France has become the first country to start issuing Schengen digital visas. Currently, they can only be obtained by athletes, delegations, and journalists traveling to the country for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Applications can be submitted through a special portal. The service allows foreign citizens to submit documents without visiting consular offices and visa centers.
In total, France plans to issue around 70,000 digital visas for the Olympics.
The Schengen Zone was established in 1985 and currently encompasses a territory of 27 states that have abolished visas and customs controls at internal borders.
At the end of last year, Bulgaria and Romania began the process of joining the Schengen Zone. Initially, visa-free travel will only apply to those crossing borders through airports and seaports (controls at land borders will remain). It will come into effect in March.