Schengen Tourist Visa Guide: A Step-by-Step Guide to Applying

written by local expert Anna Faustino

Anna is a co-founder of Adventure in You and has been traveling the world for the last 9 years. She has spent time living in Thailand, Mexico, Indonesia, and Spain and is our local expert in these areas. Her expertise on travel, gear, and building businesses have been featured on Foundr, Business Insider, Yahoo Travel, and more.

Planning a trip to Europe and wondering about how to get a Schengen Visa? In this article, I will walk you through the exact process of how I apply for a visa, plus give you some tips on how to make the entire application process as easy as possible.

Europe has long been a destination that a lot of people want to frequent. Between its many charming cobblestone streets and castles, it is considered the epicenter of culture and art. The best part about it is that you can easily visit loads of countries, with just one visa.

Although the process can be arduous, it is worth it, given the number of countries you are able to visit with one application. Although you can easily do everything on your own, you can also seek help from specialists to walk you through the process. Some of which might even be able to provide you with alternative solutions to traditional visas.

Coming from the Philippines, Schengen visa application can be quite a long process, given the number of documents you are asked to procure. However, as long as you follow the steps below and prepare all the paperwork in advance, you can easily get a visa for Europe.

visa for Europe Santorini
Schengen visa success: A photo of me during my first solo trip to Europe

Schengen Visa for Tourists: Why You Need It?

Tourists Schengen visas allow third-country national to enter and transit the Schengen Area for 90 days, tops. Tourist visas allow leisure travel exclusively, and they are valid for a 6-month period.

All visa applications should be specifically submitted for “travel purposes” and should include the “tourist” specification, according to official information from the European Union.

Official European bodies offer a list of countries from where a visa is necessary, to travel to Europe. If you find your country on that list, then you should start researching the necessary papers and documents for a smooth visa application.

Countries You Can Visit with a Schengen Visa

  • Austria
  • Hungary
  • Norway
  • Belgium
  • Iceland
  • Poland
  • Czech Republic
  • Italy
  • Portugal
  • Denmark
  • Latvia
  • Slovakia
  • Estonia
  • Slovenia

  • Finland
  • Lithuania
  • Spain
  • France
  • Luxembourg
  • Sweden
  • Germany
  • Malta
  • Switzerland
  • Greece
  • Netherlands
  • Liechtenstein

To date, the UK, as well as the Republic of Ireland are parts of the EU yet require a separate visa to enter so please take note of this when planning your itinerary.

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passport europe Steps for Applying for a Visa

Step 1: Plan your itinerary

One of the most difficult parts of the application is mapping out your full itinerary. You will need to show hotel reservations, transport bookings, matched to specific dates so try to be as detailed as possible when doing this. Planning your itinerary will also help you identify from which country to apply with.

Step 2: Prepare your documents

While you can include as many documents proving your income, etc., all visa applications should have attached the following documents. Start gathering them in advance and make sure you don’t miss anything on the list below.

 A visa application form – it should be fully filled in with the correct information, printed and
signed where specified.

 Two recent photos of the applicant, taken in the last three months prior to the application. They
should follow the Schengen visa photo criteria, as specified here.

 A valid passport, no older than ten years. The passport should also be valid at least three
months beyond your planned visit to Europe.

 Reservations or an itinerary. Dates and flight numbers of the planned trip/ they should specify
both the date of the entrance and the departure date.

 Proof of accommodation or some evidence that shows where you will be staying during your
stay in the Schengen space. A rent agreement or hotel booking proof should be enough.

 A letter from a tour organizer, if you are traveling with a tour agency.

 Proof of finances that shows you have enough money to cover your stay in Europe. This can be bank account statements, a sponsorship letter or a combination of both. For bank statements, provide at least 6 months worth of paperwork. Providing documents such as proof of ties to your home country (rental agreements, land ownership, etc.) is also useful.

Proof of employment: employment contract if employed, a copy of a business license, if self-
employed, etc. However, to be sure that all proof of employment follows the demands, you
could also check in with a professional agency.

 A travel itinerary, including a short cover letter describing your travel itinerary through Europe.

 Minors should also attach to their applications a birth certificate or proof of adoption and a
letter of consent from parents, including passport copies of both parents.

 Travel health insurance covers medical emergencies. The insurance should cover at least
30,000 euros.

For travel insurance, we use World Nomads as they have the best adventure travel coverage. We’ve been using them for years and while we’ve been lucky enough not to have any major claims, getting insurance from them is such an easy process.

If you’re unsure about any of the documents, you can opt to check with specialized travel agencies as they might be able to offer alternative solutions to some of the necessary documents, like an invitation letter for visiting.

The companies essentially vouch for you, asking the embassy to grant you a visa for a specific purpose. It is also the Government’s guarantee that the person inviting you in the Schengen space is taking full responsibility that you won’t stay illegally in any Schengen country.

traveling europe guidebook

Editor’s Note: Check out our Europe Packing list to make sure you don’t forget anything during your upcoming trip!

Step 3: Schedule your visa appointment

While you can technically book your appointment once you have all your documents ready, it is important that you decide which embassy you apply with.

To have your visa approved, you have to submit all the documents above, together with your visa
application form at the embassy, consulate or visa center of your main destination in the Schengen
Area. If you are visiting only a Schengen state, you have to submit your application for the embassy
consulate or visa center of that country.

If you go on a trip in multiple states, you have to submit your
application to the embassy of the country in which you will spend most days or to the embassy of the
state where you will first land.

Tips for submitting your documents

When submitting documents, make sure you are able to show both the originals and photocopies. Most embassies do not return any documents so make sure you make copies. It is also advisable to bring cash with you to cover the visa application fees as most of the visa centers do not accept credit cards.

If you have any other questions, check out these frequently asked questions to help answer any other questions about the entire visa application process.

Applying Independently

If you find the process of getting all the necessary documents in order and submitting them to the
embassy or other specialized bodies, you can also consider collaborating with a specialized agency. The entire process will be simplified enormously, freeing up your time to actually plan your trip.

Overall, although it seems like a difficult process, it can be done. I myself have done it at least 4 times now and although I stress a little bit each time I apply, as long as you are particular about all your documents and are completely honest about your trip’s purpose, you should be able to get your visa approved.

Hopefully, this article helped you plan out the necessary documents and procedures so you can apply for a visa for Europe. Happy trip!

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