EU moves forward with plans
to digitalise Schengen
visa process

The Council of the EU and the European Parliament have provisionally agreed on rules to digitalise the Schengen visa process, introducing online visa applications and replacing the current visa sticker with a digital visa.

The changes aim to make the Schengen visa application procedure more straightforward and efficient for customers whilst improving the security of the Schengen area.

Swedish Minister for Migration Maria Malmer Stenergard said: “The digital visa will make the application process easier for travellers, simplifies the administrative procedure and increases the security of the Schengen area by for example reducing the risk of falsification and theft of the visa sticker.”

The agreement still needs to be approved by member states before the adoption process in the Council and the European Parliament can begin. The agreement allows a transition period of 7 years for member states to join the platform.


EU policymakers have been considering a digital transformation of the Schengen visa process for some time, after a legislative proposal was submitted by the European Commission in April 2022.

Recent migration and security challenges have necessitated changes to the EU’s visa policy, whilst technological advancements and the development of new security features have also opened up new opportunities to streamline the visa system and improve its effectiveness for both visa applicants and national authorities. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic considerably slowed down visa operations and highlighted the need for more effective digital procedures.


The rules, once adopted, will create a single EU visa application platform. With a few exceptions, applications for Schengen visas will be submitted through this central website, which will forward them to the relevant national visa systems.

Via a secure account on this platform, visa applicants will be able to enter all required data, upload electronic copies of their supporting documents and pay their visa fees. They will also be notified of the decisions concerning their visa. In-person appearance at the consulate will in principle only be necessary for first-time applicants, persons whose biometric data are no longer valid and those with a new travel document.

The platform will also include up-to-date information on Schengen short-stay visas, as well as all necessary information regarding the requirements and procedures (such as supporting documents, visa fee or the need for an appointment to collect biometric identifiers). A chatbot feature is also envisaged.

When a person intends to visit several Schengen countries, the online platform will automatically determine which country is responsible for examining the application on the basis of the duration of stay. However, the applicant will also have the possibility to indicate whether the application needs to be processed by a specific member state according to the purpose of travel.

Under the proposed new rules, visas will be issued in digital format, as a 2D barcode, cryptographically signed. The digital visa will also apply to long-stay visas and will also be issued by EU countries not yet fully applying the Schengen rules (Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania).

Support with your Schengen visa application

Smith Stone Walters will continue to monitor the situation as the proposals are considered, and will provide an update in due course.

In the meantime, should you require assistance with your Schengen visa application, our immigration advisers are here to help. We regularly file Schengen visa applications on behalf of our clients and can support you through the process every step of the way.

To speak to a member of the Global Immigration team, please contact us today.

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