The European Visa Database contains comprehensive comparative information on the short-stay visa policies and practices of European Union Schengen states as well as the United Kingdom and the United States. The dataset was developed as part of a PhD project at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). The overall aim of the study was to analyse how the common EU visa policy has been applied in practice by member states in the period from 2005 to 2010. The final version of the thesis can be downloaded here. The project consisted of three separate papers which each in different ways utilised the database to investigate patterns of restrictiveness and dynamics of governance characterising the European border regime. Background material (robustness tests, detailed statistical read-outs, etc.) is avaliable for paper 1, paper 2 and paper 3.

The database is being revised continually with new functions, data and error corrections. If you decide to make use of the information in the database please provide a reference to the webpage and the research note. As the database is revised continually you should in your reference indicate what date you accessed it.

Detailed information on how the database was set up and what it precisely covers is set out in the background research note and data codebook. The data construction process can be inspected and replicated by downloading the EVD database, application and source files (100 MB).

The database has been designed for quantitive studies. It thus aims to be correct 'on average'. That is, across several observations it should provide a valid picture of trends in mobility barriers. Caution should thus be exercised when focusing on individual observations as there are potential sources of bias and errors which could influence the measurements.

Concept Description
Visa requirement

A visa is defined as a "document issued in the country of origin (or residence) of the individual by the authorities of the state to which he or she wishes to go." (Guild 2009: 118). If a state has imposed a visa requirement citizens of the country in question have to apply for a visa to enter legally.

International mobility regimes

The database attemps to capture variation in the barriers put in place by governments to the movement of persons across international borders. These barriers are conceptualized as elements of international mobility regimes.

International mobility is defined as the movement of persons across territorial state borders. It is thus an overarching concept, covering permanent, temporary and cyclical migration as well as short stays in order to conduct business, visit friends and relatives or for tourism.

Regime is defined as a "'governing arrangement[]' that include 'networks of rules, norms, and procedures that regularize behaviour and control its effects'" (Keohane and Nye 1977: 19, cited in Krasner 1982: 186).

The database focuses on three dimensions of international mobility regimes centered on visas:

  • Visa requirements: Is a visa is required to travel?
  • Visa issuing practices: How many visas are supplied and how restrictive are the rules enforced?
  • Consular services: Where - if at all - can applications be lodged?
Visa refusal rate

The visa refusal rate is calculated by dividing the number of refused visas with the number of decisions (issued + refused).

There are several challenges involved in using this measure as a way of approximating how restrictively visa-issuing rules are enforced. For more information and discussion of these see the research note.

Mobility Barriers Index

The index has been constructed for the purpose of conducting analysis across the three otherwise separate dimensions (visa requirements, visa issuing practices, consular services).

The index is an ordinal scale from 0 to 3 (0 = No barriers, 1 = Low barriers, 2 = medium barriers, 3 = high barriers). It has been constructed in the following way:

  • Each dimension is given equal weight
  • If no visa requirement is in force a score of 0 is assigned
  • If a receiving state does not provide visa-related consular services in a sending state, then a score of 2 is assigned
  • If a receiving state relies on the consular services of another for visa-issuing, then they are assumed to have the similar practice
  • If the visa refusal rate was below 3% a score of 1 was assigned, between 3% and 20% a score of 2, and above 20% a score of 3. This grouping is based on a quantitative analysis of the total data-set: Group 1 is approximately the first inter-quartile range; group 2 the second and third; group 3 the fourth and last.
  • If the number of visa applications is very low (below 20% of a modelling estimate) compared to the population size of the sending and receiving country - and the travel distance between them - the score is increased by one (e.g. from 2 to 3). This is done to take into account that receiving states can put into place barriers that prevent people from lodging applications. In some sending countries it is for example not even possible to apply for a tourist visa. For more information on this estimation see the research note.

This calculation has a number of weaknesses:

  • The assumption of equal weight might not be appropriate. For example, whether or not a visa requirement is in force ought perhaps to be assigned more weight
  • The quantitative-based groups could not line up with clear shifts in the visa-issuing practice. For example, interview studies might reveal that a major change in restrictiveness takes place when the refusal rate shifts to above 10%.
  • The visa-issuing statistics are per consulate. That is, they are not grouped by foreign nationality. Hence, the data from e.g. Libya might contain some applications lodged by other nationals residing here.
Consular cooperation

Receiving states participating in the European Union's common visa policy can enter into consular representation agreements with each other.

This means that France, for example, represent many of the smaller member states abroad and issue visas on their behalf.