I wrote this elsewhere but hope others find it useful:
I am a UK (EU) national traveking with a non EU family member (spouse, child) to an other EU/EEA country:
If the applicant is travelling to another Schengen member state then the one that your EU family member is a national of, and you are travelling together or the non EU/EEA national family member is travelling to join the EU/EEA national family member, then you are entitled to a FREE visa which should be granted swiftly (accelerated procedure, 15 calendar days at most for Schengen applications) and with minimum hassle. Your application falls under directive 2004/38/EC regarding the Freedom of Movement. A minimum of documentation and requirements apply.
It's important to know who qualifies as a family member of an EU/EEA citizen though.
The non-EU spouse, (grand)children or (grand)parents. And only If they will be travelling together with you, or joining you in another EU country then the country you are a citizen of. Your registered partner and extended family - siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, and so on - can ask the authorities in an EU country to officially recognise them as family members of an EU national. EU countries do not have to recognise them as your family members but they do at least have to consider the request.
Example: a German and his Thai spouse have to apply for a regular C type visa if they are applying for a stay in Germany. If they would go on holiday to Spain for instance, they would be able to apply for the EU/EEA family member visa.
A minimum of documentation and requirements apply: travel insurance is not required, hotel bookings are not required, transport bookings (flight) is not required etc. For a spouse the marriage certificate + possibly legalisation by the local ministry of foreign affairs to confirm it's a genuine document + official translation to a language that the embassy can read should be sufficient. Sadly not all embassies apply the Visa Code properly.
There should be no need for hotel reservations, insurance, a requirement that rhe UK residence permit is valid for 3 months upon return or other such things. They may for instance -with a Thai mariage certificate- ask that your marriage is registrated in the EU. That most certainly is not a requirement (the EU directive simply requires you to be genuinly married). It could be more efficient to cooperate with such silly demands but if you are unable or unwilling to do so due to cost or time constraints, you would be in your right to point out that the embassy is asking too much.
What is required:
- Show that the applicant (non EU) is first line family of an EU national: provide the marriage certificat (translated if need be, there should be no need to register a Thai marriage in the EU spouse his/her country).
- Provide passports of the both of you so they can ID you.
- Confirmation that the two of you will be traveling together or joining eachother in the member state: declaration by the EU spouse, optionally as extra evidence a reservation for transport to the EU.
It is always best for non-EU family members to be well informed in advance and have all the necessary documents before starting their journey. However, if they arrive at the border without an entry visa, the border authorities should give them the opportunity to prove by other means that they are your family members. If they manage to prove it, they should be issued with an entry visa on the spot.
- Directive 2004/38/EC on the Freedom of Movement (articles 1, 2, 5 and 6. Available as PDF in most languages. Show these articles if the embassy is making things difficult for you).
- The Visa Handbook
These rights also apply (infact they not need a visa at all) to those who are family members of an EU citizen who gained "freedom of movement" rights: EU citizens who live/work in another EU member state. If an EU citizen lives and works in the country that they are a citizen of then you are not an EU/EEA citizen. The non-EU spouse of an EU national who is or has executed his/her freedom of movement righrs should have a residence card that states "family member of an EU/EEA national".
Where / how to apply?
You can apply at the embassy. Most require an appointment, an appointment should be granted within 2 weeks of the request (article 9 of the Visa Code). Be aware that many embassies have outsourced part of their visa application process to external service providers such as VFS Global or TLS Contact. These are just handling agencies and you are not obligated to use their service, let alone to pay their service fee. (Article 17 of the Visa Code states so). Further details are explained in the Visa Code. You can find the Visa Code and Visa Handbook here:
- EU Home Affairs on Schengen
- Handbook for the processing of visa applications (Application procedures in more detail, available in several languages)
- Handbook for the organisation of visa sections (covers right of direct access to the embassy on page 21-22)
The embassy is giving me a hard time!
Sometimes it is easier to comply with unjustified demands but if you cannot or do not wish to do so:
Make sure you know your rights and obligations. Read the information on the embassy website carefully as well as the information provided by the EU (Home Affairs department). Embassy staff are not always perfect or entirely competent, they can make mistakes or even misinform you on purpose. This also applies to external service providers. The main sources are set out in the Freedom of Movement directive, Visa Code and Visa Handbook. If you do encounter problems, see if you can cite the Freedom of Movement directive or Visa Code. If you still encounter problems you may wish to contact one or more of the following options:
- Check: http://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens...t/index_en.htm
- Contact Solvit: https://ec.europa.eu/imi-public/
- Contact the ministry of foreign affairs of the embassy in question
- Contact a legal expert (immigration lawyer)
- Ask the help of a visa agency
- You may also wish to contact other authorities higher up the chain such as the European Commission (Home Affairs) or the EU Commision's Representation abroad.