Guide: Book A Schengen Visa Embassy & Consulate Appointment
What Does It Mean To Book A Schengen Visa Appointment At The Embassy/Consulate?
“Booking an appointment at the Embassy/Consulate for your Schengen Visa” means arranging a meeting at the Embassy or Consulate of the country you plan to enter the Schengen Region (your destination country) during which you are required to answer a set of questions, submit your application, provide your biometric data and pay a fee.
Therefore, scheduling an appointment at the Embassy/Consulate means that you are ready to apply for your Visa.
The steps you must follow in order to schedule an Embassy appointment vary according to the rules of each Embassy/Consulate.
Most of them allow you to set up an appointment online – although a few of them require you to schedule it by e-mail or by phone or even in person.
The face-to-face meeting (commonly referred to as the ‘interview’) at the Embassy/Consulate is a mandatory step in your application. You cannot submit your application exclusively through an Embassy/Consulate online portal because you must submit your original documents, and sending them online would mean they are ‘copies’ and not ‘originals’.
Also, you cannot submit them by post or via a third party unless the third party is a Visa outsourcing specialist for governments and diplomatic missions – meaning that you cannot ask a friend or a relative to submit them in your name.
To sum up, you have two options to schedule a meeting at the Embassy/Consulate:
- Book an appointment yourself – This means that you must arrange a face-to-face meeting with the Embassy/Consulate officers on a specific day and at a particular hour and to submit your documents yourself.
- Book an appointment through a Visa outsourcing company that serves governments and diplomatic missions – Instead of contacting the Embassy/Consulate directly (by filling out an online appointment form, or by e-mail or by phone) you can contact a Visa outsourcing company. These companies are working on behalf of Embassies and Consulates that are transferring the obligation of delivering administrative services to third parties.
If you are thinking of relying on the services of a specialised outsourcing company to schedule your interview, we highly recommend you consider the following key elements:
- Some Embassies/Consulates have chosen to outsource the Visa application process completely, meaning that you have no choice and you must schedule your appointment through an outsourcing company.
In this case, when scheduling an appointment through the Embassy or Consulate’s website you will be automatically directed to the website of the outsourcing company. For example, the German Embassy outsourced the handling of Visa applications in most countries.
- A Visa outsourcing company will charge you a fee, in addition to the nominal application fee. All these companies are authorised to collect the documents and the biometric data of the Visa applicants and charge an extra fee for this service.
The amount these companies require for their services varies depending on the company.
- A Visa outsourcing company is the best solution for you if the Schengen Country where you plan to enter the Region has no Embassy/Consulate in your city or country of residence. In this case, there are two options available:
- The Visa submission has been outsourced to the Embassy/Consulate of another Schengen State (for example, the applicants residing in Armenia can apply for a Visa for Estonia at the Embassy of Lithuania in Armenia).
- The Visa submission has been outsourced to the Embassy/Consulate of your main destination located in a neighbouring country of your country of residence (for example, holders of an Afghan passport or applicants residing in Afghanistan who want to travel to Belgium have to submit their application to the Embassy of Belgium in Islamabad, Pakistan).
Important notice: The new Visa Code implemented on February 2nd 2020 allows you to submit your application at the earliest 3 to 6 months before the scheduled date of your trip and 15 calendar days at the latest before your trip to the Schengen area.
Therefore, we strongly recommend you schedule the meeting at the Embassy/Consulate 6 or 7 weeks before your scheduled date of departure.
Note: If you need any help to schedule your meeting, do not hesitate to contact us to get in touch and we would be more than glad to assist you.
The Importance Of The Schengen Visa Appointment Booking
You may ask yourself why it is so important that you schedule a face-to-face meeting at the Embassy/Consulate. Below you will find the answers:
● Face-to-face meetings are a powerful communication tool
Think of a job interview. Why must HR recruiters or the representatives of a specific company set up an in-person meeting with you instead of just reviewing your CV and deciding whether you are suitable or not for that job? Because face-to-face meetings are extremely powerful and they help them understand your profile.
The way you answer their questions is very important in their decision-making process. The same rule is valid for a face-to-face meeting at the Embassy/Consulate.
For the Embassy/Consulate officers it is not enough to only check your documents. They must see you, ask you specific questions, analyse the way you answer those questions, and check if your answers match the content of your documents.
● Embassies/Consulates must ensure that you are who you say you are
For the Embassy/Consulate authorities, it is highly important to ensure that you are who you say you are and you actually plan to travel to Europe. In other words, they want to avoid identity theft and ensure that no one is applying for a Visa in your name, no matter the reason.
● You must provide your biometric data to the Embassy/Consulate
You must schedule a meeting at the Embassy/Consulate because your fingerprints must be registered (if you choose the services of a Visa outsourcing company they may register your fingerprints on behalf of the Embassy/Consulate).
Please note that your fingerprints will be stored in a VIS (Visa Information System) which is a central IT system that is available at the immigration border crossings for all Schengen Countries.
Besides the fingerprints of the Visa candidates, the system contains the personal information of the traveller as well as the information of the person or organisation who has invited them to the Schengen Area (if applicable).
The information in the VIS is extremely important as border control staff and police can access it to check someone’s identity and to ensure that the Visa is real. Except for your fingerprints, your biometric data includes a digital photo.
How To Book An Appointment For A Schengen Visa At The Embassy/Consulate
The steps you must follow in order to schedule a meeting at the Embassy/Consulate depend on whether you request the appointment yourself or choose the services of an outsourcing company.
● If you book the appointment yourself
We recommend you enter the website of the Schengen Embassy/Consulate where you must apply for your Visa and check the steps you must follow in order to set up a meeting. In most cases, you can schedule the appointment online. Only a few Embassies/Consulates require you to do it in-person, by mobile phone, or by email.
Also, some Embassies/Consulates provide an e-mail address or a phone number that you can use in case you face an issue while scheduling your appointment and it takes much longer than expected.
The easiest way to schedule the appointment is by searching online through a search engine like www.google.com and entering in “schedule schengen visa appointment at [COUNTRY YOU ARE APPLYING TO] embassy located in [THE COUNTRY YOU RESIDE]”.
For example, searching in Google “schedule Schengen Visa appointment at Italian Embassy located in the Philippines” provides the Philippines Italian Embassy website (https://ambmanila.esteri.it/ambasciata_manila/en/informazioni_e_servizi/visti/) which includes a schedule appointment button but also the phone, email and address contact details for the Embassy.
● If you book the appointment through a Visa outsourcing company
You will have to access the company’s official page and follow the steps required in order to schedule the appointment online. Alternatively, you can contact the company by email or phone.
Please note that you will have to provide your documents when scheduling the appointment meaning that you must first scan all of them.
Using the same process as outlined within the “book the appointment yourself” step, use a search engine, like www.google.com and search for a term such as “schedule schengen visa appointment at [COUNTRY YOU ARE APPLYING TO] embassy located in [THE COUNTRY YOU RESIDE]
For example, searching in Google “schedule Schengen Visa appointment at Denmark embassy located in the Philippines” shows that there is no Denmark Embassy in the Philippines and instead, the Schengen Visa Outsourcing provider of “VFS Global” is displayed (https://www.vfsglobal.com/denmark/philippines/Schedule_an_Appointment.html), which I am able to then select the city in the Philippines I would like to book the appointment through.
Common Mistakes To Avoid When Booking And Having An Appointment At The Embassy/Consulate
When scheduling your meeting at the Embassy/Consulate (but also during the face-to-face meeting with the Embassy/Consulate officers) we highly recommend you avoid the following mistakes:
● Booking one appointment for a family or group
Each individual requires a separate appointment and must submit a separate application. For example, if a family or group of three is applying for visas, then 3 appointments must be scheduled.
● Not taking enough money with you to pay the fee and not checking the payment methods
When submitting your application you are required to pay the application fee (the costs vary depending on the type of Visa and age of the applicant – also, for family members of EU/EEA nationals, the Visas are free of charge).
Most Embassies allow you to pay by cash, money order, or credit/debit card, but you should check which payment methods are accepted prior to attending your interview.
We recommend you have both cash and a credit card with you and make sure you have enough money with you.
For example, an adult requesting a Tourist Visa with a maximum of 90 days duration of stay will have to pay 80 Euros. Also, the payment is usually made in the local currency and not in Euros.
● Submitting an application with missing documents and signatures
If your documents are not complete, you will be requested to schedule a new meeting later and to submit all the necessary documents for your Visa application on different dates.
However, the main problem is that Embassies/Consulates may not be available to schedule your second appointment within a short period of time due to the high demand for Schengen Visas and you risk running out of time. This means that you should organise your application well in advance to avoid such a situation.
● Not being dressed properly for the interview
An Embassy/Consulate is an extremely professional environment.
If you want to make a good impression, you must dress properly on the day of your interview. Therefore, we highly recommend you avoid wearing shorts, t-shirts, ripped jeans, etc. Say no to casual and sportswear and try to dress as formal as possible.
● Scheduling the appointment at the wrong Embassy or Consulate
Not applying at the right Embassy/Consulate can cost you the approval of your Schengen Visa. Please make sure you follow the rules below when scheduling your appointment:
- When you plan to visit only one Schengen state, you must book it at the Embassy/Consulate of that country.
- When you plan to visit more than two Schengen states, you must book it at the Embassy/Consulate of the country: in which you will be spending more days OR in which you will step in first, if you plan to spend an equal amount of days in each.