How To Apply For A Schengen Visa
At first sight, applying for a Schengen visa looks complicated and stressful, but when you dig deeper, by following a series of steps, it actually is quick and easy.
This article will explain how to apply for a Schengen visa from checking whether you need a visa and finding out the right visa to apply for right through to what to expect at the visa interview and receiving your visa.
The Steps of the Schengen Visa Application Process
As mentioned above, there are a series of steps to follow that makes applying for a Schengen visa easy and stress-free. These steps are:
- Step 1 – Check whether you need a visa
- Step 2 – Find out what Schengen visa type to apply for
- Step 3 – Determine where you need to apply for a Schengen Visa
- Step 4 – Book an appointment
- Step 5 – Complete your application
- Step 6 – Research what documents are required
- Step 7 – Attend your appointment
- Step 8 – Pay the visa fee
- Step 9 – Track your application
- Step 10 – Receive your visa
Step 1 – Check whether you need a visa
Some visa application centers will have a ‘visa wizard’ on their website where you can input your information and it will tell you whether you need a visa or not, the documents required and the fee.
Step 2 – Find out what Schengen visa to apply for
The visa you need to apply for will depend on why you are traveling to the Schengen Area. There are different visas available:
- Business purposes
- Visiting family/friends
- Medical reasons
- Attending cultural and sports events
- Airport transit
All of the above visas will allow you to stay in any of the Schengen countries for a maximum of 90 days and are issued as single entry, double entry or multiple entry.
It’s important to apply for the correct visa, so time spent researching this will be a benefit to you when making your application.
Step 3 – Determine where you need to apply for a Schengen Visa
To determine where you need to apply for a Schengen visa starts with where you live. You should either be:
- A citizen of the country where you live
- A national of a different country, but residing somewhere else on a permanent basis (and have legal documents to prove this)
Your visa application will be processed at the official visa office of the country you plan to visit. Most cities will have a visa office where you can submit your application. The visa office will be either:
- An embassy
- A consulate
- A visa application center
- An embassy/consulate of another Schengen country who has given responsibility of receiving and processing applications
Each embassy/consulate deals with applications from within its jurisdiction, so you should check to make sure you are applying at the correct office based on where you live.
In addition, where you apply depends on which Schengen country you plan to visit:
- Visiting just 1 country – you will apply at the visa office of the Schengen country you are going to
- Visiting more than 1 country – you will apply at the visa office of the country where you will spend the most number of days
- Visiting more than 1 Schengen country and you are spending the same amount of time in each – you would apply at the visa office of the country you will enter first
Step 4 – Book an appointment
Once you know which visa office you are using, you will need to make an appointment in order to submit your application.
Most visa offices have online booking systems where you can make your appointment easily. All you need to do is to choose a convenient date and time. If you cannot make your appointment online, you can always call or email the visa office. Once your appointment is booked, you will receive confirmation of this which you should take with you when you attend in-person.
It is important to apply in plenty of time, so you should book your appointment at least 8 weeks ahead of your departure date, particularly during peak months such as public holidays. There are some rules about visa applications which you should keep in mind when making your appointment:
- You can file a visa application up to 6 months before your departure date
- You can submit your application no later than 15 days ahead of your departure date
- Embassies/consulates recommend that visa applications are submitted at least 3 weeks before your trip
Making appointments with the embassy, consulate or visa application center is generally free and can be done yourself. However, If you are running short of time or not sure which consulate to apply to or have no idea how to get this done yourself then not to worry, we will make the appointment for you for a small service fee!
Booking a visa appointment using our services is pretty simple! All you have to do is follow the 3 simple steps below:
- Visit the link to schedule the visa appointment
- Submit the appointment details, the visa you are applying for, consulate you need the appointment for, the country you need the appointment IN and make the payment
- Receive appointment confirmation in email
Step 5 – Complete your application form
Once your appointment is booked, the next step is to complete your application form.
You can find the application form on the website of the embassy, consulate or visa application center website. You can either:
- Complete online
- Print and fill in
Whatever way you choose to complete the form, you must remember to print it and take it with you when you submit your application.
If you are unsure of the information asked for, you will find help if completing it online. You must complete it honestly and fully.
There are 32 sections which need to be completed. If these sections do not apply to you, use N/A (not applicable). The form should also be signed and dated, so don’t forget to do that as this is another reason why an application could be rejected.
If the applicant is a minor, the form must be signed by a parent or legal guardian of the child.
Step 6 – Research what documents are required
As well as the completed and signed application form, there are a number of other documents that are required when you apply for a Schengen visa. The standard documents are:
- Valid passport – must be dated within the last 10 years and for 3 months after your departure date from the Schengen Area & include at least two empty pages
- 1 or 2 recent photos (see full photograph specifications)
- Travel medical insurance covering the entire duration of the trip and valid in the whole Schengen Area. The minimum cover of 30,000 Euros for emergency medical expenses, hospital treatment, and repatriation of remains
- Previous passports with Schengen visas (if any)
- Copy of the passport: biodata page
- Proof of marital status
- Flight reservation of return ticket. If you are traveling to several Schengen States, proof of transport in country – train itinerary or car rental
- Proof of accommodation – hotel reservations or other accommodation
- Proof of sponsorship and/or Invitation letter
- Proof of financial means such as bank statements
- If the applicant is a minor – birth certificate & passports/ID cards of the parents
- Proof of legal residence in country where you reside – if you are a non-citizen
You must provide the exact documents for your application. Each type of visa has different document requirements, so spend time getting to know what these requirements are. There are document checklists on visa office websites which you can refer to. You should also submit photocopies along with original documents.
Step 7 – Attend your appointment
On the day of your appointment, arrive early and don’t forget any of your documents including your passport.
The purpose of the visa appointment is for you to submit your application and for the visa officer to check the information stated and ask any questions to clarify anything.
Typical questions include:
- What do you know about the country you are planning on visiting?
- What do you plan to do there?
- Are you meeting anyone there?
- What is your job and salary in your home country?
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Your photograph will be taken and a scan of your fingerprints will be recorded. If you have never applied for a Schengen visa before this data will be taken. If you have previously applied and provided this information within the last 5 years, you won’t have to do this again.
Step 8 – Pay the visa fee
As part of the visa interview, you will also pay the visa fee.
Most embassies allow you to pay by cash, money order, cashier’s check or credit/debit card, but you should check beforehand which payment methods are accepted. Please note that the fee is paid in the local currency and is non-refundable.
80€ for adults;
40€ for children aged 6-12;
35€ for applicants from Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Belarus;
60€ for applicants from Cabo Verde.
An additional fee may be charged if you need to apply through visa service centers, which are collecting applications on behalf of consulates in some locations.
The visa fee can be waived for specific categories of applicants.
If you are applying for a long-term visa, the fee may vary, but you can check this on the website of the visa office you are dealing with.
Step 9 – Track your application
Once you have submitted your application at the visa office, you may be able to track it. Check whether you can do this on the website of the visa office or you can ask them at the interview.
Visa applications are generally processed within 15 days, however, it could take longer depending on the type of visa you are applying for or whether you need to submit additional information or documents.
Step 10 – Receive your visa
When a decision has been made, your passport will be returned to wherever you submitted your application. You can either:
- Pick up your documents in person
- Receive your passport by courier – if the visa office has this service
The decision will be either accepted or rejected. If accepted, you will find the visa stamp inside your passport. If rejected, you will find out the reason and you will have the right to appeal the decision.
At Visa Reservation, we strive to simplify the visa process by providing free visa consultations, cover letter templates and no objection letter templates for our clients from US, UK, Canada, Philippines, India, China, UAE, Europe, Nigeria and globally. We also offer flight itinerary for visa, travel medical insurance, hotel reservations for visa , Book Visa Appointment, Travel Guides, Visa Interview Guides, Visa Packages and many more. To learn more about how we can help you with our visa services, please feel free to contact us today.