What is the Schengen Visa?
The Schengen Area is an area comprising 26 European states that have officially abolished passport and all other types of border control at their mutual borders. Several countries in Europe are part of the Schengen agreement and share a common visa. This means that as long as you are issued the Schengen visa, you can move anywhere within the countries part of the agreement during the duration of your visa. As of Sep 2017 these countries are within Schengen area: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark (excluding Greenland and the Faroe Islands), Estonia, Finland, France (excluding overseas departments and collectivities), Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands (excluding Aruba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten and the Caribbean Netherlands), Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland.
In addition to the countries formally part of the Schengen area, there are other countries which exempt you from getting their own visas and allow entry as long as you have a multiple entry Schengen visa. These countries are: Albania, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Kosovo, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro and Romania. Besides these, there are other countries that share an open border with the Schengen area, therefore the only way to enter these countries is via other Schengen area countries. These nations are: Monaco, San Marino and Vatican City.
How to apply for the Schengen visa in Singapore?
To know where you should apply for the Schengen visa, the main criterion is the country where you’ll be spending the longest time for your trip. For example: If you are spending 3 nights in Zurich and 5 nights in Italy then you should apply for schengen visa at italian embassy, then the next criterion you’ll be looking at is the Schengen area country where you first enter.
Many of the Schengen area countries have embassies here in Singapore and to start the application process, most of them require booking an appointment. You can apply online at swiss embassy www.swiss-visa.ch, once application is completed online you can either pay online using creditcard or at the embassy during your appointment day, once application is completed you will receive an email with a link to choose appointment date if this is the first time you applying for a schengen visa then you need to go down and submit your finger print. Cost of the Schengen visa is 60 Euros, payable in its Singapore Dollar equivalent. VFSglobal also does visa processing for schengen area but their charge might be higher than direct embassy application but you might be lucky with their appointment dates if you are applying last minute.
Here are the links to the appointment pages of some of the more popular Schengen states:
Germany – link here
Italy – link here
France – link here
Spain – link here
Switzerland – link here
Do note that individual appointments are required. For example, if a family of 4 comprising of husband and wife and 2 children are traveling to the Schengen States, 4 appointments are required, keep that in mind and you may not get appointment for all in same day, so plan early!
These are the general requirements for Schengen tourist visa:
Completed Schengen visa application form – It is the same form regardless of the embassy you are applying from. The form itself is quite straightforward.
Passport photo – must be glued to the application form. The photo must clearly show the face, forehead hairline and ears on a white background.
Passport – aside from the physical passport, remember to bring a photocopy of the identity page/s as well. The passport needs to be valid for 3 months after the completion of stay in the Schengen countries and needs to have at least 2 blank pages.
Singapore IC – It can be an employment pass, work permit or a PR card. For the latter, the PR card needs to be supplemented by the Re-entry permit. Remember to bring a copy of the IC. For employment pass or work permit, do note that you departure date from the Schengen area should be at least 90 days from the date of expiry of your pass.
Flight booking – The Schengen countries are quite flexible in the definition of a flight booking. It does not have to be a confirmed flight booking, i.e. waitlisted or tentatively reserved flights are acceptable.
Hotel reservation and trip itinerary – Again, the bookings don’t have to be prepaid. Cancellable bookings are perfectly fine. However, the bookings need to cover the entirety of your stay in the Schengen countries. If you are applying for a multiple entry visa, you need to show that you will be leaving the Schengen countries as well. This can be evidenced via hotel bookings in a non-Schengen country. I normally book my hotels through Agoda HERE as they have transparent cancellation charges or normally free.
Medical insurance policy – The coverage needs to be EUR 30,000 at least and should cover medical expenses, hospitalization and emergency and repatriation. I purchased mine from HLinsurance through online which was pretty easy, cost me 68 for 2 adults with 150k coverage for 10 days.
Proof of financial support – This is evidenced via 3 months bank statements. I typically print out my online banking 3-months transaction history. This should be sufficient as long as your online banking print out includes your full name.
Employment letter – My letter has the following information: my duration of employment with the company, job title, salary and most importantly, confirmation from my firm’s HR that my leave dates were granted for my intended trip.
Tips For Your Schengen Visa Application
- The key to getting a Schengen visa is to have the complete stack of required documents. The authorities are a stickler for rules and as long as you fulfill them, you should not have any problems getting your visa.
- Most embassies don’t specifically state it but for the purpose of a visa, the minimum requirement to travel around the Schengen countries is around EUR 65 per day so your bank balance will need to show at least that for each day that you intend to stay within the Schengen area
- The consul will be more confident in approving your visa if you can show that you have previously visited other industrialized countries. Even if you have an expired visa for USA, Canada, Japan, Australia or New Zealand lying in an old passport, it would be useful to photocopy those and bring them during your appointment
- For first time visitors, most (if not all) Schengen country embassies don’t issue a visa with a validity that’s a little bit more than your travel duration. It becomes easier though to get longer validities from the second Schengen visa onwards. 1-year multiple entry visas are not unheard of. 2-year visas are possible as well but these require permission from the home country and may require a bit of time to process
- The processing time for assessment of a Schengen visa varies according to the nationality of the applicant. Therefore applicants are strongly encouraged to file their application at least 15 working days prior to the date of departure and never, in any case, more than 90 days before departure. This will allow an orderly examination of the applications and limit the chances that decisions on visa applications are taken after the applicant’s scheduled date of departure.
Plan early, take appointment for visa application and book your hotel and flights before your appointment.
Hope this post helps some of you.