The Schengen Area, comprising 27 European countries, offers seamless travel across its borders through the Schengen visa system. For tourists and business travelers, the Schengen visa provides entry to multiple countries with just one visa. In this article, I will walk you through an explanation of how the Single-Entry Schengen Visa works, detailing its requirements, validity, and how it differs from other types of visas.

What is a Single-Entry Schengen Visa?

A Single-Entry Schengen Visa allows you to enter the Schengen Area only once during the visa’s validity period. Which means you cannot exit and re-enter the Schengen Zone like double entry or multiple entry Schengen visa, even if your visa is not expired. Once you exit any of the 27 Schengen countries, the visa becomes void, even if you have remaining validity days. This visa is most suitable for tourists, business travelers, or individuals attending conferences or events.

Validity and Duration

The validity of a Single-Entry Schengen Visa can range from a few days to 90 days, depending on the purpose of the visit and the applicant’s itinerary. The visa also has a “valid from” date and an “expiration” date, indicating the period within which you can enter and stay in the Schengen Area.

1. Validity vs. Duration of Stay: The visa’s validity period indicates the window during which you can enter the Schengen Area. However, the duration of stay is the number of days you are allowed to stay within this validity period, capped at 90 days within any 180-day period.

2. Extensions: In exceptional cases, it is possible to apply for an extension of the stay, especially if there are compelling reasons such as medical emergencies, force majeure, or humanitarian reasons. This requires submitting a formal application to the immigration authorities of the Schengen country where the extension is sought.

Difference Between Single-Entry and Multiple-Entry Schengen Visas

1. Number of Entries: As the name suggests, a Single-Entry Schengen Visa allows only one entry, whereas a Multiple-Entry visa enables travelers to enter and exit the Schengen Area multiple times during the visa’s validity period.

2. Purpose of Travel: Single-Entry visas are commonly issued for short-term travel, such as tourism or specific business engagements. In contrast, Multiple-Entry visas are often suitable for frequent travelers, including business people or individuals visiting family.

3. Validity and Duration: While a Single-Entry visa offers validity typically limited to the trip’s duration, Multiple-Entry visas can be valid for one year, three years, or even five years, allowing for multiple visits within the validity period.

How to Apply for a Single-Entry Schengen Visa?

Applying for a Single-Entry Schengen Visa involves the following steps:

1. Determine the Main Destination: Since the Schengen visa covers multiple countries, it’s crucial to determine which country is your main destination or where you will be spending the majority of your time. The visa application should be submitted to the consulate or embassy of this country.

2. Gather Documentation: Required documents typically include a valid passport, travel itinerary, proof of accommodation, financial statements showing sufficient funds for the trip, travel insurance, and a cover letter explaining the purpose of your visit. Additional documents might be required based on the applicant’s profile and the country’s specific requirements.

3. Submit the Application: Once documentation is ready, you can schedule an appointment at the consulate or embassy of the main destination country. Some Schengen countries also allow applications through Visa Application Centers (VACs), which facilitate the process.

4. Biometrics: Applicants are generally required to provide biometric data, including fingerprints and a photograph, which are stored in the Visa Information System (VIS) for five years.

5. Processing Time: The processing time for a Schengen visa application can vary from a few days to several weeks. It’s advisable to apply well in advance, especially during peak travel seasons.


A Single-Entry Schengen Visa provides travelers with access to 27 countries with just one visa, facilitating travel and exploration across Europe. This visa is designed for short-term travelers, and its validity and duration depend on the applicant’s travel plans. Understanding the application process, including the documentation needed and how to handle visa extensions, is crucial for a smooth journey.