If the beaches aren’t a good enough reason to plan a trip to Portugal, just think about the colourful Pena Palace, lively Lisbon, the cafes of Sintra, and everything else Portugal has to offer. Portugal may be a small seaside country but there’s something new to discover on every day of your holiday here. Did you know that when you’re in Portugal you could even see a procession of giants pass through the streets of Viana do Castelo? . To see all these marvels however, you need to get a Schengen visa for Portugal
Travelling to Portugal: Travel Tidbits
Though finding a direct flight to Portugal may be difficult, you can easily find connecting flights between India’s metropolitan cities and Lisbon, Faro or Porto. Alternatively, if you’re visiting Spain before Portugal, you could just hop on a bus. The best time to visit the northern part of Portugal is between June and September but if you want to explore the city lie of Lisbon and everything south Portugal has to offer, plan a trip here in the months of March to May or between December and January.
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Schengen Visa: Know the Basics
Portugal uses the Euro as its official currency and is part of the 26 Schengen countries. Thus, if you belong to any of the other 25 Schengen countries, you can visit Portugal at any time without needing any paperwork. However, when you hold an Indian passport, you will need to apply for a Schengen visa. If you already hold a valid Schengen visa issued by any of the other Schengen countries, you do not need to apply for a separate Portugal visa for Indian citizens.
A Schengen visa is typically valid for six months and allows a tourist to stay in any of the Schengen countries for up to 90 days at a stretch. However, you do need to be careful about which consulate you are applying for a visa at. If you plan on touring only Portugal or are spending a majority of your holiday in Portugal, you must apply for your Schengen visa at the Portugal consulate.
It may also happen that you are planning a trip across Europe and are spending the same number of days in each country. In that case, you must apply for a Schengen visa at the consulate of the first country on your itinerary. Thus, if you’re travelling from the west to the east and Lisbon is the first city you will be visiting, you must apply for a Schengen visa for Portugal.
The Schengen Portugal visa requirements for Indian citizens are the same as the Schengen visa requirements for other countries. Ideally, you should apply for a Schengen Portugal visa at least one month before your date of departure. If you want, you can apply for your visa as early as three months before your trip.
How to get your Schengen Portugal Visa?
Appling for a Schengen visa is easy and can be broken down into three steps.
Step 1: Fill in the application form
The visa application form is available online here and can be filled in by editing the pdf or by taking a printout and filling it in with ink. If you need help, take a look at this sample visa application form.
Step 2: Collect all your supporting documents
Along with your visa application form, you will need the following document:
- Two passport photographs
- Proof of financial status
- Flight reservation
- Accommodation details
- Cover letter
Step 3: Schedule an appointment at the consulate
The last step to applying for a visa is to ask for an appointment at the consulate. This is where you need to submit your application form and the supporting documents. You may also be asked a few questions by the visa officer about your reasons for travelling to Portugal and other details of your trip.
In addition to the interview, your biometric data will also be collected. Your biometric details will be kept on file for five years and hence if you have been issued a Schengen visa in the past five years, you will not need to undergo this step. After submitting your form and documents, you will also have to pay Portugal visa fees in rupees and a service charge. These fees are waived for Schengen visa applications for children who are below 6 years of age. This is a nonrefundable payment that can be made by debit card, credit card or cash.
How long do you have to wait for your Schengen Portugal visa?
A Schengen Portugal visa typically takes 14 working days to be issued. You can track your visa application online to see the status of your application during this time. When the visa is issued, you will receive an email intimating you of the same. You may collect your visa in person from the consulate or ask for it to be couriered to you. In the case of the latter, you will also have to pay a courier fee of INR 300. The Schengen visa has a high approval rate and is considered relatively easy to get. This holds true as long as you have submitted all the required documents in the correct format.
Schengen visa Specifications
Here is a comprehensive list of specification you need to keep in mind when you are applying for the Schengen Portugal visa.
- It should have been issued in the last 10 years
- It should be valid for three months after the date of your return
- It should have at least two empty pages
- Any old or expired passports should also be submitted
- Size: 35mm x 45mm
- It should be printed on glossy paper with no creases or marks
- Should be taken against a neutral, plain background
- The applicant’s face should take up 70 percent of the photograph
- All the applicant’s facial features should be clearly visible
- The photograph should be no older than 6 months
- The photograph should be clear and well-focused
- The applicant should have a neutral expression and be looking straight into the camera
- If the applicant wears spectacles, the frame should not cover the applicant’s eyes and should not create a glare
- If you wear spectacles try wearing a light frame
- Do not wear any kind of headwear unless it is for religious purposes
- If you have long hair, tie your hair back so that both your ears are visible
- When it comes to children’s photographs, there should be no other person or toys visible in the photograph
Proof of financial status
You will need to submit
- Salary slips from the last three months
- Bank statements from the last three months
- A copy of the last year’s income tax returns
- If you are a company proprietor, you will also need to submit a copy of your company registration certificate
- If your trip is being sponsored by someone else, you are required to explain your relationship with this person
You need a minimum travel and medical insurance cover of EUR 30,000 for each individual. This should be valid for the whole duration of your trip.
This should mention
- Your arrival and departure dates
- Flights numbers
- Airport IATA code
- Price of the tickets
A flight reservation is not the same as a confirmed ticket. You can get this flight reservation by contacting the airlines directly and asking them to hold a seat for you. However, the airlines will only hold a seat for seven days. Your visa officer will check your flight reservation details while processing your visa and if your reservation has been voided by that time, it can be a problem for you. Hence, it is considered a better idea to work with a travel agent who can keep a seat reserved for longer.
This can be in the form of
- Hotel reservations
- Letter from friends of family members in Portugal stating that you will be staying with them
- Payment confirmation to a tour operator in case you are part of a pre-paid tour
If you are not sure of where you will be staying, you can ask your travel agent to reserve a hotel room for documentation purposes. You will need to pay a small token amount for this and will receive an email confirmation of your reservation. A print out of this will suffice for your visa application. You do not need to keep this reservation once your visa has been issued and are free to make your own arrangements.
This should mention
- Your reason for travelling to Portugal
- Your itinerary
- List of supporting documents you are submitting along with your visa application form
Your cover letter should be short and simple yet well formatted. It may be a good idea to read a sample cover letter before you write your own.
Travelling with Children
Portugal is a child-friendly country and the perfect destination for a family vacation. When applying for a child’s visa, in addition to the above documents you will also need to submit the child’s birth certificate with your name mentioned as the child’s parent. In case you are travelling alone with your child, you will need a signed consent letter from the other parent and a copy of their passport. If a child is travelling with guardians other than his parents, a signed consent letter will be needed from both parents.