Before getting married, my husband and I had been planning on visiting Europe for our honeymoon. But as you know, Indians need a visa for Europe or the countries in the Schengen zone.
And getting a Schengen visa from India involves a hell lot of documents. We applied for the Schengen visa from India as a couple, and we had to show extra documents as well.
In this article, I will talk about my experience getting it and the requirements. I will cover the common questions about the Schengen visa as well. So all the tips and process written here applies to anyone.
Do Indians Need a visa to Enter Europe?
Yes, Indian citizens need to get a Schengen visa in order to enter any European country in the Schengen Zone.
What are the Schengen Countries?
The Schengen zone consists of 26 countries in total. All these countries are in Europe, and have a common visa policy. You can apply for a Schengen visa for any country and visit all other countries with that visa.
Schenegen Visa- Which Country to Apply?
One of the common questions that people applying for a Schengen visa have is how to choose the country to apply to if you are gonna visit more than one.
To choose the country or a country’s embassy for Schengen visa, you must take these three rules into consideration.
In my case, my husband and I applied Schengen visa for Austria, since Austria was the first country in our travel itinerary and we were planning to spend more time in Austria than the other three countries.
Now let me tell you about the Schengen visa application process for Indians and how we got it, and any other questions you might have.
When to Apply for Schengen Visa in India?
The rules for Schengen visa application are same for any country.
1. The earliest you can submit visa application: Six months before your planned trip.
2. The latest you can apply for the visa : 15 days before your trip.
We recommend you to apply for the Schengen visa at least a month or more before your trip dates, since the time to process your application might vary and they might ask for extra documents.
1 . Apply for Schengen Visa at VFS
Here is the thing about applying for a Schengen visa from India. Most of the Schengen countries accept Schengen tourist visa applications through a third-party service provider called VFS Global in India. This means that unlike other visa applications, you can’t directly apply for a Schengen visa for various countries directly at the consulate of that particular country. You need to use VFS Global for Schengen visa application.
But you can check if a country accepts Schengen visa applications directly and make an appointment and submit all the documents by yourself as well.
It’s important to know that VFS only accepts your documents on your behalf and sends them to the embassy and receives it back from the embassy once the visa processing is done. They don’t themselves process any Schengen visa applications. In India, to get a Schengen visa, VFS India acts as the service provider for the majority of Schengen countries.
So to apply for the Schengen visa from India, the first thing I did was to register myself VFS Global as a new user.
2. Schengen Visa Application Requirements for Indians
If you are applying for a Schengen visa from India, one thing you need to know is that you will have to submit a number of required documents. It’s essential that the documents comply with the requirements set by the embassy that’s processing your Schengen visa.
Here is the document checklist for Schengen visa for Austria on VFS Global. It’s the same no matter what the first country to enter in the Schengen area is.
In order to apply for a Schengen visa in India, you need to submit the following mandatory documents. This is the same no matter which country you choose for the visa. And then depending on your situation, you might need to submit extra documents as well.
Schengen Visa Application Form
You can download the application form for Schengen visa from VFS global and fill it up. You can also fill the Schengen Visa application form electronically and then print a hard-copy.
My husband and I filled up two different forms.
Tips for Filling up Schengen Visa Application form
- The Schengen Member state of the first entry would be the Schengen embassy for your visa application. In our case, it was Austria.
- Mention all the countries you want to visit in the “Member States of Destination” section. If you don’t want to visit any other country, leave this section empty. In this section, we mentioned the Czech Republic and Hungary as I wanted to visit them.
- If you have booked multiple hotels, you can mention the address and emails of the ones in the Entry state in the name of hotels. If someone has invited you, you can mention the details there. We only mentioned the details of the hotel in Austria.
- As per the cost of traveling, you can choose yourself as the one who will bear the cost. If your parents are sponsoring it or someone else, you can mention that as well. In our case, we were the ones bearing the cost of the trip.
After filling the forms for Schengen visa, we signed our individual forms.
Valid Indian Passport
A Valid Indian passport with at least 2 blank pages. To be on the safer side, it’s much better to have one with at least 6 months of validity.
Schengen Visa Photo Requirements
2 recent passport size pictures with a whole-face capture with a light background, adhering to the specifications mentioned on VFS global.
Schengen Visa Travel Insurance from India
You would need to buy a travel medical insurance that would cover the entire period of your stay in the Schengen area. You can choose any of the list of approved travel insurance companies for a Schengen visa in India. We bought the travel insurance from ICICI Lombard.
The insurance should have medical coverage of at least Euro 30,000, and it must cover medical evacuation/ repatriation.
Travel Itinerary for Visa
Roundtrip flight reservations from India to Europe. If you are visiting multiple Schengen countries, and you are flying inside the Schengen zone, you would need to show flight reservations for that as well. But if you will be taking the train or have any other mediums of transport, you can show that.
Learn more about getting a flight reservation from India for Schengen visa.
We booked refundable round-trip flights on makemytrip.com. The onward flight from Delhi to Vienna and the return one from Budapest to Delhi.
Schengen Visa Cover Letter
The cover letter for the Schengen visa is one of the most important documents you need to submit when applying for visa for Europe. In this cover letter, you will mention the purpose of your visit and a detailed itinerary.
Be as detailed as you can and mention every little detail. Mention the trains you would catch, the hotels you would stay in, the hop-on hop-off buses that you would catch, the opera house you would go to.
Proof of Accommodation
You need to provide the proof of accommodation for the whole duration of your stay inside the Schengen zone. We made refundable reservations for hotels for our whole itinerary.
Proof of Funds
When applying for a Schengen visa from India, you will need to show proof of sufficient funds to sustain yourself for the whole time in Europe. The amount of money you need to show is different for every Schengen country depending on the cost of living and it can also vary as per your Europe itinerary.
You could provide the original bank account statements for the last 3 months. Do provide the photocopies of the credit card statements if you can. In our case, we showed 200000 INR ($3000 USD approximately) per person. And you need to get this statement from the bank and it has to be signed and stamped. You will have to provide the originals for this. So don’t show up with the printout of your bank statements from the online portal.
Schengen visa requirements based on your employment status in India will vary a lot.
If you are employed:
- No objection letter from your employer
- Salary slips for the last 3 months
- Employment contract or offer letter
- Leave permission from your employer
- ITR (Income Tax Return) for the last two years
If you are self-employed:
- A copy of your business license in India- CIN certificate/ LLP certificate/GST certificate/Udhyog Aadhar memorandum/Import Export certificate, depending on your company
- Company bank statements for the last six months
- ITR for the last two years
- Regular income generated by property such as from renting it, for the last 6 months
- Pension statements for the last 6 months
If you are a student:
- A No objection certificate from your school/university
- Proof of enrollment such as an ID card
As my husband and I are both employed, we provided the salary slips, offer letter and NOC for the Schengen visa.
Proof of Civil Status
If applicable, you need to provide a marriage certificate, birth certificate for children, divorce certificate if divorced, death certificate of spouse etc.
In our case, since we are married, we provided a photocopy of the marriage certificate.
Valid Permit to Return
Citizens of Bangladesh / Bhutan / India / Maldives / Nepal / Sri Lanka applying for a Schengen visa from India, need to provide this.
Previous Schengen Visa
If you were granted a Schengen visa before, you need to provide the photocopies of the previous visa. This applies even if you didn’t travel to Europe on that visa.
VFS Appointment Letter
If you are applying for Schengen visa in India through VFS, then you need to ta
3.Getting an Appointment at VFS
Before you take an appointment in VFS for Schengen visa, read the instructions for appointments on VFS portal.
To book an appointment, log in to the VFS portal and go to the tab “Schedule an appointment”. Once you choose the VFS center and purpose of travel, you would need to add the details of the applicants. You can add up to 5 applicants here if you are applying as a group or family. I added my husband and myself as the applicants here.
After this, you would need to choose a date and time and confirm your appointment. Once it’s confirmed, you will receive an email from VFS with an appointment letter. If you don’t receive an email, you can email it to yourself using “Email your appointment” option.
Make sure to print the appointment letter and carry it with you when you go to the VFS center.
4. Submit the Documents for Schengen Visa at VFS and Pay Schengen Visa Fees
Before visiting VFS, make sure that you have arranged the documents in the prescribed order. You wouldn’t have a lot of time sorting everything there, so everything must be in order.
At the VFS center, there are different counters for different countries. You will need to go to the counter for the country that will be processing your Schengen visa application. You will be issued a token there and wait for your turn and then submit the documents. You will also be needed to provide Biometric fingerprint data. And they will click a picture of you there. And they will go through all your documents. You will need to pay the visa fees and they will give you an acknowledgement.
As my husband and I were traveling together and applied for the visa together, we submitted all the documents at the same time. The whole thing took us more or less one hour. Depending on the VFS center and country that’s your entry point, it might take longer. We applied in VFS Delhi.
How to Pay Schengen Visa Fees at VFS India?
You need to pay a service charge of INR 1261/ per person, to VFS India apart from the standard Schengen visa fees. They also have a plethora of services like courier facility, form-filling service etc for which they charge extra.
Mode of payment in India:
- Demand Draft in favor of VFS GLOBAL SERVICES PVT. LTD.
- Visa, Master Card, and Rupay
Schengen Visa Fees for Indian Citizens
|Visa Type||Schengen Visa Cost in INR|
(Subject to vary a little)
|Visa Fees in Euros|
|Child from 6-12 years old||3161||€40|
|Child below 6 years||Free||Free|
Schengen Visa Fees are waived for:
- Representatives of non-profit organizations travelling to take part in seminars, sports, cultural or educational events etc. They must be under 25 years old.
- Researchers travelling to carry out scientific research or participating in a seminar or conference.
- Students of a school or postgraduate students and teachers accompanying them getting a visa for study or educational training.
5. Attend Schengen Visa Interview
Once you submit the application, you can track your application on VFS.
You might need to go for an interview at the embassy of the country that’s your entry point in Schengen area. But in our case, we didn’t have to go through an interview at the Austrian embassy.
The processing for our Schengen tourist visas was completed after a week. We went to the VFS center with the acknowledgement slip and received our passports with the visa stickers.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Schengen Visa in India?
The standard processing time for Schengen visa is 15 calendar days, from the date your application was submitted in the consulate of the country for your visa.
If they ask for any extra documents, this process might further be extended to 30 calendar days, or even to 60 days in some rare cases.
Schengen Visa Denial: What to Do?
If your Schengen visa was denied, you will provided a rejection letter for Schengen visa stating the reason your visa was rejected. If you believe the reason is not justified, you have the right to appeal Schengen visa rejection.
You can only appeal to the required Schengen member country as per their guidelines. The rejection letter would contain the information about that.
You can also file a fresh Schengen visa application through another member state.
What Documents Should I bring When Traveling to Europe on Schengen Visa?
While entering the Schengen zone, you might be asked to furnish proof of accommodation and/or proof of funds by the border. So it’s a good idea to have the hotel reservations and bank statements handy.
Also, make sure that you have the return flight tickets to come back to India or onward travel proof if you are going to a country outside the Schengen zone.
Schengen Visa duration: I got it for 21 days. You can get it for 90 days at max.
Schengen Visa validity: It will be valid from the date of your arrival, not from the date it’s issued.
Schengen Visa Tips:
- Carry one extra photocopy of every document just in case.
- It’s much better to choose Single entry if it’s your first time applying a Schengen tourist visa.
- You can use the services of VFS to apply for a Schengen visa from Nepal or Bhutan as well.
- Although you can pay the fees at VFS using a credit or debit card, it’s way better to carry cash.
- Please, make sure that you receive an entry stamp on your passport when you enter the Schengen area. Without a stamp, you could be in a world of trouble. Read detained or fined or deported.
- When filling the application if there are columns that do not correspond to your case, fill them with NA (No Answer), rather than leaving them blank.
Schengen visa is one of the most illusive visas. There are many reasons a Schengen visa might be rejected. Before you apply for a Schengen visa, go through 20 reasons your Schengen visa might get rejected, so that you don’t make the same mistakes.