If you’re looking for a holiday destination that offers sandy beaches, Roman ruins and Moorish palaces, legendary fiestas and beautiful mountain ranges, Spain is where your search ends. The fact that Spain is one of the most budget friendly places in Europe to spend a summer holiday makes this idea all the more appealing. Getting to Spain is easy with a number of flights operating daily between major cities in India and Spain. The best time to travel to this Mediterranean paradise is between April to June and between September and October. However, if you’re visiting the northern parts of Spain, plan your holiday in July and August.
One of the prerequisites to travelling to Spain from India is a Spanish Visa. Spain is one of the 26 countries bound together by the Schengen agreement and hence instead of applying for a Spain visa for Indian citizens, tourists now need to apply for a Schengen visa for Spain
The Schengen area was conceptualised to offer border free travel within countries in Europe. Spain joined the Schengen area in 1991 and today, there are 26 countries that fall into the Schengen area. Tourists can travel between all these countries with a single visa known as the Schengen visa. Thus, if you are planning a Euro trip that starts in Spain and continues through France and Germany, all you need is to apply for a Schengen visa for Spain. When applying for a Schengen visa, you need to submit the application to the embassy of the country you will be entering first or the embassy of the country where you are planning to spend most of your visit. As with other visas, Schengen visas too are different for tourists, business purposes, students etc. Schengen tourist visas may further be categorised as single entry visas and multiple entry visas. Both these visas allow an individual to stay in one of the Schengen countries for a period of 90 days consecutively within six months of being issued.
The first thing to determine when applying for a Schengen visa to Spain is the type of visa you require. Schengen Visas can be categorised as:
- Tourist Schengen Visa
- Business Schengen Visa
- Student Schengen Visa
- Working Schengen Visa and
- Transit Schengen Visa
Tourist Schengen visas can be further categorised as single entry and multiple entry visas. Both types of visas allow you to travel freely between Schengen countries but if you hold a single entry visa, you cannot re-enter the Schengen area once you leave it even if your visa is still valid.
Once you have determined the type of visa you require, you will need to application form Spain the application form and fill it in. This form can also be filled online and printed out. You will then need to put together all the other required documents and book an appointment at one of the Spanish Consulates. On the day of your appointment, the documents will be scrutinised and you may be interviewed by the issuing officer. You will also need to pay Spain visa fees in rupees. This amounts to approximately INR 4300 and a service charge of approximately INR 1400 for adults. Children under the age of 6 years do not need to pay a visa fee or service charge while children aged between 6 and 12 years need to pay a visa fee of approximately INR 2500 and the same service charge as adults. This amount may change depending on fluctuations of the Euro to INR exchange rate.
When putting together your documents to accompany your visa application form, always keep the original along with one photocopy. Below is a list of documents required for a short stay tourist visa.
- Passport Photographs
- Proof of financial sufficiency
- Flight tickets and hotel reservations
- Cover Letter
A valid passport is essential when applying for a Schengen visa. This passport must be valid for atleast three months post your holiday itinerary. If you have an old passport that has expired or been cancelled, this will also need to be carried. In addition, if you have been issued a Schengen visa in the past, ensure that you present it as well.
2 passport sized photographs that have been taken not more than 6 months from the date of your proposed holiday will be needed. Cropped photographs are not allowed for visa applications. Some of the specifications you need to keep in mind include:
- Photographs should be sized 35mm x 45mm
- It should not be from a scanned image
- 70-80% of the frame must be taken up by the applicant’s face such that both ears and the entire face from the forehead to the chin is visible
- The photograph should be well focused, have uniform brightness and good contrast
- The individual should be looking straight into the camera with a neutral expression, hair pulled back and both eyes open
- If you wear glasses, the frame should not cover your eyes or create a glare or shadow. If possible wear a light frame
- Headwear is permitted only if worn for religious reasons. In such cases, it should not create a shadow over any part of the face and should keep the entire face visible
These photographs will be reproduced for your visa and hence it is essential that they are printed on high quality paper and do not have any creases or marks on them.
To prove that you can afford your trip to Spain you must keep a copy of your last three month’s bank statements, a copy of your income tax returns and a copy of your last three month’s salary slips to be submitted along with your visa application. If you are self-employed or the proprietor of a company; you will also need to carry a copy of your company registration certificate. In cases of holidays which are being sponsored by other people, you will need to explain your relationship with your sponsor and tell the visa officer why they are sponsoring your trip.
As of June 2015, it is essential for India tourists applying for a Schengen visa to Spain to have medical travel insurance from one of the approved Indian insurance companies or from an approved Spanish insurance company. This insurance must be valid for the entire duration of your stay in the Schengen area and 15 days post your return to India. The minimum cover each individual should have is 30,000 Euros.
To apply for a visa you need to show not only your ticket from India to Spain but also your return ticket. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, it assures the visa officials that you will not overstay your holiday and intend to return to India. Secondly, in cases where you are travelling to more than one Schengen country, it helps verify that you are applying to the right country for a visa. However, flight tickets are usually the most expensive element of an international holiday. Buying a ticket before your visa is issued puts you at the risk of losing money if the visa is rejected. Hence, it is better to work with a travel agent who can reserve a seat for you until your visa is issued. You could reserve a seat on any airline yourself as well but this is usually valid only for 7 days. Since a Schengen visa typically takes longer than 7 days to be processed, this creates a risk of your booking having been rendered void by the time your visa officer checks on it. Alternatively, you could also book refundable tickets but these are usually more expensive as compared to non-refundable tickets. However, once your visa is issued, you will need to show confirmed flight tickets to Spain and back.
Similarly, when it comes to hotel reservations, you will need to show valid bookings for the duration of your stay. This is a requirement even if you are planning on a camping through your holiday. Once again working with a travel agent can help you reserve a room on payment of a small token fee. This will be documented in the form of an email with a booking ID and your hotel details. Once your visa is issued, you are under no obligation to follow through on these reservations.
In the case of travelling with minors a few additional documents are required. Primary amongst these is a copy of the child’s birth certificate naming you and your spouse as the parents. In case the child is travelling with a guardian, a signed letter of consent from both parents and a copy of both parent’s passport is required along with a copy of the parent’s financial documents. In case the child is travelling with only one parent, a letter of consent from the other parent may also be required. When it comes to passport photographs for children, nobody else should be visible in the frame.