How to Apply For a Schengen Visa On Your Own


Visiting Europe is a dream for many and I was one no different. When I went to Italy, I was a bit intimidated by the entire process of obtaining a Schengen Visa. So just to ease the process a bit I applied through an agency (Thomas Cook). However by the time I went the next time, I was told that since fingerprinting is now mandatory, there is little value in going through an agent if your paperwork is well in place.

Yes Paperwork !!!, the most important part, a Schengen visa is pretty easy to get for a tourist if you have all the documents as prescribed by the embassy in order. I have applied twice and faced no hassle, at all. Just follow the documented process and you will get your visa well in time.

First things first, you should always plan well in advance, its better if you are travelling with family as its a bit more difficult to get a Schengen tourist visa if you are a single male. Anyways I travelled both times with my better half, so didn't face challenges.

Follow the following steps and I am sure it will be a breeze.

1. Plan atleast 4-6 months in advance, this is not only to get the best fares and hotels in peak season but also ample time in case the embassy asks for any additional documentation.

2. The moment you start planning for your trip, keep some amount of money in your savings account. Typically 5-6 lacs ( the more the better). Keep this amount till you get your visa. If you don't have such sums, ask help from your parents or siblings if needed. This is to show the visa officials that you have sufficient means to finance your trip.

3. Purchase an airticket. Based on the fares applicable, buy return tickets. If possible buy refundable ones, just in case you get a reject. Next plan an itinerary, which is not too complex. Don't create one which has way too many stops or way too many countries being crisscrossed. Eg. If you want to go to France for 9 days, then show you arrival lets say in Paris , a stay for 2 days there, then 3 days in Nice and then 2 days in some other town and then one day in Paris before you fly out.  

4. A simpler itinerary helps you to show the visa officer that you have not only the return tickets to and from your hometown but also transportation arrangements while you are in Europe. ( more on this later).

5. See some good hotels ( typically 4 stars+) and block refundable rooms with them using a credit card.

6. Book an appointment on the VFS site, do go through the site carefully and fill the form required as per instructions. Just before your appointment, take a look at all the documents that is being asked by the embassy. Typically it will be your salary slips or your income proofs ( if you are self employed), your IT returns for last 3 years, a leave application confirmation from your employer ( on the letterhead), medical insurance ( 30K Euro atleast) - typically Tata AIG ( preferred by most European countries, a cover letter stating the purpose of your trip and where all will you go proof of accommodation and tickets, bank statements for last 6 months, your passport size pictures ( as per the embassy specification) along with the properly filled application form and your passport of course.

7. Take the bank statements print from net banking ( in color) and get it stamped from your bank just a day or so before your appointment.

8. Also book a refundable intra Europe flight a day or so before you go for your appointment. You can cancel them once your visa is done and do your bookings as per your true itinerary.

Appointment Day: Just take all your documents along with you to the VFS office, deposit the visa fee, give your fingerprints, deposit your documents. And then sit back, till you get your passport with the visa back.

Once your visa is there with you, you can amend your hotel and flight bookings as per your original plan and then go have a blast during your trip.

PS 1: Apply for Schengen Visa to a country where you intend to stay the most of the time of your trip, or where you are supposed to arrive from India.

PS2: Always ensure you attach more than what the embassy asks for, it helps your case to convince them that you have enough means for your trip and you intend to come back to India once your trip is done. Eg: I even attached my MF & Share holding statement and one of highest limit credit card copy. This will definitely help your case.

PS3: Many east European countries have a separate visa but if you have a Schengen visa with you they don't need you to apply for a separate visa. Happened to us in case we visited Croatia along with Slovenia and Austria.
Have a fun trip !!!

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