Last year alone, over a million people from India applied for travelling to the Schengen area. Over 90% got approval for travelling to the Schengen visa countries. So, what is the Schengen area? How can you get Schengen Visa from India? How is it the ideal visa for your European vacation? There’s a lot of question, let us help you with a comprehensive guide to obtain a Schengen Visa from India.
Indians are now travelling more than ever. Europe is undoubtedly the first choice for many from India. Ask any avid traveller from India, they would have a bucket list filled with places to see in Europe. If you see by the data, the number of people travelling to Europe from India has doubled since 2014. So how do you travel to Europe? Of course, Indian passport holders are required to obtain Visas from the respective embassies. But there’s a convenient setup among 26 European countries who form the Schengen area of Europe. It is enough for Indian Passport holders to obtain a Schengen Visa to visit all these nations.
Basics about the Schengen area
According to a border agreement named Schengen Area Agreement, 26 European countries allow EU citizens to travel freely within the area. And for Non-EU citizens, with proper Schengen Visa, they are allowed to travel freely within the Schengen area for a limited period of 90 days within six months of issue of the Visa. Non-EU citizens with a Schengen Visa can have multiple entries up to the 90 days period out of the 180 days Visa period.
With proper documentation, you can obtain Schengen Visa from India from the embassy of the country which is your entry point to the Europe trip. Alternatively, you can obtain Schengen Visa from India from the embassy of the country where you will spend the maximum days of your Europe trip. Make sure to choose the right type of Visa as per your purpose of travel.
From the magical streets of France to the stunning landscapes of Switzerland, there’s so much magic within the list of Schengen countries. Here’s the list of 26 countries under Schengen Area.
Trivia: Schengen is the name of a village in Luxembourg bordering with both France and Germany. As the historic agreement was first signed at the village, the agreement was named after the village.
List of Schengen countries
- The Czech Republic
- The Netherlands
Let’s get to the step by step procedure to apply for Schengen Visa from India
Indian passport holders should apply for a Schengen Visa to travel to any European country in the Schengen area. Let us go through the step by step process to apply for Schengen Visa from India.
Types of Schengen Visa
First of all, it is essential to choose the type of Schengen Visa based on your purpose of travel. Make a note that there are different limitations that apply to a particular Visa type. Let me break down the types of Schengen Visas available for your travel from India to Europe.
1. Uniform Schengen Visas (USV)
This Visa obtained from one of the Schengen countries can be used to travel any Schengen area for a maximum of 90 days within 6 months of visa issue. This visa can be obtained in the form of a single entry, double-entry or multiple-entry as per the purpose of travel. Single-entry allows the visa holder to enter the Schengen area only once, while the double-entry visa holder can enter the Schengen area twice within 6 months of issue. Multiple-entry visa allows the visa holder to enter and exit the Schengen area multiple times as long as he adheres to the 90/180 rule. The multiple-entry visa can be applied for 1-year, 3-year or 5-year period with the necessary documentation. But even with longer visa durations, you have to follow the 90/ 180 rule (i.e.) one cannot stay for more than 90 days within 180 days of the visa period.
Note: the number of entries is how many times you can enter the Schengen area as a whole and does not denote the number of countries you are allowed to enter.
2. Limited territorial validity visas (LTV)
This visa allows the holder to visit only the country which has issued the visa or countries which are specifically mentioned in the visa. The visa holder cannot enter the countries in the Schengen area that are not mentioned prior in the visa. This type of visa bars the holder from entering any Schengen state and is a special type of visa issued for peculiar cases.
3. National Visas
This visa is given to students or professionals willing to study or work residing in one of the Schengen countries. This visa is issued in the form of both single-entry and multiple-entry. With multiple-entry National visa, one can enter and exit the particular Schengen country as he/she pleases and also can travel within the Schengen area freely. But this visa is only given to people meeting certain criteria and purpose of travel.
Quick tip: Though the number of entries and time permitted are stamped in the visa, it’s the best to have a clear calculation of how many days you spend in the Schengen area. Because a violation of 90/180 rule leads to deportation and fine, depending on the country you are in.
Based on the purpose of travel, types of visas are divided as follows, make sure you mention clearly the type of visa you need in the application form,
- Transit visa: this visa is for people who need to travel through the Schengen country airport without entering the country.
- Tourism visa: this visa is for people who travel to the Schengen countries for exploring the place and culture, and spending a holiday there.
- Visa for Visiting Family or Friends: this visa is for people who are travelling to Schengen countries to visit their family or friends who legally reside there. You will need a letter of invitation and some additional documents for this type of visa.
- Business visa: this visa is for people who travel for business purposes. It has a benefit as even during peak seasons business visas get quicker visa appointments.
- Visa for Culture and Sports activities or Film crews: This visa is for people who travel to participate in any form of cultural or sports events in the Schengen countries. People belonging to a film crew who has planned a shoot in the Schengen countries can also avail this type of visa.
- Visa for Official Visits: This visa is for people who are travelling on fulfilling an official duty from his country.
- Study visa: This visa is for students who are willing to take up educational courses in Schengen countries.
- Visa for Medical Reasons: This visa is for people visiting any of the Schengen visa countries for medical treatment.
Where to apply for a Schengen visa in India?
- As mentioned in the basics about the Schengen area, you will have to choose a country in the Schengen area to apply for a Schengen area.
- According to the rules, if you are visiting one country alone, you will have to apply to that particular country’s embassy. If you are visiting more than one country, choose either the first country you enter or the country you are going to spend the most days in.
- After you have chosen a Schengen country to apply, visit Embassy World Wide to find a list of embassies and consulates of the respective country in India. So make sure you choose the right embassy/consulate/VAC of the country and double-check if you fall under the jurisdiction of it.
- Next step is to visit the website of the embassy/consulate you have chosen and download the Visa application form.
- Next, you will have to submit the filled Visa application form to the chosen embassy/consulate/VAC.
- Check with the website to know where visa submission takes place, as the visa submission process regulations differ with each country. It can be its embassy, consulate or outsourced visa centre acting as visa submission point.
Schengen Visa application: Documents required
Along with your carefully filled Schengen Visa application form, the following documents are mandatory to be carried for Visa submission. This is just a broad list of documents you will need, always make sure to check the respective embassy’s website for specific requirements.
- Two Passport-size photographs with exact dimensions as per the requirement the country you apply to.
- A valid passport with validity for at least 3 months after the date of your return to India. Your passport should have at least 2 blank pages, with copies of old visas and all the previous passports bounded with a rubber band.
- For proof of civil status, birth certificate, marriage certificate and national identity documents like Voters ID are required.
- You will have to provide a personal cover letter stating your purpose of visit and duration of travel.
- It is essential to furnish the itinerary of your planned travel with clear dates of travel and copies of tickets for flights specifying entry and exit through the Schengen area. Receipt of booking of car rentals, hotel reservations or other accommodation details.
- A travel insurance policy covering 30,000 euro per person should be provided.
- Proof of financial means, (i.e.) financial statements that prove that you have the money required to bear the expenses during your period of stay in the Schengen countries.
- If employed with a company, you will need to provide an introduction letter from the company on company letterhead with information about your position, duration of work and no objection statement for travelling to Schengen countries. In addition, the income statement for the past 6 months and a copy of your Income Tax Return (ITR) will be required.
Know In-Depth: Self Introduction letter for Visa: All you need to know
- If you are self-employed, you will need your business registration certificate or partnership deed or proof of proprietorship. In addition to that, the last 3 months statement of personal and business bank accounts and company’s ITR for last 2 assessment years will be required.
- If you are a student or unemployed, your parents or legal guardians should provide last 3 months personal bank account statement, last 2 assessment years ITR and a confirmation statement with no objection for your travel.
- If you are retired, you will need a copy of your pension documents or proof of income from property or deposits.
Visa fee structure
Schengen visa fees is a non-refundable administration fee collected to process your application. Schengen visa cost is fixed by the Schengen visa countries and is in the euro. You will have to pay Schengen visa cost in Indian rupees as per the current exchange rate. Schengen visa fees for Indian citizens is as followed,
Schengen Visa Category (Fee in EUR)
- Adult – 60
- Child between 6-12 years of age – 35
- Child younger than 6 years of age – Free
There is no visa fee for holders of diplomatic, official or service passports travelling for official purposes, a family member of an EU/EEA national, researchers travelling to perform scientific research and students on a school trip.
The visa fee is waived for participants of seminars, conferences, sports, cultural or educational events. The participant must be aged 25 or less for the waiver.
Visa submission process
- In many cases, you cannot courier or post the application, you will be required to submit it in person or through your representative or travel agent.
- You will have to book an appointment for visa submission and carry all the required documents along with the visa fee to finalize your submission.
- To submit your Schengen visa application form with the required documents, you will have to schedule an appointment at the visa application centre.
- Based on the country, you can either make appointments through the website or phone or in person.
- On your appointment day, you will have to be present on time with the required documents and originals as mentioned above.
On the appointment day
- You will be given a token and when your turn comes, you will have to provide all the originals, copies and documents required with your application.
- Your documents will be scrutinized for authenticity and validity.
- Next will be a short interview with an embassy official, where you will be questioned about your personal details and purpose of travel. The interview is a crucial part of your visa application. It is essential to be confident and to give out clear, honest answers. Your answers should match the details furnished in the application.
- Upon a successful interview, your biometrics will be recorded, which will act as your identification during travel. Make sure you don’t have any injury or henna during the biometrics scanning, as your fingerprint may not be clear.
- You will receive a receipt for the visa fee and service fee paid as an acknowledgement, with an application reference number which can be used for tracking your visa status.
Suggested Read: Australian Visa For Indians: A complete guide
When to apply for a Schengen visa in India?
- Since visa applications take time to process, there is an appointed period for Schengen visa applications within which you will have to file yours.
- The earliest time you can file your Schengen visa application in India is 3 months before the planned travel.
- The latest time to submit your Schengen visa application is at least 15 working days before your travel to these Schengen countries.
- To have a smooth visa process, it is recommended to apply at least 3 weeks before the planned travel. But always, the earlier the better.
Standard waiting time for processing your visa
- For Schengen Visa applications submitted in India, the average wait time is a maximum of 15 days. After the interview, you will receive a response as early as 15th day from your interview date. But in some rare cases, the processing time may extend to 30 to 60 days if there are any concerns.
- You will receive notification about your visa status in your mobile and email provided. You can also check the recent status in visa centre websites using your application reference number or passport number.
- If your visa is approved, you can collect your visa in person from the centre or you can collect it through a representative. In many cases, the representative should be an immediate family member or one member of the travel group collecting for everyone. If its the representative of a company, he/she should have valid proofs and authorization letter in the company letterhead by the applicant.
- Make sure to check the details on your visa sticker for the number of entries permitted and the number of days permitted to stay in the Schengen countries.
Tips for Schengen Visa from India approval without any hassles
- Make sure you write a comprehensive cover letter explaining the clear purpose of your stay and about your itinerary. It is essential to attach back up documents that support your statements.
- Have a reliable travel insurance policy and clear bank account statements that show you have required funds to spend your planned travel in the Schengen visa countries.
- Always provide valid and authentic documents, even a single forged document can put you in great risk. If you don’t have a particular document, mention it in the cover letter with a valid reason, it would help you to get through the process.
- You will have to show valid bonds in your home country so that the embassy is convinced about your intention to return home after the trip. It will require a confirmation of your absence from your company or guardian.
- You can always have a right to appeal if your visa is rejected. Make sure you check the reason for rejection and correct it the next time you apply.
Have an eye for detail and a properly planned itinerary and you will get a Schengen Visa without hassles. Happy travelling!
Further Read: New Zealand Tourist Visa for Indians: Explained