June 23, 2024

Schengen travel insurance is a specific type of travel insurance policy tailored to meet the travel medical coverage requirements set by the 27 (soon to be 29) European destinations within the Schengen Area. Travelers must present proof of sufficient coverage as part of the Schengen visa application process.


Read on to learn more about Schengen visa travel insurance requirements and find the best travel insurance policy for your upcoming trip.

What is Schengen travel insurance?

Schengen travel insurance is designed for travelers entering the Schengen zone, which comprises 27 (soon to be 29) European nations that have abolished internal borders.


Many visitors, including citizens from non-E.U. countries like India and China, must obtain a travel visa to enter the Schengen Area. And a requirement for a Schengen Visa is to have insurance covering at least €30,000 (around $32,720) in medical costs.


However, there are exemptions. For example, U.S. citizens and residents of countries such as Canada, Brazil and Mexico don’t need a Schengen visa or travel insurance for stays of up to 90 days within a 180-day period.


Schengen countries

The Schengen Area consists of a diverse tapestry of countries. Among the member nations are some of the best places to visit in Europe, including France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Greece and the Netherlands.

Ireland and Cyprus are the only E.U. member states not currently part of the Schengen Agreement.


Visa and travel insurance requirements for the Schengen Area

Having a valid U.S. passport allows you to spend up to 90 days within a 180-day period in the Schengen Area, whether for tourism or business purposes.


Once officially admitted, you can travel freely within the member countries without passing through customs each time. Stays under 90 days don’t require a visa for U.S. nationals, but your passport should be valid for at least six months past your travel dates.


Short stays don’t require travel medical insurance either, though travel insurance may still be worth it. That could be especially true if you plan to participate in adventure sports or other high-risk activities.


Travel insurance generally also covers cancellations and delays. Purchasing a policy could pay off if you’ve booked expensive, non-refundable flights or accommodations and didn’t purchase them with one of the best travel credit cards that offer insurance.


European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS)

Travel requirements for European Union countries are projected to change by mid-2025. Visa-exempt travelers to all 27 (soon to be 29) Schengen countries and Cyprus will need an ETIAS authorization.


Here’s what you need to know:


You must complete an online application and pay a small fee for an ETIAS authorization.

The authorization is tied to your passport and is valid for three years or until your passport expires.

With a valid travel authorization, you can enter 30 European countries for short stays of up to 90 days within a 180-day period.

ETIAS authorization does not guarantee entry into any of these countries. You still have to present your passport and documents at the border.

The above applies to people from the U.S., Canada and dozens of other countries, so check the E.U.’s official travel website or your country’s embassy for more information. An ETIAS is not a visa and doesn’t mandate travel medical insurance.

Schengen visa requirements

You’ll need a visa if you’re from a visa-exempt country, like the U.S., and planning to stay in the Schengen Area beyond the 90-day threshold. Regardless of the length of the stay, nationals traveling from certain countries always require a visa.


Determine which Schengen country you’ll spend most of your time in and check with their official tourism or embassy website for instructions on applying for a visa. The embassy will inform you about the required documentation and instructions to meet their regulations.


Schengen visa processing time can vary depending on your country of origin and your destination country, so be sure to start the process as early as possible.


Besides the application form, the following are required to obtain a Schengen visa:


Valid passport: Your passport must be valid for at least three months after departure.

Passport photo: You must submit a picture of yourself that complies with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standards.

Travel medical insurance: You must carry at least €30,000 (approximately $32,720) in coverage for medical emergencies, hospitalization and repatriation that’s valid in the entire Schengen Area for the duration of your stay.

Documentation: You must provide evidence of the purpose of your visit through supporting documentation, demonstrate you have the financial means to cover expenses and accommodations and show intent to return to your home country after the stay.

Fingerprints: Most, but not all, applicants will be required to submit their fingerprints along with their application.

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