Be not befuddled, says Vikalp Dubey. The Schengen Visa is a very friendly idea, designed to simplify your travelling life. Play by the (okay, numerous) rules, and you will breeze through Europe with the flash of a passport!
Here, quite simply, is what the somewhat unpronounceable Schengen Visa means:
In 1985, 26 countries of the European Union (EU), signed an agreement that would make travel within Europe easier. Norway, Iceland and Switzerland, which are members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), were not part of the agreement.
So, the Schengen Visa is a unified visa system that lets you travel across most of Europe without running from consulate to consulate for individual visas. If you own this prized stamp on your passport, here are the perks you get:
-If you are travelling between two countries which are in both, the EU and Schengen, there are no border checks at all, just a signature by the side of the road.
-If you are travelling between two EU countries and only one is in Schengen (e.g. UK to France) there are passport checks but no customs.
-If you are travelling between two Schengen countries where one is not in the EU (e.g. Sweden to Norway), there are customs checks but no passport checks.
Know before you go:
Apply at the correct window!
Going to Portugal, France and Italy—in that order? Your point of application is the place where you arrive first. So, head for the Portuguese consulate. . But this is not a blanket rule. Sometimes, they see how long you will be staying in a country, rather than where you landed first. When in doubt, check with your travel agent.
Be honest: Visa officers are trained to sift frauds and fakes. Don’t assume you will get away with a lie, however small. Know the duration of stay.
A Schengen Visa is usually granted as a single entry or multi-entry visa and is valid for 3, 6 or 12 months. However each consulate grants Schengen Visas using different scoring criteria. It’s important to be very clear and honest about your travel intentions.
Do your paperwork well.
Each consulate requires a different set of documents. While Spain needs to see proof of flight and hotel stay bookings; Italy, France and Portugal are fine with just knowing your flight and hotel information.
Look up the list and make sure you tick every box when you submit your file. We know people with perfect credentials whose Schengens were rejected simply because of “insufficient documents submitted”. If your paperwork is in order, those officers will cheerfully grant you your wish!
Get Travel Insurance.
Travel insurance is a must on application.
You may only get an appointment to apply for the visa in 3 weeks’ time, so this should be taken into consideration.
Check your passport:
Is it valid for the next 6 to 12 months? Does it have a blank page or two to accommodate the visa stamp? These small, often overlooked details can have you staring at a “Rejected” stamp.
Check for Updates:
Visa rules change. Even as you read this, the country you are headed for might have an important update. Visit the website and comb through it for new alerts. It makes sense to know before you go!
Do you have a Schengen visa issue or experience to share? We would love to hear about it.
Find out more about Schengen Visa: