2023 Schengen Visa process and experience - eNidhi India Travel Blog

2023 Schengen Visa process and experience

Recently I applied for a Schengen visa on my own. [If you want to understand more on Schengen area check this post] My previous visit to the Schengen area was on a work permit/business visa processed by my employer. As I had booked a ticket to Paris several months ago for just 38k INR return, I had to put my stuff together and apply for a Schengen visa just in time for my trip. In this post I am sharing my experience to help you plan your trip to Europe.


  • Factor at least 15-20 working days, apply at least a month in advance
  • Visa will cost around 11000 INR + additional expenses preparing for it- factor 20k
  • Validity at discretion of issuing officers
  • The process is well defined- read through and comply 100%
  • Avoid shortcuts, cheating

A step by step guide to apply for Schengen visa

Disclaimer: This is based on my personal experience while applying for France. Requirements, processing and rules may vary from country to country, time to time and depending on applicant’s profile and details. Please use below only for reference and cross check everything for your scenario with official sources. I take no responsibility if conditions explained below is wrong or changes over time or doesn't work for you.

Step 1: Decide which country to apply for. Those visiting the Schengen area usually explore more than one country as the visa gives you access to 26 countries in Europe. Unless you are visiting just one country, you need to decide which country to apply for the Schengen visa. The country where you would be staying the longest is the country you should apply for. 

Another internal thing to check is where to go for biometrics. If the country you’ve selected requires you to travel to a far away city just for application submission and biometrics, you might want to skip it. For example, you are in Bangalore and country X would mean you’ve to visit VFS Delhi, then you might want to tweak your plans a bit, stay longer in a country for which you can apply in Bengaluru and save yourself some time and money. This is doable if you have some flexibility where to visit and can make changes to your plans, but may not work if you have to go to the specific country alone. But there is no easy way to find it- VFS Global doesn’t reveal all information in one go, you’ve to try country by country. If you are living in big city this is not a concern- stick to any of the most popular countries and you should be good.

Step 2: Check appointment availability

Post covid, there was a huge rush and Schengen visa processing used to take as much as 3 months due to huge number of people wanting to go out of India. At present it looks like Schengen visa is being processed within a week or two. However, it is better to start your process at least 1 month/1.5 month before your travel date due to following reasons

  • VFS Global may not have an appointment for a date of your choice. 
  • Due to large number of applicants processing time may take too much
  • If there is a mistake and you need more time to prepare and resubmit on a fresh appointment, you would need some buffer time

Once you’ve decided the country, you can check on VFS Global website for appointment availability.

Step 3: Prepare basic details

Before you can apply for Schengen visa, you should have following information ready

  • Clarity on your purpose of travel: You should be very clear about your purpose of travel- meeting family/friends, attending events/conferences, holidays etc. Have a high level plan what you plan to do, where all you plan to go, how much you may need etc
  • Dates: When do you plan to enter and exit the Schengen area- you may book your ticket based on pricing, duration, your preference etc. Also have some idea where you plan to stay. Do not plan to stay for longer than 90 days
  • If you had a Schengen visa with biometrics within last 5 years its details (visa number, date of biometrics, validity etc)
  • Your passport is good to use- has at least 2 empty pages, has enough validity (6 months or more)
  • You have reasonable confidence that you will get a visa. (if your passport is empty, your bank balance is not enough, you don’t have a job or family to come back to, then better to delay travel to western countries. Build your profile exploring nearby countries, accumulate savings and plan Europe for a later date with better preparation and conviction. 

Step 4: Apply online

For the country you’ve selected- say France or Germany or Spain etc, visit respective consulate’s website and apply for a visa giving your basic details.

Pay close attention to all the fields, provide accurate information and complete the application process. You will get an application reference number and an email confirmation.

Step 5: Take Appointment on VFS global website

VFS has specific pages for each country. For the county you’ve applied to, open the corresponding VFS Global web page and check for appointment availability. Select the most suitable one. 

At times VFS Global will NOT have any slots available for selection. In such cases you can do two things- one, wait. If you have a month or more left, you can wait for sometime and book when appointments are available next week. 

VFS Bangalore had 7 counters for French Visa, just one for Hungary, one for Iceland and Denmark combined- so I guess their setup is depending on demand.

Other option is to change your plans and apply with another country- but that would need applying again, changing your plans, bookings etc, so best is to try to apply 2-3 months to spare so that you’ve buffer time if things don’t work out as planned.

Step 6: Prepare all required documents

Your identity

Passport- original and photocopy

Denmark needs a colour xerox of all passport pages, other countries need a copy of all stamped pages. Read instructions properly and prepare.

Application, appointment letter and other document printouts

Photo: Get a fresh set of passport photos, meeting photo specifications. Size, 80% face coverage, matt finish etc.

Your itinerary: 

A cover letter summarizing your identity, purpose of travel, source of funds etc would help visa officers get a quick understanding of your profile, travel plans and background.

If you are taking a package tour this part is a lot easier, else you will need to draft one on your own. For the duration of your stay, you should have a clear plan- where you plan to visit, what you plan to do and so on. Draft a day wise plan. If it involves taking domestic flights you may have to book them as well, besides India to Europe return flight. 

Your social status: Visa issuing officers need to be convinced that you are not an immigration risk. You have some motivation to return to your come country. Having a job, family, property and other such assets back home is a clear motive that you may not abandon them and overstay your visa. So to support the above purpose, get your Bonafede certificate, job offer letter, property deeds, marriage certificate if any, leave approval letter and other relevant documents to assure the visa issuing officer that you will come back to India.

Proof of funds: You should have 3-4 times more money in your account than what is needed for the trip. Excluding flights & travel cost, Europe visit can easily cost 30 to 50 Euro per day on stay, 30-40 euros on food, another 50 euros on entry tickets, taxi and so on. Essentially, count 200 Euro as standard expenditure per day, multiply by the number of days to get your total trip expense. Say a 10 days trip will need 2000 Euro or 1.5 lakh INR excluding flights. This amount should be your disposable income. So you should at least have 4-5 lakhs in your bank account. Even after spending 2 lakhs you will have enough money to lead a normal life back home.

Get your bank statement, income tax returns, form 16, pay slip, property documents and other evidence to establish that you’ve enough income to support your trip and lead a normal life.

Accommodation: If staying with friends/relatives, ask them to give an invitation letter, if not do your bookings in Europe as per itinerary. 

Travel Insurance: Buy one from ICICI Lombard or HDFC Ergo, Reliance or such websites. You would need KYC now (from 2023) to buy travel insurance. Depending on your age, duration of travel and type of coverage, travel insurance can cost around 600 to 2000 INR.

Important: Any document not in English should be translated and notarized.

Step 07: Visiting VFS Office

Reach VFS office 15 minutes ahead of time

You will pass security, will be given a token, wait for your number

Once your number comes your application and documents will be checked- any issues you may be asked to get it fixed- need more documents, copies, photo not proper etc

A few things you can get it done at VFS itself- like photos, xerox/printout etc. If not you may have to go out, get it done and re-enter. If what is needed is something that would take lots of time, you may have to take fresh appointment.

Assuming all goes well, you will make the payment- could be around 10-12k total

  • Around 7000-7500 INR from Embassy issuing visa
  • 2000-2500 VFS fees
  • VFS optional service extra if you go for it- like courier assurance is 800 Rs
  • VFS has few more optional services like premier lounge, home service etc. You can try if you wish.

Besides the official visa cost you will have to spend money to print/xerox various documents, travel insurance, travel to VFS center, arrange new documents (SBI charges 100s of rupees to give bank statements signed and sealed), photo costs 100-200 INR and so on, which could cost a few thousand rupees more. So overall, be ready to spend 15-20k INR total to get a Schengen visa.

Post payment, you will be sent for biometrics. Once biometrics is done you go home and wait for your passport to arrive.

Step 07: Wait

VFS will mostly send your application to embassy on same day. Consulate will take their time to process. Once done your passport will be couriered back to you. You won't get any update if visa is issued or not till you see the passport. You just have to wait. If lucky your application could be processed in just 2-3 days, if not (lots of applications), it may take 10-15 working days.

All the best.

Some key things to remember while applying for visa

Do not fake documents, tickets etc. There are websites that issue fake tickets for visa purposes, you may manage to fake some documents but there is a high chance that you will be caught. A fraud could mean you face a long term ban. Book real tickets if you have fair confidence of getting a visa and then apply in good faith.

Never apply with the thought that if they give a visa then I will go. Your approach should be: "I’ve planned everything, I want to go, please give me a visa".

Pay attention to details:

There could be minor differences in documents needed or other processes or details from country to country, time to time and person to person. What your friend did for France a few months ago may not hold for your case now. So do not assume anything. Go with extra documents/evidence/details

Getting a visa is a privilege, not a right.

We need to understand that your destination country has no obligation to issue a visa. If they sense anything not accurate or if they sense any risk of you not returning to your home country or not being able to support yourself or any other criteria, they may reject your visa application. It is unfortunate if it happens but we need to take that risk and apply in good faith.

Why does a visa application get rejected?

Understand various reasons why a visa application can get rejected and avoid these mistakes

  • Wrong purpose/category: You should select the right category of visa depending on your purpose of travel. Medical tourism, conference visit, family visit, business visit all these may be separate types- read instructions carefully and select right one
  • Reason for visiting is not convincing enough
  • Not enough funds: If the visa officer doesn’t feel you’ve enough money, you are an immigration risk or you may try to take up work and earn. Your source of funds should be surplus enough that even after spending on the trip you’ve enough money left for your normal life back in India
  • Incomplete/Incorrect/Fraudulent documents: If you fake a document or it is missing, incomplete, or not making sense visa officers will simply reject and may not give you an opportunity to resubmit or explain.
  • Respective Govt policies: China doesn’t give visas to anyone from border areas it considers disputed territory. Based on past experience govts may form a rule that people meeting certain profiles are not to be granted a visa (Example: bachelor, no job, no property, empty passport, no funds etc). You visiting an enemy country could also be a reason for rejection. These things are not in our control and often not explained in public. We need to take a chance.

Validity of Schengen visa is at the discretion of issuing officers. At the minimum you will get it for some 60-90 days just enough for your current trip, if lucky you may also get a longer validity like 1 year, 5 year. If that happens you can plan another trip without having to repeat the visa process.

Similar: Japan visa process for Indians * Europe blog posts * UK Ireland visa process for Indians *


  1. Indians spent around USD 10 billion on overseas travel between April and December 2022. We should ignore Schengen countries for the harassment of Tickets, hotels, Insurance. Anyday I prefer to explore USA - typically you get visas for 10 years. Ignore Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand for the same reasons. Better to go to travel friendly countries Indonesia (Bali) and Vietnam

    1. Each country has its own charm. If you wish to explore you've to go by whatever rules they set... of course you're free to decide not to visit

  2. Thank you for sharing all the information! this is super helpful.

    Also, had query regarding something you mentioned here 'empty passport'. Could you share more details about this - someone who has not travelled to any foreign country before? If one has sufficient funds and reason to come back, will it be an issue?

    1. Yes, I feel having some travel history boosts your potential. Not an official rule or barrier, but better explore some nearby countries before heading to Europe

    2. Sure, thank you. And a massive thank you again for detailing out all the minute details alongside your personal experience and comments


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