European Commission

Schengen Visa Application To Go Digital

In a significant development, negotiators from the European Parliament and the Council of the EU have reached an agreement on a proposal to digitalize the Schengen visa procedures. This move aims to streamline and modernize the visa application process, making it more efficient and secure.


Under the new regulation, individuals will have the option to apply for a Schengen visa online, eliminating the need for traditional visa stickers. The proposal seeks to establish an EU visa application platform, where applicants can submit their requests through a single website. The platform will then forward the applications to the respective national visa systems of EU member states.

Applicants will be able to enter all the necessary information, upload electronic copies of their travel and supporting documents, and complete the visa fee payment process on the platform. Moreover, they will receive timely notifications regarding the status of their visa applications.

The new rules also aim to minimize the need for in-person visits to consulates. Generally, only first-time applicants, individuals with expired biometric data, and those with a new travel document will be required to appear in person. For subsequent applications, the digital platform will handle the process efficiently.

To determine the responsible member state for processing the application, the platform will consider the intended duration of stay in each Schengen country. However, applicants will also have the flexibility to indicate their preferred member state for processing, based on the purpose of their travel.

One of the key benefits of the digitalized system is the issuance of visas in a secure digital format. Visas will be generated as 2D barcodes, cryptographically signed to prevent counterfeiting and theft. This implementation aims to enhance security within the Schengen area.

Before the new rules can be implemented, they need to be approved by EU member states. Once approved, the adoption process will begin in the Council and the European Parliament. Although a specific timeline for implementation was not provided in the EU statement, the introduction of the digitalized visa system is expected to occur in the near future.

At present, 27 European countries, including 23 EU member states, as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland, issue visas for the Schengen zone. However, countries such as Bulgaria, Cyprus, and Romania, where internal border controls remain in place, and Ireland, which is not part of the Schengen area, do not issue Schengen visas but rather national visas.


The initiative to digitalize visa procedures aligns with the broader objective outlined in the New Pact on Migration and Asylum, which aims to fully digitalize visa processes by 2025. By embracing digitalization, the visa application process can be streamlined, reducing costs and administrative burdens for both member states and applicants, while simultaneously enhancing the security measures within the Schengen area.

The move towards digital visas has been met with enthusiasm by EU officials. Margaritis Schinas, Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, emphasized the importance of modernizing the EU’s visa policy and ensuring a unified approach within the Schengen area. Ylva Johansson, Commissioner for Home Affairs, highlighted the positive impact of a digitalized visa process on travel for tourism and business purposes, citing the need for a user-friendly and efficient application platform.

The digitalization of visa procedures will not only simplify the process for applicants but also help address concerns related to “visa shopping,” where individuals seek faster processing by applying to a particular Schengen country that may not be their ultimate destination.

The European Commission has been actively working towards this digital transformation. In 2018, it proposed amending the Visa Code to adapt to new challenges and underscored the significance of digital visas. The revision of the EU Visa Code in 2019 further emphasized the goal of enabling online Schengen visa applications, leveraging recent legal and technological advancements.

The COVID-19 pandemic played a role in expediting the push for digitalization. The challenges posed by the pandemic, including the restricted operations of consulates and visa centers, prompted member states to call for accelerated efforts in digitalizing visa procedures.

The move toward a digitalized Schengen visa application system represents a significant step forward in simplifying and enhancing the visa process for travelers to the EU. With the integration of advanced technology and streamlined processes, the aim is to create a more accessible, secure, and efficient visa application experience for individuals from the 102 countries that require short-term visas to visit the EU.

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Akesse Sanza

Akesse Sanza is a Ghanaian Travel Blogger, Travel and Tourism Consultant, and Anti-human Trafficking And Safe Migration advocate. Akesse loves everything Travel & Tourism and aims to see every single country in the world.

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