International Student Support

Travel in Europe

Many international students require a visa to travel to European countries in the Schengen area. On this page you can find out information about travelling in the Schengen area, applying for a Schengen visa, and how to request a Schengen visa letter as proof of your student status.

Request your Schengen visa letter here.

We will write the letter and send you an e-mail when it is ready to collect from our office. Please leave two working days for us to prepare the letter for you.


Who needs a visa to travel to Europe

Students from certain countries will need a 'Schengen Visa' to travel to a group of 26 countries located in Europe. The Schengen Visa Scheme allows students wishing to visit one of these countries to travel between these countries using only one visa. These countries are:

Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland.

To find out if you do need a visa, check the website of the UK-based embassy of the country that you are hoping to visit. If it's not clear, you can contact the embassy by e-mail or by phone. A list of embassies can be found on the Foreign and Commonwealth website.

Please note not all European countries are part of the Schengen area, such as The Republic of Ireland and Croatia.

If you are applying for a visa for a country outside the Schengen area, you will need to request a letter from:


Eligibility for a Schengen Visa

  • Both your Passport and BRP must be valid for at least 3 months after the expiry date of your Schengen visa.
  • You must have a valid passport that has been issued in the last ten years.
  • You must have two blank pages in your passport.

If you have any concerns that you do not fit the criteria above, you should contact the embassy that you are applying to for more information.


Types of Schengen Visa

Short Stay or Travel Visa - This is the most common type of Schengen Visa. It will allow you to travel for up to 3 months within a 6 month period. A short stay visa will either be single-entry, two-entry or multiple-entry, depending on your travel plans.

Airport Transit Visa - You will need to apply for this visa if you are going through the international transit area of an airport of a Schengen member state, but are not going to leave this area before you fly on to your next destination.

Transit Visa - You will need to apply for this visa if you are passing through one or more Schengen member states on your way to another country outside the Schengen area.


Where to apply

If you are visiting one country - Apply to the embassy or consulate of that country that you are travelling to.

If you are visiting several countries within the Schengen Visa area - Apply to the country which is your main destination. This the country where you are spending the longest amount of time.

If you don't have a main destination - Apply to the country where you enter the Schengen area first. 


How to apply

You need to check the website of the UK-based embassy of the country you plan to visit. The embassy website will provide information on the application process, what documents you will need and how much it will cost.

You can call or e-mail the embassy directly if the process is not clear. Many have pre-recorded messages providing detailed information and many will respond to e-mails.

Contact information for each embassy.

Please note that many embassies use external agencies to process visa applications, which may have additional charges.


When to apply

You can apply for a Schengen Visa up to 90 days before the date you wish to travel. Please check with the relevant embassy as application times vary. 

Many applications are processed within 15 days, however for some nationalities this may take up to four weeks. We'd recommend applying early as finding an available appointment, processing and returning your documents may take some time.


Documents required

Schengen Visa Letter

You will be asked for a letter confirming your student status. This is produced by International Student Support and must be requested online 

If you are studying with the International Study Centre, we can't produce a Schengen Visa letter for you. Please e-mail

Other Documents

You need to check with the relevant embassy as the documents required vary.

Below are some of the documents you may need:

  • Passport (or official travel document)
  • Your BRP (or entry clearance)
  • Completed application form
  • Recent passport-style photo(s)
  • Visa fee
  • Evidence of sufficient funds to complete the trip
  • Tickets for your return journey to and from the Schengen area
  • Hotel booking, or letter of invitation from the friends or family members who will be hosting you during your trip
  • Travel insurance that covers the entire trip.


Keeping your documents safe abroad

It is known that thieves operate in European cities and target tourists. We recommend that you do not carry your passport/visa around with you unless it is absolutely necessary (such as when you are crossing borders).

If your UK entry visa is lost or stolen while you are overseas, you will need to apply for a replacement before you can re-enter the UK. This can take a number of weeks. Visit our webpage on Lost and Stolen Passports and Visas for more information.


European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

If you are a national from outside of the UK or EEA, you can apply for a UK issued EHIC card if you are studying in the UK on a full-time course which will last longer than 6 months.

An EHIC allows you to access state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in other European Economic Area (EEA) countries and Switzerland. It will cover immediate and necessary state-funded treatment until you return to the UK.

More information and how to apply for an EHIC. 

Please note the EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance. It will not cover any private medical healthcare or costs, such as mountain rescue in ski resorts, being flown back to the UK, or lost or stolen property.

Therefore it is important to have both an EHIC and a valid private travel insurance policy in place before you travel.


More information


International Student Support

T +44 (0)1273 67 8422