Seriously simplifying Schengen

Seriously simplifying SchengenOne of the many great things about living in the UK is that it’s so easy to travel to Europe. However if you’re living and working in the UK on a South African passport and want to travel to one of the European Schengen countries then you will need a visa. It’s been a few years since I’ve had to apply for a Tourist Schengen visa as I now have a British passport. I thought it would still be worth writing this post as gathering documentation for a visa application can sometimes be a little stressful and time consuming.

Most embassies will only grant you a visa for the specified number of days of your trip. A lot of people, including myself, have been able to get a multiple entry visa with the French embassy. The first time I applied I got a 6 month visa, then a year and finally a 2 year Schengen visa. This made it fantastically easy to travel easily to Europe and cheaper too as I didn’t need to apply for a Schengen visa every time I wanted to travel to Europe. I’m not sure if the French embassy is still relaxed about the length of their visas but it may be worth trying.

At the time I used this visa agency company to help with my visa applications: Based on recent conversations with people it sounds like the rules may have changed a bit meaning that you may have to do the application with the appropriate embassy yourself due to biometric requirements. It is also cheaper to do the application yourself rather than with a visa agency. I’ve also been told that if you apply for a second Schengen visa a few months after the first one there is a chance that you can get a longer Schengen visa up to as much as 5 years!

Please check if this list is still valid as visa rules are always changing. At the time these were the documents required for my visa application:

  • Valid passport for six months upon exit
  • Two clear pages in passport
  • Two recent colour passport photos of traveller
  • One completed application form
  • Letter of employer / university or school
  • Last three original payslips
  • Travel Insurance (refer below)
  • Proof of accommodation (refer below)
  • Proof of sufficient funds
  • Original travel tickets (e-tickets accepted)
  • Valid UK visa for at least three months
  • Photocopy of completed application form.
  • Passport validity must be no more than 10 years.

Supporting information regarding the above requirements

  • All non UK passport holders should have proof of UK residential status in their passport.
  • Employment letter must be original and not older then three weeks.
  • Travel Insurance must be annual in order to obtain multiple entry. If you are insured through your bank then you should get a letter that confirms the type of cover and should also state the start and expiry dates.
  • Proof of accommodation – reservation confirmation issued directly from the hotel stating visa nationals full names,check in and out dates and hotel address and contact details.
  • Overdrafts cannot be used as proof of funds and you will need to show a balance of at least a £40.00 per day possible spend

Hopefully this will now give you a better idea of the documents required for a Schengen visa application and you will find the process a little less daunting. Happy travels!

“Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.” – Seneca


  1. charisse
    5th April 2016 / 8:09 AM

    this is going to be useful for the end of the year 🙂

  2. Sureiya
    5th April 2016 / 9:09 AM

    Hello! Thanks for this article, very useful. This may be a silly question but I’ll ask it anyway 😀 I got a five year schengen visa from the French embassy. Does this mean that I can travel anywhere?? I don’t have to notify any other embassy e.g. if I’m travelling to Germany or Portugal? I know it seems obvious but with ask the visa dramas it’s almost too good to be true!

    • 5th April 2016 / 10:16 AM

      Hi Sureiya, there’s no such thing as a silly question 🙂 If you have a multiple entry Schengen visa which I’m sure you do as you’ve been given a 5 year visa then you should be able to travel freely to anywhere within the Schengen zone. I travelled to many other countries other than France on my French Schengen visa. If you’re unsure perhaps just check with the embassy to confirm. Check out this for more info:

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