Schengen Short Term Tourism Visa for Indians – My Experience (Spain)

So this is one of the things I have been talking about in the past few weeks. I was waiting for the visa to arrive before I wrote about my next trip. If you have been following me on Instagram, you would know though. Do you need any more reason to follow me on Instagram?
Drumroll, please. I am off to Europe for 5 weeks in May/June. I will mostly be in Western Europe and I am going all over the place. Hopefully, I will try to keep you updated as I go around the continent.
The biggest hurdle for any Indian (or anyone having an underprivileged passport) going to Europe is obtaining a Schengen Visa. Since I am visiting multiple countries this time, there was a confusion on which Embassy/Consulate I should apply to. Even though this is my fourth time in Europe and my 2nd Schengen visa in 2 years, I had to go through the entire procedure all over again.
One advantage of the Schengen visa is that you need only one visa to visit 26 countries from the Schengen Area. Countries like United Kingdom, Ireland etc. however are not part of the Schengen Area even though they are part of the European Union and you need a separate visa to visit these countries. You can find the list of Schengen visa countries here.
So I would like to take you through my Schengen Visa for Indians process. Last time I went to SOTC for my Italy trip. However this time I wanted to apply on my own and in this guide, I take you through all the steps on how to apply for Schengen Visa from India. So, find out how I did it this time?
Note: Even though I applied through VFS for Spain visa, VFS is no longer valid for Spain from December 2016. Hence this post will list the general guidelines for Schengen Visa for Indians.
Schengen Visa for Indians - Spain
Switzerland – Photo Credit : Nishanth Nottath

Schengen Visa for Indians Process

Figure out which country’s Embassy You need to apply to for the Schengen Visa:

If you are visiting multiple Schengen countries, then you have to apply to only one country. There is an order to be followed in such scenarios.

 

 •Main Destination / Main purpose of travel: In case you are going for purposes other than tourism, then you have to choose the country for which this is intended. This did not apply to me.
Maximum Number of days: Next is to choose the country where you are going to spend the maximum number of days.
Port of Entry: The country where you are entering the Schengen area through.

 

In my case, I chose Spain. There was a lot of confusion regarding this. Many people suggested Portugal since my port of entry is Lisbon. But then I called both Spanish and Portuguese VFS helpline to clarify. They told me that maximum number of days is valid in my case since I am spending only 5 days in Portugal and 8 days in Spain. So while deciding, always choose this order.

 

Book Your Appointment for Schengen Visa:

Once you have decided which country you need to apply to, book a Schengen visa appointment for submitting your documents to the respective VFS Application centre. Please note that VFS is an outsourced partner for many embassies and act as a collection and processing centre for some countries like India, Nepal etc. Register yourself at the link mentioned here and then book an appointment after giving the requisite details. For all Schengen visa countries in Bangalore, the application centre is Prestige Atrium, Shivaji Nagar (Opposite Empire restaurant)
I always prefer taking an appointment in the morning since you can finish the application processes faster and still get in time for office. I chose the 8:40 AM appointment time since I was not sure if I would get in time for the first appointment at 8 AM. For my appointment on 21st April, I scheduled it on 15th April. Ideally, it is better to apply for your Schengen visa at least 4 weeks before your intended date of travel since the minimum processing time for visas is around 15 working days (as stated by the Embassy).

 

Get All Your Required Documents Ready for Schengen Visa requirements

This was the most stressful part of the entire process for me. But just a few inputs from my side (From a Solo Woman traveller perspective). Please find some of the Schengen visa requirements for Indians below.

 

Write a detailed and convincing cover letter.
      This should include the dates of travel and purpose of travel. If any of the required documents are not available, then explain why it is not available. In my case, since I will be between jobs, I did not have a leave letter and I explained the reason for the same in my cover letter. Also, I am working with multiple hotels this time and I gave the details here. All other details should also be mentioned in the cover letter.

Follow the Schengen Visa documents checklist to the T.

    I did not read the checklist thoroughly and I missed the fact that we need to submit the photocopy of all the pages of all your passports. Luckily there is a photocopy machine at the application centre and I took the photocopy there. I believe this is required for Spain and Denmark.

Application Form for Schengen Visa for Indians

     In the case of Bangalore, you need to submit only one filled Schengen Visa application form. You can download the Schengen visa application form online and you can find it here. In the case of other application centres, you may have to submit 2-3 photocopies of the application form. Please note that this has to be filled in blue ink or filled online. Also please note that the specifications of photographs vary from country to country. Ensure that you choose the right one.

Schengen Visa Insurance

    This is mandatory for all Schengen countries and you should have a minimum coverage of 30,000 Euros. I always choose ICICI Lombard and I never travel without travel insurance. Also, note that this should be applicable for 15 days after your exit from Schengen Area. For e.g. if you are leaving Schengen area on 15th July, then your travel insurance should be valid until 2nd August. Also sworn declaration for travel insurance has to be signed and submitted by the applicant.

Hotel Accommodation and Travel Itinerary

    This is mandatory and has to be submitted for all applicants. I will write a detailed post on this later. Ensure that you show proof for all days for accommodation and for internal transport/transfer within Europe. Also, you need to show CONFIRMED return flight tickets.

Proof of economic means:

    You need to submit 3 months of bank statements. Online bank statements are not accepted and you need to get this from your bank with the proper authorization seal and signature. Rule of thumb is to have a consistent bank balance of Rs 1,00,000 (On an average of 50-75 Euros per day) over the past 3 months. Also, last minute money transfers are looked down on. In addition, 6 months’ salary slips, 3 years Income tax returns, a copy of PAN card also need to be submitted. I had copies of my fixed deposits and my apartment’s sale deed but the agent in charge said it was not required.

Passports:

    All your passports will have to be submitted and at least 2 blank pages need to be there in your current passport. In addition, it should be valid for at least 3 months after your stay in the Schengen Area. In the case of Spain, photocopies of all your passports need to be submitted.

Authorization letter

An authorization letter has to be taken in favour of VFS.

 

On The Day of Your Schengen Visa Appointment

 

1 Ensure that you arrive on time on the day of your appointment. There is no point coming hours before your appointment time since they let you in only 10 minutes before your appointment time. Seating capacity is limited outside.
2 Get your token number once you are allowed inside the application centre. Switch off all your mobile phones. You will be searched and frisked when you are admitted to the centre. Laptops are not allowed inside and I did not see any storage lockers outside.
3 Wait till your token number flashes on the screen and then proceed to the counter number displayed.
4 They do give glue to stick on your photographs. You can check for them at the counters.
5 The agent in charge will ask for all your documents in order. Only if you submit all your documentations, your application will be accepted. Else you will be asked to return with the required documentation.
6 The agent in charge will then give you a slip to do the payment once he confirms that all documentation is in order and this is the Schengen Visa application fee. I paid Rs6201 in cash (including service charge, visa charges and tax) at the payment counter. This may vary in your case. In case your visa is rejected, this amount is not refundable.
7 Once this is done, go back to the agent in charge. He will give you the counter number and your application folder for your biometric submission.
8 Wait your turn at the biometric booth. Once you are called, enter the biometric room. In the case of ladies, you need to tie your hair for the photograph. Then submit your fingerprint data. Since I have only 9 fingers, I made this clear to him. He made note of this and made the appropriate observations in the collection form.
9 You are done once this is completed and you can leave.

 

Waiting for your Schengen Visa from India

Every application is considered as a fresh application. In spite of having so many visas on my passport, I was still worried about the status of my application since I would be between jobs during my trip. I applied on 21st April and I received my passport on 28th April. I opened my passport and there it was, that elusive hard earned multiple entry Schengen visa. The usual question is how long does it take to get a Schengen Visa? It took less than 5 working days for me. However, it will vary from person to person. My Schengen Visa duration was for around 45 days.

 

Yipee I am going to Europe in less than a month. 
Recommended Read – Spain Travel Guide
Disclaimer: Writing down my experience is just to help you with your application process. Please do not take this as the only point of reference since this may be different in the case of your application. But if you follow these steps, then getting a Schengen Visa is not that hard.

 

You can find more details here.

 

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78 Comments

  1. It is actually my 4th trip to Europe and 2nd time to the Schengen area. Still it was the first time I was applying on my own. So was naturally tensed if I would miss some documents. Also I will be between jobs during my trip. So was not really sure how they would consider that.
    Thank You.

  2. Great information Soumya! I will be applying for Schengen visa for the first time in a few months. I have a quick question for you. How long is the visa valid for? I have two trips planned and I would like to adjust them based on how long my visa would be valid for. Any information on that would be appreciated. Thanks!

  3. From what I understand it is valid for 90 days and is given for 6 months. That means if you are doing 2 trips within 6 months, then you cannot stay for more than 90 days in that 6 months time frame. You will however have to apply for a multiple entry visa.

  4. Thanks Soumya! My two trips together will not exceed 90 days, but they are 7 months apart. Probably I have to apply for Schengen visa again for my second trip since the first one will be only valid for 6 months.

  5. I have completed my Medical school in 2017 and I am Doctor but unemployed bcoz I m preparing for USMLE exams — exams to get admission in USA..I don’t have USA visa and I applied for Germany visitor visa on Thursday..I mentioned in covering letter that my purpose to visit Europe is to strengthen my travel history and smoothen USA visa process…I have just visited Dubai and my Europe travel shall be solo trip…My parents r my sponsors … what r my chances of getting Visa ??

    1. Hi Dhruv, I really can’t comment on whether you will receive the visa. That is left to the discretion of the consulate.

  6. I missed the Visa appointment due to health issues and am planning a trip to France around Christmas time. There won’t be a problem if I reapply for the Visa at that time?

  7. Hi,

    I submitted france visa application 5 days ago. I received 2 messages from vfs. One stated my application has been received by france consulate. Another message stated my application is being processed by france embassy. Today I received another message stating my application has been couriered via logistic partner of . Does that mean my passport is dispatched?

    1. Yes, that means your passport has been dispatched and you should receive in 1-4 working days depending on your location. You will know if a visa has been granted only once you receive the passport.

  8. Hi,
    I have query regarding passport validity.
    Here you mentioned that ‘passport should be valid for at least 3 months after your stay in the Schengen Area’ – this is my understanding too, but I have read contradicting statements online. Few of them say that it has to be valid for 3 months from end date after duration of Schengen visa (which is 90 days for short stay visa). This has really confused me, I have 3 months passport validity from the date of departure from the Schengen area but i definitely don’t have 6 months validity and I also don’t have much time left before my trip to renew my passport.
    Would be great if you had any expert advice regarding this from your personal experience or you could point me to the right authority to get this verified? 🙂

    1. Yes, this is my understanding too. A passport that should be valid for 3 months after your stay in Schengen Area. You can check the VFS and SchengenVisainfo site and they say the same thing as well.

      1. You passport must have a validity of minimum 6 months at the time of application and be valid for at least 3 months after your stay.

        Eg: Passport valid for 10 years expiring in December 2018, does not have 6 months validity (Balance valid period is only 4 months).

        Eg: Passport valid for 10 years expiring in March 2019, does have a 6 months validity (Balance valid period is 7 months)

  9. Hi,
    I applied for a Schengen visa to the Czech republic embassy on 20th August. My Visa is now being processed at the embassy. I have maintained a minimum balance of 30k-40k consistently for the last three months. Most of my money is in fixed deposits. On consulting an agent, the agent told me not to transfer the money from my fixed deposit accounts to my savings account and instead told me to submit all the fixed deposit accounts statements in original duly signed with seal by a bank official along with the savings account statements. I did exactly what he advised me. Now I am quite worried. Are there chances of getting the visa rejected due to the fact that most of my money is in fixed deposits? Please advise.

  10. Hey
    I’m 24 year unemployed person and i have only 3 lakhs in my bank account. Should i apply for (Greece) schengen visa. I want to celebrate christmas in greece.

    1. I can’t answer this question without knowing your circumstances. You seem to have a healthy bank balance. But you need to make your case stronger. Since you are unemployed and you are young, you need to show enough proof that you have every intention of coming back to India. However, note that granting a visa is upto the visa authorities.

  11. Hi. I am travelling this November to Hungary through Thomas Cook Travel Agency. I have a job in bangalore and also have all the documents which can be arranged for my visa. What is bothering me is, i had 1.5 lakhs in my account before and my father deposited 2 Lakhs in my account recently. Will this make the consolate go suspicious on my bank account transfer?

    1. Hi Aradhana, You can always mention in your cover letter that this was transferred by your father for your trip’s expenses and can include documents to show that he is also sponsoring you.

  12. Could you pls let me know how long Netherlands schengen visa takes to process for the first time visitor.I have submitted application 12 days back.

    1. Hi Ami, It usually takes at least 15 working days. Since you are a first time visitor, it may take some more time based on the pending applications at the embassy.

  13. Hi, I am applying second time for Schengen visa first time visited The Netherlands for ten days I want to apply for lituhana as entry port and exit port Netherlands is it good idea or enrty n exit port should be same? Plz help

    1. Your exit and entry port don’t have to be the same. In fact for all my trips to Europe, my entry and exit ports have been different.

  14. Hi Sowmya,

    I’m planning my first Europe with my husband this month to Italy, swiss, France, Norway. Initially we had submitted all the documents to Norway embassy but they had rejected our application saying proof of stay not clear. But I cross verified and we have given all the documents correctly. Anyway dint want to go through the same embassy again, so we modified our itinerary and applied to France embassy on Oct 1st but not got any word from them yet.I believe we have submitted all the required documents correctly this time as well. Our flight is on 17th October and despite trying to contact the embassy and writing mails stating the need for an update as our travel dates are nearing , I haven’t got any response except our Visa application is in process. No idea what to do!! Do you have any suggestions?

  15. Hi Sowmya,

    My husband and I are planning to visit Europe ( Italy, Switzerland, France, Norway) this month and this is our first time. Initially we applied to Norway embassy but it got rejected saying our proof of stay not clear inside Norway even when we had submitted confirmed hotel booking and transport. Anyways we didn’t want to apply to the same embassy, so modified our itinerary a bit and applied to France embassy at Bangalore on Oct 1 but no word yet from them. Our travel date is Oct 17th and despite trying to contact the embassy and writing mails asking about the status as our travel dates are nearing, they are just saying your application is in process. We were so looking forward to this trip but now not sure what to do! Do you have any suggestions?

    1. My only advice is to wait and hope you get an answer before you are intended to travel. Since it is your first time, they will take more time to process the application. I know this is not the answer you are looking for but Schengen visa for first timers is always tricky. Wish you all the best with your application.

  16. Hi Soumya Nambiar
    I have travelled UK four times with three visas and I hav also travelled to Holland and Spain.I have a plan to visit my brother in Canada for how long should I wait to apply as I hav returned in this month after spending 25 days in UK and Europe

    1. You are going to a different country, Canada? I don’t think you have to wait to apply for a country outside the Schengen zone.

  17. Hi soumya, traveling to spain this weekend, but have not recieved my Visa. any luck will i be able to recieve it? submitted application with BLS on 10th october. 1st time traveller to Europe.

    1. Hopefully, it will come by end of this week if all your documents are in proper order. Since you are a first timer, they may at least take 3 working weeks. Best of luck and do keep us updated.

  18. Hi! I have submitted my short term business visa application on 22nd Oct for Spain. My intended date of journey is on 10th November. The problem is I am a bit scared since within 22/10 to 10/11 there are only 13 working days….

    I have provide all documents that include Conference invitation from European Commission.

    Also, I am late in applying for the visa because I was in Germany till 17th oct (gave a photocopy of that visa too). Returned to delhi on 18th. 19th, 20th and 21st were holidays.WILL THEY CONSIDER MY CASE?

    1. Since it is not your first time in Europe, you definitely have a chance to get the visa in a lesser amount of time. But it depends on your luck. All the best and hope you get your visa on time.

  19. Hi Soumya,

    I submitted my application for Spain visa at BLS on 9th Nov for a travel on 22nd Dec. My worry is that I have a business trip scheduled on 7th Dec to Romania which I have mentioned in the form. This is not my first time to a Schengen country. You think I’ll be able to make to both the places?

  20. I have bank balance near 3 lakh . I m getting salary in my account 20k , some amount transferred from another account and made J form on same amount, ITR’s 2 revised 1 original with 3.4 L . I have hotel job . Salary slips, leave letter ,land paper . Travel history Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam.
    Can I apply France .

  21. Hi,
    A great piece of article for a first-time traveller like me. Just wanted to have your opinion on an issue. I applied to VFS on 14th Jan and on 15th Jan I got a mail from the embassy asking me to submit the marriage certificate within the next 10 days (I am travelling with my spouse). The issue here is I have applied for the marriage certificate and yet to receive that from the local govt authorities (you know how things move!).
    So, can a request to the embassy to consider wedding pictures, invitation card etc. hold good as an alternate document? Any opinions on this?

  22. Hii…Soumya….I m planning to visit prague on schengen visa. Shud I stay there for work with schengen visa?Is schengen visa used for visit only?

  23. Hi im applying for Schengen tourist visa through spain and this would be my second visa . I applied last year and got the visa but couldnt travel because of some reason. Im 23 and unemployed, would it be easier to get the visa again considering i got the tourist visa last year applying as unemployed through spain embassy. Also the parents would be sponsoring the trip. Thank you

    1. In most cases, if you are truthful about why you couldn’t go last time, they will still give your application a consideration. I am not aware of what your circumstances are and I didn’t understand the exact question. Did you apply through Spain last time too?

  24. Dear soumya, you explained it very well. Thanks alot.
    I need some information and suggestions from you.
    I’m going to apply for schengan visa for the first time and I would like to spend 3 months in Rome Italy. I will be staying with a friend and he will show me around. So basically I don’t have to book rooms and internal transportation. As I quit my job 2 years ago and since then I’m traveling, I have no payslip. However his invitation and sponsorship letter will also be included in my visa application. And I have enough bank balance to prove my stability and my property documents. Do you know what is the solution for not getting rejected ?

    1. It is a bit tricky this way, Ann. One common reason for rejection for first timers is that they can’t show proper proof that they will return back to India. So if your friend sponsors you, then they may think that you have no intention of going back or both of you are in a relationship. Do you have someone else who can sponsor you like your parents? Or any other proof to show sufficient bank balance.

  25. We have planned our honeymoon for greece …..I have applied my greece visa on 25th march yet not recieved …. Its a tourist visa …

      1. My tour is starting from 19th april …19th april is my flight to antalya…. i am going to turkey for 10 nights and then going greece for 6 nights …my all bookings are done ….and secondly i have to also apply for turkey visa… There is less time ….thats why i am worried …

  26. My tour is starting from 19th april …19th april is my flight to antalya…. i am going to turkey for 10 nights and then going greece for 6 nights …my all bookings are done ….and secondly i have to also apply for turkey visa… There is less time ….thats why i am worried …

    1. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do other than to wait. No one can predict how much time it will take. Sometimes it comes in 3 days. Sometimes in 30. All the best and hope you get it on time.

  27. I got msg from bludart that Your U.S. visa Shipment vide with Blue Dart AWB # will be delivered by 04-APR-19 but in the website application status site it is shown that your application is still under process ….What does it mean?

  28. i have applied my turkey visa on 5th april 2019 , how many days they take to process , i have not applied for e visa ….i have flight on 20th april …will i able to get before 20th april

  29. i have applied my turkey visa on 5th april 2019 , how many days they take to process , i have not applied for e visa ….i have flight on 20th april …will i able to get before 20th april

  30. I’m planning to travel in September. Does it make sense to apply for Visa in April?
    How much is the validity of visa once approved?

    1. It is ideal to apply not more than 3 months in advance. Your visa validity can range anywhere from 7 days to 5 years based on your previous travel history.

  31. I got turkey visa for 10 days single entry duration (passport validity is from 15-4-2019 to 14-7 -2019) duration of stay is for 10days …i will be entering turkey on 20th april 2019 but i got flight booked on 30th april in the morning for athens from istanbul SAW at 7.40 am …is it ok as per 10 days duration ?

    And i have schengen visa valid from 29th april

  32. Hi Soumya
    My first point of entry from India is Barcelona ( Spain ) for 10 days , from there I am visiting Lisbon and Porto for three days , from Porto I reach to Madrid ( Spain ) and I have a return flight from Madrid to India. Do I need Multiple entry visa for Spain ? or I just need normal Spain visa ?Please advise

    1. Spain visa is valid in your case. It doesn’t have to be multiple entry since you are not leaving the Schengen zone.

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