What you need to know when applying for Schengen Visa

Schengen Visa is the most popular visa which travellers apply for and unlike UK Visa which you can only use to visit countries in the British territory, Schengen Visa allows you access to visit all the countries within EU and some countries outside EU but has Schengen arrangement like Switzerland, Norway and Iceland. Knowing which countries are part of EU or not is important if you want to do VAT refund for your shopping. You can read more about it in this article.

How long does it take to have your Visa issued?

After Covid in general it takes 4-5 weeks for a visa to be issued. Bear this in mind because the process now is a lot longer than pre-Covid where it can take 5 to 10 working days. Because of this you can start applying for a visa as early as 6 months before your travel date. Some countries might offer Visa priority service on quota basis for additional fee.

Which countries should you apply to?

If you are going to travel to more than 1 European country, you need to apply to the country you are going to stay the longest. If there are countries with equal stay then chose the country you are flying into and stay the longest.

How many days of stay do you usually get from your Visa?

This varies from one country to another. In general usually your visa starts effective on the day you put as your travel date in application form and they will give you additional 1 to 2 weeks as buffer time after the date you state you are leaving the country. Countries differ on how strict or generous they give the buffer. For example Germany is very strict where they put no buffer while France usually give a three month visa starting from the date where your visa is issued. If you are stating you are visiting a family member France give 6 months Visa. However the documentation required is also more complex.

How to Apply

These days most of Schengen countries visa processing are handled by a third agent instead of directly by the Embassy. Other than France who is handled by TLS Contact, most EU countries are handled by VFS Global. To go to the correct website for applying Visa to Germany for example type: “Germany Visa for Indonesian”.

Go to the link via VFS Global to start your application process

Step by Step Process in applying for Tourist VISA

1. Identify Visa Type

The first step is to determine which visa type you need, and check whether you’re eligible to apply for it. You’ll also need to know the documents that you’ll have to submit along with your application, how long the application might take and fees you’ll have to pay. If your documents are not in English, you may need to get translations prepared before applying.

2. Begin filling in your online application in the link provided in VFS website. It will direct you to each country’s VISA application. For example, German Visa Schengen application is thru Videx.diplo.de
Once the application form is completed, print it, sign it, and bring it with you to the Visa Application Center for submission.

3. Book an appointment
Once you have filled in your online application, you need to book an appointment to submit your documents, have your fingerprints and photo taken at Visa Application Center. Create an account on their website and don’t forget your password. Once you’ve booked your appointment, you’ll receive an appointment confirmation email along with the letter of appointment. If you are part of a family or group, you’ll have to book individual appointments for each member of the family or group. Just set a back to back timing for each member of your family. There will be a choice for additional services such as below. I usually chose the prime time if I travel with my kids because they have less flexible timing due to school time.

4. Come to your appointment at Visa Application Center

Aim to arrive 10 minutes before your appointment. If you are late more than 15 minutes, you are required to make new appointment schedule via online. Every applicant has to come for the appointment for validation and biometric. Few countries such as Germany and France have exemption that children below 12 years do not need to be present. But this is not the norms.

Customers who have provided fingerprints/biometric for Schengen visa application(s) in the last 59 months can choose to skip this process but there is a catch that says if the embassy cannot retrieve your biometric they will call you again and ask you to come to do biometric again.

After the officer validating your applications and documents you will be asked to do biometric. A digital fingerprint scanner will collect images of all 10 fingers, and at the same time a digital photo will be captured. This is a quick, discreet and non-intrusive process.

5. Pay your fees
Now each country differs on when the Visa payment will take place. There are countries who requires you to pay online as soon as you submit the online application and before you can make appointment. There are also countries who only require payment at the Visa application center such as France. On top of Schengen Visa fee, you will also have to pay for handling fee and any premium services you chose which is provided by the Visa application center.

Example of Schengen Visa fee for Germany in 2022

In general, children between 6-12 years old only pay half of the fee and free for 6 years old. However if you use agent, the agent will charge you with full fare for children. Again why I prefer to handle Visa application myself and pay premium service directly with the official Visa application center.

6. Track your application
If you would like more detailed tracking information, you are able to get updated by SMS sent directly to your phone (for a fee). You can opt this additional service at time of your appointment at Visa Application Centre. By default you will get e-mail notification and you can also track your visa application status online at the website where you make your appointment. Use the Reference Number present on the invoice/receipt issued by the Visa Application Centre along with your last name to access this service.

7. Collect your Passport

You will receive email notification when your passport is ready for collection. Before Covid you will have to collect it yourself or send someone to collect it with Power of Attorney letter. However after Covid, you are automatically asked to pay for courier service so the passport will be delivered to you.

What documents are required for Visitor Schengen Visa?

Just like any other countries, what the embassy is looking at for their decision making is these 3 criteria:

  1. Purpose of your visit
  2. Intention to leave
  3. Sufficient funds

With the above objective in mind, here’s what you need to provide:

  • Your flight ticket booking, itinerary, and accommodation during your stay. If your itinerary states your are moving from one country to another by train or bus then you also need to show evidence of train or bus booking. For accommodation I usually provide evidence from Booking.com which have many cancellable options and I try keeping my itinerary simple.
  • Family Card/ Kartu keluarga and Marriage certificate to show you have ties in the country you are currently living and there is no risk that you are not going to leave the Schengen countries you’re visiting. Check whether the country you’re applying request an english translation or not. For example Norway requires English translation but France doesn’t.
  • If you are travelling with your children, you need to provide student verification letter from their school and their birth certificate as a proof of family ties
    If you are not travelling with your Husband and just your children, your husband need to provide a letter of consent.
  • Travel Insurance for the duration of your stay
    VFS/TLS usually provide a list of recommended Insurance companies. I usually get my travel insurance from ACA but after Covid I buy my travel insurance from Allianz because they are one of a few who has Covid coverage (they cover flight delay cost and additional Hotel if your trip is delayed because you are infected with Covid. But you need to provide the official diagnostic that you are infected with Covid.
  • If you are an employee you need to provide the following :
    Employment letter from the company you work for, stating that you are applying for a Visa, travel date and that you will be coming back to work
    Salary slip for 3 months. This needs to tally with your answer in the application on How much you earn in a year (if you have an income)
    Bank account for 3 months with sufficient balance to show that you have enough money to fund for your travel in the Schengen countries. The balance need to be higher than what you input at the application when you answer how much you think your trip will cost (if there is such question).
  • If you are self-employed or entrepreneur then you need to provide the following:
    Deed of Incorporation of the company you own
    Your company Bank account
    Your Bank account for 3 months with sufficient balance to show that you have enough money to fund for your travel in Schengen countries. The balance need to be higher than what you input at the application when you answer “How much you think your trip will cost” (if there is such question).
  • If you are not working you need to provide your sponsor’s detail and his/her financial information such as his employment status and Bank account just like above.

I hope this tips help. Best of Luck with getting your Visa and enjoy your trip!

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