I have a Schengen visa issued by the German embassy, and it clearly states that it's valid for all Schengen states. I have a round-trip flight booked to Berlin, but my itinerary includes a 2-hour layover in Vienna, where I will change flights before continuing to Germany.

The layover in Austria is solely because of the flight itinerary, and I don't plan to visit Austria first. I've read that you are supposed to enter the Schengen area through the country that issued your visa or is your main destination.

Given my layover in Vienna, will I face any issues? Is it okay to have a layover in Austria before heading to Germany, or should I change my flight to enter through Germany directly?

Thanks for any advice!

  • 8
    "I've read that you are supposed to enter the Schengen area through the country that issued your visa or is your main destination": you've read incorrect information. There is no such requirement.
    – phoog
    Commented Jun 14 at 12:03
  • 4
    @phoog unfortunately consulate employees in developing nations often scaremonger applicants about such non-existing requirements. My own grandma is falsely told every time that her visa is only valid for Czech Republic, even though she always gets a multi-entry Schengen visa and therefore no such restriction could be present.
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Jun 14 at 20:21
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    @JanusBahsJacquet the flight from Vienna to Berlin is an internal flight. Regardless of luggage or ticketing it will be necessary to enter the Schengen area in Austria to be able to reach the boarding gate in the Schengen part of the airport from the arrival gate in the non-Schengen part.
    – phoog
    Commented Jun 15 at 17:26
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    @phoog it always said "Schengen states", so the consulate employees were definitely out of line.
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Jun 15 at 17:29
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    @phoog Of course it is – no idea where my mind was last night. Comment deleted. Commented Jun 15 at 17:30

1 Answer 1


You write:

I've read that you are supposed to enter the Schengen area through the country that issued your visa or is your main destination.

Not sure where you read that, but it’s incorrect. You can enter the Schengen Area wherever you want. Consider the case of people travelling by ground transportation (train, bus, car…): they evidently won’t be able to enter directly a Schengen country which does does not have an external border on the direction you are coming from (for instance someone coming from Turkey, travelling to Germany, will have to go through quite a few other Schengen countries on the way).

What is important is that you actually visit the country which issued the visa and that it remains your main destination (in number of days, even though the law says otherwise). Some countries (mostly East-European countries) seem to be very strict on you staying in their country the number of days you said you would in your application and monitor hotel cancellations/changes, but I don't think that applies to Germany, and it doesn't apply to your current travel plans either.

Border guards may ask questions, but just showing your ticket to Germany (or your boarding pass which you will probably have at that point) should be enough for this topic. There are of course other rules to obey and matching questions and proof, but the point of entry isn’t an issue.

  • "Not sure where you read that, but it’s incorrect." - I agree it's formally incorrect, but is it may be still the least cumbersome way? If you enter in the country that issued the visa, possibly there might be less questions asked about whether you are actually in transit to the issuing country. From what I have heard, it seems to have become common in business trips to enter via a Schengen country A that issued the visa, even though the trip leads to country B (whose consulate could not issue the visa in time, or whose consulate had reached the annual maximum of visas to grant, or other ... Commented Jun 15 at 16:51
  • ... such reasons why the visa was not obtained via country B in the first place). Commented Jun 15 at 16:52
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    @O.R.Mapper border officers in Vienna know that Austrian Airlines is part of the Lufthansa group and that lots of people fly through Vienna to reach Germany, and they know the main destination rule. Furthermore, in this case those officers will be staffing the desk that checks passengers transferring to flights to other Schengen-area airports. The situation you describe is a way of minimizing the chance of being found out after submitting a false application to get around the main destination rule; someone who has complied with the rule does not have to worry about that.
    – phoog
    Commented Jun 15 at 17:31

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