I hate embassies. And I hate visa applications. I absolutely hate the fact that they lump everyone from one country – no matter their educational and professional backgrounds – we are all treated like asylum seekers. I hate the fact that even though I’ve traveled across the world since I was 6 years old, I am still subject to stringent visa applications for 99.9% of the world just because of my Indonesian passport. As a frequent traveler, this makes me want to punch a brick wall. I travel to Europe once a year at least and every time I do, I have to apply for the dreaded Schengen visa. I have spent countless days and hours preparing documents, sitting in waiting rooms, and shelling out hundreds and hundreds of Euros of countless Visa fees. In a nutshell, I hate embassies, and I hate visa applications.
So right now my goal in life is to make it less stressful and easier for you to apply for a Schengen Visa. I’ve made this list as simple to understand as possible, with the most relevant and useful links.
A Foolproof List of What You Need:
1. Application Form
Print out this form and fill it out.
Take 2 photos of yourself at a photobooth. This usually costs me $7 for 6 photos. Size should be 35x40mm. White background, close up of your head and top of your shoulders so that your face takes up 70–80% of the photograph. Don’t smile, but don’t look like a crazed cat killer either. See sample photos here.
3. Your Original Passport
Travel document valid for at least 3 months after the intended date of departure from the territory of the Schengen area. The passport/travel document must contain at least two blank pages and was issued within the last 10 years.
4. Proof of Legal Residence (Optional)
If you’re applying from outside your own home country, bring your ID card (Work Pass, Student Pass, etc).
5. Round Trip Ticket Bookings/Reservations
Reserve tickets to your destination and print out the booking reservation. Buy a refundable ticket if you’re worried about your visa getting rejected. Alternatively, you can also call up travel agent or an Airline in your country and ask them to make “Flight Reservations for Visa” for you. They’ll know what it’s for. Basically they’ll make a reservation for free, which you can print for this purpose. You only have to pay the real ticket within 1-2 weeks to confirm it. Check out flights here.
6. Proof of Accommodation
Print out your proof of accommodation: Hotels, Hostels, Airbnb, etc. Make sure the dates match your flight dates. P.s. A tip – When booking accommodation on these websites, most of them will let you cancel as long as its more than 48 hours before your stay. So don’t worry, you can always decide to change your bookings once you get your visa.
7. Travel Insurance
THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. I have seen applications get rejected because they didn’t include a proof of travel insurance. If you don’t already have an annual travel insurance, buy one just for your trip. I always use World Nomads. The easiest way to buy insurance for travelers. Just follow the simple instructions, purchase the insurance, then print out your insurance policy. This shows you that you’re covered for emergency situations.
8. Bank Statement
Print out your bank statements for the last 3-6 months. The easiest way to do this is to log on to your Internet Banking > Go to Bank Statements > and then download & print your last 3-6 Bank Statements. Easy. If you don’t have Internet Banking, head down to your bank to get them to print it out for you. This usually takes them 2-3 days to process.
9. Letter from Employer or School
This is important proof that you have a reason to come back. Download Letter from Employer template here. I’ve used this template for the last 5 years and it has always been accepted.
10. Invitation Letter (Optional)
If you’re visiting a friend and will be staying with them, you need a letter of invitation that proves their residency. Download Invitation Letter template here. I’ve used this template for the last 5 years and it has always been accepted.
Then, make a photocopy of all the above.
Now all you have to do is Book an Appointment at the Embassy. If you’re traveling to different European countries during your trip, make sure you apply to the Embassy of the country where you will be spending most of your time in. Do this as early as you can – in my experience, booking slots fill out really, really fast. Processing time is usually between 5-15 days so make sure you plan ahead. Also prepare the equivalent of 100 Euros in your currency. Most of the time, they only take cash.
I hope this has been helpful in reducing your stress of applying for a Schengen Tourist Visa. You WILL pull out all your hair and you WILL curse at least 10 times while preparing these documents. But remember… it’ll all be totally worth it.
If you have any questions, let me know in the comments below and I’ll try to help as best as I can!