website whether nationals of your country need a Schengen visa or not.

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What kind of visa do I need to apply for?

For more information please visit Travel Purpose and Documents page.

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Short stay visa

Short stay visa allows the traveler, assuming all other conditions are met, to enter the territories of any Schengen country to pay a single continuous visit or multiple visits, the duration of which does not exceed 90 days in any 180 days period. A short stay visa can be issued for either single entry or multiple entries into the Schengen zone.

  • Single entry visas allow the visa holder to enter and stay in the Schengen area continuously for the length of the visa duration, to a maximum of 90 days (e.g.: from July 1st to September 28th);
  • Multiple entry visas allow several entries and stays in the Schengen Area, of which the total duration cannot exceed 90 days in any 180 days period. The stay can be continuous or divided into several periods within the length of your visa’s validity.

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Airport transit visa

An airport transit visa is required depending upon the country of your citizenship and whether you have residence permits or visas of certain countries. The visa allows the travelers transiting the Schengen territory and who will not leave the transit area of the airport.

Airport transit visa does not apply to South Africa citizens. However, if the transit involves a change of airport, a regular transit visa is required.

If you are of other nationalities and you are going to transit through a German airport, please check the following website if you need an airport transit visa.

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In which cases is my visa application admissible?

In order to be admissible for consideration by the competent German mission, your application must fulfill the following criteria in accordance with Sect. 19 (1) of the Visa Code:

  • It must not have been filed earlier than 6 months prior to your intended travel;
  • It must be accompanied by the prescribed application form, passport/travel document and passport photograph;
  • Your biometric data (fingerprints) must have been taken (unless exempt or already available);
  • The visa fee must have been paid -if applicable.

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Passport validity

Before applying for a visa you must make sure that your passport is valid:

  • Check the expiration date on your passport: For a short stay visa (less than 90 days), the expiration date must be no earlier than 3 months after the date of your return from the Schengen area;
  • Make sure your passport has two or more completely blank and unmarked visa pages;
  • Make sure your passport has not been altered: Check if the original laminated film (the transparent safety film that covers the passport photo) has been tampered with. If this is the case, you must ask a passport-issuing authority to re-tamper proof your passport; Make sure no pages or surfaces have been laminated (as this will invalidate your passport); Check for scratching or alteration;
  • If your passport was issued over 10 years ago, even if it is still valid at the time you submit your visa application, you must apply for a new passport from domestic authorities or the Embassy or Consulate of your country of origin, before being able to apply for a visa;
  • Make sure that the passport has been signed by the holder before applying for the visa.

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Where can I apply for a visa?

Visa applications for Germany are now received by TLScontact except for some categories. For more information please visit the Jurisdiction page.

  • If you intend to visit several Schengen countries, you must apply for a visa at the Embassy or Consulate of the country in which your main destination lies;
  • If you intend to visit several Schengen countries but do not have a main destination (i.e. the duration of your stay is the same in different countries), you should apply for a visa at the Embassy or Consulate of the country that is your first point of entry.
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When should I apply for a visa?

You may only submit your visa application within 6 months before your date of departure. As the processing time may take up to 15 days, we recommend that you apply at least 20 working days before the date you intend to travel.

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How do I apply for a visa?

To apply for a visa, you should first register on this website, and then follow the instructions. For more details about the procedure, please click here.

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Can someone else apply for a visa on my behalf?

Each applicant must come in person in order to proceed to the biometric data capture.

Personal appearance is mandatory for all visa applicants unless you are exempted from biometric data capturing. If you are exempted from biometric data capture, a representative can apply on your behalf. The representative has to provide a signed letter of authorization as well as the original and copy of his/her ID card. The representative cannot be a minor.

Personal appearance exemption conditions:

  • Children under 12 years of age. Finger scans are not required;
  • Applicant has previous Schengen visa delivered within 59 months and with the remarks “VIS”.

Notice: If applicant’s latest Schengen visa mentions “VIS 0”, applicant is still required to provide their biometric data, as “VIS 0” visa means only alphanumeric data and a photograph are provided, but no fingerprint.

Notice: If the remark “VIS” is mentioned on a long stay visa “Type D”, your personal appearance still required.

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Do I need to enroll my biometric information in the Visa Application Centre?

In general, everyone is required to enroll biometric information (10 fingerprint and digital photo); only applicants who are within the following categories will be exempted:

  • Children under the age of 12;
  • Applicants who are physically unable to submit their fingerprints for scan (hand/finger/arm amputated). However, if it is possible to scan at least one fingertip, then applicants have to go through the biometric step. In the case of a temporary inability to provide the fingerprints (plaster, bandage, etc.), the applicant still has to come in person and have the most possible fingerprints scanned. As only a part of the fingerprints has been collected, the applicant will have to come in person to allow the fingerprints scan again the next time applying for a visa;
  • Applicants who have had a previous Schengen visa delivered within the past 59 months.

Applicants need to provide a photocopy of this visa sticker as a proof. However, the local consular authority may request you to submit the biometric data again.

To know more about the Visa information system (VIS), please visit the following link.

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How to book an appointment on TLScontact website?

You can find more detail information on how to take an appointment on TLScontact website here.

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Where can I get a visa application form?

Visa application forms can be downloaded on Links and Downloads page.

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Could the Embassy/Consulate request me to provide additional documents or information?

The Embassy/Consulate may request you to provide additional documents or information, according to your personal situation, even after you have submitted your application at TLScontact centre.

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What are the visa photo requirements?

The photograph required for any visa application must be:

  • Color photo on a white background;
  • Format 3.5 cm x 4.5 cm;
  • Taken from the front - without obstruction;
  • Recent (less than 6 months old).

For more information, please visit the  link here

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What are the requirements for insurance?

Due to a regulation of the European Union (Decision 2004/17/CE of December 22nd 2003), there is a requirement to hold a travel insurance, which is a compulsory document.

The travel insurance must be valid for Schengen area and provide a minimum cover of EUR 30,000 for any expenses that may arise in connection with your repatriation for medical reasons, urgent medical attention or emergency hospital treatment. The travel insurance should fully cover the period of your stay in the Schengen area.

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When can I collect my passport?

During the processing of your application which may take up to 15 days your passport has to remain with the German Mission. The passport cannot be withdrawn in the meantime. You will be notified when your passport is ready for collection. Please check passport collection opening hours on Address page.

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How can I collect my passport?

Please check passport collection opening hours on Address page.

Collection in person

When your passport is ready to be collected, you will be notified online on your personal account page and by SMS notification (if you have requested this service), informing you to come to the TLScontact center with:

  • Your application checklist;
  • Your original photographic ID;
  • Copy of your photographic ID.

Collection by representative

A Representative may retrieve your passport on your behalf with the documents listed below:

  • Your application checklist;
  • Your original photographic ID;
  • Copy of your photographic ID;
  • An authorization letter signed by the applicant;
  • Proof of relationship (if applicable).

Return by courier

TLScontact offers an Express Courier Return service, allowing you to receive your passport directly at your home or your office. To obtain this service please add it to your cart on the Added Value Services page available when you log into your personal account on our webpage.

If you choose to cancel this service after your application has been submitted, Express Courier Return fee cannot be refunded.

Recipient address and information for this service must be filled in by the applicant or representative during application submission appointment. Once the application has been submitted, no changes can be made to the recipient address and information. We therefore kindly ask you to confirm recipient address and information before the application submission.

If your documents are being sent back to you by courier, it will be dispatched within 24 business hours. You will receive an additional email from TLScontact to confirm when they have been dispatched. The local courier service provider may also confirm this with you, depending upon which courier is used in your area.

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What happens if a visa is refused?

Should your visa have been declined, you will receive a refusal letter from the competent German Mission notifying you about the reasons for the refusal and the legal remedies. You will receive the refusal notification along with your passport. It is possible to submit a new application at any time with complete, verifiable documents.

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Where can I get more information on Schengen Visa regulations?

You will find comprehensive information on Schengen Visa legislation and documents (including those mandatory under Art. 47 of the Visa Code for information of the general public) on the website of the European Commission, Directorate General for Migration and Home Affairs.

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Which browsers does TLScontact support?

TLScontact supports the latest versions of these browsers:

  • Chrome (Win 10 and Android for Mobile / Tablet);
  • Edge (Win 10);
  • Firefox (Win 7);
  • Safari (OS X and iOS for Mobile / Tablet).

Make sure your browser is up to date and get into the habit of installing software updates whenever they are available.

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Why isn’t Internet Explorer supported?

Internet Explorer (IE) 11 was released in 2013, and no feature updates released by Microsoft in years, which puts this browser behind others in terms of its ability to support new technologies. While Microsoft will continue to provide support for users of IE 11 for a few more years, the new default browser is Microsoft Edge.

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