Travel Secrets

Know Before You Go!


Visa & Documentation

The Schengen visa confuses me. Please simplify!

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!

Schengen Visa sample Image:
Schengen Visa sample Image:

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.

Plan early.

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:

Schengen Area

Schengen FAQ – US

All you need to know about Schengen Visa – Netherlands

Schengen Visa for Indians

5 tips for a smooth Schengen visa

Applying for Schengen visa – Real life experience

How I got my Schengen Visa

Tell me more about Ireland’s Short-Stay Visa Waiver Scheme

  • The Short-Stay Visa Waiver Scheme was introduced in July 2011 to encourage tourism to the island of Ireland.
  • The scheme allows visitors from specific Eastern Europe, Middle East and Asian countries who have a valid UK C general visa to visit Ireland without the need for a separate Irish Visa.
  • The visa waiver scheme requires a once validation in the UK for the UK C general visa before it can be used to visit Ireland.
  • Visitors must travel to Ireland within the time remaining on their current UK 180 day leave to remain.image012
  • If it has been more than 180 days since the last visit to the UK you will not be able to travel to Ireland without an Irish visa.
  • Please refer to the official INIS information note on the Visa Waiver Programme for more detailed information. This information can be found on

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