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Schengen Visa from India: Step-by-step Process

Schengen Visa

How to apply for a Short Stay (<90 Days) Schengen Visa from India for Tourism

Documents

  • Application form.
  • Covering Letter
  • Passport Size Photograph
  • Proof of Residence
  • Original Passport
  • Copy of return tickets
  • Detailed your travel plan
  • Travel Health Insurance
  • Details of Accommodation
  • Proof of Income
  • Proof of Socio-Professional Situation

Visa Fee

  • Visa Fee: 80 Euros (Rs. 6,400 approx.)
  • Agent Fee: Rs. 1,500 approx.

Validity

  • <90 days usually (exact duration is subjective depending on duration of trip)

Summary

Introduction

As most of you may be aware, the Schengen Visa is a common visa that applies to any of the 26 European Countries that are part of the Schengen Agreement (as named below).

The application process is pretty similar for all countries in most aspects. However, there are minor differences with respect to Documentation, Authorized Agent etc.

You can click the country names (wherever links are available) for obtaining specific details of the application process. We are in the process of adding more countries.

The earliest you can apply for the visa is 3 months before date of journey.

Ok. let us get into the application process.

Step 1: Establish the Country for Application

  1. The country for application has to be chosen based on the conditions of travel
    • You are travelling to only a single country in the Schengen area (e.g. Spain): In this case, apply for the visa thorough the consulate of the respective country (Spanish Consulate in this case).
    • You are travelling to multiple countries within the Schengen Area. However, spending the maximum duration of your trip in a particular country: In this case, apply through the country where you will be spending maximum time at. For. E.g., assume that your trip consists of 4 days in France and 5 days in Italy. You need to apply for the visa through the Italian Consulate.
    • You are travelling to multiple countries within the Schengen Area. However you are spending equal duration in two or more countries: In this case, apply through the country by which you will be entering the Schengen Area. For e.g. Your trip is for 4 days in France and 4 days in Spain but France is your first destination. You need to apply through the French Consulate.
    • No deviations are allowed from the above requirements.

Step 2: Identify the Visa Application Center

  1. Almost all the Schengen countries (barring few) have appointed Authorized Agents. Applications are  received through the Visa Application Centers of the Authorized Agents.
  2. For most the above-mentioned countries, VFS Global is the Authorized Agent for processing the applications. For these countries, you need to submit the application through VFS Global centers in India.
  3. For other countries, you have to submit the application through other Authorized Agents (e.g. BLS for Spain) or directly to the embassy.
  4. Most countries also accept applications directly at the Consulate/ Embassy. However, the processing system may not be as efficient and professional as the Visa Application Center. Moreover Visa Application centers are more in number. It is also highly likely that the visa application center is much closer to you as opposed to the Embassy.
  5. In light of the above, it is better to submit the application at the Authorized Agent’s Center.

Step 3: Prepare the application

  1. You can download the copy of the application form from the website of the respective country or that of the Authorized Agent.
  2. Here is a list of documents that are usually required for application. The document requirements may vary slightly between countries. You can read exact requirements in the country specific section below.
    • Filled up, duly signed visa application form.

    • Original Passport:

      1. Passport should have validity of at least 3 months from Journey end date (some countries may ask for 6 months)
      2. Passport should contain at least 2 blank pages.
      3. Handwritten passports (older versions with 20 years validity) are not accepted.
    • Older passports that show travel history or have valid visas on them.

    • Two recent passport size photos

      • Spec: 35 x 45 mm with white background and no border with 80% of the photo covering the face is the usual specification. However, this may change from country to country
    • Complete itinerary including the following:

      • Copy of to-and-fro tickets.
      • Copy of hotel bookings for the duration of the stay.
      • Copy of any other relevant bookings (e.g. local trains, ferries, flights etc.)
    • Copy of Travel Insurance:

      • The insurance needs to obtained for a minimum amount of 30,000 Euros from a company authorized by the Consulate.
      • The insurance should be valid for a period of 15 days from end of journey date.
    • Proof of Financial Means:

      • Bank Account Statement for the past 6 months that shows balance of around 1 to 1.5 lakhs (signed and sealed by the bank).
        • The norm for balance to be held is 50 to 75 Euro (Rs. 6,000) per day of travel. However, it is safe to have a balance of at least 1 to 1.5 lakhs for a 10 day trip, to prevent rejection.
        • Please note that last minute money transfers for the sake of the application can lead to rejection. Try to maintain a consistent balance]
      • Salary Slip for the past 6 months.

      • Income tax returns for the past 3 years.

      • Copy of PAN Card.

      • Any other documents that may indicate your financial stability

        • (e.g. Fixed Deposits, other liquid investments).
    • Leave letter from the Employer.

    • Copy of Appointment letter by employer.

    • Covering Letter mentioning purpose and details of your travel.

    • Copy of your passport and

    • Copy of previous Schengen visas if any.

Here is a sample of the cover letter and Itinerary for the Schengen Visa.

Step 4: Book an Appointment for Submission

  1. Once you have identified the application center and have the documents ready, you need to book an appointment at the Visa Application Center for submission of Application.
  2. This can be done online through the website of the consulate or through the website of the Authorized Agent (e.g. VFS) depending on the country of application.

Step 5: Submit the Application

  1. Arrive at the center at your booking time with the relevant documents.
    • Please note that you need not arrive early as they let you inside the center based on the time of booking.
  2. Collect a token and wait for your turn.
  3. When you token number is called proceed to the counter and submit the documents.
  4. The officer at the counter will verify your documents and accept the application.
  5. The next step is to proceed for submission of bio-metrics (finger print and retina scan).
    • Finger print and retina scan are mandatory for first time applicants.
    • The details will be stored in the database for 5 years. For subsequent applications during this period, you don’t have to submit bio-metrics.
  6. Please make sure you do not have henna etc. on your hands as this will cause issues with regards to submission of fingerprint. Your application maybe refused.
  7. After completion of bio-metrics, you have to pay the visa fee.
    • The visa fee for a Schengen Visa is 80 Euros (approx. Rs. 6,400)
    • An additional amount of around Rs. 1,500 has to be paid as Authorized Agent service charges (varies from country to country).
  8. Please note that the amount usually needs to be paid by cash (in Indian Rupees) at the Visa Application center and by Demand Draft if the application is directly submitted to the Embassy. Cards payments may not be accepted.
  9. You will receive a receipt for the Visa Fee which will contain a tracking number. You can use this tracking number for tracking status of your application.

Step 6: Processing of Application and Receipt of Results

  1. Once the Visa Fee has been paid, your application is complete.
  2. The agent will now forward your application to the respective consulate.
  3. The officially stated time for processing the application is usually around 15 days. However, some countries process it much faster.
  4. Your application will be scrutinized and your passport will be sent back to the Authorized Agent’s Center within this time.
  5. You will know whether your application is successful only once you receive the passport in hand.
  6. You will receive a call from the agent once the passport is received. You can then go and collect the passport.
    • If your application is successful, the visa will be stamped on your passport
    • If your application is rejected, you will receive your passport and a letter from the consulate stating reason for rejection.
  7. Please note that there is a small chance of you being called for a personal interview before the visa is approved. In such cases, you will have to attend the interview in person at the respective consulate.
    • Note that some countries have only single embassy/ consulate in India (e.g Greece has a single embassy in Delhi). You will be required to travel to the embassy (Delhi in this case) for attending interview.
  8. The visa is usually for the period of your trip +/- a few days. This means that you will have to re-apply for the visa for the next trip.
  9. However, it is likely that you will receive visas for longer periods (up to 2 years) after you complete 2-3 trips to the Schengen Area.

Some other things to note

  1. Please note that authorized agents do not have the power to approve or reject your application. There are merely in charge of processing your application. The ultimate decision is taken by the Embassy/ Consulate.
  2. First time applicants need to be submit the application in person to provide the bio-metric data (finger print and retina scan). For subsequent applications, in person submission is not required.
  3. Please note that once you have the Schengen Visa in hand, you can visit any of the 26 countries (not just the countries you applied for).

BTW, Have you checked out our other posts on Planning trips to Europe from India? 

Country Specific Information

Austria

Belgium

Czech Republic

Denmark

Finland

France

Germany

Greece

The above information is updated periodically based  on on-ground practical information received from travelers of the BorderTribe community.

Smooth Travels!

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