How to apply for Schengen Visa in India

Applying for a visa is one of the most time consuming processes for Indians visiting most of the foreign nations. Although there are agents available to help with every step of the process. Still there are lots of documents to be arranged and timelines to be followed. This can get overwhelming. The same happened with us when we applied for our Schengen visa in India. So, here we put the one on ones about how to apply for Schengen visa in India. Although the content here is specific to our context. But the process will be the same no matter from where in India you apply for it and which Schengen country you apply for. The window for applying for visa opens 3 months prior to your date of departure to Schengen.

Schengen Visa

1. Decide through which country you will apply Schengen Visa in India

There are multiple countries which are part of Schengen. And out of these, there will be one through which you will be applying for your Schengen visa in India. It is determined based on a simple rule – the country where you are spending the major portion of your time during your stay in Schengen region is the one. Through the embassy of this country , you are supposed to apply for Schengen visa in India. In our case, we started our Schengen trip from Italy. And we also spent major chunk of our time here. So, we applied for our Schengen visa in India via the Consulate of Italy. And we applied via VFS Italy.

2. Find your center to apply for the Schengen Visa in India

There are multiple embassies of most of the Schengen countries in India. Most of them are in the major metro cities – Delhi, Mumbai , Chennai and Kolkata. Accordingly, the nearby states of India are grouped so that their applicants fall under the jurisdiction of one of these embassies. Some of the embassies do have offices beyond the four major metros defined above. We live in Karnataka. And that comes under the Mumbai office. So, we applied for our visa via Mumbai center of Italy Consulate.

3. Arrange the documents to apply for the Schengen Visa in India

Well, whether we like it or not, a huge plethora of documents is required even if you are applying for a tourist visa for Schengen. And for some of these documents, you will have to go and reach out to your employer (assuming you have a job), bank and several other places. So, here goes the checklist of documents required for applying Schengen Visa in India.

Document checklist

Cover letters

  1. A cover letter from your end stating your date of departure to and from Schengen region, countries that you will be visiting, with whom all you are going, who will be bearing the expenses during the travel and that you have made the arrangements for your travel as well as stay during this period.
  2. A letter declaring the details of your travel insurance.
  3. In case you have booked through a tour agency, a cover letter from their end in the same format as your own cover letter stating about your travel plans, with their sign and stamp.

Documents for employees

  1. Last 3 months salary slips.
  2. Past 3 years IT return copies.
  3. Last 3 months bank account statement of the account in which you get salary. Highlight the salary credit line in the statement. And ensure  to take the stamp and seal of the bank.
  4. Leave sanction letter from the employer, on their letter head, clearly stating that you are on leave during the travel and you will resume your job post the leave. Most of the companies follow standard template using which they will issue you the letter. For this, you first apply for the leave in your organization and then head to your HR or respective department for the letter.

Travel specific documents

  1. Copy of air tickets for both your departure and arrival.
  2. Hotel booking vouchers for all places of stay during your travel.
  3. A travel insurance (Minimum coverage requirement for Schengen is 30000 Euros at the time of this writing. And the insurance you can get from pretty much any of the standard Insurance providers in India)

Others

  1. The duly filled visa application form per applicant. It is available on respective VFS websites.
  2. A proof of identity. The checklist with the visa application form states what is accepted.
  3. In case your passport is issued from a different state of India and you are applying for visa from a different state then a proof of current address is required. The checklist with the visa application form states what is accepted as a proof of address.
  4. Your photograph. However the specification of the size, color and finish of photograph is specific. So check on their website regarding the requirements.

PS: These documents list is as per our experience when we applied for Schengen Visa in India via Italy Consulate. The requirements might vary slightly for others, but they are pretty much standard. And the list that we put here is assuming that you are holding a full time job with an employer. In case you are self employed or in any other occupation, some of the document requirements will vary for you.

4. Find where to submit your application to apply for the Schengen Visa in India

Although the consulate office are only located in a few cities. But to make the application processing faster, VFS offices are setup across most of the metros and major cities in almost all the states in India. So, most probably, you can check for the nearest VFS center to your address. And then you can take an appointment there online for your visa application submission. There are slots of 15 minutes assigned to everyone beforehand. Once you apply online and obtain the slot, head there with all your documents for submitting the application. We found that the process was quiet smooth.

Along with submitting your application, you can pay the Schengen visa fee at the VFS center. Either through cash or demand draft drawn in favor of the respective Consulate. We paid in cash. After the fee payment and application submission, you will get a receipt. It will have your application number and other details. Keep it preserved with you. As, you will need to show it later on to collect your visa.

5.Track your application

After applying, you can track the status of your application at the VFS website. The VFS will transfer your application to the consulate. And if everything is fine, they will grant the visa within next one week. In case any additional document is required, they will intimate it in the status message. You will also get an email intimation. In our case, after the first round of application submission, some more documents were asked. And we got an email stating exactly what was required. Then we arranged the documents and just walked in the VFS office to submit them, along with a copy of the mail received. You don’t need to take an appointment for additional document submission.

Finally, after the application is processed, the visa will be sent to VFS and status will be updated. Then you can collect the visa from the VFS office within the next few working days. And you are all set for your travel! PS: In case the consulate is not satisfied with your documents, or any other such reason, you might be called for a personal interview at the consulate. But that happens rarely.

Insider tips for quick processing of Schengen visa application

Be documents prepared

  • The accuracy of your documents submitted is directly proportional to the speed at which your visa will be processed. So make sure to keep all the documents ready in the form required. One of us thought that a certain document will do as address proof even when it was not mentioned in the checklist, and we almost ended up visiting the VFS office twice.
  • If there are additional documents required, submit them as soon as possible.
  • Keep your documents arranged in order of the visa application form checklist. Because the member at VFS desk will ask it in that order only. And keeping them in order will save you shuffling through them.

Know your VFS

  • VFS provides an option to skip the queues and submit your visa application faster. It is called Lounge service. However, it is not present in all the VFS centers. And it comes at an additional cost. So, you can take your call accordingly to go or not go for it.
  • VFS also provides option to courier your processed visa to your doorstep. In case you don’t have time to collect it from the office, you can opt for this facility at a slight additional fee.
  • All the members applying for visa should visit the VFS office at the time of application submission, including minors. Later, to submit additional documents, one person can visit and submit on behalf of everyone else. But he has to carry a letter of authorization from the rest of the applicants along with their identity proof.
  • Try to take the morning slot so that your application can be submitted before the rush starts.
  • Arrive at the VFS office at time and be ready with all your documents there. Carry an identity proof when visiting.
  • Normally, for security reasons, you can’t carry anything with you inside the VFS office except for your documents. So, avoid carrying valuables or anything much apart from your documents when you visit their office.

Everything you wanted to know to apply for a schengen visa in India | Documents required for schengen visa from India

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77 Responses

  1. Wow, that’s a long process. And writing this post is really beneficial for those who are also applying for Schengen Visa in India. At least, they already have an idea of what process they will have to go through.

    • Definitely a very long and lengthy process. I wish some times in the future all these paper works are done away with

  2. This is such a handy guide! It can be difficult to find such information online and I love that you have listed the steps in a comprehensive manner!

  3. Looks very helpful, thanks for sharing.

  4. Bonnita on safaris

    Great article. sounds like a tedious process especially if one doesn’t know what to do. Thanks a ton for sharing this and in detail.

  5. thesanetravel

    It looks like a very detailed and comprehensive guide for applying for a visa. The information you have provided is very helpful. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Tales of travelling sisters

    Oh this is going to be of great help for all the Schenegen visa applicants. I have applied for the visa myself so many times but still get confused about minor details. Bookmarking this post for future reference. Thank you for all the information:).

  7. A very detailed post. This would certainly help some one who is planning to apply for a Schengen Visa. Visa application is always a painful process.

    • Thanks Swati. It’s a complicated process and thus we felt needs proper documentation

  8. Very informative post! I didn’t realise you needed a visa to visit India. Do you know if there is an age limit on this kind of visa? Do all parts of India require a visa?

    • This post is about visa from India. But yes, you do need a visa to visit India as well, any part of India

  9. I remember applying for my visa in the UK when I travelled to India. It was a good few years ago now but I can remember it being pretty involved. It would be so lovely if we live in a visa free boarderless world. It would be beautiful for humanity, but also, I must admit, it would cut down on a lot of admin. 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

    • Thats so true. And exactly my thoughts. Wish we arrive at that world one day

  10. Not having to exhaust myself with this process, I feel exhausted just reading what you must go through to earn yourself a visa.

    A very comprehensive list!

    • ha ha.. thats true…the list itself seems tiring, think about the process

  11. Almost the same as our process in the Philippines. This is a helpful information and very detailed.

  12. Wow this post is so informative! Thank you for sharing all the details, they’re really helpuf.

    Samantha | https://samanthacarraro.wordpress.com

  13. This is a true help for my holiday to India 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  14. couplertw

    Useful and detailed info. Nice job. Having such a great passport I sometimes forget about how lucky i am 🙂

  15. Visas can be so tricky. Thanks for all this helpful info. At least you only need one Schengen visa for dozens of countries.

    • Thats true..hope the Schengen visa thing continues like this so that at least we apply for one visa and visit multiple destinations

  16. These are some useful tips for Indians. However if one isn’t an employee , some more docs are required. I wish these paper work goes away soon.

    • You are right Nisha. We would be glad to know what other docs are required for those not in regular employment.

  17. Thank you for these useful tips. Although we are not from India, this article will be very useful for us since we plan to apply for Schengen Visa. Considering we are Filipinos and we are not as “powerful” as Westerners, this would be quite a challenge. However, nothing is impossible. 🙂

    • Definitely, nothing is impossible. And as someone else commented, looks like the process is very similar in Philippines as well.

  18. Schengen visa is one of the toughest to score for Indians. I feel it is so unfair for us to go through all these rigorous processes whereas people on US passport can hang around the World visa free! Thanks for your detailed guide, I wonder what will someone submit if they don’t have 3 years of simultaneous IT returns (say I got a job in 2016 and I was unemployed before that, so what do I do?)!

    • You are right, we have to go through this tedious process , so can’t think of hopping off and on the places as we like. Have to plan way ahead. If you don’t have 3 consecutive years of IT return because you haven’t been in job for more than 3 years, I guess the employment letter will do confirming your job duration

  19. Ah visas, the bane of many a traveller’s life. Schengen sure does have its benefits…which is why I’m sad we in the UK are exiting the EU. But enough about that! I will say that, when I went to India in 2015, I found the visa process very taxing and time consuming. Apparently, they’ve streamlined it now so that it’s much easier, so fingers crossed it will be easier next time I come to visit!

    • I hope it gets more and more easier with time. As for UK, you know, we initially wanted to include it in our trip but just because it required a separate visa formality, we dropped the plan. We will visit here soon though

  20. I had no idea Indians had to go through such an arduous process just to travel outside of the country. I would feel it’s so invasive to have documents from an employer and a salary document. I’m glad you compiled this information together as it can help many in your situation go through a painless process.

    • Not just Indians Gina, most of the people except those from US and Europe have to go through such process. Imagine..

  21. I have been thinking of applying for a Schengen visa for a long time. I have not completed gathering all the necessary documents for the application. It also takes a while before a Schengen visa can be granted to a Filipino citizen.

  22. Applying for a visa is always a pain in the ass. Good you shared this information with everyone, I think this is for a lot of people very helpful!

  23. Thanks for laying out all the information relavant to applying for a Shenegen Vias in India. I agree, once you have your documents sorted before hand and you make sure they are in order, half of the work is done there and then only. I have seen so many people waiting in passport queues, only to leave the queue and get their remaining photocopies when their chance comes.

    • You are right Arnav. But then, the process also keeps getting changed a little bit here and there. So, even if people think they are well equipped, sometimes it turns out they are not. Wish this overcomplicated process gets simplified with time

  24. As a third world country, i think we also get to have the same (more or less) requirements when entering europe.. This article is a great help for Indians.

  25. Awesome detail. You really lay it all out so that anyone can figure out exactly what they need.

  26. Great information! Thanks for sharing!

  27. Very systematic presentation of relevant information.
    I wish everything became online process that would reduce so much of paper work.

    • I wish the same Indrani. There is a huge bundle of papers and a lot of effort that can saved on our part

  28. Nice detailed post here with detailed steps listed. Could be very useful to people who are planning to get a visa. I got this once via Switzerland and once through Italy.

  29. Great list! I have seen so many of my colleagues at work struggle with getting their visa paper work done when they travel to India, that this would have most certainly helped them. I will need to bookmark this.

    • Thanks Paula. Although this one is for visa from India to Europe. The steps might be similar for visiting to India as well.

  30. It’s also true with us Filipinos. It’s tedious for us to get a visa no thanks to the people who like to overstay in another country or live there illegally. It has sort of ruined it for the rest of us who don’t intend to do the same thing. I’m pretty sure your countrymen would find this guide really useful.

    • You are right Marge. I wish there were no boundaries between countries and the world would reach the level of maturity where we are free to travel across borders

  31. this is such a detailed post and anyone looking to apply for this visa should take a read through the steps! i remember when we had to get visas for china and it was a worry that we’d missed certain things. i’d def look out for posts like this if we traveled again!

    • Thanks Emma. We had similar experience with getting the visa. That’s why decided to jot it down

  32. Nicole Anderson

    My goodness, there is certainly so much to do and so much to get together. You have certainly laid everything out so logically through, making the process simple to understand and follow.

    • Thanks Nicole. The process is definitely tedious. Hopefully, the steps laid out will help fellow travelers

  33. Wow, this is truly a help for Indians planning to apply for Schengen Visa. Same here in the Philippines, we often really struggle to get a Schengen Visa. Anyway, I like how details this post is and you truly given us a step by step process on how to apply for Schengen Visa. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

  34. Thank you for giving a very useful information. I will be bookmarking this entry for future reference. The checklist are very specific! 🙂

  35. It is clear you have put a lot of work into this post, Neha. I have never had to apply for a Visa, but your notes have made me realize that when I do, I had better be organized!

  36. Important and useful info for people seeking entry into the Schengen countries. It is such a great convenience that the Schengen visa enables one to travel across so many countries of Europe. Some time back I had heard that the Schengen visa would be done away with and one would need to apply for individual countries. Hope that does not happen.

  37. Great article! I have been brushing up in my visa needs for our long-stent travel throughout Europe. Will keep this in mind for India, someday!

  38. My husband just visited India for the first time a couple months ago and the visa process was so long and complicated. Thanks for this info!

  39. It’s so detailed and something that I have been looking for. Thanks a ton for the great info. 🙂

  40. Very useful information indeed. From India, I had mine applied via Germany and had to go via German Consulate here in Chennai. But this was ages ago and now I think everything is via VFS!

    • Yes Bhusha. And that is a relief indeed. The process is simpler than before

  41. Have been looking for this everywhere. Glad I found it. Great job at collating such useful information 🙂

    • Thanks a lot! Hope it helps others save the hassle to collect info that we went through

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