Applying for Schengen Visas at Embassies and Consulates
What is a Schengen Visa?
A Schengen Visa gives its holder the opportunity to visit the 26 European countries in the Schengen Area, with the standard short-stay visa allowing the holder to stay and travel within the Schengen states for up to 90 days.
Where to apply for a Schengen Visa - embassies and consulates
Schengen countries have very strict and clear rules on where you should apply for a Schengen Visa, but many applicants struggle to understand where they should apply. Figuring out which European embassy or consulate to submit your application to should not be too difficult, however, if you follow the correct steps.
It is important to make sure you apply at the right embassy, as applying at the wrong embassy or consulate will result in your application being refused - even if it is correctly filled out and there are no problems with you traveling to the Schengen Area.
How to figure out where to apply for a Schengen Visa
Three factors determine where you should file your Schengen Visa application - the number of countries you will be visiting, the number of days you will be spending in each, and the country you will visit first.
If you are planning to visit only one country, then you need to apply via the diplomatic representation of the Schengen state you will be visiting, situated in your country of residence.
If you are planning to visit more than one country, then where you need to apply depends on the number of days you will be spending in each state.
When spending an equal amount of days in each state, then you need to apply at the diplomatic representation of the country where you will arrive first. If you are spending an unequal amount of days in each, then you will need to apply at the embassy or consulate of the country where you will be spending more time.
Embassies and consulates of the Schengen countries
Once I’ve worked out which country I need to apply to, what do I do next?
When you have worked out which is your main destination country, check about its diplomatic representation in your home country, where it has its embassy or consulates, and whether these accept and process Schengen Visas.
What you need to do next will depend on the state you are applying to and where you live. You may have to lodge your application at their embassy or consulate, or a visa application center which your destination country uses to act on their behalf. You might also have to apply to an embassy, consulate or visa application center of another Schengen state, which acts on behalf of your destination country in your home nation. You might also have to apply via the embassy, consulate or visa application center in a neighboring country, which acts on behalf of the embassy in your country of residence.
In some larger countries, such as the U.S., one Schengen state has more than one embassy or consulate that accepts visa applications. In these cases, usually, the embassy and each consulate have their jurisdiction and you will need to check which one has jurisdiction over where you live. With many countries using visa application centers in larger countries to process visa applications, there may be one in a nearby city where you can submit your application.
You will need the required documents backing up your visa application. These include two recently taken passport-style photos and a passport or other travel documents that are less than 10 years old and valid for at least three months after your departure date from the Schengen Area. You will also need travel and medical insurance covering you up to costs of €30,000, a cover letter stating your itinerary and the purpose of your visit, as well as a flight itinerary and proof of accommodation during your stay, proof of your civil status, like a marriage certificate, and proof you have means of subsistence during your stay.
Related topics on Schengen visa
Frequently asked questions about applying for Schengen Visas at embassies and consulates
What happens if I apply at the embassy of the wrong country?
Applying at the wrong embassy or consulate may result in your visa being rejected or the embassy where you applied will direct you to the right one - but you will lose your application fee and need to pay for another visa.
What if my destination country does not have an embassy/consulate or visa application center in my home country?
If your destination country has no diplomatic representation in your home nation you will have to check whether another countries embassy is acting on their behalf or apply via an embassy in a neighboring country.
Why - if my destination country has a consulate in my home nation- have they told me to apply at the embassy of another country?
In some countries -Schengen States honorary consulates do not receive or process visa applications so they have a neighboring nation’s embassy or consulate acting on their behalf.