Schengen VISA Italy for Indian Citizens – Ultimate guide
Europe. A continent so big and beautiful – no wonder one gets stumped while deciding where to go, when to go, what to see, what to do and what not to do! Once you have got answers for all the above questions, the next immediate thing to think about is VISA. As we all know, VISA is an official permission granted by the government of any country for a foreigner who wishes to enter, stay or exit a country.
Of all the 50 countries in Europe, 26 countries have bound themselves to a Schengen Agreement. Summarizing the Schengen Agreement – it allows free movement of people, goods and capital between the Schengen countries thus abolishing the internal border controls, imparting a feeling of one big single country. This, in particular is a boon for tourists who can procure a multiple entry Schengen Visa and roam around freely among the Schengen countries without worrying about applying VISA for every country they would like to visit.
Though not a pain-in-the-a** like US VISA, Schengen VISA is a blessing in disguise, but there are some things to take care while applying a Schengen VISA to make sure your application doesn’t get rejected. I did extensive research while applying my Schengen VISA with the port of entry as Italy. I shall pour out my 2 bits of knowledge on Schengen VISA for Italy.
How to get Italy Visa from India?
If you want boring text-book like details of steps to apply for Schengen VISA Italy and a list of documents required, you can visit this website http://www.vfs-italy.co.in/
As a first timer for applying Schengen VISA Italy from India, this website, though detailed and precise, left me lurking for more details. I was confused and didn’t know where to start – whether to book accommodation and flights and then apply for VISA or the other way round (fear of – what if the VISA gets rejected?). Went to a couple of VISA Agents but ended up applying Schengen VISA on my own! That story is for another day 🙂
If you are planning a self-planned trip to Europe, then this post will make more sense to you. Because, you are doing your own homework, you decide where to go and what to do – so you gotta apply your own Schengen VISA. Trust me, it isn’t as difficult as it seems in the beginning. Once you go through the whole process, you will emerge out like a gold medalist in Olympics 😛
If you are going on a package trip to Europe, your tour operator will do all the work on your behalf and he/she will have enough experience of how things work. If you are not very old or you are fit enough to travel, then I have a strong feeling that you are going to bookmark this post for your future reference. Because, Europe is not meant to be done in 15 days – especially not in a package tour. You will realize this once you are back from your Europe tour and you will crave for more! I can guarantee you that you will do a self-planned Europe trip, the next time. That’s when this post will come in handy 🙂
This post is for complete Schengen VISA noobs. If you belong to the ‘Been there, Done that’ category, still, read along, you will find yourself somewhere in between the lines 😀
Italian Visa India Checklist
Chalk out your itinerary first. This is the backbone of your vacation. Do a precise and practical planning of where to touch down and from where to take off.
- First list down all the places you’d like to see.
- Check how many days of leaves you have in hand.
- You cannot possibly finish Europe in 15 days. So, pick your favorite ones first and leave the rest for your next trip.
- Now, connect the dots and make a final itinerary.
Decide which country will be your port of Entry:
This is a big question that troubles everyone who applies for Schengen VISA. If your itinerary is restricted to one country, then you have a clear cut answer right in front of you. But, if your itinerary spans many countries, then you are left with a lot of questions and fanatically search online for your queries.
Fret not. Your search ends here. The answer is simple. Apply to the country in which you will stay for maximum number of days i.e. the main destination. In the absence of a main destination (e.g. same duration of stay in two or more countries) you should apply at the country of first entry because your passport will show the entry stamp of your first destination only.
So, if you have a layover in Paris before reaching your main destination, you should NOT be applying for Schengen France, though it is your first Schengen country.
My port of Entry was Italy as I was to stay in Italy for 7 days i.e maximum number of days in one country in my entire trip. So, further, I shall be quoting a lot of Schengen VISA Italy.
See where all we went in Italy: Italy Road trip Itinerary (opens in a new tab)
One fair warning: Though Schengen VISA entitles you a entry into any Schengen country, it doesn’t mean that it is your right. The host country might refuse entry if it finds there is something fishy. A lot of travel agents suggest applying Schengen for a country whose embassies are not very strict and issue VISA in short time. Though this might get you entry for the first time, but, you might be in a soup the next time you visit Europe. Every Schengen application has a column to quote your previous Schengen VISA details. If they found that you had violated rules in your earlier visit, then more chances are there that your Schengen VISA might be rejected.
Check VFS Website for Interview schedule:
When I searched for ‘Italian Embassy in India, Bangalore’ or Googled up ‘Italy Schengen VISA’, VFS website pops up first in the search. When I entered the website, I realized that there are three Italian Embassy/Consulate in India – Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata. My Einstein brain calculated in rocket speed that, I am from Bangalore, so Mumbai is the nearest place to apply my Schengen VISA for Italy. I couldn’t be more wrong!
Before confusing you, let me give you some background. You cannot submit your Schengen VISA application directly to Italian Consulate in India. VFS is an agent who caters to VISA requirement to most of the European countries. VFS has branches in almost all cities in India. So, I could apply my Schengen VISA for Italy, right here in Bangalore, but my VISA approval would come under ‘Consulate General of Italy in Mumbai’ jurisdiction.
VFS Italy Appointment
Now, before making hotel/apartment bookings for your Europe trip, check VFS Italy website for scheduling an appointment here. (for VFS Italy, Mumbai)
The available appointment date will usually be 10-15 days from today’s date, though it might differ. Go ahead and book a date and timeslot that suits you.
If you are short of time, and don’t have 15 days of time to wait for an appointment and did the mistake of doing all the bookings first, before having enough time to schedule an appointment, like I did. Then, visit your VFS center in your city and request them for an earlier appointment date. For which, I got a prompt response and got my appointment scheduled in 3 days had to opt for VFS Premium Lounge Services. More on VFS Premium Lounge Service here.
Also make sure you have insurance before you apply visa. Expats can check here for Expat Medical Plans.
Read about : Our European adventures (Opens in a new tab)
When to Apply for Tourist Visa for Italy from India?
You can apply for a visa minimum 15 days or maximum 3 months before your intended date of travel.
15 days here refers to 15 working days. So, DON’T go easy on that term.
Download the Schengen VISA Italy application here. Also attached is a sample application form which guides you how to fill the application.
Do your bookings:
Now that you have secured your VISA appointment, start looking out for hotels/flights and do the other necessary bookings. I suggest doing your bookings once you have got your appointment because I had done a mistake of finishing all my hotel bookings first, assuming that, VFS guys will be waiting with a grand welcome ceremony to greet me to their office!!
My travel date was May 27 and I looked out for an appointment on Apr 28th and next available slot was on May 15th! Imagine my plight. Minor panic attacks!!
So, it’s always wise to secure an appointment first and then finish off your bookings. This way, you will have a target date before which you must and should finish off all your bookings. Some persuasion is always good. What say? 😉
I did all my bookings through Booking.com and found them very efficient.
Get your documents in place – Italy Visa Requirements:
Make a checklist of Italy Visa requirement documents and start procuring them one by one and log them securely at one place. I used the below checklist to sort out my documents.
Take a careful look at all the documents to be submitted. Some things which need a second thought:
- If Employed, Original Leave authorization from employer: Yes, they want your boss to know that you will be merrily sipping cocktail by the sea while he is banging is head into the computer. Also, no sneaking in one or two extra leaves by falling sick falsely! Save that excuse for your domestic trips!
- Copies of the sale deeds of immovable properties: To make sure you have some valuable property back here at home. A subtle way to ensure that we drag ourselves out of Schengen countries to return to our nest.
- Original bank statements for the last 6 months with adequate balance, well over your tour cost: This is to make sure that you are rich enough to manage yourself in a foreign country. They really don’t want you to get wealthy by working in Mc.Donalds or KFC by procuring a Schengen VISA. Ideally, 100 Euros per person, per day is the usual requirement – the more, the better!
- Travel Insurance for the whole period: Health insurance covering a minimum of €30,000 for emergency hospitalization and repatriation expenses, valid throughout the Schengen area. You really don’t want to risk it if something goes wrong while on a vacation abroad, right? Mr. Murphy will be on lookout for these simple gaffes! Also note that, the travel insurance has to be for minimum ten days from the date of travel.
- Photo Specifications: Clearly, no searching your document cabinet for your photos which you probably got clicked centuries ago! Go out to a decent photo studio, flaunt to the guy who clicks your photo that are going to Europe! Don’t be a miser to spend a couple of hundred bucks here; Remember, your Europe trip is going to cost you lakhs of rupees – entire trip at stake, for a couple of hundred bucks? Just not done!!
- Cover Letter: Now, this one is serious and really important. This is a letter which gives a gist of who you are, where are you going, when are going, with whom are you going and why you are applying Schengen VISA for that country. The officer who goes through your Schengen VISA application must be convinced that you are eligible for Schengen VISA and you have to do that through your cover letter.
Click here to know what to and what not to include in your Cover Letter – How not to Screw up your Schengen Visa Cover Letter (opens in a new tab)
- Multiple Entry: If your itinerary spans many countries, then you will need a ‘Multiple entry Schengen VISA’. So, while filling up your application form, ensure that you tick the Multiple Entry checkbox. Do NOT neglect this point!
- Pages in your passport: You are travelling to Europe, so country hopping is on cards and expect a lot of stamps on your passport. Make sure that you have at least 2 empty VISA pages in your passport.
- Italian Translator: While I was going through VFS website, I read this sentence and broke my head over it for a couple of days until I spoke to VFS customer care.
“Ensure you submit documents in Italian, if required. Documents which are not in Italian must be translated into Italian. Translation should be completed from certified translator.”
Don’t worry about this; there is NO need to translate your application to Italian!
- Passport pickup v/s Courier delivery: If you are really short of time and need your VISA asap, then you can choose to pick up your passport personally from VFS office. If you opt for this option, then you must mention this while you submit your application. But, in general, passport pickup is not required. The courier service is very prompt and I received my passport the immediate next day after I received the message that the courier has been dispatched. If in case, you choose to pick up your passport and you are not able to make it to VFS office, then you might send your immediate family member or anyone representing the whole group. They must carry these documents with them while collecting passport – Photocopy of Govt. ID card, Original ICR, Authorization Letter from applicant.
When in doubt, leave it empty:
While filling the application, if you are in doubt with any column, leave it empty. When you visit VFS office for submitting your Schengen VISA Application, ask the officer in charge and he/she should guide you to light! 😀
These were some of the points to take an extra care while applying Schengen VISA for Italy. As I mentioned earlier, VFS Italy website has exhaustive information about applying Schengen VISA for Italy, but, what I have attempted to document here is the fine details which either make or break your Schengen VISA application. So, what are you waiting for? Start today and get going! Happy European Adventures!
If you have any query, comment below and I would be happy to help! 🙂
Been there, done that? Or planning to apply Schengen VISA? Would love to hear from you! Scribble your thoughts in the comment section below! 🙂