Visa Crunch

Transit Schengen Visa Requirement For Indians Explained

Since the beginning of April, when international flights resumed, including those from India to the United Kingdom with a stopover in a European Union international airport, tens of Indian citizens have been denied boarding for lack of transit Schengen Visas.

The new requirement has left many confused and frustrated, unable to understand the reasons why this requirement has been imposed on them now.

“Indians (citizens of third world countries) targeted to apply transit visa causing a lot of travel plan screw-ups. I believe this is the last time I booked an EU carrier to fly from London to India…shame on policymakers,”

a Twitter user under the handler @Prem6senthil wrote, sharing his experience.

Other Indian nationals, who flew to India to spend the Easter break with their friends and family members in their home country, have also experienced the same. They have been forced to book flights via other countries, like Bahrain, which do not require transit visas.

However, while this is a new requirement for Indians travelling to the UK, a transit visa has for a long time now been required for Indian nationals transiting four EU countries – the Czech Republic, France, Germany, or Spain – en route to a non-EU destination country.

What Is a Transit Schengen Visa?

A Transit Schengen Visa is a visa issued by the Schengen Area member countries to the nationals of specific countries wishing to transit one of the EU airports on their way to their non-EU/Schengen destination country.

An Airport Transit Schengen Visa is a permit designated for travellers that have to change flights at a Schengen airport. It enables them to stop and wait in the international transit area of a Schengen airport for their flight to their destination country,” notes, further explaining that this visa does not allow the holders to leave the international transit area of an airport, even if the traveller has to wait overnight.

When it comes to a regular Schengen Visa for tourism, family visits, business and other purposes for a short-term stay in the Schengen Area, the member countries have a joint list on who needs a visa and who doesn’t. However, the case is different for Transit Schengen Visas.

The Schengen Area countries have two lists, one joint list and one ‘personalized’ list of countries, travellers from which need a transit visa in order to transit their territory. The joint list consists of:

  • Afghanistan
  • Bangladesh
  • The Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Eritrea
  • Ethiopia
  • Ghana
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Nigeria
  • Pakistan
  • Somalia
  • Sri Lanka

This means that passport holders of one of the countries listed above will need a transit visa regardless of the EU/Schengen country they are set to transit to on their way to their destination country.

On the other hand, when it comes to ‘personalized’ lists of countries, for example, Austria also required a transit visa for travellers from Syria transiting its territory. Belgium has a longer list, which includes Dominican Republic, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Nepal, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Yemen, as well as Palestine.

Which EU/Schengen Countries Require Indians to Obtain a Transit Schengen Visa?

Currently, only four EU/Schengen countries require Indian passport holders to obtain a Transit Schengen Visa in order to transit their territory. These countries and their personalized lists are as follows:

  • The Czech Republic – Chad, Egypt, India, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Yemen, and Palestine
  • France – Angola, Bolivia, Cameroon, Central African, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Dominican, Guinea, Haiti, India, Mali, Mauritania, Nepal, the Philippines, Republic of the Congo, Russia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Togo, Yemen, and Palestine
  • Germany – India, Jordan, Lebanon, Mali, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, and Turkey
  • Spain – Cameroon, Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Djibouti, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Haiti, India, Liberia, Mali, Palestine, Sierra Leone, Syria, Togo, and Yemen

This means that Indian citizens can transit to international airports in other EU countries without a Schengen visa.

Why Weren’t Indians Previously Required a Transit Visa to the UK?

As the UK was a member country of the EU, transiting any other EU country en route to the UK was possible restriction-free, without additional requirements like transit visas.

However, since the UK left the EU on December 31, 2020, the same started being considered a third country to the block, and thus, travellers to its territory no longer enjoy the same benefits.

Starting from January 1, 2022, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, and Spain reimposed the requirement on Indian passport holders travelling by air carriers such as Lufthansa, Air France and KLM, transiting their airports while travelling to the UK.

Since up until now, there have been no connecting flights from India to the UK with a stopover in these four EU countries, mainly due to COVID-19, the issue has resurfaced only now.

What Other Choices Do Indians Who Don’t Want to Obtain a Transit Visa Have?

Indians for whom applying for and obtaining a Transit Schengen Visa is too much of a hurdle can travel through other EU countries which do not ask them for such a visa, like the Netherlands.

“Indian nationals destined to the United Kingdom do not require a transit/Schengen visa while transiting Amsterdam Schiphol, provided they hold a valid visa for the United Kingdom and comply with all applicable conditions in transit and entry conditions at destination. Passengers are personally responsible to ascertain eligibility,”

KLM Royal Dutch Airline, which is the flag carrier airline of the Netherlands, has announced.

Legal Disclaimer: This article is provided for information purposes only.

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