I'm Canadian and I'm currently working and living in Belgium. I applied for my residence permit last September, but I still haven't got it yet. I do have my visa type D. I'm staying in Belgium until the end of 2010. I've always thought that I cannot travel until I have my residence permit. But many friends told me that I can travel around Europe even without the residence permit. I'm confused and I don't know which is true. Any help? Please leave any comments... I will call the Canadian consulate in Belgium, but it's a bit hard to call because I work 9-17... Thanks in advance!
Since you're Canadian, you can travel the Schengen area as much as you like, as long as you don't exceed the golden 90-days-in-180 rule. Still, I'd make inquiries with the Belgian authorities (Dienst Vreemdelingenzaken / Office des Étrangers) before going. Just to make extra sure.
It is a little complex :
There is some confusion about short stay (tourist) visas, transit visas, long stay visas, Schengen, and validity for various nationals visiting EU countries.
I've found a fairly clear description of the rules :
The Schengen Agreement was originally signed in 1985, but was not implemented until 10 years later in 1995. It removed the need for border control posts, allowing easy access between countries that are part of the agreement.
This is a list of countries participating in the Schengen Agreement:
The countries in the Schengen agreement have a uniform visa regime that distinguishes 4 main types of visa. In addition, specific types exist for special groups (notably, refugees and diplomats), but these are not relevant to regular travellers.
Transit visa (A and B visa)
Transit visa are required for non-exempt third-country nationals passing through the Schengen area.
Both visa have a maximum validity of 120 hours.
The holder of an A-type visa is not allowed to leave the airport transit area.
The holder of a B-type visa is allowed to use overland transport for transiting purposes.
The visa may be subject to routing restrictions.
Short stay visa (C visa)
Short stay visa are required for non-exempt third-country nationals. The same rules apply to those who are exempt from visa application; they just do not need to apply in advance, but are granted the visa (in the form of an entry stamp) upon arrival.
The holder of a C-type visa is allowed to stay in the Schengen area for maximally 90 days in a 180 days period. This means you can stay in the Schengen area for at most 90 days, then leave for 91 days, then come back, etc. YOU CANNOT RENEW YOUR VISA / VISA WAIVOR BY EXITING AND RE-ENTERING IN LESS THAN 91 DAYS
C-type visa can be single-entry or multiple-entry.
Validity is printed on the visa. Validity may start either at the date of issuance, or at the date of first entry. This seems to depend on the issuing authority; make inquiries prior to booking flights etc.
C-type visa are not extendable beyond the 90-days-within-180-days limit.
Additional restrictions may be set by individual countries party to the agreement, especially concerning purpose of visit, financial means, antecedents, ailments, etc. The holder of a C-type visa has to comply with the additional requirements of each country s/he wants to enter.
Long stay visa (D visa)
Long stay visa are subject to regulations of the issuing state. They are not uniform Schengen visa, and come by many different names.
A D-type visa is required for every stay longer than 90 days.
D-type visa are not issued for purposes of tourism.
Usually, D-type visa only allow the holder to reside in the issuing country. Permission to work or study has to be obtained separately, and is often a prerequisite to enter the visa application process.
Typically, a D-type visa can only be applied for in the future holder's country of current residence.
D-type visa only give access to the issuing country. The holder of a D-type visa is not allowed to travel around the Schengen area. Note that third-country nationals exempt from visa requirements can travel outside the country they hold a D-type visa for, but for maximally 90 days in a 180 days period.
Combination visa (C+D)
Combination visa are meant to give the holder of a D-type visa the possibility of moving through the Schengen area. Both parts are subject to the regulations described above.
When the validity of the C-part starts, seems to depend on national regulations of the state issuing the D-part. In some cases, validity starts simultaneously with the validity of the D-part; in other cases, validity starts as soon as the holder enters another Schengen country; in still others, validity starts at the date of issuance. Make inquiries!
A single transit in another Schengen state is included in the D-type visa itself. If additional transits are necessary, a combination visa is required
Who needs a Schengen visa?
Countries can be divided in four groups as below. This website gives an up-to-date overview of which countries are part of which group.
Countries party to the Schengen agreement :
See the list at the beginning of the article. Nationals from those countries and their overseas territories do not require a visa. Resident non-nationals do, in most cases.
Countries subject to special provisions :
For a number of countries, special provisions are made in the Schengen agreement. Nationals from those countries and territories do not require a visa. This is the case for
Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein
Nationals from a number of countries do not have to apply for a C-type visa in advance. They are granted the visa upon arrival. This is the case for
all countries in North America and Central America, except Belize
certain countries in South America (notably Argentina, Brazil and Chile)
Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia and Singapore
Australia and New Zealand
San Marino, Vatican City, Andorra and Monaco
The exemption is only granted to 'clean' nationals of the above countries. If you have criminal antecedents or a SIS registration, the exemption does not apply. You will be denied entry in those cases, and be repatriated at your own expense.
Nationals from all other countries have to apply for a visa in advance. This is the case for
all of Africa
all of Asia except Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia and Singapore
all of Oceania except Australia and New Zealand
certain countries in western South America and the Caribbean
certain countries in the Balkans
How to apply for a Schengen visa
Applications should be made with the competent representation (i.e., the consulate) of the country of first entry, or of the country that is the main destination. The application process is handled by the party states, and is therefore not uniform. More information and application forms can be found on the respective consulate websites. Most countries' Immigration Services also have a webpage with more information.
Violating the conditions of your Schengen visa renders the visa invalid. Holders of an invalid visa automatically receive the status of unwanted alien; if you happen to come to the attention of national law enforcement while having said status, you will be deported out of the Schengen area at your own expense.
Overstaying is the most common visa violation. Be advised that you will always be found out, as your visa is checked upon leaving the Schengen area. Overstaying may be penalised with a substantial fine, payable on the spot. In addition, you will be registered as a visa offender in the Schengen Information System (SIS), which party countries and certain non-Schengen countries consult before granting you a visa. Registration in SIS will greatly diminish your chances to get another Schengen visa in the future. In addition, SIS registration may lead to trouble entering other countries, notably the US and Canada.
Also, many people are under the impression that, once they're inside the Schengen area, they are 'home free', and run no risk of being caught. This is not true. Even though border checks have been abolished, countries party to the Schengen agreement retain the full right to make sure that everyone on their territory has a valid reason for being there. Checks in public transport are common; some member states even allow random ID checks on the streets.
More : -snip-
Moderator comment: Sorry, no promos please.
[ Edit: Edited on 06-Feb-2010, at 00:11 by mpprh ]