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Uniform format for visas issued to non-EU nationals



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 (1).


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 within a 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 (1). 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 they exit 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 stay’.

Regulation (EU) 2017/1370 introduces a new design for the visa sticker with additional safety features to prevent forgery. Ireland and the United Kingdom (1) are not subject to the application of the new measures which came into force on 17 August 2017. Nevertheless, these countries may request the European Commission to enter into agreements in order to exchange technical information in the model of their national visas.

Technical specifications

The uniform visa must conform to:

  • a list of technical specifications concerning universally recognisable security features clearly visible to the naked eye including:
    • 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 Commission and the other EU countries.

Technical specifications for the new visa sticker will be set out in a Commission implementing decision. The regulation will apply no later than 15 months after the adoption of the additional technical specifications referred to in Regulation (EC) No 1683/95.


It has applied since 3 August 1995.


For more information, see:


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.


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.

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)

last update 01.02.2018

(1) The United Kingdom withdraws from the European Union and becomes a third country (non-EU country) as of 1 February 2020.