This guide is for anyone who wants to visit Europe on your own ( who requires a visa )but does not know where to start .Please take note; I applied mine in Italy Embassy, Singapore. If you don’t need a visa , this post can still be useful for you . When I started planning my trip , I have trouble finding useful info and have lots of questions. I was also stressed about getting my visa rejected.I literally asked friends from Facebook ( thank you to those of you )and emailed embassies .And I hope these tips will help you on your european trip planning and getting Schengen visa in Singapore .
WHAT TO START PREPARING FOR YOUR SCHENGEN VISA
- Check You passport Expiration date
Make sure you plan the renewal of your passport in advance. They are very strict with it.Please email in advance to the embassy before applying the visa if you aren’t too sure.
- Decide the duration of the trip
My suggestion is minimum 10 days ( at the very least ) and maximum 1 month. Although I would like at least 3 months because applying visa is troublesome.Please also take note if you are travelling for a long time ( even for 2 weeks) , it get really tired ,so you might want to take things slow in some days so that you can fully enjoy.
- Buy the air ticket
Yes, BUY it. If you are thinking should I apply visa first , like US visa ( you have to apply visa before you can buy the air ticket ( because it got rejected quite a lot , unfortunately mine too) I hate you, US EMBASSY SG.
But applying Europe visa (Schengen visa ) is totally different thing. You need to plan everything and pay for it before you can apply visa .EVEN THOUGH the requirements mention they accept booking confirmation , in my experience your visa will be likely to get rejected if they aren’t being paid.
Your question might be ‘What if I got rejected’ , my money will be gone. Yes. There are things you have to pay first other than air ticket when you are planning your trip. So we just have to make sure we get accepted.
- Plan your itinerary by country and decide what you want to see
Europe is a very big continent and there are so so many things and places to see. So you might want to decide what you want to see.
My suggestion is to focus on 2 to 3 countries if you are travelling a month or less. Because one country itself, there are so many beautiful places to see that you’ve never heard of .So choose your favourite countries and research. Take time in this process. It can take at least a month . Just take your time.When I start ed planning, my itineraries was a total different from what I visited in the end. So you need a lot of time.
It also depends on what you want to see, if you want to see nature , spending more time in Rome or Milan will not be a good idea. If you love nature Go Switzerland , it is beyond amazing ( although it is extremely expensive), If you love beach; go to Greece, if you want everything ( it is Italy, they have everything; snowy mountains, beautiful beaches, and lots of history).
- Book accommodation ( all nights) and prepaid some of them
In order to apply visa you HAVE to prebook every single night of your stay. It is very important and they are very strict .Also pay some of the nights in advance( again even though they mention it is not required ). They only approve the duration that they think u have sufficient info, They can do e.g.. like you apply for 1 month ( they give the visa for 2 weeks only ). I knew from two monkeys travel group blogger, she was issued only 1 month ( although she applied for 3 months as her honeymoon).
Also I recommend do not pay for every single night because your plan might change along the way.
- Book transportation between countries
If you are travelling between countries, you have to show to embassy how you will be travelling . So prebook trains, flight tickets.
- Book other transports
It is cheaper to book in advance for trains in Europe. Most of them are available 3 months in advance and it is also proof to show it to embassy . SHOW THEM you have already paid!
- Backpack or luggage
One thing to take note is if you aren’t on tour , you are on your own with your stuffs . And european is not luggage friendly and lots of pickpockets in Metro .So pack what u can carry. You probably can test yourself by trying to bring down your actual luggage to below your apartment by stairs .If you can’t, repack again. My recommendation for ladies is 10 kg to 15kg (maximum) , trust me , have done that. It is possible for our fashion lover friends out there.
If you are bringing only backpack, it is way easier but it is tiring. So make sure you are fit enough . For me , I thank myself for not packing only backpacks, because it get really tired every day from all the walking itself.
- Go on shoulder season
Do not go to Europe on August which is their summer. It will be way crowded to enjoy and everything will be expensive because it’s their holiday season. And Winter will be cold and snowy. We , asians might feel it’s cool to experience and of course lesser crowds. But in my opinion , most of the sight seeing you see will be cloudy and dark , which surely will make me very miserable ( we have 2 cloudy days and it was already bad for us).
The best weather will be shoulder season which are spring and autumn . Weather is very pleasant and you have sunshine, not too hot or cold, pretty colours leaves and snow, of course.
- Prepare clothing
If you are going to cold countries, or going to any snow or mountain activities. You should prepare to buy clothing in advance. Winter clothes in Singapore is really expensive , so whenever u are overseas or got winter clothing sales,go ahead and buy it instead of buying at the very last minute.
- Get that Good Quality camera
Seriously , no matter how much a phone can have very good quality photo. They are never comparable to actual camera, period . It doesn’t have to be heavy dslr camera, my suggestion is sony RX100 range , they are extremely good . You need all those memories, when you get old, guys; even for you.
- Book any major attraction tickets online
If you are spending only few days in a city like Rome or Paris, there are so much to see. And the attractions like Colosseum and vatican city always have the longest queue. So buy it online from official website. It’s worth extra money and time. TRUST ME! The queue will make you 1 or 2 hours to wait under the sun . And no fun waiting while you are on vacations on a limited time.
Applying Schengen Visa ( preparation for applying visa on Singapore )
- Confirm which embassy to apply visa
After booking all your accommodations , count how many nights you will be spending in each country. Apply at the embassy where u spend the most nights ( very important).
If you are spending the same amount of nights in the countries you will visit. Apply at the country of your entry.
For example : Enter by France (3 nights), Italy (5 nights), Germany (4 nights), You should apply at Italy embassy for the Schengen Visa
Enter by France (4 nights), Italy (4 nights), Germany (3 nights), You should apply at France embassy for the Schengen Visa
You can apply the visa 3 months before from your travel date. Not more than that.
Another tip is if you have another trip already being planned before your Big trip to Europe, You might really want to plan accordingly and prepare yourself.Because in some cases , visa application might take from 1 week to 1 month.
- Familiar with VFS
VFS is kind of like government agent where they accept your visa application. So basically instead of going to embassy , you will go to VFS office to submit the application.
The country you want to apply might not have embassy in your residence country .For example , Greece doesn’t have it own embassy in Singapore, and you have to apply via French embassy .Italy have its own embassy but their visa application are all done via VFS, their website will tell you to apply on VFS .
French , Spain acceept their own visa applications, so you just need to apply directly from embassy. ( Book your appointment )
- Go through visa requirements
Familiar with all the requirements .
Most of the embassy require pretty much the same for Schengen visa . But some might be a bit different.
- Prepare your bank account balance
None of us have tons of money , so we will slowly build up our account so we won’t have to be stressed about it at last minute. Unfortunately, they don’t mention minimum financial amount to apply visa .
Another tip is if you are making big amount of transaction from your account, for example sending money to family or whatever it is . You might want to wait a while . Do all the monthly transaction after end of the month . For example ,I pay my monthly rental and all the bills before end of the month, it would have been better I did at end of the month which will reflect the total amount in my bank statement, if you get what I mean.
If you do not have to worry about money ,then it is great.
- Get employment letter( Based on embassy requirements)
If the requirement says, they need to know your salary , You have to make sure it is all in your letter from your employer. I have to ask mine twice because the letter didn’t mention some of it. So you have to specially request.
- Get travel insurance
Your visa application require to have travel insurance .The travel insurance need to cover a certain amount based on the requirements. The regular cost is around SGD 100 ++
- Get your visa application photo taken
Your photo must be newly taken and of good resolution photo. So it is advisable to go to proper shop and request for Schengen visa application photo. Based on my personal experience, they don’t accept the passport photo from the one from the booth that you see around Singapore.
- Get your bank statement from the bank
Nowadays , everything is online and so does the bank statement. I printed mine from my internet banking , called bank statement and history of transaction .Embassy called me and said they were wrong. I had to call the bank and request new ones, which wasn’t fun experience.
- Book appointment
Go to VFS website / Embassy website and make your appointment .
- Submit your visa application and require documents
This is pretty straightforward. Submit all your requirements on your appointment date . Pay the visa fees. Around SGD 130 ( not exactly sure). The processing usually take a week (after your application was received by the embassy consulate) before you collected from VFS.
I hope this post is useful for you and as it will be for me. I am no Expert , but want to make myself and any one of your life easier next time when want to travel .I made lots of mistakes and learned so much things . Please share with your friends and family to spread the words. And don’t forget to follow me on social media.I’m very active on Instagram if you have any questions.