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Uniform format for visas

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Uniform format for visas

A uniform format for visas has been laid down to further the harmonisation of national visa policies and to promote the free movement of persons in the European Union.


Council Regulation (EC) No 1683/95 of 29 May 1995 laying down a uniform format for visas [See amending acts].


A uniform format for visas

This Regulation lays down a uniform format for visas for all the Member States.

For the purposes of the Regulation, a visa means an authorisation given or a decision taken by a Member State, which is required for entry into its territory with a view to:

  • an intended stay in that Member State or in several Member States of no more than three months in all;
  • transit through the territory or airport transit zone of that Member State or several Member States.

The information contained in the uniform format visa must conform to:

  • the technical specifications set out in the Annex to the Regulation that lay down universally recognisable security features clearly visible to the naked eye;
  • the supplementary technical specifications, which aim to prevent counterfeiting and falsification of the visa and provide methods to fill in the visa.

If the supplementary technical specifications are to be kept secret, then they may only be communicated to:

  • the bodies responsible for printing the visas;
  • persons duly authorised by the Commission or a Member State.

Additional measures to ensure a high level of security were adopted by the Commission on 7 February 1996 and 27 December 2000.

Each Member State is to designate only one body as responsible for printing visas. It must communicate the name of this body to the Commission and the other Member States.

As provided by Directive 95/46/EC on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data, an individual to whom a visa has been issued may, where appropriate, request corrections be made with regard to their personal details entered onto the visa.

The Commission is assisted in its work on the uniform visa format by a Committee composed of representatives of the Member States and chaired by a Commission representative.

Member States may use the uniform visa format for purposes other than those mentioned above, as long as no confusion ensues with this uniform visa.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 1683/95



OJ L 164 of 14.7.1995

Amending act(s)

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 334/2002



OJ L 53 of 23.2.2002

Regulation (EC) No 856/2008



OJ L 235 of 2.9.2008


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 which are not recognised by the Member State drawing up the form [Official Journal L 53 of 23.2.2002].

  • This Regulation confines itself to a description of the uniform format in the interests of greater safety. A format for this form is annexed to the proposal. Technical specifications are established to ensure a certain level of security against counterfeiting, falsification and theft. They are secret, not published and made available only to the bodies designated by the Member States as responsible for the printing of the forms.
  • The uniform format for the form must be in use in the Member States no later than two years after the adoption of the above specifications.
  • The introduction of a new format does not affect the validity of authorisations already granted, unless the Member State concerned decides otherwise. With regard to the protection of personal data, Directive 95/46/EC has been complied with.

Regulation (EU) No 610/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 562/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a Community Code on the rules governing the movement of persons across borders (Schengen Borders Code), the Convention implementing the Schengen Agreement, Council Regulations (EC) No 1683/95 and (EC) No 539/2001 and Regulations (EC) No 767/2008 and (EC) No 810/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council [Official Journal L 182 of 29.6.2013].

Council Regulation (EU) No 517/2013 adapting certain regulations and decisions in the fields of free movement of goods, freedom of movement for persons, company law, competition policy, agriculture, food safety, veterinary and phytosanitary policy, transport policy, energy, taxation, statistics, trans-European networks, judiciary and fundamental rights, justice, freedom and security, environment, customs union, external relations, foreign, security and defence policy and institutions, by reason of the accession of the Republic of Croatia [Official Journal L 158 of 10.6.2013].

Last updated: 10.04.2014