Since early April, when international flights resumed, including those from India to the United Kingdom with a stopover at an international airport in the European Union, dozens of Indian citizens have been denied boarding for lack of Schengen transit visas.
The new requirement has left many people confused and frustrated, unable to understand why this requirement has been imposed on them now, reports SchengenVisaInfo.com.
“Indians (citizens of third world countries) targeted to apply for transit visa causing lot of hiccups in their travel plan. I believe this is the last time I have booked a European carrier to fly from London to India…shame on the policy makerswrote a Twitter user under manager @Prem6senthil, sharing his experience.
Other Indian nationals, who flew to India to spend the Easter holidays 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, such as Bahrain, which do not require a transit visa.
However, while this is a new requirement for Indians traveling to the UK, a transit visa has long been required for Indian nationals transiting through four EU countries – the Czech Republic, France, Germany or Spain – en route to a non-EU destination country.
>> Dozens of Indians refused to board their flights to the UK due to lack of Schengen transit visas
What is a Schengen transit visa?
A Schengen transit visa is a visa issued by member countries of the Schengen area to nationals of specific countries wishing to transit through one of the EU airports en route to their non-EU/Schengen destination country.
“A Schengen airport transit visa is a permit for travelers who need to change flights at a Schengen airport. It allows them to stop and wait in the international transit area of a Schengen airport for their flight to their destination countrynotes SchengenVisaInfo.com, further explaining that this visa does not allow holders to leave the international transit area of an airport, even if the traveler has to wait overnight.
When it comes to a regular Schengen visa for tourism, family visits, business and other purposes for a short stay in the Schengen area, member countries have a common list indicating who needs a visa and who does not. However, the case is different for Schengen transit visas.
The countries of the Schengen area have two lists, a common list and a “personalized” list of countries, whose travelers need a transit visa to transit through their territory. The common list includes:
- The Democratic Republic of Congo
- Sri Lanka
This means that passport holders from any of the countries listed above will need a transit visa regardless of which EU/Schengen country they need to transit to get to their destination country.
On the other hand, when it comes to “custom” lists of countries, for example, Austria also required a transit visa for travelers from Syria transiting through its territory. Belgium has a longer list, which includes the Dominican Republic, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Nepal, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Yemen, as well as Palestine.
Which EU/Schengen countries require Indians to obtain a Schengen transit visa?
Currently, only four EU/Schengen countries require Indian passport holders to obtain a Schengen transit visa in order to transit through their territory. These countries and their custom lists are:
- The Czech Republic – Chad, Egypt, IndiaKyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Yemen and Palestine
- France – Angola, Bolivia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Ivory Coast, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Guinea, Haiti, IndiaMali, Mauritania, Nepal, Philippines, Republic of Congo, Russia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Togo, Yemen and Palestine
- Germany – IndiaJordan, Lebanon, Mali, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Turkey
- Spain – Cameroon, Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, Cuba, Djibouti, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Haiti, IndiaLiberia, Mali, Palestine, Sierra Leone, Syria, Togo and Yemen
This means that Indian citizens can transit through international airports of other EU countries without a Schengen visa.
>> Indians cannot travel with EU Airlines to Great Britain without a Schengen transit visa
Why didn’t Indians previously need a UK transit visa?
As the UK was an EU member country, transit from any other EU country en route to the UK was possible without restriction, without additional requirements such as transit visas.
However, since the UK left the EU on December 31, 2020, it has started to be considered a third country to the bloc and, therefore, travelers to its territory no longer enjoy the same advantages. .
Effective January 1, 2022, the Czech Republic, France, Germany and Spain reimposed the requirement on Indian passport holders traveling with air carriers such as Lufthansa, Air France and KLM, transiting through their airports when they were going to the UK.
As so far there have been no connecting flights between India and the UK with a stopover in these four EU countries, mainly due to COVID-19, the problem has not resurfaced only now.
What other choices do Indians who do not wish to obtain a transit visa have?
Indians for whom applying for and obtaining a Schengen transit visa is too difficult can travel through other EU countries that do not require such a visa, such as the Netherlands.
“Indian nationals bound for the UK do not require a transit/Schengen visa when transiting through Amsterdam Schiphol, provided they hold a valid UK visa and meet all applicable conditions in transit and entry requirements at destination. Passengers are personally responsible for verifying their eligibility“, announced KLM Royal Dutch Airline, which is the flag carrier airline of the Netherlands.
>> Indians traveling to the UK can transit through the Netherlands without a Schengen transit visa