Guidelines on How to Apply for a Schengen Visa
Every person wishing to enter the Schengen Area, under whatever purpose, might be subject to a visa regime, depending on his or her nationality.
If you have never been to Europe before, the first thing you have to do is ask yourself “Do I need a visa to Schengen Area?” Currently, more than 60 countries around the world can enter Europe visa-free zone without the need to obtain a visa first, and remain there for 90 days within a six-month period.
The application process to obtain a European visa is mandatory for your freedom of movement in this area. Therefore, you should be very careful when lodging your Schengen visa application.
If you need to apply for a visa to Europe, proceed reading this article which is the ultimate guideline of a Schengen visa application process.
1. Figure out which Schengen visa type you need
Depending on the purpose under which you need to enter the Schengen Area, you can apply for one of the following Schengen visa types:
- Transit visa
- Tourism visa
- Visa for Visiting Family or Friends
- Business visa
- Visa for Culture and Sport activities
- Visa for Official Visits
- Study visa
- Visa for Medical Reasons
2. Find out where you need to apply
Depending on how your destination country in Schengen has regulated visa submission in your country of residence, you will have to file your Schengen visa application at one of the following:
- Their embassy
- One of their consulates
- A visa centre to which the embassy of your destination country has outsourced visa submission
- The embassy/consulate of another Schengen state to which the embassy of your destination country has outsourced visa submission
By your “destination country”, we mean the country where you need to lodge your application, according to the Schengen rules.
These rules are as follows:
- If you are going to visit only one Schengen country, file your application at the embassy/consulate/visa centre of that country
- If you are going to visit more than two Schengen countries, file your application:
- At the embassy/consulate/visa centre of the country where you will spend most days if you will be spending an unequal amount of days in each
- At the embassy/consulate/visa centre of the country where you will step first, if you will be spending an equal amount of days in each
3. Find the most suitable time to apply
Due to the time that the Schengen embassies/consulates worldwide need to process a Schengen visa, you have an appointed period within which you can file your visa application.
The allowed period to apply for a Schengen visa is as follows:
- The earliest you can file a visa application: six months before you start your planned trip.
- The latest you can file a visa application: at most 15 working days before you intend to travel.
- The recommended time to file a visa application: at least three weeks before your trip.
4. Book an appointment
Book a Schengen visa appointment in order to proceed with your application.
Most countries give you the chance to book an appointment online. On the other hand, in others, you will need to book the appointment in person, at the embassy or consulate of your destination country.
5. Fill out the visa application form
Download the application form and fill it correctly and honestly.
The Schengen visa application form has the same format no matter which country’s visa it is that the applicant is applying for.
You will have to give the following information on your Schengen visa application form:
- Your personal information,
- Information on your background,
- Your purpose of wishing to enter the Schengen Area,
- Other details regarding your trip.
In order to complete and submit the form correctly, pay attention to the following tips:
- Download the latest form of the application since that is the only form accepted.
- Make sure you fill out every required gap. Here you can find some clear instructions on how to fill in the visa application form.
- Do not leave any columns blank. If you feel that, there are columns that do not correspond to your case, fill them with NA (No Answer).
- Remember to print the form twice. Sign both of the copies at the end.
- If you are a minor, your parents have to submit a written consent and sign it in the corresponding column of the application form.
6. Gather the required documents
The required documents are a crucial part of your visa application. Usually, these documents are categorized into two groups.
The first group is of the standard required documents, which include:
- The visa application form.
- Valid passport.
- Two identical photos.
- Travel insurance policy. You can easily purchase it online from AXA Schengen or Europ Assistance.
- Round trip reservation or flight itinerary with dates and flight numbers specifying entry and exit from the Schengen area.
- Proof of accommodation.
- Proof of financial means, etc.
The other group is of the visa-specific requirements. These documents and their specifications differ from one visa type to the other. In addition, some of the Schengen member states have their own extra requirements for visa applicants.
Check our list of documents required for the Schengen visa application, which includes the standard requirements, as well as the visa-specific requirements for each visa type.
7. Attend the visa interview
On the day of your appointment, show up on time at the facility where you will be interviewed. There you will meet a visa consular to whom you need to hand the collected documents, as required.
During the interview, you will be asked personal questions about your whereabouts, the intended trip, and other travel details. Make sure your answers are firm and correct, and that they comply with the information in the application form and the other documents. The interview may last around 10-15 minutes.
Some of the questions you might be asked during the Interview
- Which countries in the Schengen, are you planning to visit?
- Do you have any family members or friends living in Europe?
- What is the purpose of your visit?
- Who will pay for your visit?
- Are you married? If yes, what does your spouse do? For how long have you been married?
- Do you have any children? If yes, how old are they, what do they do?
- How long are you going to stay in Europe?
- Where are you going to stay?
- What is your educational qualification?
- Which company do you work for?
Read also Top 60 Most Asked Questions during a Visa Interview
8. Pay the visa fee
You will need to pay a non-refundable administration fee when applying for a Schengen visa, in order for your visa application to be processed.
The member countries have synchronized the visa fees; therefore, they are static and unchangeable until decided otherwise by the Schengen states.
Currently, a Schengen visa fee is €80 per person. Children and some other specific categories will have to pay either reduced fees or no fees at all, depending on their situation. Check the list of Schengen visa fees, their reductions and exemptions to see if you belong to any of those categories!
9. Wait for an answer on your application
Wait until you get a response on your visa application. Although in most cases it takes no more than 15 days for processing a visa, there are times when this process takes quite much longer. That period can be extended from 15 up to 45 days in some countries concerning some citizens.
If your Schengen visa is approved
If you get your visa, make sure to understand carefully the labels attached to the visa sticker, including the period it permits you to remain in Europe, otherwise, overstaying in the Schengen Area might have consequences.
The articles How to find low-cost flights to Europe and What do you need to pack when traveling to Europe will help you not just to save money but also to have a more pleasant journey to Europe. Have a nice trip to Europe!
If your Schengen visa gets rejected
If your visa application gets denied, read the reason why didn’t grant you a visa and try to fulfill it the next time you apply or if you think that your application was correct, and the decision on its refusal was a mistake, you can always appeal the visa rejection.
Need to stay more than 90 days in Europe?
If you need to remain longer in Europe, you need to apply for a National Visa at the embassy of the adequate country. A National Visa permits you to remain in Europe for a maximum of 12 months.