10 tips for an efficient and effortless Schengen visa application experience

Follow these tips so your passport can get stamped at a Schengen area. Picture: Unsplash

Follow these tips so your passport can get stamped at a Schengen area. Picture: Unsplash

Published Jul 18, 2023


Despite the complexity, costs and delays associated with obtaining Schengen visas, South Africans still love the destinations that this visa provides access to.

According to the Council of the European Union, a Schengen visa is an authorisation issued by a Schengen state that allows travellers to enter the Schengen area for intended short stays in or transit through the territory of a Schengen state (short stay visa) or transit through the international transit areas of airports of the Schengen states (airport transit visa).

The Schengen Area is an area comprising 27 European countries that have officially abolished passports and all other types of border control at their mutual borders.

If you’re planning on visiting the area, here are 10 tips to assist you for a smooth Schengen visa application experience, according to Flight Centre and the Association of Southern African Travel Agents (ASATA).

Allow sufficient time

Start the application process at least 6-8 weeks before your intended departure date. It’s strongly advised to apply earlier during peak travel periods, if possible, with the processing centre or embassy of the country you intend to visit.

Gather supporting documentation

Ensure you have all the required documents as specified by the embassy or processing centre and submit them together for a comprehensive application.

Passport photos

Obtain correctly-sized passport photos from trusted retail stores such as Kodak or Postnet, familiar with Schengen visa application requirements.

Prioritise visa order

If applying for multiple visas (e.g., UK and Schengen), determine which visa to apply for first and allocate sufficient time for each application.

Choose the right embassy

Apply at the embassy of the country where you plan to stay the longest or, if staying an equal amount of time in multiple countries, the first port of entry.

Multi-entry or single-entry visa

If you will be entering and exiting the Schengen area multiple times, ensure you apply for a multi-entry visa to facilitate your travel plans. A single-entry visa allows you to enter the Schengen territory once, however, you cannot leave and re-enter the territory.

Check travel insurance

Confirm whether your travel insurance covers visa denials and understand the extent of coverage provided.

Timely appointments

Arrive punctually for your visa application appointment, as missing or rescheduling can cause delays and disrupt your travel plans.

Review terms & conditions

Thoroughly read and understand the terms and conditions associated with your visa application.

Research application locations

Familiarise yourself with the locations of embassies or processing centres for Schengen visa applications, as you may need to travel to a different city if there is no representation in your own city or town.

While awaiting a more streamlined system in the future, Flight Centre South Africa advises travellers to take heed of the above tips and seek expert guidance for greater peace of mind.