Schengen Visas Explained

For those traveling to Europe for the first time, the Schengen visa application can be rather confusing. Most Schengen countries are part of the EU, however there are some exceptions such as the Scandinavian countries.
Citizens of most countries around the world will require visas to visit Schengen countries. A list of those countries requiring visas can be found here.

CHOOSING A VISA

There are two simple rules to follow regarding which Schengen visa to apply for. Based on your trip’s itinerary:
  1. Apply for a Schengen visa to the country where you are spending the most number of days.
  2. Apply for a Schengen visa to the country that you first enter into.
Basically, if you are traveling to Germany for 4 days, and France for 6 days, you would apply for a French Schengen visa.
But, if you were traveling to Germany and France for an equal number of 5 days each, you would apply for a Schengen visa to the country that you enter first.
In either case, you would only need to apply for one Schengen visa, regardless of how many countries you are visiting during your trip. Once you have obtained a multiple entry visa, you can travel to any Schengen country within the valid dates. For example, if you want to travel to Belgium after your first Euro-trip, you can use the same visa, provided that it is still valid.
There are visas that are only valid for one Schengen country at a time, so be wary of which one you possess. 

APPLICATION PROCESS

Book an appointment

It is advised to apply for a Schengen visa at least 15 calendar days prior to your departure, in case of any complications. Appointments can be booked at the relevant Schengen member websites. If you are traveling in a group, one appointment can be made for everyone.

Application form and documentation

Each Schengen country has its own set of requirements regarding their visa application. Make sure to tick off every requirement on the checklist. Common types of documentation needed:

  • Valid passport (valid for at least 3 months after the travel date, with sufficient blank pages)
  • Completed Schengen visa application form
  • Proof of visa fee paymentchecklist-41335_960_720
  • Proof of residence
  • Bank statements for 3 months (stamped by the bank)
  • Proof of employment
  • 2 colour passport photos (check size required)
  • Copy of flight ticket
  • Itinerary
  • Hotel reservation confirmation
  • Proof of travel/medical insurance

Depending on the country and type of visa, different requirements may apply.

Interview

When attending the interview, all the necessary documentation needs to be submitted. Depending on the Schengen country being applied to, you will have to personally report to the relevant embassy/consulate.

Depending on the country, those who have had biometrics done for a Schengen visa in the last 5 years, may be exempted from being present at an interview. Please check requirements!

We have used VFS and Capago when applying for visas in the past, and both companies were very professional, reliable and efficient. These companies do not offer services for all Schengen visas, and some may need to be applied for directly to the relevant embassy/consulate.

During the interview, personal questions will be asked. Examples:

  • Which countries in the Schengen are are you planning to visit?
  • Do you have any family member or friends living in the Schengen area?
  • 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?
  • Where are you going to stay?
  • What is your educational qualification?
  • Which company do you work for?
  • What does your company do?

If attending an interview in a group, make sure that each person is aware of the details of the itinerary.

Visa fees

Visa fees range from $74 (short stay) to $122 (long stay). If you decide to use a visa agency, they may add in a service fee.

Visa processing times

The average processing time for a Schengen visa is 3-5 working days. However, some may take as long as 14 working days. Please make sure you apply well in advance!

SCHENGEN COUNTRIES

The following countries are part of the Schengen area:

Austria

schengen_eu_countries
Schengen Member States
Belgium
Czech Republic
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
France
Germany
Greece
Hungary
Iceland
Italy
Latvia
Liechtenstein
Lithuania
Luxembourg
Malta
Netherlands
Norway
Portugal
Slovakia
Slovenia
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland
A few of the links in this blog may be outdated. If you have any information on updated processes and contact info, please feel free to comment! 🙂
– A

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