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Complete guide to obtaining a tourist Schengen visa, the required documents, application steps, and FAQs

The Tourist Schengen Visa is an EU travel visa that allows you to travel to the 26 countries of the Schengen Area for touristic purposes and stay for up to 90 days within a 180-day period. Schengen Tourist visas are short term visas and are in the C category

Do I Need to Apply for a Schengen Visa for Tourism?

You only need to apply for a Schengen visa as a tourist if you are a citizen of countries that don’t have a visa liberalization agreement with the EU. The Schengen states have agreed on common rules for issuing short-stay Schengen visas, which are valid within the entire Schengen area.

Schengen Tourist Visa Requirements

Here are the documents that you are required to submit when applying for a Schengen Tourist Visa for Europe:

  • Schengen Tourist Visa Application Form. The form must be completely filled online, downloaded in two copies and signed at the end.
  • Two photographs in line with the Schengen requirements. They should be no more than 6-months old, 35–40mm in width, close up of your head and top of your shoulders so that your face takes up 70–80% of the photograph. It should be taken in sharp focus and clear, of high quality and with no ink marks or creases, and according to all of the standards set by ISCO.
  • Your valid passport. It should have at least two empty pages in order to affix the visa and be issued within the last ten years. The passport must be valid for another three months beyond the intended stay in the Schengen Area.
  • Clear photocopies of the 1st and last page of the passport (biodata).
  • Previous passports (if applicable) – if you have more than one old passport, do not staple them, but tie them together with a rubber band instead and hand them along with the other documents.
  • Personal covering letter (original) – where you will tell more about the purpose of visiting the EU, the countries you plan to travel to, the dates, where you plan to stay and other details of your trip.
  • No Objection Letter. This is a letter from your employer or your school/university which states that you have contractual obligations in your home country and assures the embassy that you will return back to your homeland.
  • Travel Health Insurance covering emergency medical, hospitalization and in case of death, repatriation. The Schengen Zone member states have agreed that the minimum cover should be 30.000 EUR, and it must be valid for your entire duration of stay in the whole territory of the Schengen Area.
  • Flight reservation – there is no need to buy actual plane tickets. However, the embassy wants you to purchase a flight reservation in order to prove your intended entry and exit dates. One way tickets are not accepted.
  • Proof of accommodation for the entire period of stay in the Schengen Area. If you are staying in a hotel, you must show hotel booking. If you are staying at relatives or friends, they must submit proof that they have enough room for you.
  • Proof of financial status. You must show evidence that you possess sufficient funds for the visit, that you will be able to financially maintain yourself during your stay in the Schengen territory.  You should be able to prove that through a bank statement of the past three months, which must not be older than three days. The minimum amount required is different in each country, therefore you will have to consult with the relevant consular authority in your country. You should also submit documents to prove your working status.

The required documents for a Schengen Tourist visa also depend on your destination country. During the processing of your application, the consulate may, in individual cases, ask you to submit extra information or documents or you may be contacted for another interview. Make sure to submit them too, since the submission of the initial required documents does not guarantee you will be granted a Tourist visa for Europe.

How to Apply for a Schengen Tourist Visa?

The application for a Tourist Schengen visa will go through these simple steps:

  1. Fill the Application Form for a Tourist visa to Europe.
  2. Compile the documents that are required for tourists.
  3. Schedule an interview.
  4. Show up at the appointment.
  5. Provide Biometric Data.
  6. Pay the fees.

Fill-in the application form

Complete the Schengen Tourist visa application form online carefully and correctly, print it twice and sign it at the end. Make sure to check the box that says “tourism” at the question regarding the purpose of your journey. The Schengen visa application form contains questions for basic information such as your name, date of birth, country of birth, passport number and nationality.

You will also have to answer questions regarding your trip, such as how long are you planning to stay in each country, where you’re staying, etc. Make sure that the information you have given in the application form corresponds with that in the other documents.

Collect the documents for a Tourist visa

Make sure to complete the file of documents that the Schengen authorities demand from tourists.

Appoint an interview

You have to make an appointment at least 15 days before the intended journey, and the earliest six months before.  Appoint an interview through the website of the consulate or embassy of the country you are planning to visit, in your country of residence.

Show up at the appointment

Show up at the appointment center on time (embassy or consulate). Remember that if you are late even for a few minutes, then they will probably cancel your appointment. The submission process takes around 10 minutes to complete. Please make sure that: The official person at the application center will check and verify all of your documents.

Provide Biometric Data

You will also have to get your fingerprints scanned at the consulate’s office if you have never before applied for a Schengen Visa before. They will be stored in a new Visa Information System (VIS). Once finger scans are stored in VIS, they can be re‐used for further visa applications over a 5‐year period, therefore frequent travelers to the Schengen Area do not have to give new finger scans every time they apply for a new visa.

Pay the fees

The fee is EUR 80 for adult tourists and must be paid when you submit the visa application. Whereas the visa fee for children from the age of six years and below the age of 12 years is EUR 40.

After you pay the visa fee, you will be issued a receipt which you have to keep in order to collect your processed application. In the case of visa application rejection, the fee will not get reimbursed. If you apply again for a visa, you will have to pay the visa fee again.

Where Should I Submit my Schengen Tourist Visa Application?

If you are planning to visit only one country, then you will have to simply apply to the embassy of that country in your home country.

But, if you are planning to visit two or more countries during the same trip, then you have to apply at the embassy of the country where you plan to spend more time. If you are planning to spend equal time in two or more countries, i.e. five days in France and five days in Switzerland, then you have to apply at the embassy of the country where you are planning to land first.

For more information on Tourist Schengen visas, visit the respective articles:

How Long Does it Take To Get a Tourist Visa for Europe?

You will likely be notified whether you have been issued a Tourist visa for Europe within 15 days. However, in some exceptional cases, this process might take up to 30 days, or even up to 60 if more additional documents are required to be submitted by the applicant. You are recommended to apply for a Schengen Tourist Visa around six weeks prior to your planned travel.

Tourist Schengen Visa Validity

A multiple entry Tourist visa gives the right to its holder to stay within the Schengen territory for 90 days at most, within a period of 180 days, to enter and leave whenever she or he wants to.

In the meantime, single entry and double entry visa holders will have to wait for the embassy or consulate they have applied to decide on its validity after processing all documentation. Sometimes they issue you a Tourist Schengen visa for the amount of time you have sought for, and sometimes for a longer or shorter period.

The embassy not only appoints the number of days you can stay in the Schengen territory, but also the earliest date you can enter and the last date when you can leave. This is all indicated on the visa sticker affixed in your passport.

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