When you plan a trip to the Schengen Area, you'll need to present a few documents to border authorities before you can enter the country. In addition, if you need to apply for a Schengen Visa to visit one of the Schengen Member States, you'll need to submit certain required documents for your visa application to be successful.
Out of personal experience, I know that failure to submit the correct documents for your Schengen Visa can lead to a rejected visa. The last thing you want to worry about is appealing your visa decision or reapplying for your visa.
One important overlooked document you'll need to submit is the Travel Itinerary. In most cases, when you plan to travel the Schengen Zone, Embassy officials will ask you to present a Travel Itinerary.
Your travel itinerary will commonly consist of your flight itinerary and proof of accommodation. Both of these documents will help support the reason for your trip to the Schengen Area.
A flight itinerary is a suggested route for your flight, whereas proof of accommodation (or hotel itinerary) is where you plan to stay in the Schengen Area.
A travel itinerary can also include other relevant details, such as scheduled tours or activities that you plan to do. These minute details can help support your intended trip to the Schengen Area. However, Embassy officials will commonly ask for a complete flight itinerary and proof of accommodation during your visa appointment.
Quick note: During the Schengen Visa application process, you'll need to gather and submit each document separately.
In this post, I'll walk you through the flight itinerary and proof of accommodation.
The reality is. If you decide not to submit a travel itinerary (like me) alongside your Schengen Visa application form, there is a very high probability that your Schengen Visa application won't be successful. In short, you probably won't get your visa.
Many applicants fail to understand the importance of the travel itinerary, and don't bother to get one. If this is you, I recommend getting a travel itinerary as soon as possible. If you don't have the time to get one, reschedule your appointment and ensure you collect all the required documents for your Schengen Visa before attending your appointment.
As I previously mentioned, when applying for your Schengen Visa, one of the required documents is a complete travel itinerary.
If you're planning to visit the Schengen Area, you'll need to apply for a Schengen Visa to enter the destination country.
The following 26 Counties in Europe form part of the Schengen Zone:
Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
Unlike me, US citizens enjoy the benefit of visa-free travel to plenty of countries, including the 26 Schengen Countries. Meaning, they don't need to go through the tedious process of applying for a Schengen Visa. Instead, US citizens only need to gather a few documents like their passport and proof of sufficient funds. After that, they can travel to their desired destination. However, US citizens will still need to go through the countries border control, where their passports will be stamped for entry. During this process, authorities always have the right to ask a foreign national what the purpose of their trip is, and if they can't present a valid reason, they may risk being sent back to their home country.
So, to avoid any delays or frustrations, I highly recommend that you carry with you a complete travel itinerary that will help support the purpose of your visit. Furthermore, this will also indicate that you plan to travel back to your home country. After all, rather safe than sorry.
Yes. Unlike US citizens, US Green Card Holders don't enjoy the benefit of visa-free travel to the Schengen Area. Meaning, they need to apply for Schengen Visa. One of the required documents for the Schengen Visa is a complete travel itinerary.
The primary purpose of your proof of accommodation is to prove to authorities where you'll be staying in the Schengen Area.
In Article 14 (1), the "Visa Code" specifies:
"When applying for a uniform visa, the applicant shall present:
Documents indicating the purpose of the journey;
Documents in relation to accommodation, or proof of sufficient means to cover his accommodation."
During your Schengen Visa application, you can submit the following documents that are considered as proof of accommodation:
If you're planning to stay at a hotel or hostel, you can provide a document that includes your hotel reservations, address, duration of stay, email details, and a contact number.
If you have rented a place to stay (house, condo, apartment, etc.), you must provide a rental agreement, which includes the details of the land and the place of stay.
If you plan to visit a family member or friend(s) in the Schengen Area, you must submit an invitation letter from said host. The letter must include a copy of the host's ID, address, phone number, personal details, and the duration you plan to stay.
Students who plan to stay in a dormitory will need to present a signed contract between the dormitory and the student. The contract must include all relevant details such as an address, phone number, and acknowledgment that you'll be staying there.
A flight itinerary is a detailed document that includes all your travel information. In simpler terms, it's a draft (reserved but not purchased) flight reservation showing your round trip or plans of returning to your home country ('proof of onward travel').
If the term travel itinerary is unfamiliar to you, let me list the most commonly used terms:
Booked Flight Itinerary
Flight Itinerary for Visa Application
Air Ticket Booking
Dummy Air Ticket for Visa
All these terms have one thing in common, a document that indicates you have valid travel plans (flights, cruizes, etc.) to the Schengen Area.
Your flight itinerary will include the following information:
The airports where you'll be departing from and arriving at
Connecting airports, if there are any
The dates and times of your planned flight
Airports (IATA codes)
Your passenger details such as your name and so on
Meal preferences (if applicable)
Your confirmation number
Many people get confused between the use of a flight itinerary and a flight ticket. A flight itinerary is used as an overview for your planned trip. It's mainly used to indicate your travel dates, flight numbers, and where you plan to travel. A flight ticket is the physical pass that allows you to board your flight.
In most cases, Embassies/Consulates will allow you to present a flight itinerary rather than a flight ticket. This is because embassy officials understand that it can be quite costly to purchase a flight ticket before knowing if your visa application is successful. However, some Embassies will require you to present a flight ticket when you collect your new Schengen Visa.
Quick tip: During your Schengen Visa Appointment, ask embassy officials if you're required to present a flight ticket when you collect your new visa.
When you plan to travel to the Schengen Area or apply for a Schengen Visa, you'll need to present a flight itinerary or flight ticket that indicates where you'll be traveling too. Authorities will want to know what you plan to do in the Schengen States and if you plan to travel back to your home country after your visit. In most cases, your flight itinerary will help support the purpose of your trip.
The Embassy will ask for a flight itinerary for the following reasons:
The Schengen Embassies and Consulate's main concern is that foreign nationals might overstay in the Schengen Area. Your flight itinerary will help Embassy officials determine whether you plan to overstay in the Schengen Area. The best way to prove you won't overstay in the Schengen Area is to present a flight itinerary. Your flight itinerary will show your departure and arrival times and dates to and from the Schengen Area. It will help assure Embassy or Consular officials that you don't exceed your allowed stay in the Schengen Area.
Depending on the purpose of your trip, authorities will need to decide the length of your Schengen Visa. For example, suppose you plan to travel to Spain for business purposes. In that case, you'll be granted a single entry visa that is valid for the number of days you need to conclude your business in Spain. Not only does your flight itinerary help prove the purpose of your trip, but it also allows embassy officials to make a more informed decision on the amount of time you're allowed to stay in the Schengen Area.
The Schengen Agreement has specific rules regarding the port of entry. All Schengen countries must obey these rules. If you plan to travel to more than one Schengen Member State, you'll need to apply for your visa at the correct Embassy. Sometimes it can be unclear where you should apply for your Schengen Visa. Providing a complete flight itinerary can help Embassy officials determine if you're applying at the correct Embassy.
For example: Suppose you plan to travel to Greece for 7 days, France for 10 days, and Portugal for 20 days. In that case, you'll need to apply for your visa at the Portuguese Embassy/Consulate. If you apply at the Greece Embassy, authorities will kindly ask you to reapply at the correct Embassy.
Quick note: Keep in mind that the flight itinerary is not the only document you'll need to submit. In addition, you'll need to present other documents like proof of valid medical insurance, proof of accommodation, bank statements, and other relevant travel documents.
The recommended answer would be no. It is possible to purchase your travel itinerary before your visa appointment. However, should you do this and your visa application is unsuccessful, you would have wasted a lot of money on a planned trip that couldn't happen.
Embassies/Consulates are aware of this matter. Therefore, they don't require you to submit fully purchased flight tickets or accommodation. During your visa appointment, you can present a reserved travel itinerary that you can cancel if necessary. Not making an official payment for your travel itinerary is highly recommended. Nonetheless, the option is always yours to make.
The Embassy won't require you to purchase proof of accommodation or an actual flight ticket in most cases. Meaning you can make a reservation instead of a purchase.
1. Atlys's Free To Use Itinerary Tools
Atlys is a convenient way to apply for your tourist visa (to anywhere). For someone like me, who hates the tedious process of applying for a tourist visa, I use Atlys for all my visa applications. Not only does it simplify the entire process, but it also automatically generates the required documents for you.
With Atlys, you can get your flight itinerary and hotel itinerary in a matter of seconds. The best part, it's absolutely free and available for anyone. There are no hidden charges or cancellation policies you need to concern yourself with.
This is by far the easiest way you can get a complete travel itinerary.
2. Get An Itinerary From A Travel Agent (Without Paying) - Book On Expedia
Expedia is a convenient way to plan your next trip to the Schengen Area. It has a large number of vacation packages which you can choose from. When you select a package, you'll receive a complete flight itinerary and hotel booking, which you can submit during your Schengen Visa appointment. However...
It's worth mentioning that if you wish to cancel your booking (and get your money back), you can only do this within 24 hours of purchasing the vacation package. This can prove to be a problem. Here's why:
When you've finally attended your Schengen Visa appointment, you'll need to wait for feedback from the Embassy. Unfortunately, receiving feedback can take more than 24 hours. This means, if you pay for your package and receive negative feedback after 24 hours, you'll have spent a significant amount on a trip that can't happen. Moreover, the amount paid back to you may not always be the full amount. In addition, Expedia will most likely pay your money back in credits, which you can only use through Expedia. Therefore, before using their services, I recommend reading through Expedia's T&C's.
3. Book Using Airline Miles And Cancel
Some airlines will allow you to hold a reservation for up to 5 days. However, the purchase must be made using your airline miles. Once you've made the purchase, you can print out your flight itinerary and present it during your Schengen Visa appointment. Then, if you receive unfavorable feedback, you can cancel your flight. Nonetheless, you'll still need air miles to make such a purchase, and not everyone is fortunate enough to have.
4. Purchase A Fool-Proof Refundable Flight Ticket
As the name suggests, another option is purchasing a refundable flight ticket. This is a fool-proof method of getting your flight itinerary. However, there is a cost that comes along with this. It isn't absolutely free.
First, you'll need to pay for the refundable ticket, which usually costs more than the standard ticket. Secondly, there is ordinarily a cancellation fee of around $100. Moreover, you'll need to wait a few days or even weeks to receive your refund.
5. Reserving a Flight Ticket With A Free Hold Option Ay Airlines And Online Booking Websites
Some airlines and online booking websites offer a free-hold option for 2 days. However, if, for some reason, your feedback takes longer than 2 days, you'll need to pay a certain cancellation fee if you wish to cancel your booked flight.
Throughout this post, you've learned everything you need to know about your travel itinerary for your next Schengen Visa application (even how to get one for free). Out of personal experience, I know what it's like to get your visa denied due to submitting incorrect documents. Learn from my mistakes and ensure that your next Schengen Visa application is successful.