Europe, a medley of history, culture, and exquisite beauty, has long been a coveted destination for travel enthusiasts from all over the world, including Indians.
However, to explore most of Europe without restrictions, you need your golden ticket: the Schengen visa. Follow along with this expert guide on the top Schengen visa tips for Indian tourists to ensure a hassle-free journey through the breathtaking landscapes, ancient castles and modern cultural centers.
Schengen Visa Explained
The Schengen visa is an authorization issued by one of the Schengen Area member countries, permitting Indian citizens to travel within the Schengen zone. It allows free movement between the 26 countries in the Schengen Area, eliminating the need for multiple visas.
Different types of Schengen visas are available to Indian citizens: tourist, business, student, transit, and others. You can check the general Shengen visa guidelines in this article. The application involves submitting the required documents, attending an interview, and paying a fee.
Schengen Visa Countries
The Schengen area countries are Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden.
This includes most EU states (exceptions are Ireland, Croatia, and Bulgaria), Norway, and Iceland.
Top Schengen Visa Tips:
1) Ensure Your Documents Are Complete And Accurate
The set of documents for a visa, in many cases differs from country to country. In addition, visa requirements are constantly reviewed and updated by Schengen embassies worldwide.
All Schengen visa applicants are advised to collect documents based on the list published by the embassy of the country to which they will apply. It will be very helpful to make a checklist of your visa requirements.
Key Documents You Will Need:
Completed and signed visa application form: The form must be filled with accurate and consistent information. Double-check all entries before signing.
Two compliant visa application photos: Make sure your photos fulfill the visa photo requirements, such as size, background color, and photo quality.
Valid passport: Your passport must remain valid for at least three months beyond your planned departure from the Schengen area. It’s also useful to carry any older passports that have visas in them. Revisit your passport’s expiry date before planning your trip.
Round trip reservation or itinerary: This is proof of your intent to return. Make sure your itinerary includes details of your entrance and exit from the Schengen area.
Travel insurance policy: Ensure your travel insurance covers potential medical expenses during your journey. This is mandatory for the visa process.
Proof of accommodation in the Schengen area: This could be a hotel booking, a rental agreement, or an invitation letter from a host. Make reservations, you can cancel in case your visa doesn’t get approved.
Proof of financial means: This could be a bank account statement or a sponsorship letter. The key is to demonstrate that you can afford your stay without illegal employment.
Proof of paid visa fee: Keep a receipt of the visa fee payment. Make sure you know the modes of payment accepted by the embassy.
2) Start Planning Your Application Early
The earlier you apply for a Schengen visa, the better. You can apply up to six months before your planned trip, but it is recommended that you submit your application at least three to four weeks before your trip. This will give you enough time to gather all the necessary documents and avoid a last-minute rush.
Apply for the Schengen visa at the embassy of your leading destination. If you plan to explore multiple countries but don’t have a primary destination, apply at the embassy of the country you’ll enter first.
3) Look Presentable And Act Confident At The Visa Interview
The visa interview is the definitive stage of your application. Dress formally, arrive early, be confident, and answer all questions honestly. Familiarize yourself with common questions and prepare concise answers. You might be asked questions such as which countries in the Schengen area you are planning to visit, the purpose of your visit, who will pay for your visit, and where you will stay.
Another tip is to file all documents in a folder in a formal and professional style, as this will help avoid confusing paperwork that can delay the application process.
4) Use visa consultation services if needed
These services can handle most of your visa requirements, such as flight itineraries and hotel reservations, along with free consultation over email.
The Schengen visa, despite appearing a bit daunting, is actually a fairly straightforward procedure. With careful preparation and the right approach, getting this gateway to Europe is a doable task. Remember, every bit of the effort will be worth it as you travel around Europe, enjoying its beauty and richness.
Safe and happy travels to you!