New Schengen visa rule a minor complication?

2013-06-04 11:36

While it's never been easy to get a Schengen Visa, the launch of the Visa Information System on June 6 could complicate the process even more for South African travellers.

The European Union Delegation to South Africa announced the launch in a press release sent out at the end of May and various embassies and consulates posted the announcement on their websites. 

Apart from this, not much has been made of the changes.

Brent Willie, Head of Sales at Global Visas South Africa, says they have not been informed by Schengen embassies that there is a new process. "The UK already requires a biometrics test, so it would not be far-fetched for the Schengen states to follow. It will help tighten up the security checks and the screening of individuals entering into Europe. A number of Schengen countries already require that travellers apply in person and a biometric test will undoubtedly lead to an increase in costs for applicants," he said. 

At the time of publishing, a poll posted on News24 showed that 51% of readers see the changes as a minor inconvenience, while 34% see it as a real obstacle to travel and 15% see it as unfair and racist. 

This is what a few of our News24 Travel readers had to say:

JohannP - June 3, 2013 at 16:21 People who choose to blame government for this one need to have their shoulders de chipped. This is a global issue. We have needed visas for most of Europe since the dawn of time, and Germany, France and Italy have all since 2007 expected you to appear in person. The US, and UK have also been doing this for a while. It has nothing to do with the ANC or false passports. It's all got to do with a Global Identity system, that means you have to have your BIO's uploaded onto a central database. I'd love to see you do that over the phone! Suck it up! I work in travel and have to deal with this every day!

Robin Mowatt - June 3, 2013 at 19:27 I am a South African living in Dubai and just got a Shengen visa here in Dubai - and the biometrics apply to everyone getting a Shengen visa, not just South Africans - so you should really get your facts right before you open your mouth.

Zohan Steppingstone - June 4, 2013 at 07:55 What gets my tail up is that every time I go to Germany on business I have to jump through hoops to get a Visa, yet German passport holders can come and go as they please. Not to even mention these Gestapo types that work at the German Consulate in PTA; man alive those people are rude.

Emile Jan Toerien - June 3, 2013 at 16:41 Although I think the VIS system is a great idea. It's just a bugger that I now have to travel to Pretoria and back just to have my fingerprints scanned, and a photo taken(Hermanus to Pretoria roughly 1200km). Wouldn't it be nice if ANY EU Embassy could do this on behalf of a fellow member state. Just the VIS bit mind you, not the actual Visa.

Tracey Geyser Itta - June 3, 2013 at 22:26 As a South Arican living in Germany I have had to go through this prossess to get a visa for the UK. Munich 400km. Zurich 100km. Had to make an appointment online. Eventually I found the office in the back of a building. They process all visas for more than one country including the USA. All they do is check your forms and documents then seal it in an envalope that I had to post to the embassy myself. The biometric data goes somewhere else! I'm not sure I like all my personal data being stored and probably been shared by more than one intelligence agency. 
I'm sure they will have one of these offices in Cape Town at least.

Don Bode - June 3, 2013 at 17:06 If I recall the last time I got a visa they were doing this anyway. Try travelling around the globe and see the security measures everywhere, this has nothing to do with South Africa but more with the threat of global terrorism. We really aren't that special to warrant a change in procedures of visa applications.

Lizl Scheepers - June 3, 2013 at 17:32 Good! It should be done this way.

SGL - June 4, 2013 at 07:07 The biometric system was implemented by a number of EU countries 3 years ago already. It is also used to issue documents for citizens of those countries - so not a tool to keep South Africans out. But it will help stop dodgy people with dodgy backgrounds entering EU and it plays a vital role in fighting human trafficking.

Mac Mac - June 4, 2013 at 09:08 Um, clearly no one here has applied for a Schengen visa before. It is already a requirement at most embassies for you to submit your application in person. So, all the new rule is saying is that you have to put your hand on a fingerprint scanner. The part that I like is that interviews can be waived for five years after your biometrics have been captured. That is fantastic! The title of the article should read "New Schengen improvement for SA".

Had any visa application nightmares of your own - email us at to share your experience or tell us about it in the comments section below.

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