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Like everyone in their 20s, Euro trip was nothing short of a bucket list item for me. It had been alluding me for years, and I finally decided to take the plunge and go on my dream trip. Till now, I had only heard of Schengen visa nightmare and it was my turn to pass through the tunnel.
When Americans, Australians or other first world citizens have visa on arrival for Europe, it pains me to go through the meticulously redundant paperwork. I would love to see the world without borders one day, but for now, we need to face reality.
I wanted to apply for Schengen Italy visa on my own, so I went through everything I could get my hands on about the same. And I went through many horror stories of visa rejection too. And honestly, it’s true. It can be a nightmare! After a few sleepless nights, and once I had all the documents in order, I applied for the visa. Luckily, I got my Schengen Italy tourist visa from India within a week. It felt like an accomplishment, no less!
I later ended up assisting over half a dozen friends in their Schengen Tourist visa application process as well. So, I thought of writing this post so that you can see the light at the end of the tunnel faster than I did.
Visiting Europe for the first time and looking to pass the initial hurdle of procuring an Italy tourist Visa from India? You have come to the right place.
Here’s a DIY step by step ultimate guide with all the latest information for all that you need to have a smooth and hassle-free Schengen Italy visa from India.
Planning a Euro Trip all by yourself? Check out this essential guide on Euro Trip Planner now.
- Booking flights for Europe
- Apply for Schengen Italy Visa from India
- Booking an appointment for Schengen Italy visa from India
- Booking accommodations in Europe
- Booking internal transportation within Europe
- Schengen Italy Tourist Visa from India Requirements
- Single entry or multiple entry Schengen Visa
- VFS Contact details
- Head to VFS Italy center on the date of the appointment
- Schengen Visa Fees India
- VFS Premium Lounge service
- Schengen Visa Delivery
- Schengen Visa Rejections
- Traveling to Europe
- Visiting Europe in Offseason
- Upon return
- Visa agents vs Self
Booking flights for Europe
Book return flight tickets at least three months in advance. Now that you know your port of entry and exit, you can start drafting a rough idea of your itinerary.
Begin the visa application process right after.
Personal Note: I booked my return flights between Rome and Bangalore through Kuwait Airways for quite a decent price at Rs. 32000 (three months in advance) for Feb 2018. But then Kuwait airways ended up delaying my baggage for most of the duration of my travel. Consider this as a warning post, and stay away from Kuwait Airways. They not only lost my baggage but also of business class passengers. How often does that happen? Anyway, that’s a story for another post.
Travel tip: While choosing a flight, read their cancellation policies. Booking through third-party websites might fetch you minor deals, but can cost you dearly in the long term. It’s always better to choose a flight with a free cancellation so that even if plans change later or visa gets rejected (in the worst case), it won’t affect your bank balance.
Apply for Schengen Italy Visa from India
You will have to apply for a Schengen tourist visa through a Schengen country if the countries you are planning to visit comes in the Schengen area. Here’s a Schengen area countries list.
The underlying process almost remains the same whether you are applying from Italy or other Schengen countries. But, there could be underlying caveats specific to the embassy you are applying from. So, make sure to go through the respective website to get a better idea.
Depending on your itinerary, choose a Schengen country to apply for a visa with one of the two criteria.
Either, apply through the embassy of the country where you are planning to spend the maximum amount of time. (In my case, it was Italy. I was in Italy for around 10 days, so applying through the Italian embassy was a no-brainer for me). Or, you are staying the same number of days in two or more countries, then apply for a Schengen tourist visa through the country where your port of entry is from. For a hassle-free process, make sure your itinerary follows one of these criteria.
Where to apply for Schengen Italy Visa From India?
In India, you can apply for a Schengen tourist visa through VFS (Visa Facilitation Services). Head to VFS site. And, redirect to either Delhi/Mumbai/Kolkatta centers depending on which jurisdiction your region falls under. The idea is to choose the closest one or the most convenient one. In my case, as I was living in Bangalore, I came under the Consulate General of Mumbai jurisdiction.
I had to submit my Schengen Visa application for Italy at the Bangalore VFS center.
VFS centers are third party Visa application centers which process the applications and then forwards it to the respective embassies. VFS centers are present in most major cities.
Booking an appointment for Schengen Italy visa from India
- You can apply for a visa minimum 10 days or maximum 3 months before the intended date of travel.
- Check for latest dates available for appointment and book no later than two months in advance of the departure date. This is just to ensure that if there are any issues with your visa application, you still have enough time to revert without having sleepless nights.
- Note that it might even take three weeks or more to get a visa appointment (especially during peak season), so the earlier the better.
- Reserve the appointment at least 7-10 days from the current date to have enough time for sorting through documents and doing hotel bookings.
How to Schedule an Appointment with VFS
Head to the VFS site. Select one of the following jurisdictions based on where you are located – Embassy of Italy in New Delhi, Consulate General of Italy in Mumbai or Consulate General of Italy in Kolkatta. Then go to Schedule an Appointment Menu, and click on Book an Online Appointment link. (You can also call 022-67866004 to book an appointment.)
This will take you to the Appointment Login Page. Register yourself as a new user and fill in the details if you are using this service for the first time. Else, log in with your credentials.
This takes you to the Appointments page where you have options to schedule an appointment, reschedule an existing appointment, or cancel an appointment.
For scheduling a new appointment, go to Schedule Appointment menu, and choose your closest VFS center from the drop-down, and fill in other details as well.
Click Continue which will take you to the Applicant List Page.
Add details for all applicants here. Only a maximum of 5 applicants can be added here for a group appointment.
As and when you add new applicants, you should be able to see them in the Applicants List page.
Finally, choose the date of your appointment to a suitable date (at least a week from the current date if you haven’t started the visa application process already), and click on Confirm.
You’ll receive an appointment confirmation success message on the screen and you’ll receive a confirmation email as well.
Date and time are now confirmed. But note that the time can vary based on the number of applicants available on that date. Once you arrive at the VFs center, a fresh token will be issued which would be a more accurate appointment time than the one mentioned in the appointment letter.
Personal Note: I had my flight to Europe in late February, and I applied for a Schengen Visa for Italy early January, and I got the appointment within a couple of days.
However, if you are planning for a Euro trip in the season time during the months of June to August, then I would suggest you apply for an appointment at least two months or best three months when the slots open.
Ideally, book the visa appointment first for a comfortable date, and then go ahead with the accommodation and other bookings.
Booking accommodations in Europe
Unlike, first world countries, who can decide on a whim with their travel plans, Indians don’t have it easy. We need to show accommodations booking for every day of our travels. This goes to say that, once you have visa appointment, draft an itinerary of your travels. And start booking accommodations for the entire duration of your travel.
There are many ways to book stays while traveling. Sites like Airbnb offers beautiful homes for a variety of price ranges. HostelWorld is ideal for the backpacker on a budget. However, both of these sites charge a fee for cancellation. If you’d like to keep the liability low, then I would suggest you book stays through booking.com. It offers free cancellations of bookings up to a certain date. This is particularly helpful when the visa is not confirmed or the itinerary is not fixed yet. Once you receive your visa, you can cancel it for free within the particular time frame and book a cheaper accommodation if needed.
Also, don’t cancel the accommodations until you receive the visa. If the booking is not available for a particular day when the visa officials are looking for it, they might as well reject the visa or send you a notice (in the best case scenario).
Personal Note: I wasn’t sure of my itinerary yet. But I wanted to have my Schengen Italy Visa in place, so thought of having a rough itinerary. And booked accommodations through Booking.com following the itinerary. This was ideal as they offer free cancellations up to a certain date. And after I successfully (Yes. It feels like a success!) received the Schengen visa, I canceled my bookings without any deductions and booked through HostelWorld.
Adding Guest Names in Booking.com
If you are booking stays for more than one person in booking.com, then ensure that all of your names are present in the booking. Usually, Booking.com doesn’t show more than one guest name in the booking. As a workaround, edit and add more Guest names separated by a comma in the Manage bookings section.
Disclaimer – I’ve recently come to know that few countries in the Schengen area (not Italy) don’t accept booking.com accommodations. So please contact the relevant VFS center by phone or email to confirm before doing so.
Booking internal transportation within Europe
The visa application for Italy from India require you to book internal transportations as well.
You can book transportation through GoEuro – a one-stop site for booking trains, buses, and flights through different carriers. For deciding the routes, you can check out Rome2Rio for extensive mapping of routes between two locations. More inputs on self-planning your Euro trip can be found here.
If your itinerary is already confirmed, then go ahead and book the transportation as well. I found booking individual buses/trains more budget savvy than opting for a Eurail pass. So I booked all of my transportation through GoEuro. On the other hand, if you would like the flexibility that Eurail offers, then buy Eurail Pass here.
But if you don’t already have an exact itinerary in place or plan to remain flexible (or if the trains or buses are not available three months in advance), then mention the same in the cover letter. I was applying for a Schengen tourist visa two months in advance and didn’t want to book the transportation just yet. So, I mentioned clearly in my cover letter, that I haven’t booked transportation but will do so in the future when I receive good discounts. And I didn’t face any issues with my Schengen visa application.
Like I said before, make sure there are no loopholes in the application. If there are any documents that you aren’t able to produce at the time like train tickets, then mention the same in the cover letter along with the reasoning behind the absence of the document.
Schengen Italy Tourist Visa from India Requirements
Once the Visa appointment is in place, start putting together the necessary documents in one place.
Carefully sift through the document checklist, sort existing documents, and make a list of documents that need to be procured. Keep in mind that your entire trip is at stake here. It saves you time and money to be meticulous at this point.
Most of the documents mentioned in the list are to basically ensure that you have sufficient funds to travel. And that you will return to India within the stipulated dates.
So, any documents which will add more weight to these points will further tip the scale in your direction in scoring the Schengen visa.
Here are some of the essential documents required for Schengen Tourist Visa:
1. Schengen Visa Cover Letter
This is an important document where you mention everything from your Europe itinerary, professional and personal details, details of travel companions, the purpose of visit, the source of finance, any requests, and so on.
Here is a sample cover letter with travel itinerary attached for your reference.
Given the embassies experience in going through visa application documents for decades, more often than not, they might notice any loopholes, even when you think otherwise. So, it’s better to be upfront about any concerns that might arise from your application, and address it head-on. Say you are traveling solo, or transportation not booked, and so on.
2. Financial Status and means of Sustenance
If employed, provide last three months salary slips, ITR-A forms of last three years of Form-16A.
Else, if Self-employed, provide company registration certificate and original bank statement for last 3 months.
In either case – provide last three months bank statements in original with bank stamp and signature.
Note – While applying through Italian embassy, make sure you show on an average € 70 or more per day for your duration of travel to Europe in the bank statements.
3. Leave letter
If employed, hand over a leave letter from your boss stating your leave dates, and that you’ll be resuming work on return.
If freelancing, then furnish a letter from your client(s) stating the above. Also, mention how long have you been working with each of them.
What matters to them that you have the intention of coming back to India, so handing over a property document or something similar could further tip the scale in your favor. Mention any fixed assets that you or your parents have, and that would be an added bonus.
4. Schengen travel Insurance for Indians
As per the visa application, Schengen travel insurance needs to have a coverage of at least €30,000 for a minimum 10-day duration. The travel insurance should cover the entire duration of your travel. If you are an individual, buying travel insurance for a single trip, then go for single trip insurance.
If you are a frequent traveler, then opt for multi-trip travel insurance. It saves you the hassle of buying travel insurance every time you travel and provides extended coverage, usually for a year.
There are many things to consider while applying for Schengen travel insurance. The premium varies from the insurer’s age, type of insurance, the number of days, company, and the availing benefits. Here is a detailed guide on what to look for in travel insurance.
Listed below are some of the travel insurances that I found were offering a good deal for Indians traveling to Schengen countries. But it could be applicable for any other international travel as well.
4.1 Reliance General Schengen Travel Insurance
I opted for Reliance General Travel Insurance on my maiden trip to Europe. I chose a standard plan and it doesn’t cover trip delay and cancellation. In hindsight, it wouldn’t have made a difference as my flight was neither delayed or canceled. But my friend’s flight was delayed for over 12 hours, and he didn’t receive any compensation as the standard plan didn’t cover it.
Unfortunately, they only have standard coverage for Individual traveler type with either €30,000 or €50,000 coverage. So, I would stray away from this insurance, if I’m an individual traveler. However, it’s worth considering a family or multi-trip.
Cost: Over Rs.800 for Standard Plan for an average of 15-21 days with sum insured of €50,000.
4.2 ICICI Lombard Travel Insurance
Upon researching for international travel insurance, I found out that ICICI Lombard Travel insurance offers good benefits.
I liked the Gold plan as it offers $500 for trip delays of over 6 hours and missed flight connections of over 3 hours. However, for additional benefits like loss of baggage and personal effects, and compassionate visit, it costs a higher premium as part of the Platinum Plan. Wouldn’t suggest going for the Silver Plan as it only offers overseas medical insurance.
Cost: Around Rs. 900 for Gold Plan an average of 15 days with $50000 sum insured for a single trip.
4.3 HDFC Ergo Travel Insurance
I liked that HDFC Ergo Travel Insurance offers coverage for loss of baggage and documents. However, loss of passport is also covered in the same bracket which means the limit is capped at $250.
For Schengen travel insurance, Silver Plan is at least required with coverage of $50000.
Cost: Around Rs. 800 for Gold Plan with an average of 15 days with $100,000 sum insured for a single trip.
4.4 Verdict for Schengen Travel Insurance
Higher the premium, the benefits also rise. If you’d like all the benefits a travel insurance can provide, then be ready to shell out more money for the premium. But, also consider the possibility that it may not come to any use in most cases. So, it’s entirely at the discretion of the traveler as to decide the premium one is letting to pay for. Also, on the individual needs and preference.
My personal choice for a single International trip would be to go for either HDFC Ergo or ICICI Lombard travel insurance for travel in the Schengen countries.
5. Schengen Visa Photo Specs
Once you have a Schengen visa appointment ready, head to your nearest photo booth. Keep in mind to adhere to the specs mentioned below.
6. Visa Application Form for Schengen Italy visa from
If you are traveling for tourism purposes for anything less than three months, apply for Type “C” tourist visa for Italy. You can clarify doubts if any at the VFS center.
I came across the following statement in the VFS site – “Ensure you submit documents in Italian if required. Documents which are not in Italian must be translated into Italian. The translation should be completed by a certified translator.”
While I was pondering how to proceed further, I thought of checking with the VFS center. I called them up and they clarified that it’s not necessary. And they would provide visa application form that has both English and Italian words to be filled at the VFS center itself.
Single entry or multiple entry Schengen Visa
Single entry visa allows you to enter and exit the Schengen area only once. Suppose, you want to hop on a cruise or visit the beautiful Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia, then you will have to own multiple entry Schengen visas. In which case, you won’t require an additional Croatian visa for entry to Croatia. Even when Croatia is not part of the Schengen countries.
As long as the documentation is concerned for multiple entry Schengen visas, it’s as simple as checking a box in the visa application form. No additional costs.
So, ideally always apply for Schengen multiple entry visas for the longest duration application (3 months for short-term Type “C” tourist visa for Italy and or 6 months for long-term Type “D” National visa). Mention the same in the cover letter as well stating your reasons. If you are planning to travel again to the Schengen countries, then multiple entry visas make a lot of sense.
Note – The visa approval and duration is solely under the discretion of the embassy, and more often than not, usually covers the duration of travel with a leeway of a week or two.
VFS Contact details
In the process of applying for an Italy visa from India, if you face any questions, reach out to VFS Helpline to clarify any doubts that may arise while applying for the visa.
Contact Number for India: +91 022 67866004
They are available from 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM, Monday to Friday (Except for public holidays).
You can also reach out to the Italian embassy for more information in case VFS doesn’t satisfactorily answer your questions.
Head to VFS Italy center on the date of the appointment
I arrived at Bangalore VFS Italy Application center just in time for my appointment and was ushered into the VFS Schengen center for Italy. And I received a fresh token there. I then entered the Italian application section. After waiting for about 5-10 minutes it was my turn to submit the documents. The official went through the documents and made sure everything is in place. I was given another form at the center which had both English/Italian in the forms and I filled it. Sometimes, they might suggest to make corrections or furnish more documents. Kindly do so if possible.
Visa Tip: If you are applying for Schengen visa from a different state than the one which issued your passport, then you might need additional documents like rental agreements. Just to make sure you are currently residing in the state where you are applying for the visa from.
Schengen Visa Fees India
Mentioned below are the various charges applicable while applying for Schengen Tourist Visa.
|Schengen Tourist visa||Biometric fee||Courier charges||SMS fees|
|Rs. 4580/-||Rs. 1015/-||Rs. 300/-||Rs. 150/-|
Overall visa fee totals up to Rs. 6100/- per person if courier and SMS charges are also availed. It can be paid in cash or challan. Once you have submitted your application, you will be guided to submit the cash to the teller.
VFS Premium Lounge service
If normal visa appointments can’t possibly make it in time for your travels, all hopes are not lost yet. Opt for VFS premium lounge service, which ensures faster submission of applications at the VFS center. It offers confluence of other services as well – Courier, SMS alert, Photobooth, Photocopy, and so on. Keep in mind, though that VFS Premium Lounge Service has no sway over the processing of documents by the Embassy. It’s purely a VFS service. More information about the Premium Lounge service here.
Schengen Visa Delivery
Since I was traveling in offseason, I got my visa appointment within two days of booking. As a result, I didn’t have to go the VFS Premium lounge service route. During season time, there will be a longer wait time for visa appointments. If you don’t want to shell out extra money, then make sure you book your appointments well in advance.
I didn’t want to go again to the VFS center to get my passport again since it wasn’t close to my home. So, I decided to choose courier delivery service. And, I wanted to track my visa application for Italy from India, so it made sense to go for SMS service as well.
Within a week, I received my passport with the stamp. Phew! Passed through the initial hurdle without any hiccups.
So far so good!
Schengen Visa Rejections
VFS centers are just application centers, and it’s at the sole discretion of the Italian embassy whether the Schengen visa from India is accepted or rejected. Usually, they don’t outright reject the visa if it can be mended. If required, they might reach out for further changes. Ensure that you stay on top of it if approached!
However, with less than sufficient funds in the bank account, or with no stable job, might slim your chances of getting a visa. In that case, it is better to show some documents of a sponsor’s bank accounts and fixed assets, instead of yours in the Schengen Visa application. Here’s a sample sponsorship letter for your reference.
In some cases, solo travel has also been a subject of contention when it comes to Schengen visa rejections. However, as far as I have heard, Italy embassy doesn’t take solo travel as a purview for visa rejection. Although, it’s always better to be cautious when it comes to visas. So, if you are traveling solo from India, and meeting a friend(s) in Europe, mention the same in the cover letter. If you are traveling solo throughout the trip, state it clearly in the cover letter. And provide all the necessary documents to support.
Note that Schengen visa rejections are recorded and any rejections might negatively affect your chances of getting a visa in the future.
It is possible to appeal to the Italian Embassy if your Schengen visa is rejected. Personally, I don’t know anyone who has appealed to Schengen Italy visa. But the idea is to provide more documents and clearly address all the concerns the embassy had for rejecting your visa. References can be found here and here.
Traveling to Europe
Once you have your Schengen visa with you, traveling around the Schengen area is quite hassle-free. In cross country buses or trains, keep your passport in handy for verification. There are no additional stamps for any other countries on your passport as long as you are in the Schengen area. It’s as good as traveling domestic.
Overwhelmed while planning your travels in Europe on your own? Start here.
Curious to know the food varieties beyond Gelatos, Pizzas, and Pasta to try in Italy? Check out this post!
Visiting Europe in Offseason
The tourist season in Europe is usually from June to September where the crowd will be at its max.
On the other hand, traveling offseason has its ups and downs. The best part about traveling in offseason is that there’s a fraction of the crowd, at a slashed price. It also offers a different perspective of the city. I paid half the cost on a hostel in Florence in February compared to what my friend is paying in June. I ended up seeing snow in Venice at the end of February which is a very rare occurrence in Venice. And it’s nothing short of magical! The offside is that some of the attractions might be closed, and at times, the weather may not be favorable. If that’s something you can get on board with, then February – April would be a great time to visit Europe in offseason.
Looking for an interesting 15 Day Europe Winter itinerary? Find here.
When I received my Schengen Italy visa within a week, I got the following note from the embassy with the Mumbai address:
“Mandatory to report back in person within 5 days of return.”
Having never heard of this stipulation before, it came as quite a surprise to me.
I was worried that I will have to fly to Mumbai upon return. And I already started making travel plans! (haha) However, on further inquiry with the VFS center, I came to know that since the embassy is in Mumbai, and I reside in Bangalore, I can submit the documents at the Bangalore VFS center itself. They will then forward the documents to the embassy. Made my life much simpler!
I almost thought of skipping this process, when I came to realize that it was quite a recent development with regards to Schengen Tourist visa. Lately, it came to my attention that many Schengen countries are taking up this process (But it’s not consistent). I went to the VFS center with a passport copy along with entry and exit stamps, and a copy of the ID (Aadhar Card). When enquired about the same, the official told me that failure to submit documents after returning could lead to a problem while applying for Schengen visa the next time, and not just through Italy.
However, I wasn’t able to verify the veracity of the statement.
Visa agents vs Self
In any case, there are many tour operators for a packaged tour or just visa applications. However, I have never been fond of these packaged tours since it doesn’t make me taste the essence of the city. It’s more of the systematic ticking of locations and there’s hardly any interactions with the locals. I like to decide where I would like to go and when, and have the flexibility of choosing the locations on my own. Which is why I almost always go on a self-planned trip.
And moreover, I have heard more than half a dozen cases where applying through an agent was futile. One such instance involved my friend’s case while my friend was applying for Schengen Italy tourist visa from India. The agents overlooked minor problems in the applications (like no mention of dates in the employee leave letter) which only snowballed into a bigger problem as the days passed by. As a consequence, she received the visa after 20 days, just a week before her departure.
If there are any questions regarding applications for Schengen Italy visa from India, feel free to drop a comment below and I’ll do my best to answer your questions. If you have applied for Schengen Italy tourist visa from India before, then let me know if there’s anything you’d like to add to the post.
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