Is my personal appearance mandatory to apply for a Schengen Visa?

Can I submit my application online or via courier, or am I physically needed in order to get my Schengen Visa?

These two questions pop up in our inbox almost every day. 

As several countries worldwide allow travellers to file documents online or get an electronic Visa (e-Visa), many Schengen Visa applicants want to know if their physical presence is mandatory when submitting their documentation. 

If you’ve ever wondered, “Can I apply for a Schengen Visa without appearing in person at the Embassy or Consular office?” wonder no more! This post will clear up any confusion and provide comprehensive answers to all of your questions. 

Table of contents: 

  1. What is biometric validation and how is it related to your Schengen Visa?
  2. Is your personal appearance mandatory to apply for a Schengen Visa?

1. What Is Biometric Validation and How Is It Related to Your Schengen Visa?

Collecting Biometrics For Schengen Visa Application

Before finding out whether or not your physical presence is mandatory when applying for a Schengen Visa, it is important to give you some background on biometric validation. So bear with us a little. 

Biometric validation is the process of identifying Visa applicants via unique characteristics such as their fingerprints and facial patterns. 

The documents you submit with your application may tell a lot about you and your travel purpose. Still, your biometric validation is a key factor in helping the consular officers validate two critical elements that determine your eligibility for a Schengen Visa:

You might already know that the ​​Security System of the Schengen Area protects the Schengen external borders by pre-screening travellers in order to identify any public safety risks.   

In order for the Schengen Security System to pre-screen travellers and allow Member States to exchange Visa data, each applicant needs to provide their biometric data, including 10 fingerprints and a passport-style photo. 

With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the Schengen Visa physical appearance validation and see how your biometric data relates to this matter.  

2. Is Your Personal Appearance Mandatory to Apply for a Schengen Visa?

Submitting The Schengen Visa Application In Person

If you are not clear whether or not you must appear in person at the Embassy or Consulate to submit your application, the simple answer is yes; you have to apply for a Schengen Visa in person

There are two major reasons why Schengen Embassies and Consulates require your physical presence when submitting your application:

  1. Collecting your biometric data

Submitting your Schengen Visa application in person is part of the biometric collection process. The consular officers need your fingerprints, so you must be physically present at the Consulate or Embassy. 

To apply for your Visa, you will book your appointment online, bring all of your documents with you, including your passport, and have a face to face conversation with the Visa officers. 

At the time of your appointment, you will provide your biometric data to be stored in the Visa Information System (VIS) database. 

However, there are examples when applicants are exempt from providing their biometric data, such as fingerprints. 

If your fingerprints have been scanned by a Schengen Embassy or Consulate in the last 59 months, you don’t need to go and do it again. 

Still, this doesn’t remove the need to submit your Schengen Visa application in person. It just means your fingerprints aren’t necessarily going to be scanned during your Schengen Visa interview.  

  1. Ensuring that you are who you say you are

Another reason why Embassies and Consulates require your physical presence when applying for a Schengen Visa is that they want to see eye to eye with the person who is applying for a Schengen Visa to understand if they match the documentation provided and that all of their credentials match as well. 

If you were a Visa officer, how would you assess applicants’ credibility? Would you get documents that could be fraudulent sent to you online or via courier?

Or, would you require applicants to physically be present at the Embassy and Consulate to validate they are who they say they are?  

In that case, you would probably require people applying for Schengen Visa to appear in person to submit biometrics and avoid the risk of processing applications containing fraudulent passports, birth certificates, bank statements, and so forth.

If you submitted your documents online, the Visa officers wouldn’t be able to verify that you are who you say you are.

Holding An Interview With A Schengen Visa Applicant

However, seeing the changes that have happened to the Schengen Visa application process over the last couple of years, where now you can submit your application form digitally in most countries, it seems as though there is going to be another way in the future for the Schengen Area to review and audit your biometrics. 

Hopefully, in the future, the application process will get to a point where you can apply online, provide all of your documents and do some way to validate your biometrics without you being physically present at the Embassy or Consulate. But as of today, that is not the case.    

Applying For A Schengen Visa In Person

Conclusion: Holding a face to face interview with the Schengen Visa officers is a simple way for the Embassy or Consulate to meet you, collect your biometric data, ensure that you are who you say you are, and understand more in-depth information about your travel purpose. 

That’s why your physical presence is mandatory when submitting your application. A Schengen Visa is not an E-Visa where you can submit your documents online and obtain your Visa electronically. 

However, countries that use the online Visa application have been increasing over the past years (e.g., USA, New Zealand, Turkey, Singapore, etc.). Hopefully, an E-Visa system will become available for the Schengen Countries soon. 

If unclear information about the application process, unanswered phone calls, and inefficient services are frustrating you, you can get rid of your problems now in an instant. Get your 100% FREE Schengen Visa consultation and let our Visa experts provide you with assistance and support. 

Please don’t take this opportunity lightly and let it slip through your fingers. If you have your heart set on travelling to Europe but find the application process complicated, we will ensure you have the highest chance of success in getting your Schengen Visa!