Source: livemint.com, Jan 16, 2020
New Delhi: A trip to much of Europe will be more expensive from next month with Schengen visa fees set to increase to Euro 80 from the current Euro 60, officials said.
A Schengen visa is needed for 26 European countries, including Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Switzerland and Spain.
The new fees will come into effect from February 2.
“The visa fee will increase to Euro 80 (for applicants not only from India, but from all countries except those with which the EU has a visa facilitation agreement),” a European Commission spokesperson told PTI.
The increase in the visa fee comes as an updated Schengen Visa Code will apply from February 2, 2020, he said.
Children aged 6 to 12 will have to pay Euro 40 instead of Euro 35, as it is currently, the spokesperson said.
According to exchange rates on Wednesday, a Euro is equivalent to ₹78.93.
There will be no fee for infants and children below six years of age as there is “no change” in this regard in the updated regulations.
The cost of applying for a Schengen visa had remained unchanged since 2006.
“A moderate increase of the fee to Euro 80 will ensure that we have sufficient financial resources to maintain a wide consular coverage worldwide, upgrade IT equipment and software and provide faster and user-friendly procedures for visa applicants,” the spokesperson said.
The hike will also improve the capacity to detect potential security and irregular migration risks during visa application procedures, including by reinforcing consular staff to speed up the application process, he added.
This will also bring the fee in line with the level it would have reached based on the general EU-wide inflation rate since 2006, the spokesperson said.
By international standards, the Schengen visa fee will remain comparatively low. A visa to China, for instance, costs Euro 125 and Euro 133 for the United States, Euro 100 for New Zealand and Euro 90 for India, he explained.
The Schengen visa application form has also been slightly restructured under the new visa regime.
“The application form has been slightly restructured and the formulation of certain entries clarified so that applicants are aware of what information is required, but no substantial changes have been made,” the spokesperson said.
The new visa codes were adopted by the European Parliament and the Council on June 20, 2019, following the European Union’s ordinary legislative procedure, he said.
Over 16 million Schengen Visa applications have been filed at the embassies, consulates and visa centres of the 26 Schengen member countries across the globe in 2018, according to SchengenVisaInfo.com, a website that provides news related to Schengen visa.
In 2018, India was listed as the third largest source for Schengen visa applications with 10,81,359 such requests were made from the country, it said.
“The Swiss consulate in New Delhi received 1,61,403 applications, topping the list as the busiest Schengen consulate in India, followed by the French consulate in New Delhi and Mumbai which received over 140 thousand applications together,” the website said in the statement.
According to SchengenVisaInfo.com, member states that are not represented in India in terms of visa admission, are now obliged to cooperate with external service providers, in order to facilitate visa application for travellers. “The external service providers are allowed to charge a service fee, which cannot be higher than the visa fee. This means Indians applying at an external visa service provider may have to pay up to Euro 160 per visa application, if the external service providers set the maximum service fee permitted, which is Euro 80,” it explained.