Schengen Visa Requirement for Indians is probably the most asked question in the travel groups that I am a part of. And there seems to be a lot of contradictory versions available. While there is no definite wrong or right way this post is an augmentation of my personal Schengen Visa experience across 3 different countries in Schengen region in last 3 years.
- Short Term Tourist Visa – Aug 2017 (Applied via Switzerland)
- Got 1 month Schengen Visa
- Short Term Tourist Visa – Oct 2018 (Applied via Denmark)
- Got 2 days extra from my itinerary. Had provided 18 days itinerary was granted visa for 20 days.
- Short Term Business Visa – Nov 2019 (Applied via Germany)
- Applied for 18 days, got 25 days visa.
Schengen Visa Requirement for Indians
Which country to apply from?
This is a very straight-forward decision. You need to answer the following questions:
- How many countries am I visiting? Just 1 – Then apply for the visa at that countries consulate.
- In which country am I spending maximum number of days as per the itinerary? Apply to that countries consulate.
- If I am spending the same no of days in multiple countries, then where should I apply? In that case the country of application would be the one where you arrive first (among the countries where you spend equal days).
Scenario 1 – 15 day Euro trip and spending 8 days in Spain & 7 in Portugal. I should apply for visa via the Spanish consulate irrespective of whether I land in Portugal or Spain.
Scenario 2 – 20 day Euro trip and spending 5 days each in France, Spain & Portugal. I also land in Germany, spend 2 days and exit from Austria(spend 3 days). In such scenario, I should apply for visa via the French consulate.
TIP – Some countries have better visa approval rates than others. But from my personal experience if you have the proper documentation in place, chances to being denied a Schengen visa are very low. Schengen is a tourist friendly visa regime and as long as you have the proper documents, you are good.
Filling out the application form
- You can download the application form from this link.
- Most of the fields in the form are self explanatory. However, I will try to explain those which people might find confusing/unclear:
- Point No. 11, National Identity Number – Put in your passport number.
- 22, Member state of destination – Mention all countries you plan to cover as per your itinerary.
- 23, Member state of first entry – The first Schengen country where you will land or arrive.
- 24, Number of entries requested – It matters only if you are going to travel to & fro between Schengen area and other countries. For all purposes, mark as Multiple Entries.
- 25, No of total days in Schengen – Count from the day you first land till the day your flight departs.
- 28, I have no idea. I always leave it blank.
- 33, Check all boxes that are applicable.
Most Schengen countries follow a standard set of documents and requirements. Depending on the country, they have minor variations/some additional requirements. But below is a comprehensive list of the documents required by most countries:
- Download & fill out the application form. In case if you are applying through VFS, instead of this form, when you start your application you be asked a bunch of questions and the form will be auto populated based on your replies.
- Valid passport. Always carry old passports along with you specially if you held Schengen Visa in the past.
- 3-4 photos. Most embassies/consulates are ok with 2 photos, but always helps to carry spares. Make sure the photo is as per the required standards – Schengen Photo Specifications. Don’t stick the photo to the application form unless asked.
- Travel Itinerary. Rough day wise itinerary of your stay. Doesn’t have to be accurate as long as it matches with your flight and hotel bookings.
- Travel Insurance Policy. Yes, it’s mandatory. Minimum requirement is 30,000 EUR but I take one for 50,000/100,000 EUR. Costs roughly 1000-1200 Rs.
- Return flight tickets or flight itinerary. [I have heard mixed bag reviews about the acceptance of flight itineraries, so I book my flights and show the original tickets.]
- Proof of accommodation for your entire stay. In case you are not really sure about it, it helps to either book hostels from hostelworld by paying only a small amount upfront or booking hotels with 0 cancellation from sites like Agoda.
Proof of financial means. A rough account balance of 50 EUR/day is a safe bet. Bump this to around 75-100 EUR, in case your accommodation is not paid for.
- Bank statement copy (6 months) – Stamped and signed by the bank.
- Salary slip (last 3 months) – Stamped/Signed by the HR.
- IT Returns (last 3 years)
- Copy of 1-2 credit cards (I generally do this, but not mandatory)
- Although I haven’t personally attached other documents, but I know some people who have attached home loan, car loan and other documents with the application.
- For Salaried
- Leave approval letter – Stamped & signed
- Salary slip (last 3 months) – Stamped/Signed by the HR.
- For Self-employed
- Business license
- Company bank statement (6 months)
What changes in case of Schengen Business Visa
In case you are applying for Business visa the procedure remains the same, but the documents change slightly. You need to submit additional documents like:
- Invitation Letter from your host ( In this case, your company office in that country)
- Company bank account statement.
- IT returns (Company)
- Company license [Formation document]
Some variations and additional optional documents.
- Cover letter. I always submit a cover letter with all my visa applications. A strong and clear cover letter gives the reviewer a clear idea about your trip and purpose. Consider it mandatory to increase your chances of approval. Here’s my template.
- Coloured printed copies of all your passport pages. Some countries ask for coloured copy of 1st and last page only.
- While applying for the Business Visa in Germany, I was asked to provide transport/travel bookings between the cities on my itinerary.
For country specific list, I would advise to go to the VFS Website, for that country and check for any specific requirements.
Procedure to apply – Schengen Visa Requirement for Indians
- Go to VFS website and select country of origin and country where you wish to apply – VFS Online Appointment.
- You will be redirected to the country specific website. Here start your application and fill up the form and book an appointment.
- Keep all your documents ready.
- Visit the centre on the appointed time, submit documents and pay the fees either in cash or using credit cards.
- You can either opt for collecting the passports in person or getting them couriered (at an extra charge).
- In case any documents are missing, don’t panic you can re-schedule an appointment.
- For missing stamps on letters/bank statements, unfortunately you need to get the stamp and come back. No easy way out.
- If you are applying during the peak season or very close to your travel date, please be more thorough with your documentation.
- Now just sit back and wait for the results. If the embassy has any queries or issues, they will most probably call you and ask for more information/documentation.
My mistakes, your benefit – Schengen Visa Requirement for Indians
I will walk you through some of the mistakes that I have done and how I rectified them.
|Passport photo not as per specifications.||Got a new one clicked at VFS as per the Schengen specifications.|
|Xerox copy of the stamped statement.||Had to rebook the appointment and go back to the bank, print a new statement, get it stamped and signed.|
|Submitted bank statement had a cut-off balance of 7000 Rs.||The Denmark embassy was kind enough to call me about this. I simply sent them a newly generated bank statement with sufficient balance.|
|My cousin had forgotten Travel Insurance.||I asked him to head to one of the kiosk’s on the ground floor of the VFS office in BKC and get a travel insurance from there. Other option, is to book it online at Policy Bazaar or any other insurance site and then get it printed on the spot.|
|My Iceland trip mate had a dummy itinerary and she missed out 1 of her accommodations.||I told her to book a free hotel from Agoda and then cancel it once the Visa was approved.|
|Consulate asks you to submit proof of inter city transport.||Go to RegioJet and Flixbus website and book fully refundable tickets. Cancel once visa is approved.|
Tips & Tricks – Schengen Visa Requirement for Indians
- As per the official Schengen visa documentation, one doesn’t need to submit the real return tickets. (flight itineraries work as well). There are plenty of companies who provide you these itineraries (flights + hotels) for 2-3k. I personally don’t take that risk. But yeah, it’s completely legal.
- For accommodations – Book 0 cancellation hotels using Agoda or hostels using hostelworld where you make a small payment (5%-10%) upfront. So after you get the visa, you can tweak your entire itinerary.
- Attaching a credit card copy is a good way to show proof of finance.
- Forgetting documents is more common than you can imagine. But if you forget any documents, this might be helpful – Things like travel insurance, hotel/car bookings can be done online and immediately, so if you miss one of these, just book them online and take a printout. No need to reschedule the appointment.
For your benefit I am also attaching a copy of my cover letter as well as the leave format (NOC) from the employer.
Credits – Schengen Visa Requirement for Indians
Most of my research was based on reading articles on travel boards, forums as well as travel groups on facebook. In addition, I have always referred 2 websites heavily for Schengen visa related questions:
- Schengen Visa Info. It’s probably the best website for all the information you need about the visa process. However, this website isn’t specifically catered to Indians but more based on general lines.
- VFS Website From Mumbai and I am sure most other cities, VFS centres are the best and the only way to apply for Visa’s unless you want to go to the consulate directly. VFS on its website also provides a country specific list of documents.