Europe is one of the most exciting locations in the world where everyone wants to travel for their perfect vacations but unfortunately, it’s not that easy to get a visa for Europe ( especially with Indian passport / Indian citizenship). This blog is specific to Schengen tourist visa requirements for Indian citizenship or Indian passport but most of the document requirement would be same for other countries as well.
This blog would be useful if you are willing to apply for a visa by yourself otherwise you may contact a travel agent who will help you prepare all needed documents. But if you wish to save money, you can make a good application by yourself by keeping in mind/ following below pointers.
Also, I would advise you to prepare all documents by yourself as even the role of a travel agent is just to help you in preparing all documents correctly and nothing else.
Here is List of Documents / Things you need to know for Schengen Tourist Visa with an Indian Passport
- 6 Months bank statement for Tourist Schengen Visa:
This is one of the most important things I would say. If you don’t have sufficient money in your account as per your travel period, you are not going to get any visa even if all other documents are complete. It’s better to maintain a good balance in your bank account for at least 3 months before applying for Visa.
Let me make it more clear if you have developed a misunderstanding regarding bank statement. Actually, embassy needs 6 months bank statement but this 6 months statement is not to check your savings in the bank account, it is required to check a continuous flow of money in your bank account. If you try to trick the embassy by taking a loan from friends in last 1 or 2 weeks(to show the big amount in the bank) before applying for a visa, your visa is most probably going to get rejected.
After maintaining a bank balance for few months, you need to visit any branch(1-2 days before applying for a visa) of the same bank near to your place(not necessary your home branch where you opened your account) and ask them to give 6 Months bank statement with a STAMP from bank and bank Manager’s signature.
For some people, even bank statement from the internet does work but to make your application more strong and more authentic, better visit a bank and get a stamp and signature.
- How much money you need in your account for Schengen Tourist Visa? :
The more money you show in your account, the better it will be for you. But I would suggest you maintain your bank balance for at least few months with a minimum of 2,00,000INR/3,000 Euros or 60 Euros per day /4,500 INR per day depending on no of days you are planning to day. If you are going to stay for just a couple of days like 5-10 days, 2,00,000INR/3,000Euros would be sufficient but if you are planning to stay for 3 months better calculate it with 60Euros/4500 INR.
- Don’t have sufficient money and still planning to visit Europe?
In case you don’t have big savings in the account. You can loan it from family or friends(Don’t take it just a few days before else your account statement will look fishy). If you can’t even loan from your friends and family members for Europe trip, you can go for sponsorship.You won’t need to show big money in account if you could show sponsorship from companies like Castrol and KINDUZ
- How many days Schengen tourist visa you can apply?
A maximum of 90 days in a period of 180 days is possible for you if you are applying for the first time. Some people who visit Europe very frequently do get a visa for 6 months or a year but for first timers, a maximum of 90 days is possible.
- What is the meaning of 90 days within a period of 180 days?
A start date, end date, and duration will be mentioned on your approved visa
Start date: The date from which your visa will be starting
End date: The date after which your visa won’t be valid and you should leave the Schengen area before that
Duration: Number of days you can spend between the start date and end date of your visa.
For example, your visa has the start date as 1 Jan 2017 and End date 1 Feb 2017 with duration of 15 days. This mean, you can plan your trip anytime between these two dates for 15 days but you should come back from Schengen area before 1 Feb 2017.The gap between the start and end date is normally more than the duration of your visa.
This is done to provide a flexibility for your trip so you can reschedule your trip after the visa is issued and you don’t need to apply again.So the most common visa which is issued (90 days within 180 days), means you can enter into Schengen area “N” number of times during 180 days but your number of days in Schengen area should be less than 90. Also, you need to exit before the end date of your visa
Assuming you have a good amount of money in your bank account or at least the minimum which you have maintained for last few months, you can read further to know about other documents requirements.
- What type of Visa you need to apply for Traveling in European countries?
For tourist purpose up to 90 days, you need to apply for Short-term Schengen tourist visa “C-type”. But, make sure of applying inappropriate category under C-type visa as well.
* Single entry C type Tourist Visa:- You can not go outside the country you enter
* Double entry C type Tourist Visa: You can visit two countries which you have mentioned in your itinerary and visa application
* Multiple Entry C type Tourist Visa: You can visit any one the 26 Schengen countries and even go to Balkan area
- Where should I apply for Visa?. Should I contact the embassy directly?
You can’t submit your application directly to an embassy. You need to take an appointment from VFS office and give all your documents to VFS (Actually serve as a middleman). VFS also have the authority to reject your document before sending it to the embassy but normally they just check all documents and send it to embassy unless they find incomplete documentation.There are VFS offices in almost all big cities.
So you can visit nearest VFS office or call VFS offline number to take a suggest(Sometimes you need to visit VFS office close to your passport registered office).
NOTE: Each VFS office has different desks or receptions for different European countries. So you need to decide which Embassy you want to send your application through VFS.
- Which embassy should I choose for Schengen Tourist Visa?
The embassy for which you want to address and submit your application in VFS office depends on your travel plan. It should be the country of your entrance in Europe or the country in Europe where you are going to spend the maximum number of days.
- How to take appointment from VFS or how to send application through VFS for a particular embassy?
Assuming you have read Step 4 and you know which country you need to apply for Visa.
VFS act as a middleman between you and embassy. To make things easy going, VFS have different counters in their office for different European countries. So to take an appointment you should follow these steps:-
* Go to VFS Global website
* Check for the text saying “Need information on visas/permits?”
* Select country from which you want to apply for visa and country from where you are from(India)
* Click go and it will redirect you to a new window where you can take an online appointment or call VFS to make an appointment.
Note: You can reschedule or cancel your appointment without any cost. And it also doesn’t matter if you have canceled or rescheduled the appointment multiple time before actually going to VFS office to hand over the documents. But do check out available dates as sometimes during the tourist season, you might need to wait for 10 days otherwise, you will get an appointment in just 2 days.
Now you have taken an appointment, you should start working on document collection for Schengen Tourist Visa. It may differ a little with the country you are applying for a visa, but most of the requirement will be same.
- Cover Letter For Schengen Tourist Visa.
Although the cover letter is not mentioned as a required document, this is one of the necessary documents if you are applying for Schengen visa by yourself. You need to write this letter addressing the embassy from which you are requesting a visa and clearly mention the purpose of your travel. Don’t make very long or big or multiple pages. Just make sure everything comes on a single page.
Also, in the cover letter, you need to mention the documents which you are submitting with your visa application.
Here is the cover letter which I have used for My visa application
- ITR(Income tax return) for last 3 years for Schengen Tourist Visa
If you are earning anything, you must be having an ITR. If you have not declared it yet, you can fill it anytime but do it before applying for a visa. In case of students or anyone who is not earning(like a housewife), you don’t need to show ITR.
- If you are employed?. Salary slip and Leave letter for Schengen Tourist Visa.
If you are currently working, You need to submit last 3 months salary slip. The same salary could be cross-checked in your bank statement as well.Since you are working and taking holidays from your company. You need to take a leave letter from your company as well which is like a No objection certificate from your company allowing you to travel on vacation(This is what they make it sound like). But actually, it is a proof that you have a permanent job in India and after your travel, you are going to come back to India.If you are adding these two documents, your application will be strong and more probability of getting Schengen visa without any hiccups.
- Passport valid for at least 3 months with 2 blank page
Needless to say, you need a valid passport but some people do get a little confused and assume that passport should be made 3 months before applying for a visa. 3 Months validity on passport actually means, your passport should be valid for at least 3 months from the time you are entering into Schengen Area. Like you’re planning to enter Schengen area on 1 Jan 2017 then your passport should be valid until 1 April 2017.
- Passport size photos with white background (Do mention in photo studio that you need for passport)
Photos for visa purpose are printed on different paper. So when you visit the nearest studio for photography, you should mention the details. Or you can visit the VFS site and check details yourself. Like I googled “VFS Italy in Delhi” and a VFS website link I found. I navigated to search for requirement and found this link for photo specification of Schengen visa
- Medical Travel Insurance for Schengen Tourist Visa
A medical insurance which covers you outside India with a minimum amount of 30,000 Euros is a must. If you go without this, even VFS will ask you to apply again. Sometimes people already have medical insurance which covers them overseas as well (although it’s rare). Most of us need to buy a new travel medical insurance. And it is for your benefit only, suppose anything happened to you in Europe, then you might need to spend all your lifetime savings just to fix a fracture(Private medical treatment is very expensive).
Which Medical Insurance to buy?
You can opt any travel insurance but do spend some time to check terms and conditions. Like a very famous company in India sell travel insurance for almost 3000INR/45 Euros for 3 months but if you go through the term and conditions you may find a point saying “insurance is not valid if you are not using public transport or hiking”.Also, do check out reviews of insurance, just because of the cheap insurance don’t opt them. Sometimes you may find terms and conditions which say you need to pay first and it will be reimbursed later.
If you could spend a little, I would suggest World Nomad Travel insurance which covers anything and their service is fast as well.
- Confirmed return Flight Ticket required for Schengen Tourist Visa
You need to have confirmed return flight ticket in your application. But you must be wondering what will happen if you don’t get a visa?.Yeah, the main worry everyone has. Some people do choose a website which books temporary tickets but those tickets are valid for just 48 hours and if your application is going to consulate after 48 hours the ticket will be invalid. I am not sure if consulate checks ticket validity but if they check and find your invalid ticket, your visa is surely going to reject.
I would suggest a different workaround. Try to search for tickets with refundable options. Some tickets have a very small deduction in a ticket on cancellation. Like I booked the return ticket for 36,000INR/500 Euros (Mumbai to Italy and back) with cancellation amount of 5,000INR on return. If your visa is getting rejected, then anyways you are losing the visa fees(around 6,000 INR) and a lot of hard work, so I think deduction of 5000INR during cancellation should not matter.You can save the 5,000INR as well using temporary ticket but a confirmed ticket make your visa application more solid.
- Do I need to have returned ticket, can’t I book only one-way ticket and book return ticket later?
Without confirmed return ticket, your application won’t be accepted in VFS office. So, yeah it’s must to have returned ticket before applying for visa
But what if I am rescheduling my trip and book an only one-way ticket?
Although you may think you have a visa, but without a return ticket, you won’t be given a boarding pass from India only. You need to show a return ticket even when you are boarding a flight in India.Suppose in a rare case, immigration from India let you cross without a return ticket, be sure get a rejection during immigration in Europe.
You need to have a return flight ticket till you crossed the immigration check post in Europe. After immigration in Europe, you can cancel and change your return flight ticket(but before the end date- point no 5)
- Travel Itinerary and hotel booking for Schengen Tourist Visa
This part is easy if you know where you want to visit and you have a short time period of travel in Europe, but it will be really difficult for backpackers and people who are applying for long time(90 days) visa. Whatever the situation you are, this part is important as well. If you don’t have confirmed hotel booking, your visa application is going to get rejected.
You must be having a doubt again, what will happen if you book a hotel and your visa got rejected?
So I would suggest you use this website: Hotel Booking for Schengen tourist visa without prepayment
Select the place for your travel and dates which you want to visit. On the left side of the window, you will find many filters, out of those filter select the one which says pay without a credit card and prepayment. You can also use your credit card and book hotels which show without prepayment. But there is no escape from this hotel booking task. Also, it would be nice if you could show the place you are going to visit with dates in excel sheet
All these information will develop more trust in your application.
- What is Invitation letter for Schengen Tourist Visa and how it works?
If you have any relative living in the European country or any friend who is willing to take a responsibility to you while you are staying in Schengen/Europe area. You can ask your friend in the European country to send the invitation letter signed by him. Invitation letter varies from country to country. In some countries, you can just download it online like here is Invitation letter from Italy for Indian family member or friend
While in Other countries like Germany, your Friend in Germany needs to visit the nearest police station and take a stamp on the invitation letter and declare that he will be taking your responsibility. I suggest you search on VFS website and if it’s not available, ask your friend in Europe to do it for you from the local police station or find the exact procedure.But whatever the case may be (online form or visit police station), if you are showing your sponsors, you need to submit some more documents for the same
* Passport Id
* Residence permit
* Bank Statement 6 Months
- Do I need hotel booking if you already have Invitation letter?
If you are planning not to go out of the city from where you have received an invitation letter(Point 3 – single entry visa), you don’t need to show hotel booking and you can just say you are staying at the same place all the time.
But if you are planning to visit other cities(Point 3 – Double or Multiple entries ) even in the same country from where you have an invitation letter, you need to show hotel bookings as well.
- Some Other documents which You need apart from mentioned documents
* Fully filled Visa application form which again you can download from VFS website. The Form will be different for different embassy you want to address your application
* 2 Set of a photocopy of Your passport. In case you have two passports(one if already filled or expired), you need to carry both passports and take photocopy of both passport
* A copy of credit card statement if possible. If you don’t have one, you can skip this
Will write More details in next blog about riding motorcycle with Indian passport In Europe
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Ps: Please mention any other doubt/ question in comment, I will include that as well in the above blog