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How will a digital Schengen visa be issued

13 May 2022

The European Commission has provided details of digitization of procedures for obtaining a Schengen visa. It became known what will replace the paper visa and when the future digital visa platform will work in the European Union.

According to ATOR, plans to digitize visa procedures became known in April. It is expected that this will improve the process by reducing costs and burden on Member States and applicants, while increasing security in the region. At the moment, the following details are known.

Submitting an application in an online format

Regardless of the destination country, travelers will have to fill out a visa application form on the common online platform of the European Union: upload a scanned copy of their travel document, travel medical insurance and other documents required to apply.

In cases where the applicant intends to visit more than one country of the Schengen area, the platform will automatically decide which country of the Schengen area is responsible for processing this particular application. The application will then be submitted to the competent national system of that EU Member State for processing.

Who will need to take biometrics

Those who apply for a Schengen visa for the first time will need to come to the consulate or visa application center to take fingerprints and take a picture. The same requirement applies to those who took biometrics more than 59 months ago. According to the visa code, biometric data is stored in the system during this time, after which it must be updated.

Accordingly, travelers who have not expired biometrics and previously had a Schengen visa can apply for a new visa online, but on condition that they apply with the same travel document (passport) in which the expired Schengen is. Thus, if a traveler has a new passport, he will have to take biometrics again to get a new visa.

As for minor travelers, parents or legal guardians submit an application on their behalf.

Visa in barcode format

After the tourist has completed his application and it has been processed by the relevant Member State, the latter must notify the applicant of the decision, indicating whether the visa is issued or denied. The Schengen visa will be issued in digital format – in the form of a 2D barcode cryptographically signed by the Signature Certification Authority of the country (CSCA) that issued it.

Visa Payment Online

According to the European Commission, visa fees will not change and agreements on the exemption and simplification of the visa regime will be applied. Payment of the visa fee will also be possible only online. Payments will be directly transferred to the Member State processing the visa application.

Which countries will use a single digital visa platform

All 26 countries of the Schengen area will use the future single EU visa platform. Ireland, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania will remain outside this system: they will continue to issue paper visas. It is still unclear whether it will be possible to enter these countries with a digital Schengen, as it is now with a paper visa.

When will the new EU visa platform work

According to the plans of the European Commission, the development of a visa platform will start in two years, in 2024. The launch of the digital visa system is scheduled for 2026. At the same time, it will not be simultaneous for all countries of the Schengen area. They will have a five-year period to switch from current visa processing methods to digital ones. Thus, if everything goes according to plan, all applications for a Schengen visa will be submitted and processed digitally only after 9 years, in 2031.

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