A trip to many parts of Europe has gone costlier from Sunday with increase in Schengen visa fees to 80 Euros from the current 60 Euros, officials said. A Schengen visa is needed to visit 26 European countries, including Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Switzerland and Spain.
"The visa fee increases from Euro 60 to Euro 80. This increase is the first one since 2006," an European Union (EU) official said.
The increase in visa fee comes as an updated Schengen Visa Code takes effect from February 2.
It brings the fee in line with the level where it would be today if it had been aligned to the general EU-wide inflation rate since 2006, they said. "The increased visa fee will provide member states with additional financial resources to process visa applications quickly and more efficiently. By international standards, the visa fee remains low," the official said.
For regular travellers, the fee increase is offset by the new rules on long-validity visas. These travellers may actually save money under the new provisions, since they have to apply for visas less often, they said.
Visa fee is still waived for children below six years.
"The visa fee for minors between six and 12 years remains half of the general fee, and thus increases by 5 Euros (to 40 Euros)," the official said.
In addition, it is now possible for member states to waive the visa fee for minors between the age group of six and 18 years under the new visa regime.
People can now apply for Schengen visa six months before the intended date of travel to Europe instead of three-month timeline. The minimum time period will now be nine months for seafarers, they said.
In addition to this, frequent travellers with a positive visa history are to be granted multiple-entry visa with a gradually increasing validity period from one year to a maximum of five years, which will save applicants time and money, the official said.
For instance, an applicant who has obtained and used correctly three visas within two years would be granted during this period a multiple-entry visa valid for one year.
An applicant who has obtained and used a multiple-entry visa of one year would be granted (if applied within two years) a multiple-entry visa valid for two years, they explained.