During the COVID crisis, all UK nationals are allowed to travel to the EU. I am a South African national with long term residence in the UK and would normally require a Schengen visa to travel to Europe. Although the European Commission says that 3rd country nationals who are resident in EU member states (and the UK) are exempt from the travel restrictions, they do not mention how we are meant to obtain a Schengen visa as applications are currently closed, or if we need one at all.

The rules seem to fail to account for EU residents who would ordinarily need a Schengen visa to travel Europe. To compound my confusion the EU has decided today to open its borders to several countries such as Rwanda, Algeria, and Morocco whose citizens require Schengen visas to enter.

Does anyone have any advice/official sources that can help clarify this issue?

  • Presumably all the normal rules for visas continue to apply. If you already have a Schengen visa, you can use that visa. If visa application infrastruture is open, you can use it. If the application infrastructure isn't open, then unfortunately you would have to wait for it to open. Jul 1, 2020 at 13:21

1 Answer 1


Some countries have in fact resumed visa processing, including for short-stay visas but not for all purposes. The exemption make that possible in the first place but that doesn't mean everybody will be able to travel or that countries have to facilitate this. What was agreed is that EU countries are not free to admit non-essential visitors from countries that are not listed in the exemption (including visitors from the US) but they are still free to impose additional limitations or resume visa processing at their own pace.

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