On Wednesday, the European Union’s Commission revealed its plans to digitalise the procedures for applying for a Schengen visa, a move warmly welcomed by travellers from countries under the Schengen visa regime.

Unfolding a proposal, which should first be discussed by the Parliament and Council soon, the EU Commission has revealed some important details on how it has envisioned the digitalisation of the

Some of the main changes that are set to happen are the establishment of a completely online procedure for travellers, including here online fee payments, as well as a system that will automatically take decisions on visa applications.

Commenting on the proposal on Wednesday, April 27, the EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, said that it has been about the time that the EU created a web-based EU visa application platform for the citizens of the 102 third countries that need a visa to travel to the Schengen Area.

“A modern visa process is crucial to make travel to the EU easier for tourism and business. Half of those coming to the EU with a Schengen visa consider the visa application burdensome, one-third have to travel long distances to ask for a visa,” she said, highlighting the importance of the digitalisation of the Schengen visa application.

While the proposal should first be supported by both the Parliament and the Council, once that happens, the Member States will have a period of five years available to transition from manual visa application to digital procedures.

How Will the Digitalized Schengen Visa Procedures Work?
By 2026, the EU Commission intends to launch a platform which will offer Schengen visa applicants the possibility to apply online, as well as ] up-to-date information on Schengen short-stay visas.

Regardless of their Schengen Area destination country or the Schengen visa type they are applying for, travellers will need to fill in a visa application form on the same platform, upload a scanned copy of their travel document, travel health insurance, as well as the rest of documents needed for application.

“Each applicant should submit a completed application form using the EU application platform, including a declaration of the authenticity, completeness, correctness and reliability of the data submitted and a declaration of the veracity and reliability of the statements made,” the proposal of the Commission notes.

In cases when the applicant intends to visit more than one country in the Schengen Area, the platform will automatically decide which Schengen country is responsible for processing the application. The application will then be transferred to the competent national system of that Member State to be processed.

As per the collecting of biometrics, only those applying for the first time for a Schengen visa will need to show up at a consulate or external visa processing provider in order to give their fingerprints and have their photo taken.

“Repeat applicants should be able to apply fully online within a period of 59 months after their initial successful application, provided that they apply with the same travel document. Once this period of time has elapsed, biometrics should be collected again,” the proposal explains.

When it comes to underage applicants, a person exercising permanent or temporary parental authority or legal guardianship should apply on their behalf.

Applicants who have failed to complete their application with the right information/documents will be notified by the system. Once the traveller completes his/her application, and the same is processed by the relevant Member State, the latter should notify the traveller of the decision that has been taken, whether indicating the visa is issued, refused, confirmed to a new travel document, extended, annulled or revoked.

When issued, the visa will no longer be granted in its current form, like a sticker, but digitally, “in the form of a 2D barcode, cryptographically signed by the Country Signing Certificate Authority (CSCA) of the issuing Member State,” the Commission says.

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