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My wife and I would like to travel to Europe later this year. We live in the U.S.A. but she needs to obtain a Schengen Visa (short stay) as she is not a U.S. citizen (she's a permanent resident).

Our Itinerary looks like the following:

  1. Entry into Barcelona, Spain (3 days)
  2. Travel to Rome (4 days)
  3. Travel to Paris (4 days)
  4. Exit from Paris

I've read that when visiting multiple places, you should apply for the Schengen Visa of the place you spend the most time in. We spend equal time in Italy and France - so the question is, which of these two countries should she apply for?

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The rules are laid out in article 5 of the Schengen Visa Code:

  1. The Member State competent for examining and deciding on an application for a uniform visa shall be:

(a) the Member State whose territory constitutes the sole destination of the visit(s);

(b) if the visit includes more than one destination, the Member State whose territory constitutes the main destination of the visit(s) in terms of the length or purpose of stay; or

(c) if no main destination can be determined, the Member State whose external border the applicant intends to cross in order to enter the territory of the Member States.

Note that “main destination” is defined based on the length or the purpose of the visit. So, for example, if you are going to attend a wedding in Rome, it will be pretty clear that Italy is your main destination.

If no main destination can be determined, it's still not up to you, you have to apply to the country you will enter first.

  • thanks for the swift response! I've seen parts of A and B being thrown around forums but never C - that's unfortunate since I heard Spain is quite a hassle to deal with in regards to Schengen Visas – JustAnotherCoder Feb 12 '15 at 20:45
  • +1, this is a great answer that could be wiki'd as canonical. Just add the link to where you found the rules. – Gayot Fow Feb 12 '15 at 22:28
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    A friend of mine is in an analogous situation. She is planning a trip with 3 days in Holland, 4 days in Germany, 4 in Austria. Despite Amsterdam being the point of entry, the visa service handling Dutch Schengen visas did not allow her to submit an application with them, telling her to go to the German embassy. So it’s pretty subjective in practice. – neubau Feb 13 '15 at 3:02
  • @neubau There is worse: People getting bounced between consulates. But I don't think it's all that subjective, the text is quite clear and the Dutch interpretation simply seems wrong to me. It's as if they made up a rule that isn't there (“if there are several destinations in which you stay longer than others, those are the main destinations and you should apply to the first of the main destinations”). Of course, that's not very useful in practice… but note that you can always adjust your plan to hit the right consulate and still change your mind once you have entered the Schengen area. – Relaxed Feb 13 '15 at 3:11
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    @MichaelHampton What do you mean? In neubau's example, there are at least two countries that are equally important for the trip (Germany and Austria) hence no main destination, therefore 5(1)(c) applies, the country of first entry is responsible for handling the visa application. Even if the contrast was starker (say one day in the Netherlands, 30 days in France, 30 days in Italy), I still don't see what basis you could find to refuse to examine the application. Either there is a main destination, or there isn't, that's all the rules say. – Relaxed Apr 14 '16 at 17:30

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