New visa rules for EU travellers

Getting a visa for the EU is often costly and time consuming. That is why the EU is giving its visa rules a makeover including a whole new type of visa.

How did we get here?

Europe is the top tourist destination in the world. And like for most areas of our daily life, rules already exist for visas for visiting the EU, the so-called Visa Code. However, the European Commission detected some problems with this existing Visa Code. It takes too long for non-EU citizens to get a visa, it is usually too expensive and the bureaucratic procedures are very complicated. Furthermore, it is often very difficult to get a visa because there are not enough contact points and applicants have to travel far to get to a consulate. Finally, a type of extended visa was missing that would allow travellers to stay in the EU longer than 90 days without being considered an immigrant.


Why is this important for me?

These new rules try to make it easier for your friends, family and business partners from outside the EU to visit you. The proposed changes, while maintaining security at the external borders, plan to make travelling easier and to introduce more flexible rules, for example when it comes to the cooperation among consulates. This aims to facilitate visiting friends and relatives, and doing business. Moreover, it shall boost economic activity, tourism and job creation.


What's the content?

The new rules were presented as a package with different components by Cecilia Malmström, the then European Commissioner for Home Affairs: With the new proposal, getting a visa application processed and decided on shall take no longer than 10 calendar days. In addition, it is proposed to ease the rules on which supporting documents are needed. Travellers will be able to apply for a visa in consulates of other EU countries if the Member State you want to travel to does not have a consulate where you live. Generally, the application form will be simplified and online applications will be possible.

Furthermore, it is proposed that people who regularly travel to Europe should be granted a multi-entry visa valid for three years, if they have had a visa issued to them twice in the previous 12 months. Finally, a new kind of visa, the so-called touring visa, is going to be created in a different legislative proposal. With this visa the holder can stay in the European Schengen area and travel across the continent for up to one year.


What's happening with this legislation in the future?

The proposal is now being dealt with in the European Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs: amendments had been tabled, the report (the EP's position) was adopted in April 2016. Soon there will be a vote in the plenary. In the meantime, the Member States are discussing it in the Council as well.


Related Bills:

Creating a European Border and Coast Guard

Use of Flight Passenger Data

Enforceable Flight Rights for Air Passengers


Pic by: DanLewis/

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