No matter what type of visa you are applying for and what country you plan on visiting, most of the immigration authorities will ask you to submit proof of accommodation alongside with the other documents, especially if you are applying to visit one of the European countries.
The reason behind such a requirement is that the immigration authorities of every country want to know where you will be staying throughout your trip, and telling them that you will be staying at a hotel or at a friends’ house is not enough. You will have to submit proof where you are planning to stay. However, to many this requirement might seem confusing and frustrating, especially for the fact that every country has different rules and requests when it comes to proof of accommodation.
What is ‘Proof of Accommodation’ Requirement?
The embassy or consulate that you have to apply at in order to get a visa to your destination country, may require from you for either a proof of accommodation, certificate of accommodation, letter of accommodation or hotel confirmation letter.
However complicated that it might seem, all of the above mentioned serve for the same purpose: as an evidence that you have a place where to sleep during your stay in your destination country.
This proof / certificate / letter can either be a:
- Hotel booking,
- Host invitation – if you are planning to stay over at friends or family members / relatives,
- Confirmation by organized tour operator or holiday tours, or
- Rental agreement / contract.
Though most of the countries will require you to submit proof of accommodation, especially in the old continent of Europe, in many other countries you will only have to show Means of Subsistence. Which means you will have to show proof, as a bank statement, that proves you have enough money to financially maintain yourself during your trip, including the stay at the hotel / hostel / guest house.
If you are planning to stay at a hotel in your destination country then you will have to submit proof of the hotel booking, which usually is a ‘hotel confirmation letter’. This means that after you book a room / suite, the hotel will issue you a letter which confirms it.
This letter must contain the following information:
- your full name
- your entry and exit dates
- hotel address
- hotel contact details as phone number, email, etc.
- a valid hotel reservation code
Every embassy or consulate advises its applicants to make a hotel reservation at a hotel that will fully refund your expenses in case of visa rejection or delay. If you cannot find one like that, then try to find the cheapest hotel reservation. That is because if you book a room at a hotel that does not refund you in case of visa application rejection or delay, then you will lose your money.
Invitation From the Host
Many travelers, when traveling abroad plan to spend their night over at friends or family relatives in order to avoid expenses. It is not a problem for the embassy / consulate if you wish to do so, but you will still have to show proof that your friend or relative is willing to take you in and not only.
The host must write an Invitation Letter, where he or she confirms that you will be staying over at her / his place. This letter must contain the following details:
- Dates when you will be staying,
- Address of the place,
- Name and Surname of the host,
- Contact details of the host as email and telephone number,
- Signature of the host,
- The area of the place, and the number of members living in there.
Though not a requirement by every country, your host will also probably have to show proof that he or she has enough room for you. Because, in case you are planning to visit your friends, who are a couple that possess only one bed at their place, and not even a sofa, then the embassy will most likely not approve your stay there. Actually, it is the host who is obligated to usually apply at the local office of his or her hometown for a document called ‘certificate of accommodation’ that confirms the availability of free room for another person. If the local authorities think that the available room is suitable for another person they will issue the document to the host, but if not then they will refuse to do so.
Invitation letter for Schengen Visa Application
In Europe, though the Schengen Area member states have a common policy on the issuance of visas, when it comes to the host invitation letter, each of them has their own rules. For example:
- In France the host must submit an original of the so called “Declaration d’Accueil” (guarantee document). The same applies if the host is from Luxembourg.
- In Austria the host must request the ‘“Elektronische Verpflichtungserklärung“ at his/her municipality in Austria. He or she has to deliver this document to the Austrian Authorities not earlier than 30 days before the applicant’s visa appointment date.
- In Belgium the original “Engagement de Prise en Charge – Verbintenis tot Tenlasteneming 3 bis” must be stamped by the municipality and have the embossed stamp of the foreign office.
- Whereas in the Netherlands the host must submit the original “Bewijs van Garantstelling”, and also three salary sheets / reports and work contract of the inviting person. If the host is independent he or she must also submit the registration in the trade register of the company, the decision of taxation called “down aanslaginkomstenbelastingen”, an official document from the tax “Belastingdienst”, and its profit and loss account copy.
Confirmation by Organized Tour Operator or Holiday Tours
If you are planning to go on a tour organized by a tour operator, together with a group of people, then you will have to submit a letter by the tour operator. The letter must show the hotels / hostels / guest houses where the group will be staying throughout the whole tour. The letter must include the following detailed information of each place:
- name of place
- telephone number & email
- date of entry and exit
- name in which the reservations were made
The tour operator must be legal in order for the issued documents to be valid.
Rental Agreement or Contract
If you are planning to rent a place in your destination country, then you should arrange that before you apply for a visa. You can find a place at your destination country online, also sign the contract online and submit it on the day of your interview at the embassy or consulate, alongside with the other documents.
In general, the contract must contain the below listed information:
- name and surname of the landlord
- his / her contact details as email, telephone, home address etc.
- address of the rented place
- the period during which time the place has been rented by the applicant (entry and exit date)
The house / apartment / room must be rented legally, which means registered at the competent authorities at applicant’s destination country. The agreement must be signed by both the landlord and the renter.
Accommodation Proof for Backpackers
If you have to obtain visas in order to visit the countries you are planning to travel to backpacking, then you must know that visas are not backpacker friendly. The consulate or embassy will insist for you to show a proof of accommodation, and they will not accept a reasoning as “I will rent a car, and sleep in it when I get tired!” or “I will sleep in my tent!”
However, your case is not a lost one. You do not have to change your plans since you can still book a hotel room with free or very cheap cancellation, and then after you get your visa you can cancel it. You are strongly advised to be careful when doing such stuff, because some countries, like Belgium, will check if your hotel reservation is still available when you arrive at the border by calling the hotel. If you have already cancelled your accomodation, then you will not be allowed to enter.
Many websites offer fake hotel reservations for very little money, but you are not advised to buy one of them. If the competent authorities find out that you have provided a fake document, then you might get banned from entering that country. It will also damage your other visa applications, especially if you have been banned from a Schengen country.
If you are going to attend some kind of professional activity like training, seminar, research etc., and the expenses will be covered by the organizer, you will still have to submit proof of accommodation. In this case, it should be a letter signed / stamped by the organizers, which aside of the main details as the address of the accommodation place, email and telephone number, it should highlight who is going to cover the expenses of the accommodation.
Proof of Accommodation vs. Means of Subsistence
Proof of Means of Subsistence is usually a document (like a bank statement) which evidences that you possess sufficient funds for the trip, that you will be able to financially maintain yourself during your stay in your destination country. Every country has the appointed sum of money that the traveler must posses per each day he or she plans to spend in that particular country.
There is a very close link between the Proof of Accommodation and Means of Subsistence, since if you are going to stay at a hotel, you will be required to have more money rather than if you are planning to stay at some friends or relative’s place. For example:
- In Belgium, the traveler must possess EUR 95 per day if staying in a hotel, and EUR 45 when planning to get accommodated by cheaper means, in order to be able to get the visa.
- In France, the traveler must possess the daily money amount of EUR 120 if holding no proof of prepaid accommodation. If the visitor has a prepaid hotel, then he or she must possess EUR 65 per each day. In case the applicant plans to use cheaper forms of accommodation the amount decreases to EUR 32.25 per day.
- Whereas, for a traveler to be able to obtain a visa to Denmark, she or he must posses EUR 67.24 per day if staying in a hotel. While if staying in a hostel or similar cheaper means, the required amount of financial means is EUR 47.07 per day. On the other hand, if accommodation is covered by a third party (the traveler stays at relatives or friends), the required amount of financial means lowers further.