Navigating The New Schengen Visa: What Travelers Need to Know in 2024

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Holding a passport and boarding pass in a crowded airport

As of 2024, the Schengen Visa continues to be a significant document for travelers seeking to visit the Schengen Area, which includes many European Union (EU) countries and several non-EU nations. This visa allows for short-term stays of up to 90 days within 180 days for purposes such as tourism, business, or visiting family and friends.

The Schengen Agreement, which establishes the rules for this visa, enables passport holders from many countries to traverse the Schengen Area easily. It promotes free movement and enhances security through cooperation on border controls.

However, recent updates indicate that changes are on the horizon for those traveling to Europe. U.S. passport holders, who have traditionally enjoyed visa-free travel to the Schengen Area, should take note of the upcoming requirement for an additional travel document—the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS).

Slated to effect in 2025, ETIAS serves as a travel authorization rather than a visa, but it is a mandatory security measure for visa-exempt travelers. Once operational, the ETIAS will necessitate an online application for all Americans and citizens of other visa-free countries before they can enter EU countries within the Schengen Zone.

Besides U.S. passport holders, travelers from other countries must also navigate these evolving requirements.

What are the New Schengen Visa Costs?

As the landscape of European travel evolves, all potential visitors must stay informed of the latest requirements to ensure a smooth journey to the Schengen countries. In 2024, the cost structure for the Schengen visa experienced an update, impacting travelers planning to visit member countries such as France, Germany, and Austria.

Adult applicants will see a 12.5 percent increase in the visa fee, from €80 to €90. Children will encounter a fee hike from €40 to €45.

Now, the visa and application fees aren’t the same. The former is a mandatory charge collected by consulates, while the latter may apply when utilizing an accredited visa application center’s services.

Moreover, the increase addresses a proposal by the European Commission to revise the fee schedule to reflect operational costs and encourage cooperation in policies, including those related to citizen readmission.

Be aware of the forthcoming ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System) and EES (Entry/Exit System), designed to strengthen the security of the Schengen zone. And you can expect additional processes for visa-exempt nationals from 2024 onwards.

The update in visa costs isn’t just a cash grab. It’s just changing policies to streamline the process and maintain robust security and operational standards within the Schengen area while keeping travel to the region accessible.

Age GroupPrevious Fee (€)New Fee (€)
Adults8090
Children4045

See Related: Best Apps & Websites to Book Hotels in Europe

Impact on Travelers

Holding a passport and boarding pass in a crowded airport
Joshua / Adobe Stock

The Schengen Area is one of the world’s top destinations – depending on your metrics, it’s the most active tourist area. Apart from being a diverse home to arts, culture, climate, cuisine, and scenery, one of the biggest appeals for globetrotters is the seamless travel across most European countries.

But, in light of recent developments, anyone traveling to the European Union must be aware of the updated fee structure for Schengen visas. While minor, these fee alterations can significantly impact travelers’ overall budget, particularly those from countries with a less favorable exchange rate against the euro, digital nomads, and budget travelers.

But it’s not just your budget that’s affected. During the visa application process, you must provide a range of personal details, proof of travel insurance, and a passport valid for at least three months beyond your planned stay.

They must also note that a Schengen visa typically allows a stay of up to 90 days within 180 days and is valid for three years.

The aftermath of the COVID-19 emergency saw a surge in passenger numbers, signifying a return to pre-pandemic levels. However, this fee increment could influence the recovery rate and individual decisions to travel to the EU.

Additionally, the changes in the visa fee may play a role in managing the migration flow and addressing concerns about irregular migration that the Schengen area is undergoing.

See Related: An Expert Traveler’s Complete International Travel Checklist

Planning Your Trip with the New Regulations

Starting in 2025, the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) will require non-EU country residents to obtain travel authorization before their visit. Here’s the lowdown.

Who is affected:

  • Citizens from visa-exempt countries like the USA, South Africa, India, Pakistan, and China
  • Individuals visiting for tourism or business purposes
  • Important Considerations:
    • Bulgaria, Romania, and Cyprus will follow Schengen rules; ensure ETIAS covers these countries.
    • Monitor the EU’s official platforms for changes in visa fees or process intricacies.

Key Requirements:

  • Online Application Form: Travelers must complete an online form providing personal details and travel information.
  • Valid Passport: A passport with at least 3 months left beyond the planned departure date from the Schengen Area.
  • Security Questions: Answering security-related queries is a compulsory step in the application. Your answers must be truthful and may result in further queries or a rejection of your application.

Fees and Validity:

  • Visa Fee: A minor fee is charged for processing the ETIAS, which is affordable for most tourists and business travelers. That said, it burdens budget travelers, backpackers, and anyone from a country with a poor exchange rate with the euro.
  • Duration: Once issued, ETIAS allows for multiple entries over three years, with stays up to 90 days within any 180 days.

Application Process and Trends:

  • Processing Time: The system is designed for quick processing; most applications should be approved within minutes, with some taking a day or two.
  • Biometric Data: An Entry/Exit System (EES) will be introduced at Schengen ports, recording biometric details at automated kiosks.

Travelers should adapt to these trends by preparing and meeting all requirements. Business professionals and tourists must account for these changes to ensure a smooth entry into the Schengen Area.

See Related: Proven Ways to Save Money for Travel

FAQs

What is ETIAS, and how does it impact travelers?

ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System) is a new travel authorization system expected to launch in 2024 for visa-free nationals entering the Schengen Area. It is not a visa but a requirement for travelers from visa-exempt countries. The authorization is valid for three years or until the passport expires.

Will the visa application process change?

Yes, in 2024, the Schengen Area aims to streamline visa applications, making the process more consistent and digital with fewer bureaucratic hurdles. Biometric data will be required initially at the consulate; afterward, renewals are needed every five years or with a new passport.

What are the visa fee changes?

For the standard short-stay Schengen visa, fees are expected to see an inflation rate-based increase from €80 to €90 for adults and from €40 to €45 for children aged 6-12.

How long can travelers stay in the Schengen Zone?

The Schengen visa allows a stay of 90 days within any 180 days. This applies to both tourist and business travelers throughout the member states.

How does the EES (Entry-Exit System) affect travelers?

The EES is an electronic system that registers the entry and exit data of non-EU citizens crossing the external borders of the Schengen Area. It serves to better manage borders, reduce undocumented immigration, and enhance security.

Are there any special considerations for certain passport holders?

U.S. passport holders, along with other visa-free country nationals, will need to apply for ETIAS before their European travel – much like how folks have to apply for ESTAs to enter the U.S. They must meet the requirements, including having no criminal convictions that would pose a threat to the member states.

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Kyle Kroeger
WRITTEN BY

Kyle Kroeger

Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of ViaTravelers.com. He is a full-time traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started ViaTravelers.com to help travelers experience a fully immersive cultural experience as he did initially living in Italy. He's a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wanderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). After visiting 12 countries and 13 national parks in a year, he was devoted to creating and telling stories like he'd heard.

Plus, after spending more time on airplanes and packing, he's learned some incredible travel hacks over time as he earned over 1 million Chase Ultimate Rewards points in under a year, helping him maximize experiences as much as possible to discover the true meaning of travel.

He loves listening to local stories from around the world and sharing his experiences traveling the globe. He loves travel so much that he moved from his hometown of Minneapolis to Amsterdam with his small family to travel Europe full-time. Read more about his portfolio of work.

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