EUR-Lex Access to European Union law

Back to EUR-Lex homepage

This document is an excerpt from the EUR-Lex website

Visa Code



Regulation (EC) No 810/2009 establishing the EU’s Visa Code


  • It sets out procedures and conditions for issuing short-stay visas for visits to the Schengen area of no more than 90 days in any 180-day period.
  • It also sets out rules on airport transit visas.


Procedures and conditions for issuing visas

The European Union (EU) Member State that is the sole or main destination of the visit is responsible for examining the visa application. If the main destination cannot be determined, it becomes the responsibility of the country of first entry into the Schengen area.


  • A visa application may be submitted by the applicant, an accredited commercial intermediary or a professional, cultural, sports or educational association or institution on behalf of its members.
  • Applications must generally be submitted within 6 months to 15 days of the intended visit (9 months for seafarers).

A uniform visa (valid for the whole Schengen area) may be for multiple entries with a maximum validity of 5 years.

A visa with limited territorial validity (limited to particular Member States) may exceptionally be issued in cases where the applicant does not fulfil all the entry conditions, on humanitarian grounds, for reasons of national interest, because of international obligations, or in situations where other Schengen countries consulted object to the issuing of a visa.


After verifying whether the application is admissible (i.e. submitted following the rules), the competent authority must:

  • create an entry in the Visa Information System (VIS) under Regulation (EC) No 767/2008;
  • carry out a further examination of the application to check that the applicant:
    • fulfils the entry conditions as set out in Regulation (EU) 2016/399 setting out the Schengen Borders Code (see summary),
    • does not pose a risk of illegal immigration or a threat to the security of the country, and
    • intends to leave before the visa expires.

Under amending Regulation (EU) 2021/1134, background checks on applicants would be reinforced before a decision is taken on granting a visa. Rules and procedures for searches in sensitive and non-sensitive EU databases containing security and migration information are set out. Once in effect, Member States would be required to collect biometric identifiers of the applicant comprising a facial image and 10 fingerprints (for storage in the VIS) and, at the time of submission of the first application and subsequently at least every 59 months thereafter, the applicant must appear in person.

If the application is inadmissible, the authority would have to:

  • return the application form and supporting documents without having examined them further;
  • destroy any biometric data collected; and
  • reimburse the visa fee.

Airport transit visas

  • Nationals of non-EU countries listed in Annex IV need an airport transit visa to pass through the international transit areas of airports in the Schengen area. In urgent cases of mass influx of illegal immigrants, any Member State may extend this requirement to nationals of other non-EU countries.
  • When applying for an airport transit visa, the applicant must present proof of the points of departure and destination, coherence of the itinerary and proof of the onward journey to the final destination.

Multiple-entry visas

Multiple-entry visas with long validity may be issued for one, two or multiple entries. The Visa Code sets out rules on the issuing of multiple entry visas with a progressively longer length of validity:

  • 1 year, if the applicant has used three visas within the previous 2 years;
  • 2 years, if the applicant has already used a 1-year multiple-entry visa within the previous 2 years;
  • 5 years, if the applicant has already used a 2-year multiple-entry visa within the previous 3 years.

Airport transit visas and visas limited to particular countries are not taken into account when taking decisions on the issuing of multiple-entry visas with a long validity.

Visas issued at the external borders

  • Exceptionally, a visa application for a maximum stay of 15 days, or to cover the time needed for transit, may be applied for at the external border of the Schengen country of destination.
  • A non-EU national for whom the verification of hits resulting from automated checks in EU databases has not been completed is not, in principle, issued a visa at the external border. However, a visa with limited territorial validity for the territory of the issuing Member State may be issued for such persons in exceptional cases.

Decisions on visa applications

  • The authority assesses whether the entry conditions set out in the Schengen Borders Code are met.
  • A visa is refused if the applicant:
    • presents a false travel document;
    • gives inadequate justification for the intended stay;
    • provides insufficient proof of means for the stay or for the return home;
    • has been the subject of an alert in the Schengen information system set up under Regulation (EU) 2018/1860 (see summary) for the purpose of refusing entry;
    • is considered a threat to the public policy, internal security, public health or internal relations of EU countries;
    • presents insufficient travel medical insurance.
  • The general deadline for a decision is a maximum of 15 days, which may be extended up to a maximum of 45 days in individual cases, notably where further scrutiny of the application is needed.
  • A decision on refusal and the reasons on which it is based is notified to the applicant using the standard form set out in Annex VI.
  • Persons whose visa has been refused have the right to appeal.

Cooperation on readmission

  • The European Commission assesses cooperation by non-EU countries on readmission of irregular migrants, taking into account border management and prevention, control of migrant smuggling and the transit of irregular migrants.
  • Where a non-EU country is not cooperating, the Commission may submit a proposal for a Council decision to temporarily apply certain rules in a restrictive manner. Conversely, where a country is cooperating sufficiently, certain rules may be applied in a more generous manner.

Respect for human dignity and fundamental rights

Amending Regulation (EU) 2021/1134 also introduces stipulations that Member States’ consular and central authorities’ staff must fully respect human dignity and the fundamental rights and principles recognised by the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights when performing their duties. They shall not discriminate against persons on grounds of sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation.

Amendments and repeals

  • Amending Regulation (EU) 2021/1134 also amends the VIS regulation set up under Regulation (EC) No 767/2008 (see summary) and the Schengen Borders Code, as well as Articles 9–17 of the convention implementing the Schengen Agreement and the Common Consular Instructions.
  • The regulation has been successively amended by Regulations (EU) No 977/2011, (EU) No 154/2012, (EU) No 610/2013, (EU) 2016/399, (EU) 2019/1155 and (EU) 2021/1134.


  • Regulation (EC) No 810/2009 has applied since 5 April 2010.
  • It should be noted that amendments introduced by Regulation (EU) 2021/1134 are expected to be applied only from 2024.


See also:


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).

Successive amendments to Regulation (EC) No 810/2009 have been incorporated into the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.


Regulation (EU) 2021/1134 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 July 2021 amending Regulations (EC) No 767/2008, (EC) No 810/2009, (EU) 2016/399, (EU) 2017/2226, (EU) 2018/1240, (EU) 2018/1860, (EU) 2018/1861, (EU) 2019/817 and (EU) 2019/1896 of the European Parliament and of the Council and repealing Council Decisions 2004/512/EC and 2008/633/JHA, for the purpose of reforming the Visa Information System (OJ L 248, 13.7.2021, pp. 11–87).

Regulation (EU) 2018/1860 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 28 November 2018 on the use of the Schengen Information System for the return of illegally staying third-country nationals (OJ L 312, 7.12.2018, pp. 1–13).

See consolidated version.

Regulation (EU) 2018/1861 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 28 November 2018 on the establishment, operation and use of the Schengen Information System (SIS) in the field of border checks, and amending the Convention implementing the Schengen Agreement, and amending and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1987/2006 (OJ L 312, 7.12.2018, pp. 14–55).

See consolidated version.

Regulation (EU) 2018/1806 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 November 2018 listing the third countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external borders and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement (OJ L 303, 28.11.2018, pp. 39–58).

See consolidated version.

Regulation (EU) 2018/1240 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 September 2018 establishing a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) and amending Regulations (EU) No 1077/2011, (EU) No 515/2014, (EU) 2016/399, (EU) 2016/1624 and (EU) 2017/2226 (OJ L 236, 19.9.2018, pp. 1–71).

See consolidated version.

Regulation (EU) 2016/1953 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 October 2016 on the establishment of a European travel document for the return of illegally staying third-country nationals, and repealing the Council Recommendation of 30 November 1994 (OJ L 311, 17.11.2016, pp. 13–19).

Regulation (EU) 2016/399 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 9 March 2016 on a Union Code on the rules governing the movement of persons across borders (Schengen Borders Code) (OJ L 77, 23.3.2016, pp. 1–52).

See consolidated version.

Regulation (EC) No 767/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 9 July 2008 concerning the Visa Information System (VIS) and the exchange of data between Member States on short-stay visas (VIS Regulation) (OJ L 218, 13.8.2008, pp. 60–81).

See consolidated version.

Regulation (EC) No 1987/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006 on the establishment, operation and use of the second generation Schengen Information System (SIS II) (OJ L 381, 28.12.2006, pp. 4–23).

See consolidated version.

last update 11.11.2021