Guide To a Successful Application For Schengen Visa

Many things have improved over the years, technology, medicine, access to information etc…But one of the things that have been in decline in the last few years, is the freedom of Movement for the people of the world. I say this because 30 years ago or so, my Moroccan passport was more powerful. Moroccans had the possibility to go to Europe without restrictions. But lately a Visa is imposed and it is – to say the least – a nightmare for travelers. Since obtaining a visa is a must for a large number of visitors heading to Europe, this is a guide to a Successful Application For Schengen Visa.

Application for Schengen Visa

But what exactly is a Schengen Visa ?

A Schengen visa is a travel document required for visitors from a number of countries to access the Schengen Area. This area comprises European countries that decided to remove any kind of border controls between them, allowing therefore their citizens to move and reside freely in the following countries : Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

And if some conditions are present, it can also give access to AlbaniaBulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Romania, Serbia.

There are many types of Schengen Visa. Tourist Visa, Transit Visa, Working Visa and a bunch of other types. But here we will focus only on a short term Tourist Visa that allows for a maximum stay of up to 90 days in a 6 month period. Because that’s the one i applied for in the past and therefore i can share information, based on my own personal experience.

How to apply ?

An Application for Schengen visa requires a number of steps to be taken into consideration. First, an appointment is necessary to be able to apply. Most embassies and consular services use a Visa Application Center such as VFS or TLS etc… But it is not necessary to go through this center because they charge an extra fee.

Embassies give the possibility to apply directly, but from my experience, the Spanish consulate tends to require a written letter expressing your wish to obtain visa, after which they will contact you and set the appointment. In my opinion this is put into place in order to discourage people from applying directly and use the service center instead to avoid long queues.

It is always advisable to be informed about how long the different documents take to be delivered, before booking an appointment. Also if you plan to travel in high season, always book the appointment early because the centers only accept a number of applications per day. And therefore when trying to set the date online, the system may give you a date in the far future which can be a deal breaker.

When to submit an application for Schengen visa ?

An application for Schengen visa can be made as early as 90 days before the date of entry to Schengen Area. 

Schengen Area covers a lot of countries, Does it matter where to apply ?

This is where a lot of tricky stuff need to be understood and thoroughly double-checked. In principle, you can visit all Schengen countries with a visa issued by any member state. But it is highly advised, to only apply at the embassy of your main destination; this means that if you are visiting only one country, you should apply at its consular mission.

However, in case of visit to multiple countries, the country that you will spend the most time at, will automatically be your main destination even if it’s not your first point of entry. For example, if you’re visiting Spain (3 days), Portugal (10 days) and France (5 days) and entering Schengen through Spain, then you must apply for a Portuguese Visa.

Although some countries are lax about using their visa for visiting other countries. Most Schengen states don’t like visa abuse, and may even deny visa in future applications or revoke current visa and inform other states of this infringement through their VIS system and therefore jeopardizing chances to enter Schengen again.

How long does it take to get a visa ?

It really depends on the embassy, on the quality of your application and on special holidays. For example some embassies take more time to process applications, from 10 days to a month and even beyond that. If the application is complete and all required documents and proofs are provided, processing the application will be much faster. In case further documentation is required, issuing the visa may take longer.

Also if the application coincides with long holidays, it is normal that processing time will increase because the duration of process is based on business days.

In my own experience, i did my homework and provided all the documents necessary. No remarks were made about my documentation by the personnel in charge of receiving paperwork. And i was notified to retrieve my passport exactly 10 days after i submitted my application which is the minimal processing time.

What Documents do i need ?

This is where the fun hassle of visa applications really begins. It takes planning to first gather the documents some from work, some from social security office, some from the bank, which is a hassle all on its own. There are some general requirements for every applicant and some other requirements that vary according to the applicant’s status. 

General Requirements :

  • Application form duly filled and signed with the planned date of travel mentioned.
  • 2 Photos with plain background respecting photo requirements.
  • Passport valid for at least 3 months after the expiration of visa with at least 2 blank pages.
  • Copies of the first page of passport and any pages of interest, namely pages with entry and exist stamps of Schengen Area and pages containing previous Visas.
  • Copy of the ID card.
  • Travel insurance specific for the Schengen Visa and valid for the whole duration of stay.
  • Proof of accommodation (Hotel reservation or invitation letter).
  • In some consular services proof of confirmed transport, round trip tickets are also required. (This wasn’t required in my case since i live in Tangier very close to Europe).

For business owners :

  • Commercial register number
  • Tax Certificate.
  • Personal and Business bank statements of the last 3 months + Account balance certificate.
  • Paperwork stating company status (for companies).

For employees (public sector) :

  • Proof of Employment.
  • Proof of Salary or Certificate of commitment.
  • Bank statements of the last 3 months + Account balance certificate.

For employees (private sector) :

  • Proof of Employment.
  • Pay statements for the last 3 months.
  • Certificate of social security + Copy of Social Security card.
  • Bank statements of the last 3 months + Account balance certificate.

Liberal Profession :

  • Professional Card or Certificate from Chamber of Commerce.
  • Tax Certificate.
  • Bank statements of the last 3 months + Account balance certificate.

Retirees :

  • Pension Certificate.
  • Bank statements of the last 3 months + Account balance certificate.

Farmers :

  • Agricultural Certificate from competent authorities.
  • Certificate of property title.
  • Tax certificate.

These are just some examples of different paperwork required according to the situation of the applicant. Even though the bulk of the documents required from different Schengen countries are the same. But it is highly advised to check for the requirements carefully before applying, as they may vary slightly from one country to another.

For some nationals, submitting the application may also be followed by an interview with the embassy or consular mission personnel. The interview is a simple exchange of questions about the purpose of travel, itinerary etc… It is important to provide correct and honest answers.

How Much does it cost ?

The fee for an application for Schengen visa is 60 Euros (660 MAD), but in case a Service center is used the fee will be higher depending on the service provider. VFS charged an extra 20 Euros (220 MAD) making the total fee to 80 Euros (880 MAD) including email and SMS notifications. I must say their service is good and they are well organized.

N.B : It is important to keep in mind that the visa fee is non refundable, even in the event of application rejection.

My Application for Schengen Visa was approved, what to do next ?

If you are notified to retrieve your passport and the Visa Sticker is attached to it. Then Congratulations, your application for Schengen Visa has been approved and you can start your trip to Europe and enjoy. But keep in mind to carefully read your Visa sticker. Check the date of validity start, the date of visa expiration, the permitted duration of stay and the number of entrances permitted.

Also you must have copies of all documents submitted when applying for Visa. Border control may ask for them and may deny entry if these documents aren’t provided.

My Application for Schengen Visa was denied, what to do next ?

Well, in this case i don’t think the embassy will provide much information about their reasons for rejection. But in case they did, consider correcting what was wrong. And give it some time before re-applying to gather all necessary information and proofs that guarantee your strong ties to your country. It is possible to contact the embassy for further information about how to proceed in case of visa application rejection.

Did you apply for a Schengen Visa before ? Was your application approved ? Share your experiences and opinions in the comments section.

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Imad NOHAD

an employee 8 hours a day and travel obsessive all day. Through this blog, i document my travels and share my experiences with people who love to explore.

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