How To Use The Tourist Schengen Visa For Business And Family Visits


11 min read

Let me tell you one thing, I have been traveling for years, and something I have realized is that applying for a Schengen Visa is not as easy as it sounds. Firstly, there are different types of visas, and there are different purposes of travel when applying for a Schengen Visa.

Generally the Schengen Visa application steps remains the same no matter the purpose of travel. However, the documents you need to submit may be a bit different.

This post will cover the fundamental differences between traveling for business, traveling to visit family/friends, and for tourism purposes. I will also explain why I always apply for a tourist visa when visiting friends and family or even when traveling for business purposes.

Let's get to it:

What Is A Schengen Visa?

The Schengen Visa is a short-stay visa that allows a person to travel to any member of the Schengen Area. With your Schengen Visa you can only visit the Schengen Zone for a maximum of 90 days within a 180-day period (this is known as the 90/180 day Schengen Rule.

To explain the Schengen Visa, I am first going to explain the Schengen Area. The Schengen Area refers to the EU passport free zone that covers most of the European Countries. These are the 26 countries that signed the Schengen Agreement which allows passport free travel.

Here you can have a look at the Schengen countries you can visit with your 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.

The 3 Most Common Purposes For A Schengen Visa

Now that you have a basic understanding of the Schengen Visa, I will explain the 3 most common purposes of travel for Schengen Visa applications. These common purposes included traveling for tourism, business trips, or traveling to visit friends or family.

There are 10 different purposes for Schengen Visa applications, but in my experience, these are the only ones that I have used during my trips to the Schengen Area.

Traveling For Tourism

Traveling for tourism is one of the most common purposes of travel to the Schengen Zone. Furthermore, tourism is the purpose I use most when traveling to the Schengen Area.

Tourism purposes commonly include things like experiencing traditional cuisines, visiting tourist attractions, or even attending a public cultural event.

You will have to apply for a Tourist Schengen Visa when traveling for reasons mentioned above. In addition, a Tourist Schengen Visa allows third-country nationals to enter the Schengen Area for a maximum of 90 days within 6 months for leisure travel or visiting Europe.

Here is a list for additional tourism purposes:

  • Visiting historical cities
  • Attending music festivals
  • Going to archeological sites
  • Visiting museums, etc.

Traveling For Business

If you want to travel for business purposes, you must apply for a Business Schengen Visa. This type of visa only allows you to enter the country for business purposes.

Examples of business purposes include interviewing for a new job, attending a seminar for your current occupation, or meeting with other companies in one of the Schengen Countries.

When I applied for my first business Schengen Visa, my visa was only eligible for 2 weeks instead of 90 days. This is important to note because, in some cases, a business Schengen Visa will only be issued for a certain amount of days. This will be determined by the dates you chose on your application form.

Traveling To Visit Friends Or Family

One time, one of my friends was living in Italy, and he wanted me to visit him. Therefore I had to apply for a Schengen Visitors Visa. This type of visa only allows you to visit friends or family members in the Schengen Area.

Although the Schengen Visa application stays the same for the purposes mentioned earlier, there may be a few additional documents that I had to submit.

What Are The Important Required Documents For Each Purpose?

Before explaining the different required documents for each purpose, it is essential to know that each application will generally have the same required documents such as a valid visa, visa photos, etc. The required documents will stay the same for each application, but different purposes require you to add additional documents.

Here you can read more about the required documents you will need when applying for your Schengen Visa application.

This section will explain the additional documents you will need for each of the purposes I mentioned earlier.

Required Documents For Tourism Purposes

The main requirement of a tourist visa is to prove that you'll be traveling for tourism purposes.

To prove you are traveling for tourism purposes, you'll need the following documents:

A cover letter might not be mandatory, but it helps explain the purpose of your trip. For example, you can include which tourist attractions you will visit, which cities you will see, etc.

Accommodation that proves you'll be traveling for tourism purposes, including hotel reservations, Airbnb bookings, etc. This indicates to authorities where you will stay during your trip.

This document's primary use is to indicate that you'll return to your home country after your trip. This is usually your flight ticket to and from your origin country.

  • Proof of sufficient funds:

You must prove that you have the financial means to support yourself. This will include payslips, pension funds, or bank statements.

Quick note: The links provided in the required documents can be used to acquire your flight itinerary and proof of accommodation through Atlys (for free). You can use these documents when submitting your application. If you need more help with your application, you can apply through Atys.

Required Documents For Business Purposes

If you are planning on applying for a Business Schengen Visa, there are a few additional documents you must provide. These documents are different from general ones, and it takes more time to get.

To prove you are traveling for business purposes, you will need the following documents:

This letter will describe the purpose of your travel and the itinerary of the days you will be spending in the Schengen Area. Your employer will write this letter, and it must be submitted alongside your other required documents.

This letter will be written by the partner company in the Schengen Zone, and it will be emailed to the corresponding consulate. This letter must appear as an invitation to attend meetings or other relevant events.

As you can see, these documents are a bit more complicated to get than the regular Schengen Tourist Visa application documents.

Required Documents For Visiting Family Or Friends

Here is where things can seem to get a bit more complicated. When I applied for a Schengen Visitors Visa application, the additional documents were tough to get and very time-consuming.

Although you still need the general required documents as mentioned above, the additional documents are as follows:

Your relative or friend who resides in the Schengen country will have to write an invitation letter inviting you to visit them. This letter must be accompanied by a copy of their passport or a residency permit if they aren't citizens of the respective Schengen Country.

After they have written the invitation letter, they must take it to their local police department to be authenticated. As soon as it is authenticated, they can send you the letter, which must be attached to your application.

The sponsorship letter proves the means of subsistence. This letter is written by your relative or friend who states they will pay your expenses on their behalf (if applicable). This letter must be accompanied by their bank statements that prove they have the means to support you.

Why I Suggest To Only Apply For The Tourist Schengen Visa

After reading the above document requirements, it is worth pointing out that you will need the same documents when applying for a Schengen Tourist Visa. However, if you are applying for a visitors visa or a business visa, you will need additional documents.

In my opinion, it is more beneficial to only apply for the Schengen Tourist Visa. The main reason being that you're more likely to receive a longer duration of stay within the Schengen Area than other types of Schengen Visas; and it is way less effort.

General Questions That You May Have

I know there are a few questions you might have after reading the post, but don't worry, as I believe you will find the answers below:

Can I Use A Schengen Tourist Visa For All Travel Purposes?

Unfortunately, the answer is no.

The reason is that not all the required documents are the same for each purpose. An example would be for medical purposes. When you apply for a Medical Schengen Visa to receive health care, you will need documents proving your needs for health treatment. Generally, a medical practitioner will need to provide a letter indicating that you require medical attention abroad.

You can use your Schengen Tourist Visa for the 3 common purposes previously mentioned.

What Will Border Authorities Say When I Present My Tourist Visa when Traveling for Business purposes?

In most cases, they won't say anything. Instead, they want to check that you have a valid visa to enter the Schengen Area. After that, authorities will stamp your visa at border control, and then you're free to enter the Schengen Area.

In the slightest chance that they ask you for documents, ensure that you can provide your passport, flight itinerary, proof of accommodation, and proof of sufficient funds.

What to expect during my Schengen Visa appointment?

This is something all people are stressed about, but please do not worry as this is only a short in-person interview where you will have to submit your documents. After that, the consulate or embassy staff member will ask you a few questions regarding your trip; and collect your biometric information (if you've not submitted it already).

If you are stressed about the appointment, attach a travel schedule that describes what tourist activities you are planning to do. For example, once I traveled to Italy for business purposes. Even so, I still went on a tour to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

When Visiting A Friend, Will Authorities Check My Accommodation Within The Schengen Area?

This is not something to worry about as it is only needed during your application process. Proof of accommodation is only required when applying for a Schengen Visa. Once you receive your visa, you're free to change any previous accommodation you might have booked. Meaning you're free to visit your friends or relatives in the Schengen Area without being concerned about authorities following you around.

Can I Extend My Schengen Visa?

In some cases, you might want to stay a bit longer in the Schengen Area. For example, maybe an extra meeting is scheduled, or your friend wants you to attend a cultural event outside your entry and exit dates. Generally, you're only allowed to stay in the Schengen Area for the duration indicated on your Schengen visa.

So back to the question, " Can I Extend My Schengen Visa?"

Although the short answer is yes, I do not recommend this route. You can only extend your Schengen Visa for specific reasons, making it quite tricky.

Can I Apply For My Schengen Visa At One Embassy And Travel To A Different Schengen Country?

Yes, you certainly can. As someone that has done it before, I can assure you that it is possible. In fact, here are a few reasons why you would want to apply for a Schengen Visa at a different Schengen Embassy:

  • Faster Visa Processing Times
  • Higher Approval Rates At Certain Embassies
  • More Available Appointment Slots
  • No Embassies Available In Certain Countries

To Summarize

As you can see, it's more beneficial to apply for a Tourist Visa even if you're traveling for business purposes or visiting a friend. The application process for each type of visa is the same except for one difference, the required documents. When traveling for purposes other than tourism, you need to submit additional documents, which I find tedious.

Nonetheless, this remains my personal opinion. In the end, this remains your choice. I just wanted to point out that it's possible to apply for a tourist visa when visiting for other purposes such as business and visiting friends or family members.

Written By: Jenny Sutherland
Fact Checked By: Armando Du Preez

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