Schengen Visa Cover Letter Format with Samples and common mistakes
So, a close friend was rejected a Tourist Schengen Visa for France from India – twice in a row. She had to postpone her flight to a later date, but lost quite some money on Visa fees, hotel bookings and some internal flights within Schengen area. The reason quoted for the rejection was – ‘The information submitted regarding the justification for the purpose and conditions of the intended stay was not reliable‘ and ‘Your intention to leave the territory of the Member States before the expiry of the visa applied for could not be ascertained’. I was intrigued and asked her for the covering letter that she submitted while applying for Schengen Visa. Her cover letter, though has necessary details, and was flawed at some places, which triggered me to pen down this post.
How am I qualified to write this post on Schengen Visa Cover Letter?
Having obtained Schengen Visa twice now – for Italy in 2016 and Sweden in 2017, though not an expert on this topic, I stand qualified to share my 2 bits – How not to screw up your Covering letter for Schengen Visa?
First off, let’s discuss – Why do we need a cover letter at all?
Why do we need a cover letter for Schengen Visa?
Just like any official interaction, be it a job application or any sort of request where we are seek attention of the reader – we need to introduce ourselves and make our intentions clear, right? That is why we need a cover letter. Given this, we need to make optimum use of this opportunity and give a clear picture to the Embassy officer – who doesn’t know who we are nor has the power to read our minds nor does he/she have the patience to figure out the jigsaw puzzle we have handed over to them in the form of travel documents!
Covering letter is your best chance to convince the Embassy officers to put that much needed Visa stamp on your passport. Imagine a cover letter like an interview, only that you will not be present in front of them, but it speaks on your behalf.
Just think, in an interview – What all they might ask? What do you need to inform them about you? About your trip?
Any apprehensions, any communication – everything has to be done through the cover letter.
While applying Schengen Visa Italy last year, I did not understand why a cover letter is so important. But this time around, while applying Schengen for Sweden, I realized the power of a cover letter. The reason being these three scenarios:
1. Our middle names in the flight tickets were left out, as the website which was used to book the tickets had some bizarre mandatory name requirements. This was a worrying factor. So, before we applied Schengen for Sweden, I wrote to Sweden VFS Visa helpline and they responded within a day and instructed me to mention the same in the cover letter.
2. In Sweden, we will be travelling to Swedish Lapland and we have an overnight train journey from Stockholm to Kiruna and the same applies for the return journey too. A First class sleeper coach was booked for the night train journey, which was attached with the Visa application. In VFS office, the teller there pointed out that there are no hotel bookings made for those two dates. For which we diligently showed the train bookings with specific dates, travel time that exceeded 16 hours each side and a mention of sleeper coach. She highlighted dates in the train bookings and still insisted that we mention the same in the cover letter. We had to write that info at the back of the cover letter and sign it, as adding the same in the soft copy of cover letter and getting a print again was not feasible at that point in time.
3. On the last day of our travel in Sweden, we arrive from Iceland to Sweden late in the night and we have an early morning flight back home the next day. We did not book any hotel as we decided to walk into one of the hotels in the airport if we felt the need for a short nap. The lady at the counter insisted that we must have a hotel booking for the same because that night did not have any bookings against it – neither in Iceland nor in Sweden. We had to go out of VFS office, barge into the nearest cyber center and do temporary hotel booking for that date, take the print out and then attach it to the application. Maybe if we had mentioned that in the cover letter, the purpose would have been solved. But then, we are staying in both Iceland and Sweden for 11 days each and we had 11 days of hotel bookings in Iceland and 10 days of hotel bookings in Sweden and for that last day in Sweden, we hadn’t booked any place due to the transit and assumed that the Embassy officer would read our minds and figure out that we will walk into an airport hotel. Well, a lesson learnt!
So, what all do we need to mention in a cover letter?
• The purpose of your travel to the Schengen countries – is it for tourism purpose? Or official purpose? Or for studies?
• List the countries are you visiting during your stay in Schengen area.
• How and who is sponsoring your trip? Is it self-sponsored or sponsored by someone (husband, father etc.) and by what means – Cash (by showing balance in bank)? Credit card? Forex? Traveller cheques?
• If you have a sponsor in the country you are visiting, then ask them for an invitation letter and clearly explain your relationship with your sponsor and the reason why they will be sponsoring your trip. Here a sponsor might be a friend, relative or something/someone official.
• A brief of your itinerary. Here, it is a good idea to use a table format with countries you’d like to visit, days spent there and a mention of places you will be visiting while you are there. (For an example, see the sample below)
• Explain clearly why you chose to apply at the specific Embassy
• List the documents that are attached with the Visa application
• In case you are not able to produce any particular document, mention that and try providing an alternative document which would cover the necessity of the former.
• Mention the company and your designation of your employment in cover letter and write that you have taken a leave for the duration of the trip and are required to join back work after the vacation.
• And any other specific communication which you think the Embassy officer needs to know.
Some tips and suggestions:
• Apply Visa as early as possible – we can apply for a Schengen Visa 90 days before our travel date.
• Go through the Visa requirements checklist many times – even after securing all documents, there might be something that is always left out for the last minute! Isn’t it? Mr. Murphy is always lurking somewhere nearby.
• Do NOT assume that the things are obvious and will be understood from the documents submitted. Always mention such things. The Embassy officer has to go through loads of applications every day. So, its not a really good idea to let him/her figure out stuff.
• Try limiting your cover letter to one page.
• And obviously, write a convincing cover letter 🙂
• Go through it again and check it for any spelling mistakes and do a Spell Check in MS Word or similar. Its not that you will be penalized for spell errors. It just gives a good first impression.
• Doesn’t matter for what country you are applying – France, Hungary, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Norway, Austria or any Schengen country for that matter – whether a cover letter is mandatory or not – Just write it and write a rocking one!
Fine, enough for today’s Theory session. Let the practical class begin now!
This was my friend’s Cover Letter. Let me try and point out what could have been added and how can it be improvised.
THE HONOURABLE CONSUL,
EMBASSY OF FRANCE
21 Palace Road, Vasanth Nagar,
Bengaluru, Karnataka 560052
Dear Sir or Madam,
Sub: Application for Short Stay Visa for Tourism from 30/06/2017 to 11/07/2017 (Self-Sponsored)
I intend to travel to countries France, Belgium and Switzerland from 30/06/2017 to 11/07/2017 and would therefore like to obtain a Schengen travel visa.
The purpose of my trip is tourism, to visit popular places in these European countries, especially the Eiffel Tower, the Paris Disneyland and the Louvre Pyramid in France, Interlaken, Jungfrau in Switzerland and Grand Palace, Bruges, Pairi Daiza etc in Belgium. During the trip in Belgium, I will stay in my sister’s home who is a resident of Belgium (attached the required document for the same)
Please find enclosed the following documents to support my visa application:
1. Original and copy of my passport
2. Application Form duly filled and signed with Photograph as per specifications, attached
3. Documentary evidence of my employment (leave sanction letter)
4. Copy of my booking at Hotels in Paris and Switzerland.
5. Invitation letter from my sister, a resident of Belgium and copy of residential permit
6. Income tax returns of last 3 years
7. Personal bank statements of last 3 months
8. Salary slips of last 3 months
9. Copy of my travel medical insurance policy, valid for the whole Schengen Area and covering up to 100,000 Euros for medical and hospital care plus repatriation for emergency medical reasons
10. Copy of e-ticket for my return flight to Bangalore via Doha with Qatar Airways
I trust you will find that everything is in order, but please feel free to contact me should you need any additional details or documents.
Looking forward to hearing from you,
Address, Phone, Email.
Here, I find 3 major flaws:
• She had submitted the official leave letter with the application, but there isn’t any mention of her employer or designation in the cover letter. As I said earlier, lets not assume that it is understood. Even if it is obvious, mentioning it in the cover letter makes a huge difference.
• The itinerary presented was very cloudy. Seems like there is a no perfect plan chalked out. But in reality, the plan was present, that is why the hotel bookings were done. But it hasn’t been mentioned clearly in the cover letter.
• Another major point – there is NO reason presented here as to why France is being chosen as a Consulate to apply Schengen Visa.
A template or a sample which we used for Schengen Italy Cover Letter:
May 3, 2016
The Honorable Consulate,
Embassy of Italy,
Kanchanjunga, Piano Terra,
72 G.Deshmukh Marg
Mumbai – 400 026
I would like to apply for Schengen visa to spend a holiday in five countries – Italy, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia and Montenegro, this May 27 to June 12, 2016. I am applying through your Honourable Consulate, as Italy is my main destination and first point of entry as well as my point of exit.
We are a family of five travelling together. Tourism is the main purpose of our visit, to see the beautiful sights especially the museums and ancient architecture.
Our detailed itinerary is attached inside. Brief itinerary would be as follows:
|Arrival date||Departure date||Days||City(Country)|
|27 May 2016||2 June 2016||7||Rome-Florence-Pisa-Calenzano-Maranello-San Marino-Civitanova-Naples-Pompeii-Sorrento-Blue Grotto-Amfali Coast-Eboli-Alberabello-Bari (Italy)|
|3 June 2016||3 June 2016||1||Dubrovnik (Croatia)|
|4 June 2016||4 June 2016||1||Montenegro|
|5June 2016||5June 2016||1||Mostar (Bosnia)|
|6 June 2016||8 June 2016||3||Split-Rastoke-Zagreb (Croatia)|
|9June 2016||9 June 2016||1||Ljubljana (Slovenia) – Venice (Italy)|
|10 June 2016||10 June 2016||1||Milan (Italy)|
|11 June 2016||11 June 2016||1||Rome (Italy)|
I am employed at XYZ, Bengaluru since July 2010 and currently holding the position of ABC. Vacation from work has already been approved for the whole duration of this trip.
Please find the following documents to support my visa application enclosed herewith:
* Application form, duly dated and signed with passport-size picture
* Employment and Leave certificates showing the date I’m expected to return for work
* Detailed itinerary
* Hotel booking reservation as proof of accommodation
* Payslips, Bank Statements, Statement of Account as proof of income, ITR, Credit card statements, Forex receipts
* Travel Insurance with benefits coverage of 50,000 Euro for each person travelling
* Plane ticket booking reservation via Qatar Airways for Bangalore – Rome – Bangalore on May 27 – June 12, 2016
I trust that you will find that everything is in order, and I remain at your disposal for any further information. Thank you very much for your time. I hope for a favourable response for my visa application. For questions and clarifications, please feel free to contact me anytime.
This format bought us Schengen Visa for Italy on our European Odyssey last year. Hope this post helps you in crafting your letter. Cheers!
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