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Schengen visas: what you need to know

The new biometric requirements for Schengen visas led to confusion in the travel industry as European consulates prepared to make the move last week, implementing the new Visa Information System (VIS) requirements. 

These new requirements became compulsory for all Schengen visas from June 6.


All visa applicants now have to appear in person at the consulate or a visa application centre when lodging an application to provide their fingerprints. Once the biometric data are entered in the VIS, the applicant's details will be stored for five years and a personal visit to the consulate may be waived.

The capturing of biometric information is intended to facilitate visa applications for frequent travellers and to enhance security. The VIS helps Schengen member states verify whether an applicant has used previous visas lawfully. With biometric data, a visa holder can easily be identified as the person who applied for the visa.


The issue of digital photos required for the biometric visa has led to confusion. Until now, all visa applicants have had to provide passport photographs that were then scanned on to their visas. From now, the visa officer will take the traveller's picture using a digital camera. However, some consulates still require travellers to bring their own photos.

Travellers are  still advised bring one recent passport photograph to their appointment, regardless of which consulate, in case a technical problem occurs.


Although the travel industry has expressed concern that the new process will add to the time needed to lodge an application, various consulates have assured the public that the new process is not expected to cause any delays.

Yellow Fever Vaccination required for travel to Zambia


Travellers from South Africa to Zambia and travellers from Zambia to South Africa will now require proof of the Yellow Fever vaccination.

In-transit passengers, irrespective of the time period in-transit, will still require proof of the vaccination.The new ruling comes into effect with effect from 1 October 2010.You will be required to have the vaccination a minimum of 10 days before arrival, however the vaccination is valid for 10 years.Zambia is the latest country to require Yellow Fever Vaccinations. Countries in East Africa (Kenya and Tanzania) have required the same vaccination for many years. Yellow fever is a viral infection transmitted by mosquitoes.

If you plan to travel to Zambia soon, contact your nearest travel clinic to arrange for the vaccination.

In addition, the health authorities are highly recommending travellers also take MALARIA tablets when travelling to Zambia.


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