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This is the third and final part of our Schengen Visa series. Many tourists choose to make the most of their trip to Europe by travelling to several countries in the Schengen zone, which is where the perks of a single visa application for multiple countries really comes into play. It does however also bring complications when it comes to knowing how to get a Schengen Visa Appointment. Here we answer the most common questions we are asked, in order to help you get your adventure started.
So you’ve decided you want to visit Europe. The idea of a single application process opening up borders to several countries and cultures at once really has an appeal for keen travellers. There’s so much to see and do, it can really be a draw for tourists from across the globe. The most common query we receive however is:
What if I’m not sure of my travel plans?
In order to apply for a Schengen visa, you will need to have your itinerary in place before you apply for a Schengen Visa appointment. Plan your trip well in advance, especially if you’re visiting more than one country, because you will be required to provide proof of your travel bookings, whether by air or sea, and your accommodation arrangements.
You will also need to stick to your agreed entry and exit dates of each country. This can make backpacking around Europe difficult for those who prefer a more free and easy travel style, but it can cause problems crossing immigration borders if you’ve overstayed your visa at any point.
So how do I decide where to apply for a Schengen Visa?
The rule for applying for the Schengen Visa is that you must apply at the centre or consulate of the country you are spending the most amount of time in during their visit to the Schengen Area. If you are travelling around and spending about the same amount of time in each country, then it would be the country you are entering first.
For example, if your itinerary looks like this, you will apply to the Netherlands, as the longest stay duration is there:
If however, the itinerary is the following, the country which would handle your visa would be Belgium, as the stay duration is the same in each location but Belgium is the first point of entry:
What if my accommodation is with friends or family?
If at any point during your trip you will be staying with friends or family, you will still need to provide proof. This isn’t as straightforward as simply printing off your hotel or hostel booking, but it can still be done. You will need to provide an invitation letter from your host, which states when you will be staying with them, who is supporting you financially whilst you’re there and their address.
They will also need to provide a copy of their photo ID. If they are a citizen of the country you are visiting, this will be a valid passport. If they are a resident and don’t hold a passport for the destination country, they will need to provide a copy of their official residency permit.
How much does it cost to apply for a Schengen Visa?
The cost of a Schengen visa is one flat rate, however the service charge levied at each of the country’s visa centres differs. Therefore, in order to know the cost of your visa you will need to have your travel plans arranged. You will only need to pay one service fee for your visa, not an additional fee for each country you are visiting.
There are some cases in which a visa will be supplied without charge, but the service fee at the visa centre will still apply. You are eligible for a free Schengen visa if you meet one of the following criteria:
- Child under 6 years old
- Holders of diplomatic, official or service passports travelling for official purposes
- Family member of a EU/EEA national (this may change after the UK leaves the EU)
- Pupils, students and accompanying teachers during a school trip
- Researchers travelling to perform scientific research
You will also get a reduced visa rate if you are a citizen of one of the following countries:
- Bosnia & Herzegovina
If you need further information on the process including the Schengen Visa appointment requirements, you can check out the other blog posts in our series which deals with what a Schengen visa is and who requires one, and assistance with the required documentation.
You must have your itinerary and accommodation arranged before you can make an appointment to apply for your Schengen visa. This is because you will need to know how long you are spending in each country in order to determine which Embassy to apply at.