Once upon a time travelling Europe was considerably more difficult for non-Europeans, unless various countries had agreements between specific countries, such as they commonly did with the United States (US). These days, the process of travelling Europe has been easier by the introduction of what is known as the Schengen area. This is, to some degree, comparable to the European Union (EU) area, but technically they are separate entities, since Iceland and Norway are members of the Schengen area, yet aren’t members of the European Union.
Another exception to the Schengen area is the United Kingdom (UK) and Ireland (IR). Since immigration is a contentious issue in Britain, with thousands of immigrants attempting to arrive on British shores each year, the UK has decided to maintain their own immigration process, and only allow foreign nationals to visit the UK with a UK visa. In short, a Schengen visa alone wouldn’t permit access to the UK under any circumstances.
Fortunately, with the introduction of the Schengen area, which includes some 25 countries, including the Baltic States, it is possible to travel to all of these 25 countries with a solitary visa. The visa is valid for a certain amount of days, like with any visa. Typically with your first application, the visa will be valid for the exact amount of days that you are on holiday for, this naturally has to be proved with hotel reservations and flights, and usually they will give you an extra day on your visa, for if something were to go wrong. However, with subsequent applications, the authorities tend to be much lenient, and extend the validity of your visa anywhere from 6 months. Whilst you probably won’t be in Europe for 6 months, it is nevertheless an indication that if you abide by the rules of the Schengen visa the first time, they trust you on subsequent applications.
The process for obtaining a Schengen visa is quite the same as any other visa. You will need to prove that you have the necessary funds, and that you have reservations for both hotels and flights. Different consulates require different paperwork, and so this should be something that you clarify with the consulate. Which consulate to apply for, especially if you’re travelling to more than one country, can be confusing, however, this isn’t so. Any flight that is departing from a non-Schengen country will arrive at the airport, and you’ll have to pass through immigration, whereby your passport and Schengen visa will be checked thoroughly. Once you depart from one Schengen country to another Schengen country, no immigration process will be there, and therefore Schengen visas are not checked again. Only on the first country of arrival, and thus, wherever you intend to travel to first, this is the consulate in which you should apply to.
There are 4 prospective countries that may join the Schengen area quite soon. These are: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Liechtenstein and Romania. However, as of yet, unless you’re a member of a European Union country, you will require a separate visa for these countries.