This guide applies to South African passport holders.
I've said this before and I'm saying it again- you must really want to visit a Schengen country in order to go through the Schengen visa application process. Apart from UK and USA visas which are equally onerous, I don't know of any other visa which is such a pain to apply for. I really wanted to visit Spain though, so I bit the bullet and applied. Now that I've got that off my chest, read on for my guide on how to apply for a Schengen visa for Spain .
What you need to know about the Schengen visa
- There are 26 countries in Europe that require you to have a Schengen visa. The United Kingdom is not one of them.
- You need to apply through the embassy of the country you will be travelling to (or spending the most time in if you are visiting more than one Schengen country).
- Always apply at least 15 days before your departure date.
The Schengen visa for Spain
- Since we were going to spend the most time in Spain, we had to apply via the Spanish embassy. We had successfully applied visa the Italian embassy previously.
- In South Africa, Spanish visas are handled by BLS. They have 3 offices here: Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban (new). (The parking for the Pretoria office is at Centurion Mall.)
- You can only apply within 3 months of your travel date.
Step 1: The first step is to know your visa type. The main types are the tourist visa and the business visa. I am only covering the Tourist Visa here.
Step 2: Make the appointment on the BLS website, where you will be able to see the first available date. You have to go to the correct office for the area you live in -within 2 weeks of making the appointment .
Step 3: Compile the necessary documents (listed here) and place them in the correct order as below. Please note that they are quite strict about the requirements so ensure that you give them everything that is applicable. Some people use an agent. We did it ourselves.
Step 4: Go to the BLS office with your documents and payment. Only debit or credit card payments are accepted, not cash. Your biometrics will also be taken. They will look at your documents to see if they are complete and let you know if they aren’t, however they don’t make the decision on whether your visa will be granted or not. That is done by the Embassy.
Children under the age of 12 don’t have to appear in person or have their fingerprints taken. There is no visa fee for children under six years.
Step 5: You may get called for an interview. My husband was called in for an interview to the Spanish Embassy in Brooklyn. The interview lasted 5 minutes and the main thing they wanted to know was why we wanted to go to Spain. To which he replied that my wife is a travel blogger and she wants to go to Spain. They asked for the name of the blog and not much else.
Step 6: Most applications are decided on within 15 days of lodging. Later on the same day that my husband went for his interview, we received sms’s to say that our passports were ready for collection at the visa application centre between 3 and 5 pm on weekdays only. We went back to Pretoria the following day to collect them. The passports were stamped with Schengen visas valid for 6 months. We were required to check that the details were correct and sign a document to confirm this. You can send someone to collect your passport for you as long as they have the completed authorisation letter and the application receipt.
- 1 recent color photograph with white background; size: 4.5cmx3.5 cm, less than 6 months old. Both ears must be shown. (Tip: Tell the photo studio that you are taking a photo for a Schengen visa).
- Original Passport, valid for at least 3 months beyond the stay in the Schengen area, with at least 2 blank pages.
- One Spanish Schengen visa application form (fully completed, dated and signed).
- Copy of the passport.(only the biometric/photo page).
- Copy of previous Schengen visa obtained in the last three years (certified) – if applicable
- Proof of address in South Africa.
- Itinerary showing dates of trip to Spain, entries and exit from each Schengen state, amount of days in each country and total amount of days in Schengen states.
- Flight ticket booking showing Spain as the main destination.
- Means of travel between the Schengen states. We were planning to travel between countries by train but train bookings only open 2 months before the travel date. Since we were not within this period yet, we were required to provide a letter stating this.
- Accommodation bookings for the entire period of the stay in Schengen territory. I made cancellable bookings on Booking.com. If you are going on a coach tour or cruise, you need to provide those bookings too.
- Medical Travel Insurance certificate showing beneficiary names, and valid dates. Insurance must cover assistance in the Schengen area with a coverage minimum of 30.000 €. We get free medical travel insurance with Discovery Medical Aid. This was sufficient.
- Original last 3 months bank statements stamped by the bank and showing the equivalent of at least 90 Euros per day per person. The statement must not be more than a week old. (They weren’t happy with my statement because it did not show a date within the last week so I had to go to the bank to get another one. )
- Signed original letter of employment showing employment start date and salary/annual cost to company, and certified copy of last three month payslips. If you are self-employed, you need to provide proof of company registration, the VAT registration certificate and latest VAT certificate. If you don’t operate under a CC/Company and/or are not registered for VAT, ask BLS for more information. Pensioners / retired applicants should provide proof of their status and students should provide a letter from the school/university confirming attendance.
Documents required for minor applicants:
- Certified copy by Commissioner of Oaths of the unabridged birth certificate.
- If the minor is travelling alone or with one parent, a certified copy of the Home Affairs consent letter from parent/legal guardian originally signed before commissioner of Oaths with the full or unabridged certificate is required.
- Certified copies of parents ID or passports.
- Children’s application form must be signed by both parents.
- Letter from school confirming attendance. As we went to BLS during the school holidays, we could not get a letter from the school, so they said I could provide an enrolment letter. I included a copy of the latest fee statements from the school and the latest report and it was accepted.
- Letter of sponsorship from the parent, stating that the parent will be covering the child’s costs during their stay in the Schengen area. This letter must be stamped by the bank. Note: This requirement was not specified on the BLS website but we were asked for it at the BLS office. Fortunately, there is a shopping centre next to the Pretoria office so they said that they would wait while we went to the Bank to get the documents.
Did you ever apply for a visa for Spain ? What was your experience like?