How to Apply for a Schengen Visa in South Africa

 _52340376_visanewafpPlanning a quick getaway to Europe? Well, as holders of Indian, South African and many others would agree – there is nothing like a ‘quick’ getaway! We have to plan way in advance, book all the tickets and accommodation, apply for a visa and only then look forward to the so-called holiday.

K and I are pushing off for a similar break to Germany soon (Oktoberfest all all that), and having been through the entire visa process recently, I thought it would be a good idea to share it with you guys, in case you are looking at visiting Europe soon. So here goes:

Where to apply for a Schengen visa?

Deciding which consulate to apply through is important. If you are travelling to only one member state (country) in Europe, you need to apply at the consulate of that country.

Incase you are visiting more than one country, you will need to apply through the country where you will be spending the maximum number of days.

In the event that you are spending the same number of days in two or more countries, you will need to apply through the country which will be your first port of call.

Since our main destination in Europe will be Germany, we applied for a Schengen visa through the German consulate. Although the rest of the visa process is based on my experience at the German consulate, the documents required and the visa process is more or less standard across all European Union countries.

How many days in advance should one apply?

It’s best to apply for a visa well in advance of the proposed travel dates so that there is no stress! Most consulates start accepting applications 3 months from the intended date of travel. But 15 days seems to be the absolute minimum requirement in most cases, except for emergencies.

How to apply?

Once you have figured out which country to apply through, (Germany in our case), you will need to find out the about the application process. Most consulates have partnered with companies such as VFS, Visa Link etc., to manage the visa process. A simple google search should tell you this.

It is important to note that all Schengen visas now need biometrics and hence have to be made in person. The only exceptions are in cases where such biometrics might have been collected in recent years but you will need to confirm this.

In most instances, you will need to book an appointment for the visa submission and also fill the form online. When booking the appointment, make sure you choose a date that will give you ample time to get all your documents in order. Because even if one of the documents is missing, you might need to re-schedule the appointment (might need to pay additional fees), or worse, risk the visa getting rejected.

The German consulate has outsourced the visa process to Intergate Visalink. Their website was very concise and easy to navigate. The following are the steps:

1)Book an appointment online or via their call centre.

2)Make the appropriate payment and retain the proof of payment. You will need to email this to the visa centre in order for them to confirm your appointment.

3)Once your appointment is confirmed, you should receive an email with all the details regarding the documents needed, etc. You will also need to fill the application online. This form can be saved/modified anytime until the day of your appointment.

What documents are needed? 

This is the most important part and you must ensure that you have all the documents listed below, and any additional ones too in case they help support your case. The more you have, the better it is – or so I have realised!

  1. Completed visa application form for every traveller
  2. Original passport for each traveller with a minimum 90 days validity and two blank pages
  3. One recent photograph (as per the guidelines)
  4. Two photocopies of the passport page containing your personal details
  5. Copies of all previous Schengen visas
  6. Proof of employment/business/work/study – you will need a letter from your HR in original or a company registration document if your are self employed or proof from the university or school, if you are a student. In case you fall in none of the above categories are a dependent spouse (like me), you will need to submit a marriage certificate and a letter from your partner’s company/business, or a residence proof with the property owner’s ID copy.
  7. Three months stamped bank statements. In case your trip is being sponsored, you will need to submit the sponsor’s bank statements and a letter stating the same
  8. Confirmed return flight bookings
  9. Hotel/accommodation bookings for the entire trip. In case you are going to stay with a friend or family, you will need to submit a ‘Letter if Invitation’ from them. The letter should state that they have invited you to live with them for the duration of the trip. It should mention their full names, address and contact details. You will also need to submit a copy of their passport and residence permit. If they are not EU citizens, then along with their passport copy, you will need a copy of their work permit or visa that allows them to live in the EU
  10. Medical/travel insurance. The proof should clearly state the amount covered (at least 30,000 euros) and the dates for which it is valid. Repatriation should be covered in your policy
  11. Make separate copies of all the above for each individual visa applicant (even if you apply together – husband & wife, you will still need two separate copies of each document)
  12. If you are an accompanying spouse, it is advisable to provide a marriage certificate
  13. If possible, provide proof of travel within the EU countries as well

Please note, that the above requirements is for adults. For minors, you will need all the above and additional documents as below:

  1. Unabridged birth certificates
  2. Marriage certificate of parents
  3. Declaration of consent from both parents
  4. Passport copy of parents and minors

How long does the application take?

Once all the required documents are submitted, the application will most likely take a week or so. Our German visa came in exactly a week and we received an email from Visalink asking us to collect our passports. Processing time might vary from consulate to consulate.

How to collect your passport?

Once you receive a confirmation stating that your passport is ready for collection, you need to carry the original receipt that you would have been given at the time of submission. In case you are collecting the passport on behalf of someone, along with the original receipt, you will need an authorisation letter signed by them.

When you collect your passport, don’t forget to check the visa –  the validity of the visa, your correct name, etc. In case there is a mistake, you must let them know immediately.

Some consulates also offer a courier service for the delivery of the passports.


As long as you have all the required documents in order, there is no reason to fret. It is a little painful but worth it at the end. So get out there and plan your fantastic European dream holiday!






27 thoughts on “How to Apply for a Schengen Visa in South Africa

  1. Aaah, Applying for visas an be one big headache. If you have all the documents, you still have the waiting game to play to be certain to go on your trip. But it sounds that you are very organised and don’t need to worry too much. It’s like the consulate and immigration wants to know every single detail about you and your life, which can be a hassle to provide but I guess it’s all for security reasons.

    1. Yes indeed its a huge hassle and a deterrent to travel at times. But not all of it is for security – it is so much to do with diplomatic and political relationships between countries! The painful part is when even though one has all the documents, the visa might be rejected – and why, either because the visa official did not do the job or because unfortunately you hail from a ‘high risk’ country. It’s really sad when people get categorised like this just because of their country. One day, I am hoping that the world will be open for everyone just like it is for americans,europeans, english, aussies, etc. One day….

      1. No. I live in the EU, but I didn’t knew about the visa process. So, it is interesting from a slightly different perspective.

      2. Aaah so you are one of the lucky ones 🙂 Yes indeed its a lot of work for most of us to get a visa. And you know what – they usually always give the visa ONLY for the exact number of days you show you are travelling! So if I go for 10 days from 1-10th sept…my visa will only be valid from 1-10th..not a day extra. I always wonder..what if I miss my flight or something happens! I would be breaching the visa rules!!

      3. who is able, to say who is luckier. We also have a lot of problems here. On pro, indeed, is, you can travel inside EU without a passport – only with you ID card. That’s great. I can still remember the time, when we needed a passport when traveling from Germany to Spain for summer vacation or had to pay an extra fee at immigration.
        I wish you lots of fun in Munich. I’ve been there a few times (it’s about 800 km from where I live). But, I’ve never been to the Oktoberfest. Enjoy your time. Show us some photos afterwards and tell us about your experience.

      4. Both are very different – I was a few times in Berlin. There are a quite different opinions. It’s the capitol. and has a special charme. I was there in 2000 for the last time. I’ve never been in Dresden, but I’m going in October with friends. Both are more typical for Germany. During WW2 many only cities were bombed and destroyed. Dresden was one of these victims. Berlin suffered from being parted in East and West and being part of 2 different independent countries (GDR and FRG). Over the last about 25 years some scars are healed but others still exist. Visit the remains of Berlin Wall!
        I was in Feb 1990 for the first time in Berlin, when die GDR still existed. A have felt the checks at the frontier between Berlin and Berlin.
        When you have a chance, visit Chateau Sanssouci in Potsdam, right next to Berlin. As far as I know, you can use public transportation to get there.

      5. Oh thank you for the detailed information. Really appreciate it. I have heard about berlins rich cultural heritage. Will definitely go to the wall and the museums. Will try and fit in potsdam if we have time. And dresden looks so beautiful and historical too. Hope you enjoy your time there too. Cheers!

  2. How exciting! Visa to EU is always (too) complicated sometimes 😦 But at least, once you get the visa, it allows you to travel to several countries in Schengen area. Wishing you the best with the travel preparation!

    1. Thanks Indah. I know it does allow you to travel to a whole lot of countries at one go…I just wish we had more holidays to be able to travel to all these countries all at once!! Would not need to bother with any further visas 🙂 But alas, that just won’t happen!

  3. Reminds me of the long painful days – waiting anxiously for a Visa. 🙂 Have a super trip! Looking forward to your posts on Germany. We haven’t visited much of it. Is Berlin on your Itinerary?

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