Complete Guide – Schengen Visa Refusal Reasons & Avoidance

What Is A Schengen Visa Application Refusal?

A Schengen Visa refusal is a standard official letter that Visa applicants can receive from a Schengen Embassy or Consulate where it states that their application has been rejected. 

A Visa denial does not mean that you are never allowed to enter the Schengen Region but only that your current application has been refused and you must submit a new one if you want to travel to Europe. 

This is unless the Schengen Embassies/Consulates have strong reasons to reject your entrance in the Schengen Region temporarily or permanently, but these situations occur when an applicant has unfavourable Schengen Visa situation – for example, the applicant failed to respect the Visa limitations – or they have a criminal background or committed criminal offence within the Schengen Area.

However, a new application that you submit after a denial can be either approved or rejected meaning that submitting new documents does not guarantee you the approval of the Schengen Visa either.  

When a Schengen Visa application is rejected, the consular officer may send the applicant a rejection letter containing the specific reasons why their Visa was refused but this is very rare. 

Typically, the Visa officers just refuse your application or at best, they check a box corresponding to the reason for the Visa rejection. 

Most of the time, they do not provide any additional information or detailed explanations concerning Visa denial. 

Important: Rejected applicants can also try to resolve the issue by writing an appeal letter, but this is not an easy process. The appeal letter should be no longer than a page and must be addressed to the Embassy or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Schengen State that refused the Visa or other EU institutions.

For further information on the appeal letter and how to appeal the decision, please check our Guide: Appeal Letter for A Visa Refusal.

Common Reasons For Schengen Visa Rejection & Avoidance

Below you will find the standard Visa refusal letter (“Standard form for notifying and motivating refusal, annulment, and revocation of a Visa”):

1. False passport/travel documents

Official reason – “A false/counterfeit/forged travel document was presented“.

Submitting a “false/counterfeit/forget travel document” means using fake passports, travel itinerary, hotel bookings, flight bookings, insurance, etc (because each of them relate to a travel document). 

For example, using a fake passport can result in a permanent ban from entering the Schengen Region and can also be seen as a criminal act in many countries.  

How to avoid this – This piece of advice is perhaps the most obvious. Do not try to apply for a Schengen Visa using a fake passport or other travel documents because the Visa officials are trained to identify any kind of fake travel document. 

2. Unclear travel purpose & conditions 

Official reason – “Justification for the purpose and the conditions of the intended stay was not provided”.

The Visa officers must know why you want to travel to the Schengen Region. 

If your Visa was rejected for this reason, it means that you didn’t bring enough evidence of your travel purpose and the conditions of your travel.

No matter the reason why you want to enter the Schengen Region, you must prove it. 

For example, it is not enough to think “I have to travel for medical treatment so they must grant me a Visa”. The Visa officers cannot know that you need medical treatment unless you bring evidence. 

How to avoid this Even if you submit a complete application form, flight reservations, accommodation, and proof of financial means, this is not enough to justify your travel purpose. 

Are you going to see a close relative there? Then you must prove it by submitting an invitation letter and other documents proving your degree of kinship (even if they do not provide you with accommodation and you submit hotel reservations). 

Or, are you going to travel for tourism purposes? Then you must submit a complete and genuine day-to-day travel itinerary showing all the activities that you plan during your stay within the Schengen Area. 

You must submit all the necessary documents that can prove the reason why you want to enter the Schengen Region, even if not all of the documents are listed as mandatory (optional documents can bring additional evidence of the purpose of your travel). 

Also, proving the reason why you want to travel to the Schengen Region means providing a complete set of documents

For example, if you need medical treatment it is not enough to submit a document showing that you suffer from a specific disease as it wouldn’t justify your entrance into the Schengen Region (you must also submit an invitation letter from a hospital located in a Schengen country).      

3. Not enough means of subsistence

Official reason – “You have not provided proof of sufficient means of subsistence, for the duration of the intended stay, or for the return to the country of origin or residence, or for the transit to a third country into which you are certain to be admitted, or you are not in a position to acquire such means lawfully”.

This reason can be summarised into just a few words: “You didn’t prove that you have enough money to travel to the Schengen Area”. 

In this case, there are two options available:

How to avoid this – First, you must ensure that you do not miss any important documents that bring evidence of your means of subsistence (no matter if you pay for your trip by yourself or you have a sponsor). 

Secondly, you must ensure that you actually have enough money to travel. 

The minimum amount that you must have in your account for each day spent through the Schengen Region varies by country. 

However, as a general rule, you must prove that you have at least 60 EUR per day (this excludes the amounts you need to pay for hotels, flights, insurance, etc). 

For more information about this topic, please check out our Financial Means Test.  

Thirdly, make sure that all the other documents that you submit bring evidence of your means of subsistence. 

For example, if you are employed and want to pay for the trip yourself but you submit employment documents proving that you get a low wage, the Visa officers may believe that you cannot afford to travel to the Schengen Region (even if you intend to use your savings to pay for your trip). 

In this case, consider getting a sponsor that can support your trip at least partially or submit other regular income statements

4. Breaking the 90/180 day rule 

Official reason – “You have already stayed for 3 months during the current 6-month period on the territory of the Member States on the basis of a Uniform Visa or a Visa with Limited Territorial Validity”.

Both Uniform Schengen Visas (which is the most common type of Schengen Visa) and Limited Territorial Validity Visas (this type of Visa is not very common and you can use it to travel only to the Schengen country that has issued your visa or the countries you specify when applying for the Visa) allow you to spend up to a maximum of 90 days within the Schengen Region over a 6 month period (180 days) – This is the “90/180 rule” and you can check out our 90/180 day test for further details.

In other words, with a multiple-entry Visa, you can enter and exit the Schengen Region as many times as you want over a six months period as long as you spend a maximum of 90 days in the Schengen countries. 

If you already hold a Visa and you have spent 90 days in the Schengen countries but your visa validity period did not expire (meaning that the 6-month period did not pass yet) you cannot request a new Visa.

How to avoid this – If you have already spent 3 months during the current 6-month period within the Schengen Region, the Embassies/Consulates won’t grant you another Visa. 

However, you can avoid wasting time and preparing a new application that will be rejected for this reason by simply counting how many days you have spent in the Schengen Countries within the last 6 months (also, you can use a Schengen Visa calculator to count them).

5. An alert was issued on your name

Official reason – “An alert has been issued in the Schengen Information System (SIS) for the purpose of refusing entry by (indication of Member State)”.

The Schengen Information System (SIS) is a system used by the European countries for security and border management. 

The system enables competent authorities (such as national border control, police, customs, judicial, visa, and vehicle registration authorities) to enter and consult alerts on persons or objects. 

An SIS alert on a person or object means that they represent a threat to the safety of the European countries. 

For example, the alerts are issued in the SIS for persons or objects involved in terrorism-related activities. Also, return decisions and entry bans are part of the information shared in the system to enhance their effective enforcement. 

How to avoid this – Unless you have a criminal background or an unfavourable Schengen Visa situation, your Schengen Visa application should not be refused for this reason. 

But in the unfortunate event that you receive a rejection for this reason and you have no idea why the SIS has issued an alert for you, you can be the victim of identity theft.

However, you should first know what the SIS is saying about you. 

According to the European Commission‘s official website, you can request access to your personal data in the SIS: “If you believe your personal information has been misused, needs to be corrected or deleted, you can request access to and rectification of your data. If you are a third-country national you can address your request to the consulate of any Member State.”

6. You are considered a threat to the Member States

Official reason – “One or more Member State(s) consider you to be a threat to public policy, internal security, public health as defined in Article 2(19) of Regulation EC No 562/2006 (Schengen Borders Code), or the international relations of one or more of the Member States”.

First of all, according to Article 2(19) of Regulation EC No 562/2006, being a threat to public health means having “any disease with epidemic potential as defined by the International Health Regulations of the World Health Organisation and other infectious diseases or contagious parasitic diseases if they are the subject of protection provisions applying to nationals of the Member States”.

Being a threat to public policy and internal security also means having a past or current criminal record. 

Also, you can be considered a threat to public policy if you have submitted fake or false documents for a previous Schengen Visa application or you have attempted deceit (for example, you attempted to misrepresent your identity). 

How to avoid this – In an ideal scenario, you should not be considered for any reason a threat to public policy, internal security, or public health when applying for a Visa. 

Otherwise, you risk your application being rejected. 

However, if you suffer from any infectious or contagious disease, you should just wait for the disease to be cured before applying for your Visa.

If you have a criminal background or you have submitted fake documents to a Schengen Embassy/Consulate previously, you can try applying for a Visa but you should be aware of the high risk of being rejected. 

7. Valid travel medical insurance missing 

Official reason – “Proof of holding an adequate or valid travel medical insurance was not provided”.

Having valid and adequate travel medical insurance is extremely important when applying for a Schengen Visa. 

Any mistake concerning your Schengen travel insurance will automatically lead to the rejection of your application.

How to avoid this – Make sure you get travel medical insurance valid for the Schengen Region that includes covers for at least 30,000 EUR. 

Also, your insurance must cover the entire period you plan to spend within the Schengen Region, including the day of arrival and the day of departure. 

Last but not least, if you plan to visit other countries outside the Schengen Region that you are allowed to enter with your Schengen Visa (for more details, please visit this link) you must get travel insurance coverage for these countries as well.  

8. Inconsistent information

Official reason – “The information submitted regarding the justification for the purpose and the conditions of the intended stay was not reliable “.

Typically, such cases include four different situations:

How to avoid this – Make sure that all of your documents show consistency (we highly recommend you double-check to see if all of the information on your documents match). 

Also, the best way to show consistency when submitting the documents and holding the Visa interview, is to be honest and transparent concerning your travel purposes. Do not try to hide anything regarding the purpose and the conditions of your trip.  

Also, do not submit fake documents. For example, if for any reason your employer did not provide you with payslips or salary slips, do not submit fake salary slips. The Visa officers are very good at spotting any kind of irregularity that can lead to the rejection of your Visa. 

If you cannot get some of the requested documents (for example, the payslips mentioned above or the Income Tax Return that you didn’t submit on time to your Government tax authority or local tax agency) just think of how to prove the purpose of your trip to the Schengen Region and your intentions to return to your country of residence by submitting other documents. 

Visa officers are more interested to know that you have genuine intentions to return to your country of residence than to have evidence that you pay all of your taxes. Of course, in an ideal scenario, you should submit all of the required documents but an application where a document is missing (because you cannot get it) is preferable to an application containing fake documents. 

As far as your hotel and flight reservations are concerned, make sure you submit authentic reservations. Also, you should check if the confirmation number for your reservations is valid (because the Visa officers use the confirmation number on your reservations to check if they are authentic). 

Sometimes, mistakes can occur when you reserve a hotel room or a flight ticket, and the confirmation number may appear as invalid. This will make the Visa officers believe that your reservations are not genuine and reject your Visa application. 

Important – If you are not sure about the rules that your documents must follow in order to show consistency and be accepted by the Visa officers, you can check all of our guides and download our templates and samples as well. Alternatively, you can book a free consultation and we can help you with all of the documents that you must submit according to your personal situation so that you can avoid the rejection of your Schengen Visa. 

9. Rootedness not ascertained 

Official reason – “Your intentions to leave the territory of the Member States before the expiry of the Visa could not be ascertained “.

This is perhaps the most common reason for a Schengen Visa denial. 

If your Visa has been rejected for this reason it means that you did not provide enough evidence of your intentions to return back to your country of residence. 

In these cases, Visa officers are trained to make an accurate “return prediction” when processing applications. 

Typically, you can bring evidence of your genuine intentions to return to your country of residence (or your “rootedness”) by proving:

Bear in mind that if you did not use a Schengen Visa in the past properly (for example, you overstayed in the Schengen Region) this may be considered proof of your intentions of staying in the Schengen Region illegally and, as a result, your application may be rejected. 

How to avoid this – First, do not overstay in the Schengen Region if you want to get a new Schengen Visa in the future.

Secondly, you must bring evidence of your genuine intentions to return to your country (for example, you can prove that you have a family that you must take care of in your country of residence, a stable job, or properties of any kind. Or, if you are a student, you must prove that you intend to return to your country of residence and finish your studies). 

Just having a return flight is not enough, we also recommend you include at least one or two other reasons as to why you must return back to your country of residence.

10. Wrong Schengen Visa timeframe

Official reason – “Sufficient proof that you have not been in a position to apply for a visa in advance, justifying application for a visa at the border, was not provided “.

If your Schengen Visa has been rejected because you did not present “sufficient proof that you have not been in a position to apply for a visa in advance” means that you did not choose the right moment to apply for your Visa. 

Remember that the New Visa Code implemented on February 2nd, 2020 allows you to submit your Schengen Visa application: 

Therefore, if you submit your application more than 6 months before the date when you plan to travel to the Schengen Region (without having a strong reason to do it) your application may be rejected. 

Also, when crossing the border to enter a Schengen country, the border control authorities will check some of the documents that you submitted when you applied for your Visa. 

If you do not provide all of these documents, the border control authorities can forbid you from entering the Schengen Territory and decide the annulment or revocation of your Visa. 

How to avoid this – First of all, make sure that you apply for your Visa no more than 6 months before the date when you plan to travel to the Schengen Region. And also, not less than 15 working days before the date when you plan to travel to the Schengen Region, otherwise you are at the risk of not receiving your Visa on time.

Also, when crossing the border to enter a Schengen country, you must carry with you all of the relevant documents concerning your trip, such as your passport (make sure you do not misplace it while travelling to the Schengen Region), proof of means of subsistence (for example, your account statements or any other proof of means of subsistence that you submitted to the Schengen Embassy/Consulate), travel insurance, flight and hotel reservations (or any other proof of transport and accommodation – make sure you have the return ticket as well), and any other relevant documents concerning your trip. 

11. You requested the Visa revocation

Official reason – “Revocation of the Visa was requested by the Visa holder”.

You are allowed to request the revocation of your Visa if you do not want to travel anymore (or you do not want to travel on the planned date). 

For example, you can ask the revocation of your Visa if you have changed your mind and you want to travel within a few months from the moment you have received the Visa that you want to revoke (because a short-stay Visa is valid for a 6-month period and can have a maximum 90 days duration of stay, meaning that if you do not revoke your Visa and you travel 4 or 5 months after you have received your current Visa you may have a short Visa validity period left).

Also, Embassy/Consulates do not allow you to make major changes to your travel plans, meaning that you should travel within the period that you have declared when applying for your Visa.