What is an invitation letter for my Schengen Visa application?

An invitation letter or a proof of accommodation for your Schengen Visa application is a written document from a person who you plan to visit in a Schengen Area country. They will be inviting you to stay with them or may represent the business or institution that provides the reason for your trip. By default, the writer of the letter guarantees that you will not stay in the country illegally.

What documents are required for a Schengen Visa application?

Is an invitation letter mandatory when applying for a Schengen Visa?

They are not for tourism purposes. However, if you are visiting family or friends, or need to visit Europe for business or educational reasons, obtaining an invitation letter is often required - especially for work reasons.

An invitation letter is looked upon as important by visa officials as it explains the purpose of your visit, gives a specific time frame for your stay, and offers immigration officials a point of contact should they believe you might be overstaying your visa. Therefore, getting one will make it much more likely you are granted a visa.

Are there different types of invitation letters?

As there are many reasons to travel to the Schengen Area, there are also several different types of invitation letters. These include a invitation letter from friends or family, a business invitation letter, an invitation to study, a sponsor’s letter to attend an event or conference, and a medical invitation letter.

Each type of invitation letter will also require additional supporting documents to prove that what is written in the letter is true. Officials won’t accept letters as valid without these documents.

Where can I get a Schengen Visa invitation letter?

You must obtain your invitation letter from whoever is sponsoring your trip - so it could be from friends or family, or an official letter from the institution where you are studying, a sponsor’s letter to attend an event or conference, or from your work or another company inviting you on a business trip.

Each type of invitation letter will also require additional supporting documents to prove that what is written in the letter is true- these can be obtained alongside your letter or may already exist - such as proof of your family relationship, your acceptance letter from your course, or proof of employment. Officials won’t accept letters as valid without these documents.

Invitation for France visa: Proof of Accommodation 

In France, for example, you need an official document called a proof of accommodation or attestation d'accueil in French.

It is a form drawn up by the person living in France with whom you will stay. They can request it from their local town hall. The certificate is issued if the host meets certain conditions, and must include: 

  • the identity of the signatory hosting you, your passport number, identity, and nationality, details of where they plan to host you,
  • the nature of the accommodation, and who (you or your host) is taking out travel and medical insurance covering your stay.

The form, known as Cerfa n° 10798*04, or an attestation d’accueil, is signed at the town hall by your host. One form must be completed for the visa applicant, however, the spouse and minor children from abroad can appear on the same certificate.

Invitation for Germany visa

An invitation for German visa proves the purpose of the intended journey. Therefore, no special formalities are required.

The person who invites you intends to cover the expenses associated with the trip? A formal document to cover all costs (declaration of commitment) has to be presented with the visa application.

Source: Federal Foreign Office

What do I need to submit with a business invitation letter?

If you need to travel to the Schengen Area for business purposes, like meetings with investors, suppliers, potential customers, or a conference, you need a letter of invitation specifying your business relationship and what you will be doing during the time you are in the country. It is a good idea for you to attach an itinerary of the business activities to the invitation letter so you can show your work plans.

For instance, in France, this could be an invitation letter from a French company wishing to invite one of its employees to go to visit for a meeting or seminar - or from a firm boss who wants you to attend a trade fair. This must describe the activity you plan to attend, its business purpose, the duration of the event, and the location of the meeting, seminar or conference.

If you are an employee, you should also include documentation from your employer confirming your status within the company and details of your work. These should include your job position, dates of employment, salary, and why you must travel for business purposes.

In Germany, for example, it is mandatory to include a recent and signed business letter from your German employer confirming how long you have been employed, your business relations with the German company, the purpose of your travel, the duration of your business trip(s), if planned, and a guarantee to cover all travel expenses. Or, if visiting a business partner, you need a recent and signed formal invitation from your German business partner, stating your business relationship, the purpose of the trip, its duration, and if applicable, a confirmation that your expenses will be covered. If planning multiple trips, your letter will need to state this - and if visiting more than one company office, you will need a letter from each that is an original document.

Each country may have different requirements, so it is worth checking on the website of the immigration authorities of the country you want to visit. For instance, details on writing a Swiss letter of invitation or sponsorship are available here : ch.ch/en/letter-invitation-and-declaration-sponsorship/.

What do I need to submit with a sponsor’s invitation letter?

Those who are invited to a conference to give a presentation, speech, or attend a sporting or cultural event or trade show, should include an invitation letter from those who want you to attend. The letter must say why you are needed at the event, and other details such as the itinerary, conference dates, and where you will stay. The sponsor must indicate whether they are paying you to participate and are covering your expenses. The letter needs to clearly show the contact information and, if applicable, the registration of the company or person sponsoring or organizing the event.

What do I need to submit with an invitation letter to study?

If you are going to the Schengen Area to study in a university or a college, you must prove that. To do so, officials at the institution will send you an acceptance letter inviting you to join them. The letter must have all the details of your stay there, including your major, the duration of your studies, how the studies will be financed, where you will stay, and so on.

What do I need to submit with a hospital invitation letter?

If you need to travel to a Schengen Area country for medical treatment, you must get an invitation letter from a doctor in a hospital in the Schengen nation. The letter must state your medical condition and why you need to attend that specific hospital. It must also include the dates of your treatment - which cannot be indefinite as the embassy officials will then not know when or if you are returning to your home country. The letter must also state the cost of your treatment and how it will be paid for.

Any other tips when writing or obtaining a Schengen invitation letter?

You should ensure your host or sponsor uses formal language when addressing the letter. Here is a handy checklist of information to include.

  • The date it was written
  • The embassy name and contact information
  • A formal greeting and opening statement
  • The host or business contact’s name
  • Their status in the Schengen country (citizen or permanent resident)
  • Their contact information (phone number, address, and email)
  • Your name
  • Your passport number
  • Your purpose of travel
  • Your relationship with the host
  • Dates of travel
  • Your itinerary
  • Closing statement
  • Your host’s signature
  • Attachment of supporting documents

Do I need insurance to apply for a Schengen Visa?

Yes. You will need insurance covering you for medical and repatriation costs up to at least €30,000 and a certificate proving this. AXA has a number of reasonably priced options, starting at around €22 per week of your trip. We also provide a free online certificate that can be submitted with your application.

Related topics:

Frequently asked questions about invitation letters

For how long is a visa invitation letter valid?

It will be valid as long as it relates to the trip you are applying for a visa for. So there is no time limit - but you cannot use a previous invitation letter to apply for a new visa.

What can I do if my visa is rejected?

You can write a letter of appeal. Or - alternatively - ask the reasons for refusal - for example - a mistake on your application - rectify this and reapply. If the reason is your invitation letter -you may wish to obtain a new one stressing the importance of your visit.

Do I need insurance if invited to the Schengen Area?

Yes. The rules on medical and travel insurance apply in the same way for those with a letter of invitation.