If you plan on visiting the Schengen Area of European countries, you must first obtain a Schengen Visa. However, determining how far in advance you should apply to allow for the processing period of your Schengen Visa might be challenging.
Applications must be submitted at least three months prior to the proposed trips start date. It is recommended that you submit your application at least 15 days before to your anticipated visit. It is also recommended that you submit your visa application during national holidays in both the Schengen State of destination and the country where you are applying for the visa. Holders of a multiple-entry visa (valid for at least six months) can apply for a new visa up to six months before their current visa expires.
Changes to the rules have increased the time you have to apply for a Schengen Visa to six months before you expect to go. However, you should apply at least three to four weeks before your trip. If you are applying to a nation that receives a significant number of applications, such as France or Germany, you may want to apply a day or two earlier to allow for additional processing time for your Schengen Visa.
Allowing for a longer Schengen Visa processing time at busy seasons of the year and throughout the European summer vacation period is also a smart idea (July to August).
Due to the time it takes for Schengen embassies/consulates around the world to process a Schengen visa, you have a set amount of time to submit your visa application.
The following is the time limit for applying for a Schengen visa:
- The earliest you can apply for a visa is six months before you plan to go.
- The earliest you can apply for a visa is 15 working days before you want to travel.
- The best time to apply for a visa is at least three weeks before your travel.
Fill out a Schengen Visa application form and schedule an appointment at a consulate, embassy, or visa application facility to apply for your Schengen Visa.