Schengen Visa Application and Document Requirements

26-Sept-2022

12 min read

When applying for a Schengen Visa (also known as a short stay visa), there are certain visa requirements you need to meet. Of course, it goes without saying that if you fail to meet these requirements, your visa application will be denied. Naturally, a denied visa is the last thing you want!

I frequently travel to the Schengen Area. I have found that the Schengen Visa document requirements are generally the same no matter the Schengen Member State you plan to visit.

This means:

Every time you apply for a new Schengen Visa, you'll need to collect the same required documents as you did before.

This post will explain each document requirement and how you can get it.

I'll also add what documents I usually submit for my Schengen Visas.

Here's what you'll find:


How To Effortlessly Get Your Schengen Visa?

Before I walk you through each document requirement, I want to share how I effortlessly apply for all my Schengen Visas.

My secret:

Atlys

Atlys is by far the easiest and quickest way to get your next Schengen Visa.

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Here's why I love Atlys:

It saves time, effort and guides me through each visa application. Basically, all I do is select a country, enter my travel dates, and provide my details. And then, Atlys does the rest.

Please check out our Schengen Visa guide for more information related to the Schengen Visa.


What Countries Require A Schengen Visa?

First, you'll need to know what countries require you to get a Schengen Visa.

You see, not all European Countries accept a Schengen Visa as a Tourist Visa. The Schengen Visa is only for countries that form part of the Schengen Area, also known as the Schengen Zone.

Here are the countries that require a Schengen Visa:

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.

So, if you plan to visit one of the Schengen Countries mentioned above, you'll probably need to apply for a Schengen Visa.

Not all nationals require a Schengen Visa to visit the Schengen Area. For example, US citizens don't need to apply for a visa when visiting the Schengen Area for tourism purposes. However, some US Green Card Holders (like myself) require one.

You can read more about who needs a Schengen Visa in the FAQ section.


What Are The Document Requirements For The Schengen Visa Application Process?

You'll need to submit a few documents for a successful visa application. It's not uncommon to feel stressed and overwhelmed by these document requirements, as there are quite a few.

My best tip to you

Create a document checklist before you start your visa application. For me, this is the best way to keep track of what I've already gathered and what I still need to get.

With that said, here are the documents you need to submit for your Schengen Visa application:

A Valid Passport

A valid passport (or travel document) is pretty self-explanatory. Just be sure that your passport is valid for at least 3 months beyond the date you intend to return to your home country. If your passport is close to its expiry date, it would be safer to apply for a new passport before applying for your Schengen Visa.

For example, if your planned trip is in February, ensure that your passport is valid until May/June.

Furthermore, ensure your passport is in good condition and has at least 2 blank pages available.

2 Recent Passport Photos

At first glance, this might seem like a simple requirement. But, even something as simple as your passport photos need to meet certain requirements.

Not to worry, you'll probably meet them without even knowing the requirements. Nonetheless, I'll link a document you can refer to and briefly explain the most common requirements.

  • Two identical photos. Not older than six months.

  • Photo size: 35x45mm or 2 in x 2 in

  • Your photos must be in color

  • Your head should cover most of the photo. There are certain exceptions depending on your religion

  • Ensure that your photos have a white background

For minors, the photo requirements are less strict. For example, children under the age of 5 do not need to smile, be centered, or look straight at the camera. Additionally, babies don't need to open their eyes when their photo is taken.

A Complete Schengen Visa Application Form

A completed Schengen Visa application form is probably the most important document on this list.

An incomplete Schengen Visa application is one of the main reasons a Schengen Visa is denied.

I've heard countless stories of visas being denied due to a small mistake made while filling out the application form. Yes. Something as small as a misspelled surname could be the cause of a denied visa.

That is why

Check, check, and double-check.

It's important to use your passport as a reference when filling out your Schengen Visa. Always ensure that the information you enter is correct.

Luckily, Atlys has an article covering the most common mistakes you should avoid when applying for your Schengen Visa.

A Flight Itinerary or Return Flight Ticket

Another important requirement is a flight itinerary or a return flight ticket. It's common for embassy staff members to ask for proof that you'll return to your home country after your trip. If you can't present proof, your visa will likely be denied.

You can easily prove this by providing a return flight ticket, flight itinerary, or flight reservations.

However, it's recommended that you get a flight ticket without making a payment. If your visa is denied, you would have wasted money on a flight ticket.

For this, I just use Atlys's flight itinerary tool. Which is free, by the way.

The importance of a flight itinerary is highlighted in this post. It outlines why a travel itinerary is required and how you can get it for free.

Proof Of Financial Means

When visiting a Schengen Country, you must prove that you have the financial means to support yourself. You're required to submit a document that proves this.

Documents you can present include:

  • Most recent bank statements

  • Credit cards

  • Pay stubs

  • An employment letter that states your salary

  • Any other documents that prove you have the funds

It's worth mentioning that each Schengen Country has its own specific financial requirements.

For example, for a Spain Schengen Visa, you'll need around €71 per day. But, for a Portugal Schengen Visa, you need a minimum of €45 per day.

Be mindful that the minimum financial requirements can change at any time. Therefore, it's best to research the required amount of a Schengen Country before you apply.

Or

Use Atlys. Atlys will automatically check that you meet the minimum financial requirements.

Proof Of Accommodation

During your Schengen Visa interview, you'll need to submit a document that indicates where you'll be staying during your visit. This is commonly known as proof of accommodation.

Such documents include:

  • A hotel reservation/hotel booking

  • An Airbnb reservation

  • A letter of invitation (if you plan to visit relatives or friends)

However

I wouldn't recommend paying for accommodation if you don't know the outcome of your visa.

For example, let's say you pay for accommodation, and your visa gets denied. In most cases, you won't get a refund. Or, if you do, it probably won't be equal to the amount you paid.

There are 2 ways you could still provide proof of accommodation without making a payment.

1. Use a hotel or Airbnb that doesn't require you to make a payment.

2. Use Atlys's hotel itinerary tool to get valid proof of accommodation without paying.

A Cover Letter

A cover letter is simply a letter that indicates the purpose of your trip. Embassy authorities want to know why you plan to visit the Schengen Area and what you plan to do there.

Your letter doesn't have to be fancy or formal. It just needs to outline the purpose of your trip.

In my cover letters, I usually include the following:

  • My personal details

  • The date I plan to travel

  • The date I plan to return to the US

  • What cities I'll be visiting

  • An agenda

  • My flight itinerary

In the event that you have booked tours or activities, attach them to your cover letter. This is the easiest way to prove that you plan to visit a Schengen Visa for tourism purposes.

Valid Schengen Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is a mandatory requirement for all visitors who need to apply for a Schengen Visa. There are plenty of insurance policies you can get. However, your travel insurance must meet a few requirements to be considered "valid."

The requirements for valid Schengen Travel Insurance are as follow:

  • It must provide minimum coverage of €30,000

  • It must provide coverage across the entire Schengen Area

  • It must cover any and all medical costs that may arise during your travel. This includes medical treatment, emergency hospital treatment, repatriation, emergency evacuation, and so on.

  • It must be valid for the duration of your stay. (So in our case, it must be valid for at least 2 weeks)

This is how I get my travel insurance

Simply put, I use Atlys.

The app automatically finds accredited travel insurance for you, effectively eliminating the time you waste on research and uncertainty.

You can also use a company that provides accredited Schengen travel insurance. Here are my recommended options:

Here are my 2 options for travel insurance:

I should mention that these are not the only companies that provide accredited EU travel insurance. There are plenty of options to choose from. In fact, some companies allow you to create your own "travel insurance package."

It's always best to research your options and decide after you've compared policies with each other.

You'll find that the Schengen Travel Insurance is also known as medical insurance or health insurance.

Employment Status Documents

You're required to submit documents based on your employment status. Depending on your employment status, you'll need to present the following:

If You're Employed

  • An employment contract

  • Your bank statements for the past 6 months

  • An acknowledgment letter from your employer stating you will be out of the office.

  • An Income Tax Return (ITR) Form

If You're Self-Employed

  • An Income Tax Return (ITR) Form

  • A copy of your company's most bank statement (previous 6 months)

  • A copy of your business license

If You're A Student

  • Proof that you're enrolled at a recognized education institution.

  • A letter from your school verifying that they have no objections to your absence.

If You're Retired

  • An official document or certificate that proves you're a retiree.

  • Your bank statements for the past 6 months.

Proof Of Civil Status

A Civil status document is not always required. However, it is listed as a required document. So, be sure to have a copy of one in case you need it.

Documents you can present are as follow:

  • A birth certificate

  • A marriage certificate

  • A death certificate

COVID-19 Requirements

This wouldn't be a "travel post" if I didn't include information about COVID-19 requirements.

It's common for COVID-19 requirements to change. Therefore, I can't specify the exact COVID-19 requirements and documents as each country has its own rules and requirements.

You must always check a countries COVID-19 restrictions and regulations before planning your trip. I use Atlys's COVID-19 tool for this.

One document that you'll probably need to submit is a negative COVID-19 test result. It's a standard requirement and is usually presented before you board your flight. Bear in mind that it should be a negative test result taken no later than 72 hours before your flight.

Also, you'll find that most countries have some sort of Health Declaration form you'll need to fill out before your flight. These forms are mandatory for all visitors. Even if you don't require a visa, you still need to complete the form.

Phew

As you can see, there are a few documents you'll need to submit for your Schengen Visa. And honestly, collecting all these documents can be tiresome at best.

So, to save yourself frustration, I recommend you consider using Atlys when applying for your Schengen Visa. You don't need to worry about all the required documents, as Atlys can provide most of these documents for you.


What Are The Schengen Visa Requirements For Minors?

You'll need to submit a few additional documents when applying for a Schengen visa for a minor. In addition to the other documents mentioned above, you'll also need to submit the following documents.

  • A Schengen Visa application form signed by both parents or a legal guardian

  • A birth certificate

  • A notarized parental authorization signed by both parents (or guardian) if the child will travel alone.

  • Passport or ID copies of both parents.

  • For students: a school certificate of enrolment/attendance, absence.

  • The visa must be applied for in-person (12 years of age or older) together with the presence of at least one parent or guardian.


What Are The Schengen Visa Requirements When Visiting Relatives Or Friends?

When visiting relatives or friends in the Schengen Area, you need to submit 1 additional document alongside the above-mentioned documents.

A letter of invitation.

Your invitation letter should include:

  • The relative or friend's personal details (name, phone number, etc.)

  • Their physical address

  • The date you plan to stay there

  • When you plan to leave

  • If they will be supporting you financially, they'll need to attach relevant documents that prove they have the financial means.

  • Copy of their ID or passport.

  • If your friend or relative is not a citizen of the Schengen country, they can include their residency permit.

And that concludes my guide of the required documents for your next Schengen Visa. After this guide, you'll be able to confidently apply and easily get your Schengen Visa approved. So, enjoy your next adventure to the Schengen Area.

Fact Checked By: Richard Nathan

Frequently Asked Questions

Do US Green Card Holders Need A Schengen Visa?

That depends on your home country. If you're a citizen of a country that enjoys the benefit of visa-free travel, you don't need to apply for a Schengen Visa. However, if your home country does not enjoy such benefits, you'll need to apply for a Schengen Visa.

How Much Is The Schengen Visa Fees?
  • For an Adult: $96

  • For children between 6-12 years of age: $48

  • For children younger than 6 years of age: Free

Keep in mind that these amounts are subject to change.

When Should I Apply For My Schengen Visa?

I recommend applying as early as possible. The earliest you can apply for your Schengen Visa is 6 months before your planned trip.

What Is The Processing Time For A Schengen Visa?

After submitting your application, you should get feedback from the Schengen Embassy within 15 calendar days. You should be aware that in exceptional circumstances, you may have to wait longer for your visa. This could be due to a surge in demand for Schengen Visas.

Where Should I Apply For My Schengen Visa?

Because you need to attend a visa interview, you'll need to apply at a Schengen Embassy (or Consular offices) or a Visa Application Center. The quickest way to get your application started is through Atlys.

Do US Citizens Need A Schengen Visa?

No. US citizens enjoy the benefit of visa-free travel. Meaning they don't need to apply for a Schengen Visa.

How Long Can I Stay in The Schengen Area?

Typically, you can visit the Schengen Area for 90 days within every 180-day period. This is known as the Schengen 90/180 day rule.

Remember, a Schengen Visa may only be used for tourism or short business trips.

Can I Extend My Schengen Visa?

Yes, it is possible, but only in very specific cases.

Read this guide to learn more about the Schengen Visa extension process, read this guide.

Who Needs A Schengen Visa?

The country you originate from will determine if you need a Schengen Visa to enter the Schengen Area.

Let's take a look at who needs a Schengen Visa to enter a Schengen Member State:

  • EU/EEA/Swiss nationals

Citizens of the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA), or Switzerland. Also, these nationals live, work, and study in any Schengen States.

  • US Citizens

Citizens of the United States of America can travel to the Schengen Area without a Schengen Visa. As a result, they do not need to apply for a Schengen Visa.

Some US Green Card holders require a Schengen Visa, while others don't. The rule is as follows: Your home country will determine whether or not you need a Schengen Visa. For example, you don't require a Schengen Visa if your passport allows visa-free travel within the Schengen Area. However, if you don't enjoy this benefit, you need a Schengen Visa.

  • Citizens from countries that don't enjoy visa-free travel to the Schengen Area

You'll need to apply for a Schengen Visa if this is you.

What Should I Do If My Schengen Visa Is Denied?

You can appeal the initial visa decision made by the Embassy. However, the process of doing this can be somewhat confusing. This post outlines how to appeal your initial visa decision.

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