Travelling to Europe
The first thing that you need to check is if you need a visa to travel or not. A number of European countries are part of an agreement called 'Schengen'. This means that you can obtain a single visa to travel in those countries. Countries outside the Schengen agreement may have their own visa requirements.
The Schengen visa allows visitors to obtain one visa to visit a number of designated countries within the EEA. To find out if you require a Schengen visa, visit the relevant embassy website of the country you wish to visit.
The UK is not a Schengen territory and the visa cannot be used to enter this country.
Airport transit visa: Allows the traveller to transit through the international transit zone/area of an airport of a Schengen member state, but not to exit this zone/area before they fly on to their next destination.
Transit visa: Enables a traveller to pass by land through the territory of one or more Schengen countries on their way to another country outside the Schengen space and can be issued for a maximum of five days.
Short stay / travel visa: Allows a visit of up to three months in any six month period. This is the visa that most students wanting to travel within the Schengen space as tourists or to attend conferences will require.
You can also submit an application for multiple entry visas. This allows you to travel more than once into the Schengen space during a three month period.
Students from Canada, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore, South Korea and USA do not require a Schengen visa.
Please note: If you are an international student here on a tier 4 student visa and you intend to travel during term time you will need to inform both your school administrators and your module co-ordinator. Some sessions are compulsory and absences should only occur due to something which is beyond your control.
The average time to process a schengen visa is ten working days. Applications should be made as early as possible, in case there are any unexpected delays in processing the application. Some countries require that you both make the application in person, and go and collect your passport once the visa is approved, so you will need to think ahead about any possible trips that you would like to make within Europe.
You will need:
A completed application form: No application for a visa will be accepted without the appropriate application form. Each country produces its own application form although the same questions are asked. The fee varies between countries.
Original passport or official travel document.
Recent photograph(s): The exact number required varies between countries.
Proof of purpose of the visit: Invitation letters from friends may have to be verified by the local town or city hall where they are based. This may take time and you should start making arrangements as early as possible. Flight bookings and reservations for accommodation or tours may need to be shown.
You should check that your current UK student immigration permission will allow you to return to the UK after your trip. Most Schengen countries insist that your immigration permission to be in the UK should last for a certain period after you return from your trip. Some countries insist on as long as six months.
Evidence of sufficient funds to complete the trip: You have to show that you can support yourself during your stay in a particular country. Evidence confirming this can be recent bank statements, and credit card statements showing the current credit limit. Cash is not always accepted as proof. Not all countries state how much is required although we suggest a minimum of £75 a day.
Evidence of student status: You will have to show documentary evidence from your institution explaining that you are a full-time student.
Medical insurance to cover the period: Most Schengen countries require proof of medical insurance which covers the entire trip.
Post Office Travel Insurance
My Travel Visa
Visa fee: The visa fees charged by the different embassies vary, and you should check the current fee and which forms of payment are acceptable before you submit your application. The fee should be paid in UK pounds (or euros in some cases). Please note that most of the embassies state that the fee should be paid either in cash or by postal order and they will not accept cheques or credit cards. The fee is usually not refunded, even if a visa is refused.
You will need to have at least one or two blank pages in your passport when making an application. Certain embassies will require you to have a specific amount of time left on your passport and UK visa at the time of re-entering the UK. This will usually be between three and six months. You will need to check individual embassy websites for further details.
Application processing times will vary depending upon which embassy you are applying to. Applicants are advised to leave plenty of time (two or three months) before you plan to travel.
Take a copy of the application form and any additional documents that you send, for your own records.
To support your Schengen visa application you will require a Student Status Certificate from the College confirming that you are enrolled and attending a programme of study. You can request this letter online here
The 26 Schengen countries are: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
Contact information of the embassies and visa application centres are available here.
You should check that your student visa permits you to re-enter the UK after your travels and avoid making trips abroad when your student visa is near to its expiry. Always seek advice before travelling.