Schengen Visa: Do I need
17 February 2021
Each year, millions of tourists and business travellers are able to travel freely within a borderless zone of 26 European countries by applying for a Schengen visa. The largest free travel area in the world, the Schengen Area is made up of European countries that have officially abolished all passport and other forms of border control at their mutual borders.
Today, the Schengen zone comprises the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
A Schengen visa is a short stay visa which allows its holder to enter, freely travel within and leave the Schengen zone from any of the 26 Schengen member countries. It is valid for stays of up to 90 days for tourism or business purposes.
A question commonly asked by those applying for a Schengen visa is whether travel insurance is required, and if so, what type of cover should be purchased? In this article, we examine the requirements around travel insurance which applicants should take a note of before applying for a Schengen visa.
Who needs travel insurance?
In short, a travel insurance policy is only a mandatory requirement for travellers who need to apply for a Schengen visa. Foreign nationals visiting Europe who enjoy visa-free travel to the Schengen zone can take out a travel insurance policy if they wish, but they are not required to do so.
Currently, citizens of 61 countries can enter the Schengen zone for up to 90 days in any 180 day period without the need to obtain a visa. This includes nationals of all countries in North America, most of South America, Australia, and several countries of Asia. Following Brexit, UK nationals are now on the visa exempt list. All other third country nationals must obtain a Schengen visa prior to entering Europe. More information on who needs to apply for a Schengen visa can be found here.
Whether or not you are required by law to purchase travel insurance, Smith Stone Walters would highly recommend that all travellers take out an insurance policy to cover the duration of their stay within the Schengen area.
Health Insurance Cards
If you are travelling to the EU, you can also apply for a free Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) or European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), if you meet the eligibility requirements. A GHIC or EHIC gives you the right to access emergency state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in those countries.
However, it is important to note that a GHIC or EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance. It will not cover any private medical healthcare or costs, such as mountain rescue in ski resorts, being flown back to the UK, or lost or stolen property. EHIC is not valid on cruises.
What type of insurance is required?
Medical insurance for Schengen visas must meet the following criteria:
- A minimum coverage of at least 30,000 Euros.
- It should cover all member states of the Schengen Area, including countries you do not intend to visit.
- It should cover any expenses which might arise in connection with repatriation for medical reasons, urgent health attention and/or emergency hospital treatment or death.
It is highly recommended to get travel medical insurance which covers the validity period of your Schengen visa. For example, if you are requesting a one-year visa, your insurance should demonstrate cover during this period. The cost of travel insurance will depend on the duration of your visit, and can range from £20 – £300.
As part of your Schengen visa application, you will be required to submit evidence of your insurance policy or certificate. Failure to provide appropriate cover may result in the application being refused.
If you are a resident in the UK, you can use your UK passport to access state medical treatment if required.
Help with applying for a Schengen Visa
Whilst travel insurance is a mandatory document, you will also be required to submit other supporting documents that outline reasons for travel, itinerary and accommodation and means of subsistence when applying for a Schengen visa.
Smith Stone Walters is on hand to assess your eligibility for a Schengen visa and can provide you with a document checklist to support your application. If you need support with an upcoming trip to the Schengen Area, please contact us today.