Schengen Visa: The Council of the EU gives the green light to the digitization of the visa procedure.

The Council of the European Union (EU) adopted new rules on Monday, November 13, that will allow individuals planning to travel to the Schengen area to apply for a visa online. The Schengen area is a zone consisting of 27 European countries that have abolished many types of controls at internal borders.

The two adopted regulations include the establishment of a dedicated EU platform for Schengen visa applications. "With few exceptions, Schengen visa applications will be made through this platform. On the platform, visa applicants can enter all relevant data, upload electronic copies of their travel documents and supporting documents, and pay their visa fees," the Council stated in a press release.

Furthermore, the need to appear in person at the consulate will be largely eliminated. "In principle, applicants will only need to appear in person if they are applying for a visa for the first time, if their biometric data is no longer valid, or if they have obtained a new travel document," the same source explained. Instead of the current visa vignette, the regulations provide for the introduction of a cryptographically signed barcode, the statement added.

These two regulations will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union after their signature and will enter into force on the twentieth day following this publication. The precise date of application will be determined later, depending on the completion of technical work related to the visa application platform and digital visa.

"The possibility of applying for a Schengen visa online will be a significant improvement for citizens and for the processing of applications. This will simplify the application procedure for travelers and, at the same time, ease the burden on national administrations, which will be able to react more quickly and effectively," said Fernando Grande-Marlaska Gómez, interim Spanish Minister of the Interior, quoted in the press release.

"The digital visa will streamline the application process for travelers, simplify administrative procedures, and enhance the security of the Schengen area, for example, by reducing the risk of visa vignette falsification and theft," said Maria Malmer Stenergard, Swedish Minister for Migration, at the time of the announcement of an agreement on the matter between the Council and the European Parliament.