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Frequently Asked Questions

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Schengen visa, Schengen area European Union

Schengen visa

A Schengen visa is required when staying in the Schengen Area for up to 90 days.

A Schengen visa is granted in the form of a sticker affixed to the passport, travel document or other valid document that entitles the holder to cross the border between Schengen countries. Possession of a Schengen visa does not confer automatic right of entry. Entry will only be granted if the other conditions laid down by the Schengen Convention are met, i.e. the justification of the purpose and conditions of the trip, minimum amount of funds travelers must have at their disposal and the possession of valid travel insurance.

With a Schengen visa, you may enter one country and travel freely throughout the Schengen Area. It is issued to citizens of countries who are required to obtain a visa before entering the Schengen Area.

A Schengen visa allows the holder to travel freely within the Schengen Area for a maximum stay of up to 90 days in any 180 days period. If you wish to stay longer than 90 days you will need a national long stay visa or a residence permit.

Schengen area

The Schengen Area is composed of 26 countries.

  • At present, 22 European Union Member States enforce the Schengen Convention: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden;
  • Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland integrally enforce the Schengen Convention, but are not members of the European Union.

The six other European Union Member States still outside the Schengen Area are the UK, Ireland, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia.

The EU Member State - Cyprus, is not yet a fully-fledged member of the Schengen Area. Border controls between Cyprus and the current members of the Schengen Area are to be maintained until the EU Council decides that the conditions for abolishing internal border controls have been met. However, Cyprus considers the Schengen visa, as well as residence permits from other EU Member States, as equivalent to its national visa for the purpose of a transit that does not exceed 5 days. The Principalities of Monaco, Andorra, San Marino and Holy See (Vatican City State) allow entry to their territories without any formality to Schengen visa holders.

European Union

The following is the list of countries that are currently members of the European Union: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.


Which nationalities require a Schengen visa?

European Union

Bound by Regulation (EC) No 539/2001, modified by Regulations (EC) No 2414/2001, No 453/2003, No 1932/2006, No 1244/2009, No 1091/2010 and No 1211/2010 the list of third-countries whose nationals are subject to the visa requirement, when travelling to any EU Member State is as follows:

Afghanistan, Albania*, Algeria, Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia-Herzegovina*, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burma/Myanmar, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Cuba, Democratic Republic Of Congo, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, FYROM Macedonia*, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Grenada, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kiribati, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Maldives, Mali, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Micronesia, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro*, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, North Korea, Oman, Pakistan, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Russia, Rwanda, Samoa, Sao Tome & Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia (Excluding holders of Serbian passports issued by the Serbian Coordination Directorate)*, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, St Lucia Vincent And The Grenadines, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad & Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

*Biometric passport holders are exempted from the visa requirement. Visa facilitation agreement (VFA) continues to apply to holders of non-biometric passports.

Taiwan - Nationals of Taiwan holders of passports issued by Taiwan which include an identity card number are exempted from the visa requirement.

Palestinian Authority

Kosovo (as defined by the United Nationals Security Council Resolution 1244 of 10th June 1999)


British Citizens who are not nationals of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland for the purpose of community law:

  • British overseas territories citizens who do not have the right of abode in the United Kingdom;
  • British overseas citizens;
  • British subjects who do not have the right of abode in the United Kingdom;
  • British protected persons.

A limited set of derogations and exceptions exist for specific categories of persons, notably on grounds of international law or custom. Member States may therefore exempt from the requirement to carry an EU visa, or reintroduce the visa obligation when they would otherwise be exempted, the following categories of persons:

  • Holders of diplomatic passports, official duty passports and other official passports;
  • Civilian air and sea crew;
  • Flight crew and attendants on emergency or rescue flights and other helpers involved in disaster or emergency relief;
  • The civilian crew of ships navigating in international waters;
  • The holders of laissez-passer issued by some intergovernmental organizations to their officials.

What is the difference between a Schengen visa and a National visa?

Schengen visa (type C) is a visa issued by one of the member countries of the Schengen area and is valid for a short stay, limited to 90 days within any 180 days period, only for Schengen countries. European competence to receive and issue such visas is made by the consulate of the country of destination. In case of a trip in multiple Schengen countries, the main destination is determined by the purpose of the trip or duration of the stay. Professional reasons for a stay in a Schengen country outweigh its jurisdiction on the grounds against tourism, family or private visit in another state.

National long stay visa (type D) is only valid for an establishment or a stay of more than 90 days in the country which issued the visa. The National visa allows, however, transit through other Schengen countries and for some (long stay Italian citizen’s spouse, workers, students or visitors) it also allows traveling freely throughout the Schengen area.


Do I need a Schengen visa?

Domestic passport holders - All domestic nationals must have a valid visa to enter the Schengen area, regardless of the duration of their stay and no matter what kind of travel document they have, except if they have a valid residence permit which enables them to stay in the Schengen area.

Nationals of other countries - Citizens of some countries are exempted from the requirement for a visa to enter the Schengen area for a short stay or transit, for details please check the following website.


What kind of visa do I need to apply for?

For more information please visit Documents and visa types page.


Passport validity

Before applying for a visa you must make sure that your passport is valid:

  • Check the expiration date on your passport: For a short stay visa (less than 90 days), the expiration date must be no earlier than 3 months after the date of your return from the Schengen area; For a renewal of circulation visa, the expiration date must be 15 months after the day you apply for a visa; For a regular long stay visa (more than 90 days), the expiration date must be 15 months after the day you plan to leave the your country of origin.
  • Make sure your passport has two or more completely blank and unmarked visa pages;
  • Make sure your passport has not been altered: Check if the original laminated film (the transparent safety film that covers the passport photo) has been tampered with. If this is the case, you must ask a passport-issuing authority to re-tamper proof your passport; Make sure no pages or surfaces have been laminated (as this will invalidate your passport); Check for scratching or alteration.
  • If your passport was issued over 10 years ago, even if it is still valid at the time you submit your visa application, you must apply for a new passport from domestic authorities or the Embassy or Consulate of your country of origin, before being able to apply for a visa.


Children on the passport of their parents cannot submit for a visa. They must have individual passports, even if they are traveling with their parents.


Where can I apply for a visa?

Visa applications for Italy are now received by TLScontact, except for some categories that are still received by the Embassy of Italy directly. For more information please visit Jurisdiction page.

  • If you intend to visit only one Schengen country, you must apply at the Embassy or Consulate of this country;
  • If you intend to visit several Schengen countries, you must apply for a visa at the Embassy or Consulate of the country in which you will stay the longest;
  • If you intend to visit several Schengen countries but do not have a main destination (i.e. the duration of your stay is the same in different countries), you should apply for a visa at the Embassy or Consulate of the country that is your first point of entry.

When should I apply for a visa?

You may only submit your visa application within 90 days before your date of departure. We recommend that you apply at least 20 working days before the date you intend to travel.


How do I apply for a visa?

To apply for a visa, you should first register on this website, and then follow the instructions. For more details about the procedure, please click here.


How to book an appointment on TLScontact website?

You can find more detail information on how to take an appointment on TLScontact website here.


Where can I get a visa application form?

Visa application forms can be downloaded on Links and Downloads page.


What are the required documents for a visa?

In order to prepare all the documents required for your application, you should register on our website to obtain an individualized list of required documents, according to the purpose of your stay in Italy.


In which case do I need to provide an invitation letter?

An invitation letter is always requested. According to your travel purpose, the form varies, please visit Documents and visa type page.


Could the Embassy request me to provide additional documents or information?

The Embassy may request you to provide additional documents or information, according to your personal situation, even after you have submitted your application at TLScontact.


What are the visa photo requirements?

The two photographs required for any visa application must be:

  • Color photo on a white background;
  • Format 3.5 cm x 4.5 cm;
  • Taken from the front - without obstruction;
  • Recent (less than 6 months old).

What are the requirements for insurance?

Due to a regulation of the European Union (Decision 2004/17/CE of December 22nd 2003), there is a requirement to hold travel insurance, which is a compulsory document.

The travel insurance should be:

  • Valid for Schengen area if you apply for short stay visa;
  • Valid for Italy if it is required in the document list and you apply for long stay visa.

Your travel insurance must be valid with a minimum cover of EUR 30,000 in order to face any expenses that may arise in connection with your repatriation for medical reasons, urgent medical attention or emergency hospital treatment. The travel insurance should fully cover the period of your stay in the Schengen area.


How can I collect my passport?

Please check passport collection opening hours on Address page.

Collection in person

When your passport is ready to be collected, you will be notified online on your personal account page and by SMS notification (if you have requested this service), informing you to come to the TLScontact center with:

  • Your application checklist;
  • Your original photographic ID;
  • Copy of your photographic ID.

Collection by representative

Representative may retrieve your passport on your behalf with the documents listed below:

  • Your application checklist;
  • Your original photographic ID;
  • Copy of your photographic ID;
  • An authorization letter signed by the applicant;
  • Proof of relationship (if applicable).

Return by courier

TLScontact offers an Express Courier Return service, allowing you to receive your passport directly at your home or your office. To obtain this service please add it to your cart on the Added Value Services page available when you log into your personal account on our webpage.

If you choose to cancel this service after your application has been submitted, Express Courier Return fee cannot be refunded.

Recipient address and information for this service must be filled in by the applicant or representative during application submission appointment. Once the application has been submitted, no changes can be made to the recipient address and information. We therefore kindly ask you to confirm recipient address and information before the application submission.

If your documents are being sent back to you by courier, it will be dispatched within 24 business hours. You will receive an additional email from TLScontact to confirm when they have been dispatched. The local courier service provider may also confirm this with you, depending upon which courier is used in your area.


What are the processing times for a visa application?

The processing time for a Schengen visa, regulated by the Visa Code, is fixed in 15 days which, in the foreseen cases, can be extended up to 60 days; the processing time for a national visa, regulated by Italian law, is fixed in 90 days (30 days for subordinate work and 120 days for self-employment).


Which browsers does TLScontact support?

TLScontact supports the latest versions of these browsers:

  • Chrome (Win 10 and Android for Mobile / Tablet);
  • Edge (Win 10);
  • Firefox (Win 7);
  • Safari (OS X and iOS for Mobile / Tablet).

Make sure your browser is up to date and get into the habit of installing software updates whenever they are available.


Why isn’t Internet Explorer supported?

Internet Explorer (IE) 11 was released in 2013, and no feature updates released by Microsoft in years, which puts this browser behind others in terms of its ability to support new technologies. While Microsoft will continue to provide support for users of IE 11 for a few more years, the new default browser is Microsoft Edge.