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A Schengen Visa is a document that allows the holder to enter and travel within the Schengen Area, which consists of 26 European countries that have abolished the need for passports and other types of border control at their mutual borders. There are two essential aspects of a Schengen Visa that one needs to consider: the validity of the visa and the approved duration of stay.

Aside from a multiple-entry visa, which enables you to remain in the Schengen area for a maximum of 90 days within 180 days, the validity of your single-entry visa or double-entry visa depends on the embassy. The embassy appoints the number of days you are permitted to stay in any of the Schengen countries, the first date you are permitted to enter Schengen, and the last day you are permitted to remain.

Many people get confused because they do not realize there is a difference between visa validity and the duration of stay on a visa. 

Visa Validity

The validity of a Schengen Visa refers to the period during which the visa holder is allowed to enter the Schengen Area. This period is usually indicated on the visa sticker and starts from the date of issuance. For example, if a visa has a validity period of 90 days, the holder can enter the Schengen Area within 90 days from the date of issuance. However, the visa holder must not stay in the Schengen Area beyond the approved duration of stay.

To make it more clear, here’s a concrete scenario:

    • Duration of stay on your visa: 10 days
    • Visa Validity: March 1 to March 20

In this case, you can enter the Schengen Zone anytime within this period.

      • You can enter (for example) on: March 3
      • And you can leave on: March 15

On the other hand, if you enter on March 15, you will still have to leave on March 20, despite not having spent the number of days you were permitted to stay.

In the other case, if you have a double-entry visa, take these dates as an example:

    • Visa validity: March 1 to June
    • Duration of stay: 10 days

Then you can enter the Schengen Area twice within this period. You are still not allowed to remain for more than 10 days during both trips.

If during your first trip…

    • You stayed for: 7 days
    • Then: You can enter the Schengen Area twice within this period. Then on the second trip, you can stay for three days at most.
    • But: You are still not allowed to remain for more than 10 days during both trips. 

If you make just one trip and spent 10 days in any of the member states, then you have no right to enter the country even though your visa is still valid.

As per a multiple-entry visa, if, i.e. you have three-year multiple-entry access, which becomes valid on January 15, 2021, you will be permitted to enter and leave the Schengen whenever you want until January 15, 2024. It would be best if you did not forget that there is a rule of 90 days limit every 180 days.

Approved Duration of Stay

The approved duration of stay refers to the period during which the visa holder is allowed to remain in the Schengen Area. This is usually indicated on the visa sticker and is calculated from the date of entry into the Schengen Area.

The first day you enter Schengen is counted as “Day 1”, even if you entered just a few minutes before midnight. For example, if a visa has a validity period of 90 days and an approved duration of stay of 30 days, it means that the holder can stay in the Schengen Area for up to 30 days from the date of entry.

The “Last Day” is counted as the day you leave a Schengen area, even if it is just a few minutes after midnight. 

Just to let you know, the approved duration of stay may be shorter than the visa’s validity period. Therefore, it is crucial to carefully check the visa sticker to ensure that the visa holder complies with both the validity and the approved duration of stay requirements. Failure to comply with these requirements can result in severe consequences, including fines, deportation, and a ban on future travel to the Schengen Area.

How long can I stay in the Schengen area on the basis of my visa?

90/180 Schengen Visa Rule: Another point is where most multiple-entry Schengen visa holders get confused, and the nationals of the countries are permitted to enter Schengen visa-free. Most people think the 180-day period starts on the day your visa becomes valid, which is false.

The Schengen visa is a short-stay visa and is a sticker affixed to the travel document. The definition of “short stay” is a stay of “90 days in any 180 days period”. This means that the total duration of stay is a maximum of 90 days in any period of 180 days.

Actually, the 180-day period keeps rolling. Therefore, anytime you wish to enter the Schengen, you just have to count backward the last 180 days and see if you have been there for more than 90 days.

Your visa’s precise length of validity is indicated on the visa sticker under the heading “Duration of visit”. With a single-entry visa, you can enter the Schengen area only once. This is indicated on the visa sticker under the heading “Number of entries” by “1”. A two-entry or a multiple-entry visa allows for two or several entries during the validity of the visa. This is indicated on the visa sticker by “02” or “MULT” under the heading “Number of entries”.

Can my visa be extended?

Short-stay Schengen visa extensions are permitted by the regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council (EC) No. 810/2009 of 13 July 2009, establishing a Community Code on Visas (Journal of Laws of the EU of 2009 L243/1). However, you will have a very low chance to get one, if you do not have a strong reason as the basis of your application.

When applying for a visa extension, you must show that due to force majeure, humanitarian reasons, or serious personal reasons, it is impossible for you to leave the territory of Member States before the expiry of your visa or the authorized period of stay.

As a rule, the visa can only be extended if you have stayed less than 90 days in the Schengen area in the past 180 days and your current visa has not expired.

According to the Schengen visa policy, acceptable reasons to extend a Schengen short-stay visa are only the following:

  • Late Entry
  • Humanitarian Reasons
  • Force Majeure
  • Important Personal Reasons

For more information, I have written a related article on this. You can read: How to Extend a Schengen Visa?

Common Reasons for Schengen Visa Rejection

Here are the common reasons a Schengen Visa application gets denied:

  • No clear travel purpose—a detailed cover letter is a must!
  • Lack of strong ties—reevaluate your application and prove why you must return to your home country!
  • Insufficient travel insurance coverage—make sure you get the right policy!
  • No proof of financial means—convince them that you can afford your trip! Provide bank or credit card statements, VUL, investment portfolio, etc.
  • Passport does not have 2 free pages—where will they attach the visa if your passport pages are already full? You should get a new passport before applying for a visa if there are no more available pages on your old one!
  • No proof of accommodation—you need to prove them that you have a place to stay in the Schengen Area.

Recap and Tips

So, just a recap and a reminder, please don’t forget these TIPS: 

If you ever need help, you can avail my visa application bundle, and I will be glad to help you through the process!

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