For anyone desiring entry into the Schengen Area, irrespective of the purpose, potential visa requirements hinge on their nationality.
If you’ve never visited Europe, your first consideration should be, “Do I require a visa for the Schengen Area?” Presently, over 60 countries globally can enter the European visa-free zone, allowing a stay of up to 90 days within a six-month period.
The obligatory application process for a European visa is crucial for unrestricted movement within this region. Therefore, exercising caution when submitting your Schengen visa application is paramount.
Should you find yourself in need of a visa for Europe, continue reading this article—a comprehensive guide to the Schengen visa application process.
Identify the Schengen Visa Type That Fits Your Needs
Determine the appropriate Schengen visa type based on the purpose of your entry into the Schengen Area. Choose from the following options:
- Transit Visa
- Tourism Visa
- Visa for Visiting Family or Friends
- Business Visa
- Visa for Journalists
- Visa for Culture and Sports Activities
- Visa for Official Visits
- Study Visa
- Visa for Medical Reasons
Determine the Appropriate Application Location
Discover where to submit your Schengen visa application based on the regulations set by your destination country within the Schengen Area. You may need to file your application at one of the following locations:
- The embassy of your destination country
- One of their consulates
- A visa centre designated by the embassy of your destination country for outsourced visa submission
- The embassy/consulate of another Schengen state designated for outsourced visa submission by the embassy of your destination country
By “destination country,” we refer to the country where you must submit your application according to Schengen rules.
These rules are outlined as follows:
- If you are visiting a single Schengen country, submit your application at the embassy/consulate/visa centre of that specific country.
- If you plan to visit more than two Schengen countries, submit your application:
- At the embassy/consulate/visa centre of the country you will spend the majority of your days if the duration is unequal across countries.
- At the embassy/consulate/visa centre of the country where you will first arrive if you will
- spend an equal amount of days in each country.
Determine the Optimal Application Timing
Identify the most suitable time to submit your Schengen visa application, considering the processing duration required by Schengen embassies/consulates worldwide.
The designated period for filing a Schengen visa application is outlined as follows:
- Earliest application date: up to six months before your scheduled trip begins.
- Latest application date: no later than 15 working days before your intended travel date.
- Recommended application timing: ideally, at least three weeks before your planned trip.
Schedule an Appointment
Secure a Schengen visa appointment to advance your application process.
Many countries offer the convenience of online appointment booking. Conversely, in some cases, you’ll be required to schedule the appointment in person at the embassy or consulate of your designated country.
It’s crucial to note that a valid Schengen insurance policy is a prerequisite for a successful visa application. Visa applications lacking proper insurance coverage will be automatically rejected!
European authorities globally recognize travel insurance policies from Europ Assistance. Additionally, you have the flexibility to cancel it without charge upon providing evidence of your Schengen visa denial.
Complete the Visa Application Form Download the application form and accurately fill in all the required information with honesty.
The format of the Schengen visa application form remains consistent, regardless of the specific country for which the applicant is seeking a visa.
On the Schengen visa application form,
you must provide the following details:
- Personal information
- Background information
- Purpose of entering the Schengen Area
- Other relevant trip details
To ensure proper completion and submission of the form, follow these guidelines:
- Download the most recent version of the application form, as only the latest form is accepted.
- Ensure that every mandatory field is filled. Refer to clear instructions on how to complete the visa application form.
- Avoid leaving any columns blank; if certain columns are not applicable to your case, fill them with “NA” (No Answer).
- Print the form twice and sign both copies at the end.
- If you are a minor, your parents must provide a written consent, signing it in the designated column of the application form.
Collect the Necessary Documents
The essential documents play a pivotal role in your visa application process, typically falling into two distinct categories.
The initial category comprises standard required documents, encompassing:
- The completed visa application form.
- A valid passport.
- Two identical passport-sized photos.
- Travel insurance coverage, conveniently obtainable online from Europ Assistance.
- Round trip reservation or flight itinerary detailing dates and flight numbers, specifying entry and exit from the Schengen area.
- Proof of accommodation.
- Evidence of financial means, and more.
The second category involves visa-specific requirements, with document types and specifications varying based on the specific visa sought. Furthermore, certain Schengen member states may impose additional requirements for visa applicants.
Refer to our comprehensive list of documents needed for the Schengen visa application, covering both standard and visa-specific requisites for each visa type.
Attend the Visa Interview
Arrive punctually at the designated facility on the day of your appointment, where you’ll meet with a visa consular to whom you’ll submit the collected documents.
Throughout the interview, expect to field personal questions regarding your whereabouts, the purpose of your trip, and other travel specifics. Ensure your responses are accurate, firm, and align with the information provided in your application form and other submitted documents. Typically, the interview lasts approximately 10-15 minutes.
Possible Interview Questions:
- Which Schengen countries do you plan to visit?
- Do you have any family members or friends residing in Europe?
- What is the purpose of your visit?
- Who will be funding your trip?
- Are you married? If so, what is your spouse’s occupation, and how long have you been married?
- Do you have children? If yes, what are their ages and occupations?
- What is the duration of your stay in Europe?
- Where will you be staying?
- What is your educational qualification?
- Which company do you work for?
Settle the Visa Fee
To initiate the processing of your Schengen visa application, you are required to remit a non-refundable administrative fee.
The visa fees across member countries are harmonized, maintaining a static and unalterable status unless otherwise determined by the Schengen states.
As of now, the Schengen visa fee stands at €80 per person. Certain categories, such as children and specific individuals, may qualify for reduced fees or complete exemptions based on their circumstances. Refer to the list of Schengen visa fees, along with information on reductions and exemptions, to ascertain your eligibility within these categories!
Await a Response to Your Application
Be patient while awaiting feedback on your visa application. While the processing of a visa typically takes no more than 15 days, there are instances where the procedure extends significantly. This duration may stretch from 15 to 45 days in certain countries, particularly for specific citizens.
If Your Schengen Visa is Approved Upon receiving your visa, carefully comprehend the details indicated on the visa sticker, including the authorized duration for your stay in Europe. Failing to adhere to these timelines might result in consequences related to overstaying in the Schengen Area.
For additional guidance on finding budget-friendly flights to Europe and essential packing tips for your European journey, explore the articles “How to find low-cost flights to Europe” and “What do you need to pack when traveling to Europe.” Wishing you a delightful trip to Europe!
In Case of Schengen Visa Rejection
Should your Schengen visa application be declined, carefully review the reasons provided for the denial. Endeavor to address the identified issues when reapplying. Alternatively, if you believe your initial application was accurate and the rejection was an error, you have the option to appeal the visa decision.
Extended Stay Beyond 90 Days in Europe?
If your plans necessitate a stay exceeding 90 days in Europe, you must apply for a National Visa at the embassy of the relevant country. A National Visa grants you the opportunity to remain in Europe for a maximum period of 12 months.
FAQs on Schengen Visa Application
What if there is no embassy/consulate of a specific Schengen country in my place of residence?
In certain third countries, the absence of an embassy/consulate for the particular Schengen country needed for the visa doesn’t pose an issue. In such cases, representatives from the embassy/consulate of the country handling the interests of the concerned Schengen country, as well as their own representatives, manage the issuance of the required visa.
If the applicant faces visa denial due to an inability to furnish necessary documentation or prove compliance with Schengen travel standards, there is an opportunity to reapply at the embassy/consulate of the desired destination in a neighboring country.
Can I apply for a Schengen visa in a country where I am not a resident?
Yes. If you need to apply for a Schengen visa in a country where you are not a resident, providing justification for applying from that country is sufficient.
The applicant must personally attend the scheduled appointment to submit the application form and accompanying documentation. Accompaniment at the consulate is not permitted unless the applicant is a minor, has health sensitivities, or is unable to engage in locomotive activities.
If you fail to attend the embassy/consulate appointment without prior notice of 48 hours, the request will be canceled, and you will need to undergo the procedure again.
What if there is no embassy/consulate of the designated country in my homeland?
In some countries, the absence of an embassy/consulate for the particular Schengen country needed for the visa doesn’t pose an issue. In such cases, representatives from the embassy/consulate of the country handling the interests of the concerned Schengen country, as well as their own representatives, manage the issuance of the required visa.
Do I have to hand in the documentation personally to the embassy/consulate?
Yes. When applying for the visa, keep in mind that you must personally submit the required documents once you’ve scheduled an appointment at the embassy/consulate.
How can I prolong my Schengen visa if needed?
If there are valid reasons, whether personal, occupational, medical, or otherwise, the applicant must approach the relevant institutions in their Schengen country of residence and formally request an extension for their Schengen visa. The extended visa will grant the applicant the same rights to visit the Schengen territory as the original visa issued. It’s important to note that a visa extension cannot surpass the initial 90-day duration of stay.