The Holy See, better known as Vatican City, is a city-state enclaved within Rome, Italy. It’s the smallest internationally recognized independent state in the world, both by area and population.
As the spiritual and administrative headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church, Vatican City attracts millions of visitors from around the globe each year.
However, it’s important to note that Vatican City itself does not issue visas. The country is entirely surrounded by Italy and uses the same entry regulations as the Italian Republic.
Therefore, when you’re planning a visit to Vatican City, you’ll need to go through the Italian visa process or follow the Schengen Area rules if applicable.
Here is a detailed guide to the process and requirements.
In this article…
Do You Need a Visa?
Vatican City is part of the Schengen Area, which includes 26 European countries that have abolished passport control at their mutual borders.
If you’re a citizen of another Schengen country, you won’t need a visa to visit Vatican City.
Citizens of other countries, however, will need to apply for an Italian Schengen visa to visit Vatican City.
Please check the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation website for a list of countries whose citizens require a visa.
Types of Schengen Visas
You should apply for a Short-Stay Schengen Visa, also known as a Type C visa, for visits of up to 90 days for purposes including tourism, business, or visiting friends and family.
For longer stays, other types of visas are required, such as the National (Type D) visa, but these are beyond the scope of this guide.
Schengen Visa Application Process
The following steps outline the process of applying for an Italian Schengen visa, which is necessary for those planning to visit Vatican City.
Step 1: Complete the Application Form
Download the visa application form from the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation website or obtain one from your local Italian consulate.
The form should be filled out in either English or Italian.
Step 2: Gather Required Documents
- Passport: This must be valid for at least three months beyond your planned departure from the Schengen area.
- Two Recent Photos: These should be passport-size and meet the Schengen photo requirements.
- Travel Itinerary: This should include your round-trip airline ticket reservation, with dates and flight numbers.
- Proof of Accommodation: This could be a hotel booking or letter of invitation if staying with a host.
- Travel Health Insurance: This policy should cover at least €30,000 of medical costs, including emergency hospital treatment and repatriation for medical reasons.
- Proof of Sufficient Funds: You need to demonstrate that you can financially support yourself during your stay. This can be a recent bank statement, for example.
Step 3: Schedule and Attend Your Appointment
Contact your nearest Italian embassy or consulate to schedule an appointment for your visa application.
Remember to bring your completed application and all required documents to your appointment.
Step 4: Pay the Visa Fee
A fee is required for processing the Schengen visa. As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, the fee is €80 for adults and €40 for children aged 6-12. This fee is subject to change, so please check the current rate before your appointment.
Step 5: Wait for Processing
Visa processing usually takes around 15 calendar days, but it could take up to 60 days in some cases.
Make sure you apply well in advance of your planned trip.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q1: Is it possible to visit Vatican City without a visa?
Yes, if you are from a Schengen country or a country that has a visa-free travel arrangement with the Schengen area. For others, an Italian Schengen visa will be required.
Q2: Can I extend my Schengen visa while in Vatican City?
In general, extending a Schengen visa while in the Schengen area is only possible in exceptional cases, such as force majeure or for serious personal reasons. It would be best to contact the Italian authorities for guidance in such cases.
Q3: How long can I stay in Vatican City with a Schengen visa?
A Schengen visa allows a maximum stay of 90 days within a 180-day period in the Schengen area, which includes Vatican City.
Q4: Is it safe to travel to Vatican City?
Vatican City is generally considered a safe destination for tourists. However, it’s always wise to stay informed about current events and follow local law and regulations during your visit.
Visiting Vatican City is a unique experience that offers a fascinating insight into the history and workings of the Roman Catholic Church.
Make sure you have all the necessary documents in place for a hassle-free trip.