The Visa Code

Regulation (EC) No 810/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 July 2009 establishing a Community Code on Visas (Visa Code) came into force on 5th April 2010. It repealed Articles 9-17 of the Convention implementing the Schengen Agreement and the former Common Consular Instructions, and amended the VIS Regulation and the Schengen Borders Code.

The Visa Code established the procedures and conditions for issuing visas for short stays in (maximum of three months during any six-month period) and transit through the Member States of the European Union (EU) and the associated states applying the Schengen acquis in full. It applies to nationals of third countries that must be in possession of a visa when crossing the external border of the Union, as listed in Regulation (EC) No 539/2001.

In addition, the regulation lists the third countries whose nationals must hold an Airport Transit Visa (ATV) for passing through the international transit areas of Member State airports. In urgent cases of mass influx of illegal immigrants, any Member State may extend this requirement to nationals of other third countries.

Consular territorial competence

In compliance with Art 6 of the Visa Code, visa applications may only be lodged, examined and decided upon by the Consulate in whose jurisdiction the applicant legally resides.  A visa application, lodged by a third-country national legally present but not residing in its jurisdiction, may be accepted if the Central Visa Unit considers that the justification provided by the applicant for lodging the application at that particular Consulate of Malta, is both coherent and credible.

Procedures and conditions for issuing visas

The Member State that is the sole or the main destination of the visit is responsible for examining the visa application. If the main destination cannot be determined, the Member State of entry into the Union is competent. In the case of transit, the Member State through which the transit takes place or, in case of multiple transits, the Member State of first transit is responsible. Generally, the visa application must be submitted to the consulate of the Member State concerned.

Member States may establish bilateral arrangements for representing each other for the purpose of collecting visa applications or issuing visas. They may also cooperate through co-location or a common application centre.

A visa application may be lodged by the applicant or an accredited commercial intermediary at the earliest three (3) months before the intended visit. When lodging an application, the applicant must appear in person, unless this requirement has been waived. Upon lodging an application, the following must be presented:

  • a Visa Application Form (download from bottom of page);
  • a valid travel document;
  • 2 passport-size photographs;
  • supporting documents, as well as proof of sponsorship and/or accommodation if requested by the Member State; and
  • proof of possession of Travel Medical Insurance

Apart from certain exceptions, the applicant must allow the collection of his/her fingerprints and pay a visa fee. The visa fee may be waived or reduced in individual cases, for example for cultural, foreign and development policy reasons. An external service provider may charge an additional service fee.

After verifying the admissibility of the application, the competent authority must create an application file in the Visa Information System (VIS), following the procedures set out in the VIS Regulation. A further examination of the application must be carried out to verify that the applicant fulfils the entry conditions as set out in the Schengen Borders Code, does not pose a risk of illegal immigration or a threat to the security of the Member State and intends to leave the Member State before the visa expires.

A decision on an admissible application must be taken within 15 calendar days from the date on which it was lodged. In exceptional cases, this time limit may be extended. A decision is taken on whether to issue or refuse a uniform visa or a visa with limited territorial validity or, in case of representation of another Member State, to discontinue the examination in order to transfer the application to the latter’s relevant authorities.

A uniform visa may be issued for one, two or multiple entries with a maximum validity of five years. For a transit visa (including airport transit visa), the period of validity must correspond to the time needed for the transit.

In certain cases, the period of validity of a visa may be extended, while under certain circumstances, the visa may also be annulled or revoked.  A visa does not automatically provide a right of entry to the visa holder.

A visa is refused if the applicant:

  • presents a false travel document;
  • gives no justification for the purpose and conditions of the intended stay;
  • provides no proof of sufficient means of subsistence for the duration of the stay nor for the return to his/her country of origin/residence;
  • has already exhausted the three months of the current six-month period;
  • is subject to an alert in the Schengen Information System (SIS) for the purpose of refusing entry;
  • is considered to be a threat to the public policy, internal security or public health of one of the Member States;
  • provides no proof of travel medical insurance, if applicable;
  • presents supporting documents or statements whose authenticity or reliability is doubtful.

Applicants who have been refused or have had their visa annulled or revoked, have the right to appeal against such decision to the Immigration Appeals Board within fifteen (15) days of the notification of such decision. Any communication to the Immigration Appeals Board should be addressed as follows:

The Secretary
Immigration Appeals Board
109, Triq Zekka
Valletta VLT 1517

Or through the following email address: