Most people love the idea of travelling to Europe and not only because it is home to several beautiful places. One of the reasons why people love visiting the place is because you can visit several countries with just one visa.
Yes, the Schengen visa gives you the chance to visit 26 countries of Europe. In other words, you can easily plan a holiday to two or more countries of the Schengen zone without applying for a separate visa for each of these locations. With this note, we will look at some of the things to keep in mind when travelling to a Schengen country.
What is the Schengen Zone?
The Schengen zone is a group of 26 countries in the European continent. These countries are as follows: Austria, Belgium, The Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
If you want to visit the above mentioned countries for tourism, business, leisure, or recreation purpose, you need to apply for a short-term Schengen visa. This Schengen visa is usually valid up to 3 months and is available as single-entry and multiple-entry visa. If you are visiting more than one Schengen country, you can apply for a Schengen visa at the consulate of the country you are visiting first or where you are going to spend maximum time.
What is the Process of Applying for a Schengen Visa?
Before you apply for a Schengen visa, you need to first know whether you need a Schengen visa to visit any of the countries in the zone. This is because citizens of few countries in the world including Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, UAE, UK, USA, etc. do not require a visa for a short-term visit at the Schengen countries. If you do not belong to one of these countries, you need to apply for a Schengen visa before you visit the country.
Documents Required: When you apply for a Schengen visa, you need to submit a few supporting documents along with your signed visa application form.
- Two colored passport size photographs
- Your passport that has at least 3 months’ validity from the date of expiry
- Cover letter explaining the purpose of your trip
- Confirmed return ticket
- Proof of accommodation
- Proof of financial means to sustain yourself during your trip to Schengen area
Visa Interview: Before your visa gets approved, you have to attend an interview. This happens at the consulate where you have applied for the Schengen visa. Apart from the interview, your biometrics would also be taken here.
Visa Approval: Along with the documents, you also need to pay the visa fee. Once your documents are submitted and the visa fee is paid, you would receive the visa within 2 weeks. You would receive the Schengen visa in the form of a sticker on your passport.
Travel Insurance: Another document that you need to submit along with the other important documents is the travel insurance. This is extremely important as you would not receive Schengen visa approval if you do not have a travel insurance. The minimum coverage of the insurance should be Euro 30,000 and should include coverage of loss of important documents, loss of baggage, medical emergency, medical evaluations, and return of mortal remains because of death.
Tips to Remember when Travelling to a Schengen Country
- If you are on a solo trip, carrying a backpack would be a good idea to carry all your essentials. On the other hand, a wheeled suitcase would ensure that you can carry your luggage without hurting your back.
- Travelling light is the best way of travelling in Europe. Carry a few t-shirts/tops and bottoms and ensure that you can mix-and-match them to keep your wardrobe interesting.
- As holiday in the Schengen countries would involve lot of walking, it is important to carry a good pair of walking shoes. Do carry out some fancy shoes if you are planning to enjoy the nightlife of the European cities.
- Although the Schengen countries are generally safe, petty crimes like pickpocketing are quite common here. Hence, make arrangements to keep your valuables safe.
- Invest in a good money bag to keep your money and other valuables safe when you are out sightseeing.
- Always be aware of your surroundings when you are outdoors, especially in crowded places. This would prevent you from getting robbed.
- Make sure that a friend or family member has your detailed itinerary and multiple means to contact you.
- Before you leave for your holiday, ensure that you have the contact numbers of your country’s embassy in the Schengen countries you are planning to visit. This way you can contact the officials in case of any emergency.
The Schengen zone is filled with countries that are rich in beauty, history, and culture. Hence, you must visit some of the countries at least once in your lifetime. And when you visit the Schengen zone, the above mentioned tips wo