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What If I'm Applying To a Schengen Country I'm Not Going To?

Last Updated : Jan 16, 2024

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30-Second Summary

Reasons for applying to a Schengen country I'm not going to:

    Faster visa processing times

    High approval rate at certain embassies

    More available appointment slots

    Flexibility

    Future travel plans

Applying for a Schengen visa even when you're not planning an immediate trip might seem unconventional, but it's a strategic move for future adventures.

There is one question that travellers always wonder about:

"Can I apply for my Schengen Visa at one Embassy and travel to a totally different Schengen Country?"

The answer is yes. In this post, I'll share everything I've learned, how I do it, and why you would want to do the same.

What Is A Schengen Visa, And Is It Valid For Every Country?

A Schengen Visa is a travel document that allows you to cross the borders of the Schengen Area. Simply put, it's a short-stay visa that allows you to enter a Schengen Country for tourism, short business trips, and other short-term purposes.

Be mindful that the Schengen Visa only allows you to visit the Schengen Zone for a maximum of 90 days within every 180 day period (this is known as the 90/180 day Schengen rule).

A neat thing about the Schengen Visa is that it can be used to enter any one of the 27 Schengen Member States:

Austria, Belgium, Croatia, 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.

What Does It Mean To Apply To Another Schengen Country?

Basically, all this means is that you'd be applying for your Schengen Visa at a different Embassy than that of your original destination.

Here's an example:

A while back, I wanted to travel to Portugal. Instead of applying for my Schengen Visa at a Portugal Embassy or Consulate, I applied for my visa at the Estonia Embassy.

Quick note: I'll be sticking to this example for the rest of the post.

Reasons For Applying At A Different Schengen Embassy

Applying for Portugal Schengen Visa at an Estonia Embassy might seem pointless. However, here's a few reasons why you would want to do this:

Faster Visa Processing Times

Some embassies process visa applications faster than others; this is just a fact. This is mainly due to the low demand for Schengen Visa applications at these embassies.

Countries like Italy, Spain, and France are popular tourist destinations. Therefore, embassies of these countries receive more visa applications. On the other hand, countries like Estonia, Lithuania, etc., receive fewer visa applications.

Interesting fact: In 2019 (before COVID-19), France issued around 3,2 million Schengen Visas, whereas Luxembourg only issued around 11 thousand visas.

In 2020, statistics suggested that these were the Schengen states with fewer visa applications submitted:

    Malta (27,701*)

    Slovenia (23,504*)

    Slovakia (21,685*)

    Iceland (18,020*)

    Luxembourg(11,251*)

High Approval Rate At Certain Embassies

Let's take Estonia, for example. In 2019 they reported that only 1.4% of applicants were rejected. The same can be said about Lithuania.

Their rejection rate was 1.3% in 2019. So applying for a visa for any of these Schengen countries will ensure that you get approved (as long as you meet the Schengen Visa requirements).

More Available Appointment Slots

Scheduling an appointment for your Schengen visa can be a tedious process as you won't always find a suitable appointment slot. However, certain countries have lots of appointment slots available.

Estonia, for example, is one of the Schengen Countries with the least visa applications. Therefore, they have more appointment slots available.

In many countries, you're required to make an appointment several months in advance. This could prove to be a problem, especially if your trip is imminent.

We suggest using AtlysBlack as you are guaranteed a visa appointment within 15 calendar days, meaning you get an expedited visa appointment.

No Embassy Available

In certain countries, there aren't any Schengen Embassies available. Therefore, you will need to apply at a different Schengen Embassy that has jurisdiction over the country you plan to visit.

This won't be a problem if you're a US citizen or US Green Card Holder.

Flexibility

A Schengen visa offers unparalleled flexibility for travelers. With a single visa, you can explore 27 European countries, each with its own unique charm.

Even if you don't have a specific destination in mind right now, having a Schengen visa means you're ready to embark on a European adventure whenever the mood strikes.

Future Travel Plans

One common reason people apply for Schengen visas when they don't have immediate travel plans is to keep their options open for future adventures. Obtaining a Schengen visa can be a time-consuming process, and having it in hand can make it easier to seize opportunities as they arise.

Whether it's a last-minute business trip or an unexpected vacation invitation, having a Schengen visa can be a game-changer.

How Do I Apply For My Schengen Visa At A Different Schengen Embassy?

You follow the exact Schengen Visa application steps as you would when applying for any other Schengen Visa.

    1

    Gather the required documents

    2

    Fill in your Schengen Visa application form

    3

    Schedule your Schengen Visa appointment

    4

    Attend your Schengen Visa appointment

    5

    Wait for your visa to be processed

    6

    Collect your new Schengen Visa

The key part here is to ensure that the required documents you submit support the purpose of your trip to "Estonia" and not your intended destination (Portugal, in my case).

Let's take a look at what documents need to change.

What Documents Need To Change When Applying At A Different Schengen Embassy?

Regardless of your travel plans, it's crucial to understand and meet the standard requirements for a Schengen visa application. These requirements typically include:

Quick note: These do not include all the Schengen Visa required documents you need to submit. Other documents include a valid passport, visa photos, etc.

The key part here is to include relevant documents that prove the purpose of travel to Estonia and not Portugal for our example discussed in this blog. Therefore, the following documents are the ones that will change:

The Schengen Visa Application Form

Within your Schengen Visa application form, you must state that you'll be traveling to Estonia and not Portugal. Your visa application will most likely be denied if you enter your destination as Portugal.

Proof Of Accommodation

When traveling to Estonia, embassy authorities will want to know where you plan to stay when visiting the country. Providing proof of accommodation in Portugal will not suffice. You'll need to provide suitable evidence that you have booked accommodation within Estonia.

"Do I need to spend money on this booked accommodation?" No, you don't.

You can get a refundable hotel or Airbnb reservation at plenty of establishments.

Your Return Flight Ticket

Another document required for the Schengen Visa application is a booked flight itinerary. The main purpose of your return flight ticket (or flight itinerary) is to show authorities that you plan to travel back to your home country after your trip.

Keep in mind that you'll need to submit a flight itinerary indicating flights to Estonia and not Portugal (according to the example we are discussing now).

Your Cover Letter

A Schengen cover letter is submitted to help support the reason for the purpose of your trip. Within your cover letter, details relevant to your trip to Estonia. Here are a few things you should include:

    Your personal details

    Where you plan to stay in Estonia

    What you plan to do in Estonia (an agenda)

    Flight details

    How you plan to finance your trip (be sure to attach bank statements that prove you have the financial means to support yourself in Estonia)

Remember: Because you're applying at an Estonian Embassy, your cover letter should support the purpose of your trip to Estonia and not Portugal.

Travel Itinerary

A Schengen travel itinerary, often referred to as a "Schengen itinerary," is a document that outlines the details of your intended travel plans within the Schengen Area.

The Schengen travel itinerary typically includes the following information:

    Travel Dates

    Destinations

    Accommodation

    Transportation

    Activities and Sightseeing

What To Expect During Your Schengen Visa Appointment

Now that you know about the documents let's talk about your Schengen Visa appointment.

As you know, you'll need to schedule a Schengen Visa appointment for your "Estonia Visa." At your appointment, you'll attend an in-person interview with an Embassy official. Here you'll answer some simple questions about your trip to Estonia. If embassy authorities ask if you plan to travel to any other Schengen Country, simply say no.

Don't be nervous! Remember, you can use your documents to support your answers.

The main purpose of the Schengen Visa interview is for embassy authorities to collect your biometric information (which consists of your fingerprints and a digital photograph).

After completing your Schengen Visa interview, your visa will be processed within 10 - 15 business days. After it's been processed, you can head back to the embassy to collect your new Schengen Visa.

What Happens When I Get My Visa? Can I Use It?

First of all, celebrate! You just received your Schengen Visa. Next, use it to travel to any Schengen Country you like - simple.

Is Immigration Going To Be Breathing Down My Neck?

No, If you're concerned about what will happen at immigration, don't be. Your Schengen Visa is valid and can be used to enter any one of the Schengen Countries. And in any case, immigration authorities will simply check that you have a visa to enter the Schengen Area.

"As a general rule, you may cross any Schengen border with a visa issued by any Schengen country." - European Union External Action

Do I Need To Change My Flights After Receiving My Schengen Visa?

No, you don't have to change the date or destination of any of your flights. Once you have your visa, you are free to travel to any Schengen country you would like to visit.

In addition, many airlines offer a dummy ticket in which you can then just confirm your flight and pay in full.

Good To Go!

Ok, so back to the initial question at hand:

"Can I apply for my Schengen Visa at one Embassy and travel to a totally different Schengen Country?" Yes, you can.

After reading through this post, you should have a clear understanding of how this process works and what to expect.

Government Sources

At Atlys, we thoroughly check every detail for precision. Our information is derived directly from reliable governmental sources, ensuring its genuineness. This article is designed using AI to provide clear and concise insights.

Travel.State.GOV

Frequently Asked Questions

People apply for Schengen visas without immediate travel plans for various reasons, including keeping their options open for future travel, business opportunities, or visiting friends and family.

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