We have been getting a lot of queries about applying for Schengen travel visa from our clients lately, So we have decided to put all that we know of including hacks for booking flight tickets , hotel confirmations for travel visa , traveling around Europe in style and easy on your pockets !!!.
What is Schengen visa ?
Schengen visa was initially an agreement between the 10 countries (currently 26 countries) of the European Economic Council to create a borderless region among its members. The treaty was signed in Schengen area of Luxembourg (hence the name) in 1985 . But it was not until 1995 when it was fully implemented and it allowed for people to bypass check points without stopping for verifications, citizens could travel between borders harmoniously and overall created a smooth visa process.
Schengen visa is now a part of the law of the European Union law whose main focus was to make it easy to transit among European countries easily. United Kingdom and Ireland are NOT part of the European Union.
Countries which now are part of the Schengen area are Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark , Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece (We know ), Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein,Lithuania,Luxembourg,Malta,The Netherlands,Norway,Poland,Portugal,Slovakia,Slovenia,Spain,Sweden and Switzerland .
TLDR : Schengen travel visa allows you to travel almost all the top countries in Europe except UK.
Requirements for applying for Schengen travel visa.
Schengen tourist visa for travel/tourism/visiting friends or relatives.
Schengen travel visa is issued to those who want to travel within the Schengen area for pleasure or to visit a relative or friend residing in the Schengen region. This kind of travel visa is usually issued with a validity of 3 months(90 days only). Anyone who is on a travel visa CANNOT work in those countries that they visit . Take note of this . If you are caught working on your travel visa , you could get yourself banned for life from the country. This rule mostly applies for all travel visas including the US and UK travel visa consulates.
1 . Fill up your Schengen travel visa application.
This needs to be filled up completely and sincerely. Please make sure that you double check and know what you have written completely and thoroughly. Your visa interviewer may ask you any questions from what you have filled . So we suggest that you have a photocopy of your visa application AFTER you have filled it completely. You can use this to revise before your interview for visa application . Know this form like the back of your hand.
You can download the Schengen visa application form here.
2. Gather all the documents needed for application
Now that you have your filled form, you need to begin collecting other documents. The documents that you will need for tourist visa depends on the purpose of your travel.
- One photo , This needs to show your full face and neck and must have a light background. Each country may have specific requirements for what should be your background for photo. So we suggest you drop by a photo studio get it done anew. The photographers would know what the requirement should be.
- Your original passport, It must at least have 3 more months of validity and at least two blank pages.
- Copies of all the visas that you have if you have previously traveled to any other country prior to this.
- A medical insurance with a minimum cover of €30,000.There are ofcourse, many websites online which can provide you with an insurance. But keep in mind that these companies are insurance agents and it is in their interest to sell you the most expensive insurance . See our article to get the best travel insurance for Schengengen visa requirement.
- Flight tickets and hotel reservations (More on this below)
If this is your first time travelling then you need these additional documents.
- Income tax returns filed or Form 16 : proof that you have been paying your taxes and not planning to run away from your country for tax evasion purpose.
- Your job appointment or offer letter : Proof that you have a stable job to come back to .
- Proof of legal entity of a company : Your ID card or your your PF or PPF account(IRA account) will do.
- A reference or leave letter from your employer : This should prove that you are applying for visa and your company has sanctioned you leave during this time and you are not absconding from your work.
- If you are running your own company, then your company registration documents, tax returns and bank statements of your company to be attached.
Please go through the website of the country you will be visiting for any other documents specific to that country you are planning to visit.
For Schengen travel visa there are two reasons you can apply.
- Schengen travel visa for leisure/ tourist purposes – Where you are visiting on your own and don’t have someone sponsoring your trip. Or you are not planning on visiting friends/family.
- Schengen visitor visa – where you are visiting a friend or relative living in the Schengen area upon an invitation.
The above mentioned documents are common for both applications . But for Schengen visitor visa there are a few more additional documents you will need to produce.
- If you are covering all your expenses then you should show proof that you can cover all the expenses. For instance, If you are planning to visit Germany or Switzerland on travel visa then it is expected that you have at least €43 per day but if your plans are in Spain then €30 per day will be sufficient. We as a general rule suggest all of you to hold at least €60 for each day you are planning to stay in the Schengen region . If you are planning to stay for 60 days then €3600 should be in your bank account. This might be difficult for many when you need to have your flight and hotel bookings done in advance for your visa processing to begin . Read on to find out how you can get your flight itineraries and hotel reservations without actually buying them . If you do not have sufficient balance then your visa will be rejected. Also if there is a sudden influx of money in your account within a period of one month then be prepared for strict questioning . A photo copy of your credit card will also help if you are a bit short on money.
- If the relative/friend is going to cover the your expenses, a formal document issued by the competent authorities to a resident of a Schengen country (the friend/relative in this case) is to be submitted.This is a real pain in the ass to do for your friend or relative. They will need to visit the official office to get this done .
- The formal invitation by the relative/friend residing in a Schengen country. Requires to be citizen in some countries.
- Inviter’s address and a copy of their passport will suffice. In case that the friend/relative is not a citizen of this Schengen country, then a copy of their residency permit will also be required.
We generally suggest our clients to apply for travel visa since the documentation for visitor visa is painful for both the visitor as well as the inviter so you can apply for a tourist visa citing that you are going only for tourist activities and go visit whomsoever you want to. Also all visitor visas are scrutinise heavily since there is a higher probability of illegal immigration . Do not under any circumstance tell the authorities that you have a boyfriend or girlfriend since this will make them suspicious that you are likely to immigrate.
How to apply for Schengen travel visa without buying flight ticket and making hotel reservations in advance ?
When applying for Schengen tourist visa or any visa for that matter, you will need to produce round -trip flight ticket confirmation documents as well as hotel bookings as mandatory requirements for your visitor/travel visa processing. But here is the quote from several Embassies of Europe.
Round trip flight booking and hotel reservations (please do not purchase your ticket unless your visa is granted) – French Embassy
Copy of the round trip airline reservation (or reservation number) and travel itinerary. The reservation should prove that the stay in the Schengen area does not exceed 90 days. It is recommended not to buy the ticket until the visa is granted – Belgium Embassy
Flight itinerary is a safer way of submitting a visa application without buying an actual flight ticket which is expensive if your visa is refused. In fact the European union visa requirements for visa states the same.
As per the official document,
Round trip reservation or itinerary with dates and flight numbers specifying entry and exit from Schengen state. Some Schengen authorities accept the itinerary when applying for the visa but request the original airticket when visa is collected.
So then why is a flight itinerary a mandatory document for Schengen travel visa ? It basically helps to establish the following.
- Round trip ticket shows that you are planning to return back to your home country.
- Travel itinerary and hotel bookings for visa application helps to establish your purpose of visit.
- In the off chance that your visa is rejected(the rejection rates for visa ranges between 10% -31% as per 2014 statistics) . The consulate is not held responsible for your loss on flight ticket and hotel bookings done for the trip in the hope that you will get your visa approved.
- Most importantly, When the consulate studies your Schengen travel visa application it is established that the bank statement’s that you submitted for your visa application is AFTER you have made flight and hotel bookings . So they will consider that you have sufficient funds after you made these bookings at a travel agency. This is also applicable to your credit card statement.
So how do you get your travel itineraries without paying the premium and risk losing your money ? You need to advance book it .You can do this with travel agents . But they usually charge anywhere between €50 to €100 depending on the flight that you are looking for and their available quota. The best way to get this done is via travelvisabookings.com . Travel visa services that we provide .
- Flight itineraries for visa application between any city.
- Hotel Booking confirmations, Car rentals, train tickets and other proof documents that you have made all the preparations for your travel.
- Any sample documents like covering letter, official letter from your employee and other such assistance for your travel visa.
- Upto 3 corrections in your schedule.
See what our customers say about us in the testimonial page.
Visit our FAQ page for any queries that you have or click the above button to continue with your booking your Itineraries. Checkout the pricing at your pricing page . Hurry !!! we only have a quota of 100 forms each day.
OK now that we have shamelessly inserted our promotions let’s bring our focus back to your visa application. 🙂
Once you have the above documents then you will need to apply at a visa consulate. The general rule is that you will need to apply for Schengen travel visa in that visa consulate where you are planning on staying for the most number of days. If the days of stay are even then you will need to apply in that country where you will be landing first.
Example : If you are planning on a trip to Europe on Schengen tourist visa for 40 days, 20 days in Germany, 10 days in France and another 10 days in Switzerland , then you will need to apply for visa in German consulate. Or if you are plan is to stay 10 days in all the above countries and another 10 days in Spain (40 days of travel in Europe split evenly between 4 countries) , you are planning to start off in Paris, then visa must be filed in French consulate.
Interview questions for Schengen tourist visa application
Now that you have all the required documents in place, it’s time to prepare for your interview. The interview could be brief or could be elaborate based on your application. You may at anytime be asked to produce additional documents so keep them ready. The interviewers have boring jobs so make their jobs easier. Dress decently and be confident. I suggest you split all your relevant documents into following :
- Passport and personal IDs such as PAN card, marriage certificates.
- Employment related documents such as salary , proof of employment.
- Tickets, itineraries, travel insurance and travel related documents.
This makes it easier for you to produce them when asked and not fiddle with your contents.
As mentioned above, while attending for your Schengen tourist visa interview please revise all the documents that you have submitted. There will be questions asked about them.
Here are some of the questions that our clients had been asked.
Q.Which countries are you planning to visit ?
This question is asked to most of the applicants who have mentioned only one country in their itinerary. Schengen travel visa is for those who wants to travel to multiple countries. The consulate will then tell you to apply for visa only for that country and can cancel your visa application. So be wary of this. If you have plans to travel to multiple countries then be upfront with it.
Q. Do you know anyone living in the Schengen area ?
On one hand it is better if you know someone who would come to your aid should you get in trouble. But on the other hand it makes your motive for travel shaky. The best answer to this, particularly if you are in the Schengen area is to tell them you have a friend living in UK and he has a Schengen tourist visa. Should you have any trouble then he will definitely come to your aid.
Q. Is your itinerary fixed ? Do you plan on doing things other than mentioned in the itinerary ?
Just say that the days of travel (as mentioned in flight schedule) and the places you will visit(as mentioned in the hotel bookings) are fixed.
Q.Have you travelled to any other country ? Why ? Did they deny you visa ?
This could take you back . But stay calm and say that you were busy with your career and wanted to focus on it before you took your dream vacation. This shows that you have a career to come back to and not immigrate to an unknown country.
Q. You are travelling alone . why ? It is risky travelling all alone
You could say that you have backpacked to a lot of places alone and had no trouble coping with it.
Here are some of the questions, you can go through them and answer them yourself.
- Why you wish to go to this country ?
- For how long would like to visit?
- When you will be traveling?
- How much do you earn? Do you pay income tax?
- What is the objective of your visit?
- What will you do on your return?
- How much will your visit cost?
- Who will pay for your visit?
- Are you married? If yes, what does your spouse do? For how long have been married?
- Do you have any children? If yes, how old are they, what do they do and where are they?
- Do you have any close family or friends in the Schengen area.? If yes, when did you meet the last time?
- Where do you stay?
- What is your educational qualification?
- How will you travel from one place to another?
- How do you guarantee me that you will come back?
- Which company do you work for?
- What does your company do?
- What is your profession?
- What is your role in the company?
- How many years of total experience you have?
- For how long are you employed with your current employer?
- For how long were you employed with your previous employer?
- Could you please show me your company profile and tax returns?
- How many employees are there in your company?
- Explain your current project to me.
Preparing for your travel once you get your Schengen travel visa.
Traveling cheap across Schengen area.
The beauty of travelling Europe is the ease of transit.One more factor to take into account? Discount airlines tend to fly into secondary airports that are an hour or more outside of the city you’re trying to visit. Trains, on the other hand, typically arrive in or near the center of town, and usually link up easily with the city’s mass transportation system . With super speed and super comfortable trains from RailEurope, Eurail , Eurostar and much more , you don’t have to run around booking multiple flights running between airports, transit, security checks a 2 hour flight will be 4 hours. Trains are cheaper, more comfortable and offers the most exquisite views.
Here is a video of the same.
Quite beautiful isn’t it.
Now compare that with the price of a ticket from Bangalore (BLR) to Frankfurt(FRA).
That is a difference of $369 !!!!. Distance between Frankfurt and Dusseldorf ? 228kms only. So you are paying more than 50% extra to travel 228 kms ? The flight prices are weird. But keep in mind that Frankfurt is the third busiest airport in Europe. So there is bound to be more travellers there and the price will be cheaper. Now here is what you could do to save your money.
- Book a flight to BLR to FRA.
- The train station is walkable distance from the airport.
- Catch the next train to Dusseldorf(I would pick an ICE since they are fast and cheap.) . Would cost you around €30. This train travels at 300km/hr . So you would reach Dusseldorf in 1:15 minutes.
For the sake of visa you could get your flight itinerary and hotel bookings done visa application requirements .