TALLINN – The European Commission on Wednesday proposed the digitalization of the Schengen visa process, replacing the visa sticker, and introducing the possibility to submit visa applications online through the European online visa platform.
The New Pact on Migration and Asylum set the objective to fully digitalize visa procedures by 2025. It is an opportunity to effectively improve the visa application process by reducing the costs and the burden on member states as well as the applicants, while also improving the security of the Schengen area, spokespeople for the Commission said.
"Today, we are bringing the EU's visa policy into the digital age. With some member states already switching to digital, it is vital the Schengen area now moves forward as one. We are proposing a fully digitalized visa application to help both travelers and member states ensure smother and more secure application process," European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas said.
Through digitalization, applying for a Schengen visa will become easier and the visa itself will be more secure.
Visa applicants will be able to apply for a visa online, including paying the visa fee through a single EU platform, regardless of the Schengen country they want to visit.
The platform will automatically determine which Schengen country is responsible for examining an application, in particular when the applicant intends to visit several Schengen countries.
The platform will provide applicants with up-to-date information on Schengen short-stay visas, as well as all necessary information regarding the requirements and procedures (such as supporting documents, visa fee or the need for an appointment to collect biometric identifiers).
Appearing in person at the consulate would only be mandatory for first time applicants for the collection of biometric identifiers, for applicants whose biometric data are no longer valid or those with a new travel document.
The visa will include state-of-the-art security features, which will be more secure than the current visa sticker. The new system will ensure that fundamental rights are always protected.
The Commission proposal will now be discussed by the European Parliament and the Council. Member states will have then five years to switch to the common online visa platform. Based on the outcome of the negotiations between the co-legislators, the development of the platform could start in 2024 and become operational in 2026. Considering the five year transition period, all member states could use the platform in 2031.