If you need to apply for a Schengen Visa before travelling to Europe, it can be difficult to know how far in advance you have to prepare and submit your application.
In fact, one of the most important questions that we always get is “How long does the Schengen Visa application process take?”.
It is quite common for people to contact the Embassy over the phone as they do not have the patience to wait for an answer.
However, most Embassies will not provide you with any information or status updates before a decision is made on your application.
Here, the rules on the Schengen Visa processing time and the exact time it takes for the entire process, not just the Embassy review period.
Table of contents:
- Schengen Visa processing times: Everything you need to know
- How long does the entire Schengen Visa application process take?
1. Schengen Visa Processing Times: Everything You Need to Know
According to the European Commission’s official website, the stipulated processing time of a Schengen Visa application is 15 business days.
At the end of this period (that is calculated from the day your application has been submitted), the Embassy will give you an answer on your Schengen Visa application.
In some cases, you might get your Schengen Visa before the initial 15 days.
However, the Schengen Visa processing time may be extended to 30 days or, in rare circumstances where further scrutiny of the application is needed, even 60 days.
According to the new Schengen Visa Code implemented on February 2nd, 2020, you can submit your application :
- Not more than six months before your travel date (the earliest date)
- Not less than 15 working days before your travel date (the latest date)
As a general rule, we recommend you submit your application at least three weeks before your travel date.
However, there are times when you should consider applying well in advance (say, at least 7-8 weeks before your trip).
These are the factors that can influence how long it takes to receive an answer on your application:
- Holiday Season
If you submit your application during the European summer holiday season (July to August), you may need to wait a little bit more for your Schengen Visa application to be processed. The reason behind this is that many people spend their vacations in the Schengen Area and file their applications at that time.
- Your country of citizenship
Depending on your nationality, your Schengen Visa processing times may take more than 15 business days.
As a general rule, applicants from the following countries may need to wait a minimum of 3 weeks before getting an answer on their application.
|Democratic Republic of Congo||Kazakhstan||Nigeria||Sudan (North Sudan)|
|Democratic People’s Republic of Korea||Lebanon||Pakistan||South Sudan|
- Schengen Visa denial
Even if you think you did everything right, there’s always the possibility that your Schengen Visa gets refused. If you leave yourself enough time, you may have the chance to appeal the Embassy’s decision and get your Visa to Europe (for more information, please check out our Appeal Letter for Schengen Visa Refusal guide).
- Number of people you’re travelling with
If you’re applying for a Schengen Visa as a family or in a group, there’s a chance that one of your applications will be slightly delayed. This may happen because more applications mean more documents for the Embassy officers to deal with.
- The country you apply to
Some Schengen countries such as France, Spain, Italy or Germany receive a very high number of applications, meaning your application may be slightly delayed. To learn the Schengen countries with the highest number of applications received, please check out our Europe travel and Schengen Visa statistics.
Please note that you cannot speed up your Schengen Visa application process beyond the 15-day review period.
However, you may be able to avoid delays by ensuring your application is complete and you submit the exact documents the Embassy is looking for.
If you need a Schengen Visa expert to tell you the exact documents to submit based on your unique situation so you can have the highest chances of getting your Visa approved on time, do not hesitate to request your Schengen Embassy Requirements Report (SERR).
This is a report that is unique to you and provides you with a list of requirements the Embassy expects based on your situation and travel purpose.
The SERR report removes the confusion around your Visa application so you can know exactly what to submit to ensure you get a positive answer on your application and avoid any unnecessary delays.
This means you increase your chances of having your application processed in 15 business days (and, in some cases, even less).
Now, let’s see the exact time it takes for the entire process, not just the Schengen Visa processing time.
2. How Long Does the Entire Schengen Visa Application Process Take?
It is important to understand how long it takes to get the documents and when you should start your application process.
We always recommend people start as soon as possible so they can have enough time to complete all the application steps.
However, do note that the Embassy is looking to get the most recent and up-to-date documents.
Yes, you may get your documents ready from 9, 10, or even 12 months out and then apply 6 months prior to your departure date (as we have previously mentioned, the new Schengen visa Code enables you to apply 6 months before your travel date).
But this could jeopardise your entire application as the Embassy officers are looking to get your most recent payslips, bank statements, utility bills, etc.
So, it’s no use getting your bank statements 12 months before your departure date and then applying 6 months before, because that’s 6 months outdated.
As a general rule, we recommend you plan your travel 6 months out – this can also help you save a great amount of money as flights and hotels are cheaper if you book them well in advance.
Then, we recommend you get all of your documents ready from 2 to 6 weeks out of your appointment (the date when you are required to submit your application to the Embassy).
Here are the steps we suggest you take when applying for your Schengen Visa:
- Book your Embassy appointment
Book your Embassy appointment 5 or 6 months before your departure date – it is important to book your Schengen Visa appointment well in advance as the waiting period for an appointment can be up to 3-4 months, particularly during peak seasons.
Remember that you cannot book your appointment more than 6 months in advance.
Important note: If you are employed, do not book your Embassy appointment before ensuring your employer allows you to take time off from work.
- Plan your trip
After booking your Embassy appointment, you can start planning your trip – e.g., booking your flights and hotels, creating your travel itinerary, etc.
At this point, you may also want to get specific documents that the Embassy officers wouldn’t consider “outdated” if you collected them 5 or 6 months prior to your departure date.
For example, if your passport is older than 10 years or is expiring soon, you need to re-order one.
Or, you may want to get your Schengen Visa photos or documents such as your cover letter or sponsorship letter written and signed by your sponsor.
However, it is important that you leave the date field empty on these documents so you can add a date closer to your departure date later on.
- Collect your documents
Start collecting your documents 2 to 6 weeks before your Embassy appointment.
Typically, this period depends on the types of documents you need to collect and the laws in your country of residence.
For example, in some countries, you may need a couple of days or less to get your documents certified. While in other countries, you may need up to one week to certify a document as a true copy of the original.
Conclusion: Hopefully, this post has helped you out in your Schengen Visa application journey and provided you with the answers that you’ve been looking for.
However, if you are still confused, worried, or stuck, we would be more than happy to provide you with a no-obligation, FREE consultation. You’ll get our advice delivered to your inbox by a Schengen Visa expert so you can have a clear understanding of the next steps you need to follow to be successful with your application.