Schengen Visa Checklist, Tips & Guide
Schengen Visa is a travel visa issued by the European Union (EU). It allows for visitors of certain nations to travel freely between EU countries, excluding UK and Ireland. Currently, there are 22 EU countries and 4 non EU members who implement the Schengen Visa policy. (UK and Ireland have their individual visa process). This post has Schengen visa checklist that applies to all EU nations, helpful tips and guide.
Schengen Visa is a business and tourism visa issued for a short term (up-to 90 days) or long term (more then 90 days). This visa is not a student or a work permit.
Travelers requiring a Schengen Visa to visit Europe, have to submit travel documents in the respective consulate and get a visa stamp before arriving in Europe. Schengen Visa is not a Visa on Arrival (VOA). Visa application has to be applied from your country of residence.
First time traveling to Europe? Read my Europe Planning 101
Who needs a Schengen Visa?
Let me start this section by saying that – not everybody needs a visa to travel to Europe on a short term basis (up-to 90 days).
The nationals from the following countries do not require a Schengen visa to visit and stay up-to 90 days
- All EU nationals can visit and reside in each other’s territory without visa
- Other then EU nationals, the Schengen countries are open to 62 countries (for a short term stay of 90 days). They are called the Visa exempt or Visa waived countries. They include citizens of Canada, Japan, Australia, Costa Rica, Mexico, USA, UAE to name a few
- Which means more then 50% of the world citizens need a Schengen Visa, if they wish to travel to the Schengen countries.
- Let me do the math for you. Total number of countries (193), visa waived countries (62) and EU countries (28) = 193-62-28 =103 countries.
Now, here is the list of countries that requires a Schengen Visa
|Angola||Egypt||Liberia||Sao Tome and Principe|
|Azerbaijan||Equatorial Guinea||Libya||Saudi Arabia|
|Botswana||Guinea - Bissau||Mongolia||Swaziland|
|Central Africa Republic||Iraq||Niger||Togo|
|Kosovo||Papua New Guinea||Vanuatu|
Find out how your passport ranks relatively to others? Your Passport Score
Schengen Visa Application Form Guide : How to apply for Schengen Visa
With the Schengen visa, you can travel to 26 countries in Europe. The countries in the schengen agreement allow for free movement of people from one country to another. Let’s take an example. Germany, Austria, Czech Republic and Hungary – these 4 countries belong to the Schengen zone and you are allowed to travel and stay in any of these countries for a period of 90 days.
If you are planning to visit multiple countries, your visa application should be submitted to the country where you will be staying the longest. Lets take this example, ‘Mike” is visiting Paris, Luxembourg and Amsterdam. He flies (return trip) to Paris and stays there for 3 days, 6 days in Amsterdam and 2 days in Luxembourg. Mike will apply to the Netherlands (Amsterdam) consulate for Visa.
Schengen Visa is issued as a single entry or a multiple entry visa.
- A single entry visa allows its holder to visit a country or countries within a Schengen zone. Once they exit the country, the visa is no longer valid. In the above example, if you visit Germany and then travel to Austria and Hungary – you are still in one Schengen zone. A single entry visa is sufficient for a short stay if you do not leave the Schengen zone (for the entire trip)
- A multiple entry visa allows you to travel in and out of the Schengen zone multiple times. The thing to keep in mind is that – the visa holder can stay in the designated Schengen zone upto 90 days within half the year. Another example, if you plan on getting a return ticket to Paris (France), then travel to UK and back to Paris (or any other Schengen zone country), then you would require a double or multiple visa (depending on how many times you wish to leave and re-enter the Schengen country)
Schengen Visa Checklist, Tips & Guide
When you apply for the Schengen Visa, here are certain things you need to be aware of. This is also their basic checklist that applies to all Schengen applications.
- Schengen Visa application form is available online for free. Certain countries coordinate with VFS to process visas and you can apply online for the same (and then print the application form for submission)
- Schengen Visa application fees is 60 Euros, payable in your local currency (as of August 2018)
- If the visa application is processed by VFS, you will have to pay additional fees to VFS
- Travel Insurance of 30,000 Euros is required. Get your travel insurance here
- Insurance Advice : Policy should include repatriation coverage.
- 2 Pieces of photographs as per these specifications are required
- Your travel document (passport) should be valid for at least 3 months after your return from the Schengen country and must be issued within the last 10 years. Must also have 2 blank pages.
- Booked flight tickets
- Hotel Reservations or funds to prove you can arrange accommodation.
- Consider reserving flights and hotels ate Visa Reservation (trusted website for booking and itineraries)
- Detailed day by day itinerary of your stay (include tours, activities, sightseeing location)
- Include an application letter applying for Visa
- Bank statements (up-to 3 months), pension and pay slips, proof of funds
- Include a letter from your employer stating your salary, position and job start date
In all visa applications, no medical tests are required. However bio-metrics and photographs are mandatory. After submitting your bio-metrics, these results are valid for 52 weeks. Within 52 weeks, if bio-metrics were captured, it is NOT mandatory to submit visa application in person. They can be mailed by post as well.
In short, your first Schengen visa application will be submitted in person. Subsequent visa applications can be mailed, provided your bio-metrics were recorded. In terms of “when” you can submit your application, 3 months is the time-frame. You cannot submit your documents months in advance. Visa decisions are made within 15 days of application submission.
Schengen Visa Tips: Applying for Schengen Visa
There is no way to guarantee visa approval, as things depend on a number of factors. But being prepared definitely helps. We have experienced that if we are applying for visa with a single entry for a specified duration – our visa is approved with those exact dates (usually no buffer). When we applied for multiple entry, with specified dates, we received a 90 visa stamp.
Here are some of the useful tips for your Schengen Visa application –
- Review the General Schengen Visa Requirements (The information is same as what is highlighted on this post. But if you are curious, here is the website)
- Visit and review the MAIN country’s consulate website. When in doubt, call them
- Keep in mind, different countries have different requirements for supporting documents. Some consulates require you to take a leave letter from your employer or submit tax returns (notice of assessments) or 3 months of bank statements, marriage certificate, etc.
- Check the consulate requirement, do you have to submit online or do you fill out the application on paper or on it is a fillable pdf form?
- Follow the checklist and gather all documents. Include your identification documents – like your work permit or permanent resident card, if applicable in your country of residence.
- Check your Passport – it SHOULD be valid for at-least 3 months, AFTER your RETURN (it is in CAPS for a reason)
- Photo specifications – your Passport photos and Schengen photo specifications are different. Please carry the photo specs with you, when you have your pictures taken (bright white background is unacceptable and they prefer off white or light grey background and not every photo studio might have those, so double check)
- Offer of employment – Read this as “confirmation of employment”, meaning a letter from your employer (with company letter-head), stating your position, salary and start date with the company. The letter is valid for 90 days only
- Financial statements are also valid for 90 days, dated and stamped by the bank. It must include your name and address along with a summary of accounts
- If you have been approved for Visa in the past, please include that in your application
- Most consulates will and can request your presence in the Consulate office (inside or outside of Canada), if the bio-metrics are not available or if the quality is poor. So be prepared to visit in person.
- If you do not have a visa office nearby, try changing your itinerary and see if you can visit another country whose consulate office is located near your place of residence.
- Visa processing time-line – Depending on the season, resources available at the consulate, sometimes the visa processing could take 30 or 60 days (instead of the usual 15 days). So always check the consulate’s website before you submit. They do not have a rush procedure, but usually they are pretty good in processing visas before your actual travel date.
We recommend reviewing the checklist on the Netherlands Consulate website. It is very detailed and useful .
If you follow all the instructions that are listed on the Schengen site diligently including booking your flights, hotels and have an itinerary plan, your Visa will be processed successfully. You will hear about your Visa results in about 15 days. Good Luck!
Schengen Visa Application in Canada
Canadian passport holders can travel and stay in any Schengen country for up-to 90 days. If you live in Canada and are a permanent resident or a temporary resident permit holder and you hold a passport from any of the listed countries above, then you will have to apply for Schengen Visa.
In Canada, European embassies and consulates are only based in major cities. There are honorary consulates spread out across the country, but they are not authorized to issue Schengen Visas. They exist to support their nationals in case of distress or other passport issues, including long term stay in their home country.
There are some consulates that provide services to multiple countries. For example, the Swiss consulate based in Vancouver provides visa services to – Germany, Austria, Finland, Slovenia, Hungary, Spain and of course Switzerland.
- Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal has the embassies and consulates for all of the Schengen countries.
- In the western part of Canada, most visa offices are located in Vancouver. If you are a resident of Alberta, Saskatchewan or British Columbia, you will scheduling an appointment in the Vancouver Consular office.
- If there are no Visa Office in the province or region, then you will have to visit Ontario or Quebec (Montreal) for your visa processing.
- Most of these Visa offices have the capability of capturing your bio-metrics information.
- Although Schengen Visa agreement states that if you have registered your bio-metrics in the last 5 years (VIS) then you don’t have to submit your documents in person. But in Canada, most visa offices will request in-person submissions, regardless if bio-metrics were captured or not. This creates a potential problem for Canadian residents who do not reside nearby a Consulate.
- Example, Belgium Consulate is based in Montreal and they are the only Visa office in the country who are authorized to issue a Schengen Visa. So if you reside in Saskatoon, you will have to book an appointment in Montreal to get a visa (travel and hotel costs)
On the internet, you will find emails and phone numbers to many honorary consulate, but let me tell you – most phone numbers and email do not work or are out of service. I would recommend visiting the main website of the Consulate and submitting your query there or calling the Consulate phone number to seek clarifications. In the above example, even if the applicant is based in Saskatoon, it is worthwhile to call up the Belgium Consulate in Montreal, in-case you have any issues with the application or documents required.
The instructions on the Consulate’s website are very easy to follow and clear. Each consulate has their own variation of supporting documents that they require you to submit. So definitely check their website. The website also allows you to book appointments (select date and time) and some consulates allow you to fill out forms online, which you will then print out and carry with you on your appointment date. Please remember, you will have to submit documents in person in Canada, regardless of the bio-metrics situation. Most websites, do not have the option to select to pay or submit documents online.
It will be helpful to design your itinerary in a way so that you stay in that country the longest, for which you have an easy access to the Consulate office. Once you have received your visa, you can still visit other Schengen States, just that it will be for a shorter duration then the main country.
Check out some of the Consulate Offices Website – Switzerland, Iceland, France
If you have any questions about Schengen or application for Schengen from Canada, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We will be more then happy to help you!
Additional Reading for your Europe Trips
- Long haul flight tips & Carry on essentials
- Iceland Travel – Read all the travel tips, book tours and get an inspiring itinerary for all seasons.
- Austria Travel – Get itineraries for Vienna, Salzburg and Wachau
- Hungary Travel – Itinerary to Budapest with a Danube river cruise experience
- Germany Travel – Read about Munich, take a day trip to Fussen, visit the concentration site at Dachau and the medieval town of Nuremberg
- Czech Republic Travel – My favorite city – Prague and spend 2 days there
- Or everything about Europe
Last Update on: December 12 2018
we r 6 friends group in India and all r below to air conditioner industries. summer is our peak season time, therefore, we free in winters. my question, we want to visit Europe in January. is there any rejection or objection from embassy to visiting in January in Europe
Hi Ashwani, Of course not.
The month or season is not a deterrent for visa application. However, if you are planning a visit in January, apply for visa in mid or end of November – to give enough time. During Christmas and holiday season VFS or Consulates (depending on your visa office) might be closed or have reduced business hours.
We suggest you contact the nearest VFS or consultate to get the latest processing times, which could differ from the standard 14 day period.
Happy Planning! Enjoy your trip to Europe and pack warm clothes.
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