What an ease it is to get one Visa and travel across international borders! Yes we're talking about the Schengen Visa, which allows you to travel through 26* different countries within Europe like they are one.
When I was applying for a Schengen Visa, I started looking over internet to find the list of required documents and proofs for the Visa, what kind of Visa I need, how much I need to pay as the fee and other things.
I was applying to the Netherlands Embassy, I found some websites and blogs with somewhat complete list of required documents for the application, and the official website for Netherlands tourism gives you a checklist for documents(the best to trust right!)
But, even after getting everything right as per these checklists, there were some things I somehow missed or did not do right. And I ended up spending more time at the application center mitigating those things.
As they say, some things can only be learnt by experiencing ourselves.
So, I’m listing everything here which needs to be done for a Schengen Visa application if you're applying in the Royal Netherlands Embassy.
First Things First
There are a few things you need to know before you start the process of applying for a Schengen Visa.
A) Which Embassy To Apply
No matter what your entry point is, you need to apply for the country where you intend on spending the most number of nights at.
B) What Visa To Apply For
There are two main types- single entry and multi entry.
If you plan on visiting several different Schengen countries on your trip without leaving the Schengen region in between, single entry Visa is fine. Once you leave the Schengen region, you won’t be allowed entry again.
But, if (for example) you plan on travelling to London during your trip and return back to Schengen area, you need a multi entry Visa. Basically, if your trip includes leaving the Schengen area and returning back to it, you should apply for a multi entry Visa. Here's the list of Schengen countries.
C) When To Apply
The earliest you can apply is 6 months* before your planned trip and the Visa approval process does not take more than 2 weeks usually.
D) Where To Apply
VFS is the best way to get your application processed with the embassy. They are big and know what they are doing.
Now let’s get to the list of documents-
1. Flight Booking Confirmation
Yes, you need to book flights for round trip before even applying for Visa. Try to book refundable flights(very unlikely but in case the Visa gets rejected)
2. Accommodation Proof
If you're staying at a friend or a relative, you need their complete details and a written consent from them.
If you're staying at hotels/hostels, you need to present booking confirmations for the whole duration of your trip. Remember, if you're traveling through multiple countries, you need to give one hotel reservation for every country.
Pay attention to this, most of us prefer to travel during night to save time and to save on accommodation which is smart, BUT, the embassy requires you to provide either accommodation proof for all the nights you're spending in the Schengen area or travel bookings if you're traveling through the nights.
Again, book hotels which you can cancel.
3. Application Form
After your bookings are done, you need to fill an application form. Go to this URL and start filling your application form. Take a print-out, paste a passport size photo and sign the application.
Here are the photo specifications.
A passport which was issued not more than 10 years ago, with at least two empty Visa pages and should be valid for at least 3 months from the date on which you leave the Schengen area.
Plus, take a copy of the front and last pages of the passport and a copy each of any previous Visas you had.
5. Proof of Permanent Residence
If the address on your passport is different than your current address, you need to provide a copy of your rental agreement or a valid address proof.
6. Financial Proof
The embassy needs a proof that you are capable of affording your trip expenses. For that, you need to provide your bank statement for last three months plus ITR for last two years. This is a must. If you dont have the ITR documents, you can give FORM-16 alternatively.
To solidify your claim, you can additionally provide your salary statements(last 3 months)
Tip: Multiply the number of days of your stay by 10,000(if your hotels are not prepaid). You need to keep that amount of money in your bank account. Trust this calculation, I was rejected Schengen Visa once for having insufficient funds in my account.
7. Declaration From Your Employer
If you’re employed, you need to provide a declaration from your employer acknowledging your period of absence.
Write an NOC addressing to “The Royal Netherlands Embassy, New Delhi”, get it printed on your company’s letterhead (important) and get the official’s signature with company stamp.
8. Proof of Return
Another letter from your employer, that says that you plan on returning to base and resuming work after your trip.
9. Travel Insurance
A travel insurance that covers up to Euro 30000. If you don't have one that meets the requirements, get one. Approved list of travel insurance providers can be found here.
10. Visa and VFS fee
VFS charges for processing your application to the embassy are Rs 1327 in total. (subject to change)
While the Schengen Visa fee is Rs 6890 for adults. (subject to change)
The latest information can be found here.
11. Cover Letter
Last but not the least. I couldn't find this document to be listed in any of the checklists I came across online, but this one is as necessary as the others. Write a cover letter briefing your reason to travel and the parts of Schengen area you intend to visit.
There you have it guys, everything you needed to know to apply for a Schengen Visa.
Get it all right and have a blast on that dream Euro Trip ;) And follow me on Instagram 😋.
*at the time of writing this blog