Help Print this page 

Summaries of EU Legislation

Title and reference
Uniform format for visas issued to non-EU nationals

Summaries of EU legislation: direct access to the main summaries page.
Multilingual display

Uniform format for visas issued to non-EU nationals


Council Regulation (EC) No 1683/95 — rules on the EU’s uniform format for visas



In 1995, the EU created a uniform format for an EU visa taking the form of a sticker to be affixed to the travel document of non-EU nationals under visa obligation.

This regulation lays down the rules for the uniform format for visas, not only for the Schengen countries* but also for Ireland and the United Kingdom.


The uniform format applies to:

  • an intended stay in one or more countries of the Schengen area of no more than 3 months in total;
  • a transit through the international transit areas of airports of the Schengen countries (‘airport transit visa’).

In the case of the Schengen countries, for example, a short-stay visa issued by one of them entitles its holder to travel throughout the 26 countries for up to 90 days in any 180-day period.

Visas for visits exceeding that period remain subject to national procedures (i.e. to allow its holder to take up employment or establish a business, trade or profession).

Information on the visa sticker

The uniform visa sticker specifies the number of days that a non-national of an EU country may stay in the Schengen area and in Ireland and the United Kingdom. In the case of a Schengen visa, the days should be counted from the date he or she enters the Schengen area (the entry stamp) to the date he or she exits the Schengen area (the exit stamp), both days included.

The precise length of validity of the visa is indicated on the visa sticker under the heading ‘Duration of visit’.

Technical specifications

The uniform visa must conform to:

  • a list of technical specifications specified in the EU legislation that lay down universally recognisable security features clearly visible to the naked eye (e.g. an integrated photograph produced to high security standards, the logo consisting of a letter or letters indicating the issuing country - or group of countries, in the case of the Benelux);
  • other technical specifications which aim to prevent counterfeiting and falsification of the visa and provide methods to fill in the visa.

Each EU country must designate only one authority for printing visas. It must communicate the name of this body to the European Commission and the other EU countries.


It applies from 3 August 1995.


For further information, see ‘Visa policy’ on the European Commission’s website.


* Schengen countries: Austria, Belgium, the 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 and Switzerland.


Council Regulation (EC) No 1683/95 of 29 May 1995 laying down a uniform format for visas (OJ L 164, 14.7.1995, pp. 1-4)

Subsequent amendments to Regulation (EC) No 1683/95 have been incorporated into the basic text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.


Council Regulation (EC) No 333/2002 of 18 February 2002 on a uniform format for forms for affixing the visa issued by Member States to persons holding travel documents not recognised by the Member State drawing up the form (OJ L 53, 23.2.2002, pp. 4-6)

Regulation (EC) No 810/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 July 2009 establishing a Community Code on Visas (Visa Code) (OJ L 243, 15.9.2009, pp. 1-58). See consolidated version.

last update 29.04.2016