Europe is a magnificent continent and my very favourite! But for us, Sri Lankans travel is not that easy! When thinking of applying for “Schengen visa” all that comes to most of our minds is the hassle of the documentation, time spent at VFS and then going back to collect the passport. Most of all the anticipation of waiting for that visa, that really becomes the cherry on my cake! I am imparting my two words of wisdom today to help those who want to apply for Schengen visa via the French Embassy (You should apply from the country your staying the most in or if the number of days is equal in each country then from the country of first entry).
The first steps
The embassy of France has recently launched an online platform to ease the process for all their applicants this has eased the process a little bit. On the website, you can create your visa application and print the PDF version. Physical documents have to be handed over to VFS Global and it is located in Fort next to “Dutch Hospital”. The video below shows the process of creating an account on the French Visa website – https://france-visas.gouv.fr/ See, it’s quite simple once you get down to do it! It might be scary if its the first time attempting this but you got to try something so might as well be this. The next step is to verify your account by clicking on the link you receive when you set up your account. This will then give you the option to fill in your application and print a PDF version. This is the application for your Schengen visa! The next part of this post details the documents required for your application.
The Documents for Schengen Visa
The “Document checklist” (←← click to access) is your guide when gathering and arranging your Schengen visa documents. It is simple, easy to follow but can be a bit confusing in terms of the extra documents that you need to provide. I will go through all the five portions of this checklist in detail below.
1.0 Passport and Identity Documentation
These documents relate to your identity. It is very important that you provide these as requested. I have included all the required documents in the list below.
- Your passport – current one and any old passports as well
- Copies of all the stamped pages of your current passport (currency declaration stamps are not necessary)
- 2 copies of your passport bio page (in simple terms the one with your pic in it)
- 2 copies of your passport alteration page (the one after the bio page)
- one copy of your national identity card (NIC)
- Cover letter – a well-written letter addressed to the embassy detailing the following – When your visiting, why your visiting and the documents that will be submitted. Click on this link to access what we submitted →→ “SAMPLE COVER LETTER”
2.0 Form and Questionnaire
This section refers to the application and other documents that need to be provided to gain a sort of a summary of you for the Embassy.
- The Application (Form as per the checklist) – this is now filled online and then printed in PDF format. Once printed you need to sign the application as shown below:
- Photographs – these are similar to the passport photos but your face is taken a lot more close up. Best is to obtain them from the small studio inside the VFS premises. This is our go-to place for our visa photos.
- The Questionnaire – or “QUESTIONARY ” (←← click to access) is a two-page document with roughly 37 questions ranging from your name and date of birth to more detailed questions like your parents and sibling details and their locations. It might seem a bit intimidating at first but its simple enough and a clearly filled questionnaire will definitely help with a faster-processed visa.
3.0 Documents Concerning the trip and its dates
This is very important and it is imperative that the dates coincide correctly and that you account for all dates for the period of your trip.
- Confirmed flight itinerary – this refers to your roundtrip ticket. Main flight ticket. Pay a travel agent to reserve this ticket and present it for the visa. You can purchase the ticket once the visa is approved. We always buy the ticket beforehand. It is a risk that we are willing to take to get a good deal on the ticket.
- The travel insurance – most banks provide this free of charge, all you have to do is purchase the ticket from your credit card. If you don’t have a credit card you can purchase it from any travel agent – try Findmyfare they are very efficient.
- Hotel reservations – each day of your trip needs to have a hotel accommodation booking. You can pay upfront or make a booking and show the reservations. My suggestion will always be to use “Booking.com”. They offer you a variety of refundable/non-refundable/cash only/credit card only and so many more options. View the following sample booking to get an idea – HOTEL RETRO BRUSSELS.
Documents not mentioned in the checklist but can be submitted
- Travel itinerary – this is a very important document. This is will provide details of your plan, the start and end points, the activities during the trip, how you plan to move from one country to the next and so forth. This can be as simple as you want or detailed. I personally prefer detailed so I create my itineraries using “Travefy”. It is free for personal users and that is more than enough for our purpose.
Special Note: if you are taking an overnight bus/train/fight – include the relevant ticket along with your hotel bookings.
- Travel tickets(Bus/Train/Flight) – these are not mandatory unless you are having overnight trips. If you have already purchased or booked them its good to submit them so they know we are serious about following our itineraries and we are being truthful.
- Attractions/Activity Bookings – these are once again not necessary but if you had already bought them then please do submit.
4.0 All letters concerning the journey
- Letter from your employer – this is simply a letter addressed to the embassy by your company stating the below:
- Your employment status – whether permanent/contract and date of joining
- Your designation and if they like your take-home salary
- Status of your leave – paid/unpaid
- When they expect you back at work
- Contact person for more information
5.0 Documents regarding the financial guarantee of the applicant/company
- The latest three months salary slips – this is easy to understand – if you are applying early March – submit December, January and February Salary slips.
- EPF contribution – this needs to be your EPF statement that is sent semi-annually or your ETF statement
- Personal Banke statements – please match the salary slip months and provide the same statements of your salary account and any other account that you will be using to fund the trip.
- Balance Confirmation – once again this is not requested for in the checklist but it is good to provide as it gives a snapshot of your finances in one page. Request this from your relevant bank and they will give this to you. Some banks do charge for the service so ask them prior to requesting.
- Assets – if you can provide documents proving your ownership of fixed assets in Sri Lanka that would be great as it accounts for your financial soundness. If you don’t have them, there is nothing to worry.
6.0 For Families
- Birth Certificate – A translated copy of your birth certificate along with a copy of your original Sinhalese birth certificate needs to be submitted.
- Marriage Certificate – only applies to married female applicants. A translated copy and a copy of the original marriage certificate must be submitted for your Schengen visa application.
Alas, we have reached the end of a very very long post. I know its intimidating sometimes when you think about applying for a Schengen Visa. This is simply because nobody actually provides accurate and honest guides for us Sri Lankans. Travel agents have there own agenda most of the time and therfore, provide you unrealistic requirements. I have faced this so many times and that is when I decided to do it on my own. So next time you think of pushing your travel ideas aside thinking its a hassle, think again and just go for it! Contact me if via comments or social media and I will be glad to help you out! Until next time, Ciao!