Europe is emerging as the ultimate travel destination. Tourists from all across the world are travelling to experience the uniqueness of European culture and the jaw-dropping views, such as the Italian coastline and the snow-capped Swiss Alps. According to statistics published by Eurostat, to cater such high numbers of visitors, one in ten enterprises in the European non-financial business economy belonged to the tourism sector in 2014. Moreover, these 2.3 million enterprises provided employment to 12.3 million people that year.
When visiting a European country, except for the United Kingdom, and countries such as Bulgaria, Croatia Romania, Cyprus, Ireland, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein, a visitor needs to apply for a Schengen Visa. This document is issued to visitors travelling to and within the Schengen Area, which comprises 26 countries, of which 22 are part of the EU and the other four are part of the EFTA. These nations have agreed to allow free movement of citizens within the Schengen Area as a single country.
How to Apply for the Visa?
Although a Schengen Visa gives visitors access to the entire Schengen area, you should know that in order to travel to the desired Schengen destination, the applicant needs to undergo comply with some predetermined rules and regulations, as part of the visa application process in different embassies and consulates.
- Travelling to One Schengen Country:
When an applicant wishes to travel to one and only one Schengen country, he/she needs to apply at the appropriate embassy or consulate of that specific country.
- Travelling to Two or More Schengen Countries:
When you are travelling to multiple Schengen countries during a single trip, you can apply for the visa at the embassy or consulate of the country you’ll be spending most of your time in.
- Random Destination:
In case there is no main destination for your visit, apply for the visa at the country you’ll enter the Schengen area through.
Documents Required for a Schengen Visa
- Visa Application Form:
Download the latest application form, which is the same for all countries in the Schengen area, and fill it in carefully, giving your true details and sign in the respective spaces provided.
Your passport must be valid for at least three months after the expiry of the Schengen visa. It should also have at least two blank pages.
The photos you’ll have to attach with the application form should be recently taken.
- Schengen Travel Insurance:
This is a compulsory document when you are applying for a Schengen visa. The authorities demand a travel insurance policy that offers coverage of at least €30,000 or $50,000 for emergency medical expenses and cost of repatriation while you are in the Schengen area.
- Flight Itinerary:
You should obtain the round trip reservation or flight itinerary with flight numbers and dates, specifying your entry and exit in the Scehngen Area.
- Proof of Accommodation:
You need to present proof of accommodation, including your hotel bookings, for your stay in the Schengen area.
- Proof of Sufficient Means of Subsistence:
You also need to present proof of your finances during your intended stay, which can vary from country to country.
These documents need to be personally handed to the authorities during your appointment at the embassy/consulate.
To avoid any kind of interruption or delay in the trip, apply for the visa at least six weeks prior to your departure. Fortunately, visa processing doesn’t take more that 2-3 days, but can take around 15-20 days, depending on individual situations.