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Schengen Visa For Indians: How To Apply And Get It Yourself

I know that Indians are the vulnerable bunch, because of their weak Indian passport. They are required to submit hundreds of documents, prove their existence and go through a process so mentally tormenting, that getting a new birth certificate might apparently feel easier than applying a tourist visa. And when it comes to a Schengen visa, for Indians, things become even more complicated.

Perhaps that’s the reason why a majority of tourists contact a travel agency and pay more money. They do it out of helplessness. For a quick rescue.

They opt for travel packages and pre-paid itineraries – even if that meant bleeding unnecessary money, and exploring silly places abroad.

To tell you the truth, I also considered that option before going through the process myself. But as I pondered upon the idea and calculated the prospects, I realised that it will be a lost deal, especially because I was on a limited budget. I mean we anyway pay over 1500 Rupees to Vfs that is nothing more than a cheap middleman, so why pay more to another travel agency, right?

So if you’re planning to apply a Schengen visa by yourself, and are firm to save some money during the process, this guide will help you. Right from what documents you need for a Schengen visa to how good your chances are for a successful application, I will answer all your answers, right here.

Understand Your Position

Before I say anything, let me give you a picture of how grim my application looked, when I applied for my short term, single entry Schengen tourist visa (in March 2017).

I was self-employed for the past 2 years, with almost no regular source of income. Though I filed income tax, every year, my income was less than taxable. I had no employer recommendation letter to provide with my application either. And on top of that I chose a 2 month travel period – which, more or less, raised doubts about my original intention.

“How can a person with no financial support can travel countries in Europe for months,” I’m sure the Visa officer might have asked the question himself.

But as I submitted the application, there were no questions asked. I was never invited for an interview. And my visa was delivered on my doorsteps in under 8 days from the date of submission. A beautiful stamp on my passport now says ‘valid for SCHENGENER STAATEN’! I like how German sometimes sound!

Takeaway:

  • If you’re already working and have a decent regular income, there’s no need to be scared. Because if a person with no job since years can get it, why can’t you!

The First Step

My original plan was to backpack across 8 countries for a period of 58 days. Though I was starting from Switzerland, I was spending most of my time in Germany (over 15 days), and this made me eligible to apply my Schengen Visa at either at Switzerland’s or Germany’s embassy in India.

[I hope you know the rule, which says: you are eligible to apply the Schengen Visa at the respective country’s embassy where you will be 1) arriving first, or 2) spending most the days, during your travel in Europe]

Now, the reason I chose Germany and not Switzerland is because Swiss embassy has a bad reputation, as compared to that of Germany’s. Though German embassy is not so generous either, but definitely better than that of Switzerland’s. Click here to know which country is the safest to apply for a Schengen Visa.

Takeaway:

  • Apply your visa from a country with a better acceptance rate.
  • Apply from less popular counties like Hungary or Slovenia, than France, or Switzerland.

Start Your Application

Once you’ve made the decision about which embassy you’re going to approach, comes the most important stage – completing your application and submitting relevant the documents.

Though different countries might slightly vary in the rules, the supporting travel documents they require are more of less the same. And they are: your bank statements, a return flight ticket, confirmed hotel booking, all inside-Europe travel booking, and a travel insurance during your time of travel in Europe (with a minimum coverage of 300,00 euros).

Filling your visa application is simple, and takes no more than a couple of hours. If you’ve any doubts, you can also always contact the vfs office but as I said, they’re a cheap middleman and know nothing more than the guidelines already mentioned on a respective country’s website. And I’m saying that out of my personal experience.

So if you have a major doubt about your visa application, it’s advised to directly write to the country’s embassy in India than contacting vfs.

Takeaway:

  • Avoid contacting Vfs, they know nothing more than you do.

The Next Step: Convince The Visa Officer

Convincing the Visa officer that your sole intention is to travel, and travel only is crucial. And this is done by showing more than enough funds in your bank account (explained later in the article how!) and providing other travel documents, including: a return flight ticket, all confirmed hotel booking, all inside-Europe travel booking, and the travel insurance.

In my case, I provided proof of enough funds in my account; a 100 percent refundable, but confirmed flight ticket (so that I can later cancel it, if the need be, without losing any money); all pre-booked hotels (with no reservation charges and free cancellation, using booking.com); and the mandatory travel insurance (from Reliance General Insurance, which comes with free cancellation, if the visa is rejected)!

The only required document(s) I didn’t provide were my pre-booked transportation inside Europe – and for that I clearly mentioned in my STATEMENT OF PURPOSE AND TRAVEL ITINERARY that I didn’t do because I might be hitchhiking and booking last minute bus/flight tickets to save costs, and it worked just right!

Statement Of Purpose: Make It Convincing, And Clear

For those who don’t know, a Statement of Purpose (with your entire travel itinerary) is a personal covering letter, addressed to the visa officer, which talks about your original intention to travel, places you are going to travel, and for how long.

There’s no harm in going subjective with your thoughts, and I think it only helps you better if you do. Provide as much details as you can, and convince the visa office. I wrote a 3 page long cover letter!

It is moreover a good idea to provide a route-map with all your locations and dates of travel. And I think it’s because of detailed, and a very personal statement of purpose, that the officer felt assured that my sole intention is travelling.

Remember whether you travel cheaper (as was the case with me) or take expensive tours, if your application looks genuine to the Visa officer you will be granted the permission!

Takeaway:

  • Provide a very personal and clearly detailed itinerary.
  • Book hotels from Booking.com, with no reservation charges and a free cancellations.
  • Always book a refundable flight ticket.

Proof Of Funds: Perhaps Most Significant

Unlike hotel reservation and a pre-booked transportation, which can be smartly escaped from, here you don’t get much flexibility. You have to have the minimum required money stocked up in your favourite bank, so the visa officer feels confident about your financial situation.

Though different countries have a different requirement, the difference isn’t very significant. For Germany, it was somewhere around 65 Euros a day. This means that those applying the Schengen visa from a German embassy, and for a travel period of 10 days must at least have over 650 Euros in their bank account – unused for the last few months or weeks. This can be your current/savings account as well as fixed deposits.

I moreover think that there isn’t a minimum time duration, since you are required to have the money in your account. In my case I had the maintained balance for less than 3 weeks, and it worked just right.


I personally feel that applying a visa by yourself is simple, easier and gives you much flexibility to create an itinerary the way you wanted. I paid just a little over 6000 Rupees including my visa fee, vfs charges and for the passport courier service.

The accommodation I’ve booked and the flight tickets I’ve purchased – were also cheaper, at least cheaper than what any travel agent would have possibly provided me with!

Further Reading: Reasons For Schengen Visa Rejection | Tips For Australian Tourist Visa | Australian Tourist Visa ProcessThailand Visa On Arrival | Cambodia Visa On Arrival

Filed under: VISAs

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Shortly after my first real nine-to-five job, I left that lifestyle behind, and with it, everything that didn't fit in my backpack. I've learned that this world is too big (and too interesting!) to stay in one place. I believe that with a little courage and inspiration, everyone has the power to follow their dreams. Just as I've followed mine!

51 Comments

  1. Hi Dev! My Netherlands visa has also been rejected today with the reason that my purpose of visit has not been clearly stated, whereas I very clearly mentioned that it is a visit to my family to attend a particular function. Also, i had sponsorship letter from her side, and I also attached documents of my employment with my salary slips as well as an NOC letter from my organization informing that I am an employed person who has been granted leave of 1 month to travel abroad without objection. My papers/documents were all complete, then what exactly could be the reason ? I am 25yrs old, unmarried. Please help me out on this, I really some assistance.

    • This happened to me last year when I had applied in Hungarian embassy, though they didnot reject my visa but they kept me on hold. Upon enquiring they (hungarian embassy amd not VFS) finally told me they had doubt regarding my signatures (which apparently looked different) and I just told them over the phone only that its my signature only. I dont know what happened, thry said ok we are issuing your visa and the next day I actually got it. So try contacting your embassy and re-apply. Probably a ‘solo’ female traveller which was my case too raises doubts. Assure them by showing more funds in terms of FDs or insurance policies. Best of luck.

  2. BAKUL D THUMMAR says

    hi devesh joshi,
    i read your blog about guidend for schengen visa, which is much helpful for every one. i need your help, and guidence for perticular my case.
    i BAKUL THUMMAR (surat) have applied on 14-02-18 for schengen visa in netherland, for 17 days europe trip 9 may to 25 may (paris-amstardam-prague-switzerland-paris) for my family 2 adult, 2 child, . i am doing business of dimond and property sell/purchase in my personal name, not having any gov. licence for that. submited dimond association membership ID card , not having overseas travell history, showing income in ITR 7 lakh, in visa form stated as freelancer business, bank balance 14 lakh,also submit property certificate 8 crore, return air ticket book by me, confermed hotel booking voucher by my local travell agent,. enough insurance.
    After submission, got phone call from netherland embassy, delhi. Asking about hotel name and address various question, i am not able to give proper ans. due to i am on the way, driving car at that time, could not understand visa officer’s pronounce, and i cant speak fluently in english. After that got refusal latter with point no. 2 justification for the purpose and intended stay was not provided. and point no. 9 your intend to leve territory of member stated not be ascertained.
    a week later i reapplied in czech replubic with changed itinerary, in cover latter not diclosed about above first refusal , my agent said its not necessery, no phone call this time and get refusal with same reason .
    my agent assumed reason that, i have weak business proof, no travell history . i assume stating as freelancer and no goverment proof of buisness is main reason, After 2nd time refusal recently i have make buisness registration, with new name SHIV ENTERPRISE and got gumasta licence( shop establishment licence). and make propritor ship firm for my business, and open new bank account for this propritorship name “SHIV ENTERPRISE” and strated doing buisness with this . After twice refusal i am disappointed , now i postponed trip to may-2019, now going for singapor malasiya tour. but need your guidence for next year europe trip,
    1. should i reapply in france/switzerland , or repply in netherland
    which is batter (above refusal will affect this or not)after one year
    2. should i disclose(after one year) in cover latter about twice refusal. if yes what to write.
    3. shoud i join group tour for this problem. like makemy trip/thomas cook. ( i extreme wish to go on my way) due to visa problem, agent said joining famous tour agent’s group tour can able to get visa easily.
    4 i am also having agriculture land , which is not shown in this application. should i submit crop bill for supporting document.
    please please give me guidence for above point.

  3. Priyanka says

    As per the current guidelines on the VFS sites, for first-time applicants of Schengen visa, hotel reservations through sites like http://www.booking.com and others will not be accepted. You must book directly with a hotel and if you are booking apartments, you must provide emails from the owners confirming the booking and the payments along with other details such as your travel dates. Just Airbnb receipt won’t work.

  4. Priyanka says

    As per the current guidelines on the VFS sites, for first-time applicants of Schengen visa, hotel reservations through sites like http://www.booking.com and others will not be accepted. You must book directly with a hotel and if you are booking apartments, you must provide emails from the owners confirming the booking and the payments along with other details such as your travel dates. Just Airbnb receipt won’t work.

    • Geetika Jindal says

      Hey Priyanka. Can you please provide source of this information.

  5. Aujwalya Jyotizit says

    Hi, Is it alright to present Form 16 for 2 years and mention the reason in the covering letter, which is, my total work experience is 2.8 years and no prior work experience to that.

    Thanks,
    Aujwalya

  6. Arun says

    In the comments you have revealed that you had a visa from the UK and a letter of invitation from a tourism agency. These details make it clear your application was much stronger than the initial article describes it to be. Their omission from the article misleads readers and gives a false hope to aspirants who perhaps forget to read the comments.

    Take myself for example: I read your article and was overjoyed. I fit many of the parameters you described yourself as and I was previously unsure whether I would get a visa. Reading your article gave me hope. Now that I’ve read the comments, all my doubts have resurfaced: your application has many more supportive circumstances than mine.

    Since you wrote the article with yourself/your application as the example, could you perhaps give us the full picture? How else did you bolster your application? Did you present ownership of property as a tie to India?

    Lastly, this may be blunt but it needs to be asked: how much funds did you show the embassy for your trip? You cited the basic minimum requirement in your article, but many applicants (on other forums) believe they must go above and beyond the base requirements and show as much as they can.

    • Robin says

      i was applied with my aadthar udyog and income tax v with travel insurence hotel booking and air tickets visiting to 2 days in france and 2 days in italy

      • Robin says

        and also they stamped another one person visa cancelled in my pass port what can i do

  7. Robin says

    Hello Mr Dev I was applying my Schengen visa my it refused by pondichery embassy they told me by letter purpose of visit is not reliable what is the meaning of this word please explain me then how to Change this refusal

  8. Harmeen anand says

    Hi Dev. I am an Indian passport holder. My husband and I are planing a trip to France Belgium and Amsterdam for purely tourism purpose. We hired an agent and applied for the visa in the France consulate through VFS and it got rejected. Actually my husband is dealing in car buying n selling on commission basis. Though he is self employed he does not has a firm in his name. We just provided his CA letter stating he does this business in commission basis however our visas were rejected stating that we might not have sufficient funds to return to our and country and we might stay there. We are planning to reapply. I want to know ehat exactly can we show as a proof if his employment apart from bank statements and IT returns. Please help us iur bookings are done already.

    • Arun says

      Insufficient funds… how much funds did you show in the bank balance you submitted as part of your application?

  9. Most of agents provide reservation of flight instead of refundable ticket etc. Do we need to buy refundable ticket in advance? Hotel reservations are OK with Booking com etc but i do not find any site which gives 100% refund for flight reservation. Please suggest which site should i refer for flight reservation.

  10. Parveen says

    Hi iam parveen kumar . Iam indian paasport holder , iam advocate .im doing law practice in court last 10 year i have personal office . I hve travel history , like as Thailand, 3 time moscow as bussiness visiter visa, , i hve applied last year in August 2017 for france , but that was rejected, , but now i want to do apply with my family with my wife and my loving girl she is only 3 year, my wife is doing a govt job as a Senior accountant, she is working last 8 year, we are planning for swizerland on spouse visa . , can i get visa easily?

  11. Shwetha says

    Hi dev!

    This article of yours has been very helpful to me. My only question is how and through which website did you book your 100% refundable flight tickets? I have everything else sorted except for this.

    • hi there !
      you can book your refundable tickets with any agency or airline at the time of booking. They give u the option to book a refundable or non-refundable ticket while booking. Generally refundable tickets are little bit costlier but not much though. And its not 100% refundable. A slight moner is charged for refunding.

  12. Eliza Pani says

    Hi Dev, read your blog and found it helpful. My Netherlands Schengen visa was rejected on the basis of documents submitted for the stay not reliable and intention to leave the country is not ascertained. Can you please let me know the format that I have to follow in my cover letter to address the reasons for rejection.

    • Rajib says

      Hi, my Schengen Visa from Netherlands was also rejected by the same comment and also another one that my purpose was not fully demonstrated.

  13. Ivor DSouza says

    Hi Dev
    Your inputs on how best to go about applying for and getting a Schengen visa were truly enlightening and thank you for sharing in such meticulous detail the various pros and cons that one might expect to encounter. You have indeed performed a service for all potential Schengen travellers from India. However may I trouble you for just one more piece of advice ? Suppose I am invited by a friend to come and holiday with him in a Schengen country, do the same cautions apply viz. detailed itinerary, plans, local transportation proof etc. ?
    Thank you in anticipation. Rgds. Ivor DSouza

    • yes. You still need to show your air-tickets, a proof of invitation (which will include their residence address, hence the proof of accommodation sorted) and a rough itinerary showing what all places will you be travelling to in the Schengen territory during your visit. All in all, think it this way: you need to make the visa officer believe that you’re travelling for the purpose of tourism (even if visiting someone) and nothing else. Hope it makes sense. Good luck with your visa.

  14. Anoop says

    Hi Dev,

    I am planning to do a solo trip to EU shortly. Saw your posts It was really helpful. Can you pl. send me your SOP for reference for the below mentioned mail id.

    Mail id: anoopiyer1986@gmail.com

    Thanks in Advance

  15. Poonam Sathe says

    Hi there. I read some of your previous blogs and they really seemed helpful, so I really needed your outlook on my visa issue. I am travelling alone to a few European countries for a period of 12 days on a sponsored visa and the agent who is looking after my visa process informed me that if the visa gets rejected, he would deduct some amount from my booking amount plus his consultation fees. So is there any way through which I can assuredly get my visa cleared in the first try?

    • can’t say anything on this Poonam, as I never used an agent for applying for the visa. If they’re working on your application, they’ll definitely charge their consultation fee, but deducting hotel booking amount doesn’t make a sense. You can do free booking using booking.com, so why a deduction anyway. I’d say, try applying the visa for yourself, it will not only save you from losing unnecessary money (even if it’s not much) and in any future visa application, you will apply.

  16. If i applied for schengen country visa is there any sticker or stamp or anything like that on passport? i dont want that too happen. That is my major reason i didnt even try .. or i would try for malta & sicily or say for only finland. Also, do these countries i mentioned have direct flight? if my flight goes via say germany or say turkey will there be problem upon arrival like denying permisson to take connecting flight? sorry if question sounds foolish. Actually i read comment on quora saying how one got visa for hungary and was sent back home from germany or france i dont remember the country written.

    • if you get the visa, you get a stamp, if the visa is rejected, you get nothing on the passport.
      Not sure about the direct flights to the countries mentioned, please check online.
      if you’ve the schengen visa and your destination is one of the schengen countries, it doesn’t matter where your layover is, because you’re not going to exit that airport anyway.

  17. ADHIMAN says

    I applied for schengen visa from France embassy and it got rejected saying purpose and reason for intended not reliable. however I am doing job paying taxes, attached all documents and going on solo trip.

    now not able to understand what to do I applied first time.

  18. Robert says

    Having an Hungarian invitation letter for visit from the Hungary immigration from a friend for me to visit with other supporting documents from her like a bank statment company papers her house pappers and her Hungarian citizenship card,and I am student here in Malaysia do you have any idea of the possibilities of the visa granted.

    • matin says

      Never ever try to apply for this kind of visa where u say someone is sponsoring you .It puts the host into great difficulty .For instance even if you are visting Thailand /Turkey for business state its tourist to avoid such documents requiremts unless your co is doing it for you .
      An inviation without endorsement of docs from host doesnt hold any guarantee for a visa i can tell you .Better for funds in your bank loaned by your parents can work better or have your parents back you finabcialy.Ideally what everone looks is that you can fund your return should there be a need or you have plenty at home to come back to .

  19. Thank you so much for your time and care in laying out the steps and preparation to secure the Schengen visa. I agree with so many of the commentors here, that Indians have it particularly hard. You are a wonderful help resource, sir!

  20. Bhanu says

    Hi bro I just received my Belgium visa rejected yesterday after all pain of VFS and called again for interview and it took 60 days to know that they refused my application though I have shown 2.5lakhs of funds and all itenrri and all pain plzz send send me your itinery so I can prepare for Germany now my leave got waisted you will do a great help by helping me my friend bhanusimma0303 @gmail.com

  21. It would help some if you could comment on the unstated “visa fee”. How many Rupees and does every Schengen country charge the same amount? Can one apply to the one with the lowest fee but travel to any Schengen country?

    (Not asking for myself, having AU and NZ passports)

    • Yes, as far as I know all member states charge the same fee, however I’ve applied it through Germany only, twice. And it was 4600 Rupees (for Germany) when I applied recently in September 2017, but had to pay another 1300 Rupees to VFS (the company authorised to take VISA applications) for processing. If you want a courier or other services, you pay extra.

  22. Now that is a lovely guide, coz Visa services always get people scratching their heads. Your step by step instructions will make it so much more easier. I think that Schengen Visa was always easier than getting a UK visa. The documentation for the latter is far more 🙁 . But once you get it, renewing it or getting it the next time is never a challenge.

    • I agree. And there’s a hierarchy in Visas, eg if you have UK visa, then your chances for Schengen is more. haha. Crazy. I think my UK visa did some work here. 😛

      • I have been wondering how you were able to get the Schengen Visa without much money in your bank statement. Now I just understood. It was the UK visa on your P that did the work, otherwise, I can bet it you’ll not have gotten it.
        I am from Nigeria, and we both have similar problem when it comes to getting these visas. No other reason but for our weak passports. Anyway, it’s not the Schengen embassies’ fault, but our governments. Bad leadership gives bad impression.

        • So true man. Also, I had an invitation letter from Stuttgart and Berlin Tourism Department, and I think that mattered as well.

  23. Thank you for this clear and detailed post. Getting a schengen visa sounds like such a pain but you have done a really nice thing to share your knowledge with others.

  24. Though this isn’t particularly applicable to me, I appreciate the thorough way in which you approached the topic. I’m going to take a little time and explore the rest of your blog based on this. Thanks!

  25. Oh I hate it! Although I am a lucky holder of an EU passport, it angers me that just because of the place of birth, you already have to face all those stupid limitations. It is so unfair… Anyway, I also know the pain because some of the countries that I wished to visit were making it as difficult as possible to obtain a visa. For example, I was turned away from boarding a plane to Minks in Vilnius Airport just because they had conflicting information about visas. I lost the flight and accommodation in Minsk. I tried to apply for a refund but it was so complicated that I finally gave up.

    • Really? That’s sad. Visas and immigration always make things tough for frequent travellers.

  26. Haha! I can totally understand the pain… My Schengen Visa was rejected twice!! Its a pain. Its pure pain… And finally when I was backpacking in Europe, I so envied the US citizens who could easily travel to all these places without any such trouble at all!!!

  27. As Philippines passport holder, obtaining Schengen visa in the Philippines is quite a hassle. However in my case applying here in KSA is a lot easier.

  28. Sharing these posts is great so people are prepared. Thanks for taking the time to put it together!

  29. We never knew it was so complicated for Indians. This must be giving more business to businesses into tradition traditional tourism. If getting visa is tough then I believe people cannot travel freely.

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