Sometimes, I imagine a world where all I have to do is pack my bag and book a flight to visit any place I want without getting worried about visa procedures. I wish this dream could become a reality someday but this post is not about this imaginary world; instead it layout some tips and advice to get a visa in a real-world scenario for a Euro trip.
One of the most important requirement to plan for a Euro trip is to get a visa. If you are planning to cover more than 2 countries, it is better to apply for a Schengen visa which gives you an access to 27 countries in Europe. Yes, there is much more in Europe than France, Italy, Switzerland and Netherlands which are four most popular destinations for the first-timers.
Type of Visa
You will be applying for a tourist visa. There is an option in the visa application to select either Single entry or Multiple entry visa. It is completely dependent on Embassy to give you single/multiple entry visa but it is safer to select a single entry except you specifically need it. We applied for a single entry but got a multiple entry instead.
How long can I stay in Europe
As per rule, you can stay for maximum 90 days in a half-year time period. 90 days will be calculated on the basis of your immigration and emigration dates.
When should I apply for the visa
You can apply maximum three months in advance to your planned travel date.
Which Embassy to apply for the visa
By rule, you should apply for your visa in the embassy of a country which is your first port of entry or where you are staying for the maximum duration of your trip.
Tip: Things can be tweaked a bit to align with a favorable embassy. You can compare the visa success approval percentage online for the embassy you are targeting.
Where to apply for the visa
All visa-related processings are outsourced to VFS. You need to find the nearest VFS office from your location.
The latest rule for Schengen visa interviews is very simple: there will be an interview for all first-time applicants. The process of interviews may vary with different Embassies, we have applied for our visa at Greece Embassy and they took a Skype interview for my wife but my brother applied for a visa with France Embassy and they had to fly to Mumbai from Bangalore for the interview in person.
Requirements to apply for Schengen visa
1. Flight Bookings
This is absurd but you need to show a confirmed return flight booking to apply for the visa.
Tip: It is better to book a fully refundable flight ticket (it may cost a bit extra but worth the money in case you will not get the visa).
You need to show confirmed accommodation booking for your entire stay. The best option is to book an accommodation from Booking.com with free cancellation and mostly they don’t charge your credit card until 2 weeks prior to your check-in date. You can also find Airbnbs with free cancellations.
Tip: While booking an accommodation, make sure you add your partner’s name as well in the “Guest Name” section. In Airbnb, this is not an issue but on Booking.com there is no separate section for adding fellow traveler’s name. I always add my wife’s name and mine with ‘&’.
Tip: There are companies out there which claim to make real fake bookings just for your visa purpose. I found very mixed reviews for such arrangements and I feel it’s not worth the risk. You have to make the real bookings anyways and that too in advance as it is hard to get decent accommodation in a place like Europe especially in peak season.
You need to show sufficient funds to cover your travel expenses by submitting a bank statement of last 3-6 months. The best part is that there is no official amount to define “sufficient” on any visa website. A safer amount is 100 euro per day for one person for longer duration trip (more than a month) and around 2K euros for shorter duration trips (10-15 days).
- It is advisable to maintain some good amount in your account, a sudden deposit of money before the visa application can be a red flag.
- If you are a married couple, it’s better to show funds in a joint account with both names in the bank account statement.
- In India, you need to collect the bank statement from the branch with a stamp.
I had so many doubts regarding this section which turned out to be a simple thing. There is no specific format for providing the itinerary. It will be a very high-level layout of your trip on a paper.
1/May/2018 Reach Paris from India
2/May/2018 – 5/May/2018 – Explore Paris
6/May/2018 Reach Amsterdam from Paris
7/May/2018 – 10/May/2018 – Explore Amsterdam
11/May/2018 Fly back to India
Tip: Just make sure your flight bookings and hotel bookings align with the information provided in the itinerary.
You need to have a travel insurance for your entire trip duration with a minimum sum insured of 30K euros.
Tip: If you are a married couple, it will be cheaper to apply together. There is no recommended service provider, just find the cheapest one with decent reviews from policybazaar.
6.Documents from office
You need your last three months salary slip if you are employed and a leave letter confirming the approval of your leaves with specific dates.
If you are a married couple, you need to submit a copy of your marriage certificate.
A color photo with a specific size of 35mm X 45mm.
9. Visa Fees
Check the latest visa fees amount on the embassy website. You must carry the amount in cash as most of the time they don’t accept cards.