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Do UK Citizens Need a Visa for Europe?

Daniel Riley December 28th, 2023 399 views

Passport & Visa
Passport & Visa. Picture Credit: Canva
As a UK citizen planning a European getaway, you might wonder about the visa requirements for travelling across the continent. Here's a comprehensive guide to help you understand the rules and prepare for your journey.

Visa-Free Travel for British Citizens

Good news for British passport holders! You can travel visa-free to the Schengen Area for up to 90 days in 2023/2024. This privilege extends to British Overseas Territories citizens (BOTCs), British Overseas citizens (BOCs), British Protected Persons (BPPs), and British Subjects (BS) since June 9, 2014. However, new rules are planned from mid-2025 but no announcement has been issued to date with the full details.

Who Needs a Schengen Visa?

If you're a non-EU resident living in the UK (i.e. a non-British passport holder), you'll need to apply for a Schengen visa. However, make sure your UK residence permit is valid for at least three months beyond your planned departure from the Schengen Area. If you're on a short-term UK visa, extend it for at least three months to be eligible to apply for a Schengen visa within the UK.

Application Essentials

Applying for a Schengen Visa requires several documents:
  • Valid Passport: Issued within the last 10 years, with at least 2 blank pages and valid for 3 months after leaving the Schengen Area.
  • UK Residence Permit: Or other forms of Identity Card.
  • Completed Application Form: Signed by the applicant.
  • Recent Passport Photo: Less than six months old, with a light background.
  • Cover Letter: Explaining the purpose of your visit.
  • Proof of Travel Arrangements: Including round trip reservations and a complete itinerary.
  • Schengen Travel Insurance: Covering medical emergencies and repatriation (minimum coverage of €30,000).
  • Proof of Accommodation: Hotel reservations or group travel proof.
  • Financial Sufficiently Proof: Showing at least £55 per day.

Employed, self-employed, students, retirees, or those married to UK citizens have additional specific requirements regarding employment letters, business details, study confirmation, pension statements, or spouse’s employment details.

When and How to Apply?

The best time to apply is at least 15 days before your trip, but not more than 6 months prior. Book an appointment with the relevant Consulate or Embassy in London, either in person or through accredited agencies like VFS or BLS.

Processing Time and Fees

It generally takes 15 days to process a visa application, but it can extend to 30 days. The fee ranges from £36.50 for children to £51 for adults. 

Special Note for Non-EU Spouses of UK Nationals

If you’re a non-EU spouse of a British national with UK permanent residence, you will need a Schengen Visa to travel to the Schengen Area.

Final Thoughts

Planning is key when travelling to Europe. Ensure your documents are in order, understand the requirements, and apply in good time should be required to hold a Visa. Happy travels! ?✈️

Information correct as at 28th December 2023

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