There is no denying that Schengen Visa is a blessing for Indian citizens traveling to Europe. But often people who are applying for a Schengen visa from India may find it taxing. More so if you haven’t applied for a Schengen Visa before. Here is a step-by-step guide to applying for a Schengen Visa from India. Just a quick note for people who are still confused about what a Schengen Visa is – we have it decoded for you in our post about “What is a Schengen Visa for Indian Citizens”.
Step 1: Identifying the Embassy/Consulate General
From where do I apply for my Schengen Visa?
Your first move would be to determine which consulate or embassy you will apply from. Since Schengen Visa is a common visa for 26 countries, in case you are traveling to more than one country, determining the embassy could get confusing.
The consulate or the embassy responsible for handling your Visa application will depend on the following factors:
1) The country related with the main purpose of your travel.
2) The country with the maximum period of stay.
3) State of first entry.
In other words, if the travel destination includes more than one Schengen Visa country, the application should be dealt with by the consulate of the main destination. The main destination can be defined as the destination where the applicant intends to spend the longest time or where the main purpose of the intended journey is carried out.
Example: If an Indian Citizen wishes to travel for a holiday to Spain (for a week) and Greece (for three days) then in this case the Spain consulate should deal with the application because Spain is the main destination length of stay as well as purpose of stay.
Only in case, where the first two options aren’t applicable or apt, you may go for the third option.
Example: An Indian citizen wishes to travel for a holiday to Spain for three days, Greece for three days, Italy for three days and France for three days. In such a case, the purpose of stay and length of stay are equal for all. So the person may choose the country which he or she plans to visit first.
What if the Schengen country does not have its embassy in India or my state?
If the concerned Schengen country’s embassy or consulate is not available, there will always be another consulate appointed to represent the country. You may submit your Schengen visa to the representing state.
Example: the Consulate General of Portugal in Goa represents and handles Visa applications for Greece and Slovenia in Goa, the Belgian Consulate General in Mumbai and Kolkata represent Luxemburg and so on.
It is important to confirm if the embassy you are applying to is valid to avoid any discrepancy. For a general list of embassies, you may check this site.
If the embassy in question is located in a city that isn’t your residence then you might have to take a trip to the location city for your Visa submissions.
What happens if I submit my Schengen Visa documents at a wrong Embassy/Consulate?
No need to worry. As soon as the embassy realises that it is not in position to process the application, they will immediately return the documents, reimburse the fee and additionally even provide the information about the embassy where you should submit the application. Chances of your documents being stuck there are close to zero as the very first step of the embassy is to verify if they are in the correct position to process your application.
Step 2: Preparing for the documents required for Schengen Visa
How to fill the Schengen Visa Application?
Once you have identified the consulate apt for your Visa process, the next step would be to download the application form from the site of the embassy. Alternatively, the Schengen countries have appointed VFS Global as an outsourced partner in India to facilitate short stay visa applications. You could download the form for free from any of the sources. To download a sample form for guidance, click here.
Although the Schengen Application for every Schengen country more or less contains same questions, note that not every embassy has the exact same documentation procedure. While some may take time the others might process it sooner. It is advisable to apply through an embassy of a bigger country like France, Switzerland or Germany as their processing time is usually less. But that would mean that these countries should be a part of your itinerary (Remember Step 1). But you need not limit your choices as per the embassy. If documents and other requirements are in place usually the visa is granted.
What documents will I require if I am applying for a Schengen Visa from India?
For the extensive checklist click on the link to download Schengen Visa requirements for Indian citizens. You may also refer to the following list to get a general idea of minimum documents required to be submitted by every Indian Citizen:
1) A Passport with minimum two blank pages and a minimum validity of 3 months after the intended stay.
2) 4 passport size photographs, not older than 6 months, with a white background.
3) Schengen Visa application form duly filled in blue pen and two photocopies of the same.
4) A cover letter explaining the purpose and mentioning the duration of your visit with your signature in it.
5) Hotel bookings and Itinerary plans for the entire duration of stay along with a confirmed return flight ticket bookings.
6) Proof of economy like bank statements (with a certain minimum bank balance), salary slip, income tax returns for last three years.
7) A copy of your pan card.
8) Travel insurance from an Indian Travel Insurance company approved by the Schengen nations.
Step 3: Paying the Fees
What is the Schengen visa fee for Indians?
The current fee for adults generally ranges between INR 4000 – 4500 per person and INR 2000 – 2500 for children aged 6-12 years old. No fee is required for children below 6 years.
Please confirm the mode of payment accepted at your embassy, as certain embassies only take cash while others only accept drafts.
Step 4: Booking an appointment
Proceed with this step only if you are prepared with all the documents. Which means that you will have to be prepared with the documents at least a month in advance. The Reason being that appointments for Indian tourists (Short stay visa appointment) take time and need to be booked at least a month in advance. While most embassies will require you to take an appointment for Visa application submission, in some embassies you may directly submit it.
Note that a minimum handling fee needs to be paid online while booking an appointment for your Visa application submission. This fee may vary according to the embassy that you are applying to. The amount paid for Visa application appointment is non-refundable, so make sure you have everything in place before you take an appointment.
You can book an appointment via the outsource partner VFS Global, here.
Step 5: Appearing for the interview
Generally an Indian citizen will be called in for an interview a day or so after the submission of documents. In case you have traveled on a Schengen Visa before, an interview may not be required.
Preparing for the interview is also an important step towards getting a Schengen Visa from India. Make sure that you are clear with your purpose and also able to convince the authorities that you have good intentions of returning back to India.
While you may have all your documents in place and an appointment in hand, they need not necessarily guarantee an acceptance of your Visa application. For some hands-on tips and hacks for ensuring that you get a Schengen Visa, you may check out our article on “Schengen Visa tips for Indian Citizens”.
A gentle reminder: While we have made sure to provide as much accurate information as possible, we and all our readers would love to hear about any suggestion or experience that you may have. The comment box is all yours!