A Schengen visa allows you to visit multiple countries in Europe and it ends border checkpoints within these countries. The countries are Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Luxemburg, Netherlands, Austria, Belgium, Norway, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden. These are the Schengen member countries.
The word Schengen got its name from a small village called Schengen in Luxembourg where the first Schengen treaty was signed by five european countries in the year 1985. Now the number of Schengen member countries is fifteen.
You must note that the Schengen member countries are different from countries of the European Union. The European Union excludes Norway and Iceland which are Schengen Members. Moreover there are 27 European Union states (countries) while there are just 15 Schengen Member countries.
The Schengen visa has made traveling in Europe much easier as you can travel fifteen countries on the same visa. You can travel to these countries by train, by car or by air.
You need to have a passport valid for at least the coming three months in order to get a Schengen visa. You would also need to disclose information related to your funds and your employment. You would also have to show documents related to your hotel or motel reservation but discuss this issue with the embassy so that your payment for hotel reservation does not get wasted. You need to submit 2 passport-sized photographs as well.
Schengen visa application forms are available online free of cost. Initially, you can find the form to be a bit confusing. Consult the embassy nearest to you for help in understanding the form. You have to mention the countries you wish to visit in the form. So you should have prior planning. The visa fee will be according to countries you are visiting.
The Schengen visa is only for short stay tourism or business purposes only. One cannot stay permanently in any of the countries on a Schengen visa.