If you are thinking of visiting one of the many wonderful countries in Europe, you will need to look into whether you need to obtain a visa before travelling or not. Visas can sometimes be quite confusing.
Luckily, we are here to help.
First things first. You need to check whether the country (or countries) you are visiting are part of the Schengen Zone. If you are visiting one or more of the countries which make up this zone then you need to just apply for just 1 visa, cleverly named the Schengen visa.
This visa will also allow you to pass between multiple countries within this zone without needing to apply for a new visa each time.
Different Schengen countries have different requirements. Some will want to see proof of flight and/or hotel bookings before they issue a visa, others require health insurance cover or even bank statements. Here is a simple breakdown of the steps to follow in order to apply for a Schengen Visa:
1. Get started by downloading your Schengen Visa Application Form, which you can do on the official European Commission website. Note that this must be filled out in one of the official languages of the country to which you are applying.
2. Wherever possible, all documents must be provided in their original form together with certified translations into English or French (the two working languages of the EU) for some visa types.
3. Make an appointment at the relevant embassy via their official website as soon as possible, as there can sometimes be a backlog due to high demand. This will also ensure that the staff member dealing with your application is aware you are traveling within the month and is expecting your visit.
4. The embassy often requires identity documents in addition to those mentioned above, such as proof of residence, biometric photograph, valid passport, and more.
5. The embassy often also requires an itinerary and proof of travel to be submitted with the application.
6. Although all visas require payment of a fee, some embassies also request an additional amount (which varies from embassy to) which includes administrative charges.
Please take note of the requirement for a specific type of travel health insurance policy that is needed when applying for a Schengen visa. We provide a Schengen-specific travel insurance policy
that complies with all Schengen rules.
If the country you are visiting is not on this list then you will need to check that country's visa entry requirements separately.
Surprisingly for some, the UK and Ireland are not part of the Schengen zone and therefore have separate information with regards to tourist visas.
United Kingdom: You will need a visa to enter the UK as a tourist. You may not apply more than 3 months before traveling. Once you are in the UK, there are no borders between England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, meaning you can travel freely between each country within the UK.
Here's how to apply for a UK Visa.
Ireland: Good news, South African passport holders do not need to obtain a visa before visiting Ireland!
If you are planning to visit the UK and a country within the Schengen zone, you will need to obtain a visa with both the UK and the Schengen zone. This may be a little more work, but Europe is well worth it!
Europe is probably the most commonly visited continent in the world, meaning that there are a plethora of travel agencies offering their services. Allianz Travel offers travelers quality and comprehensive Schengen Travel Insurance. Get a quote and get in touch with our experts.