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Friday, April 21, 2017

How to Apply for a Schengen Visa to go to Barcelona from the UK

I don't know why, but I've always just thought of Barcelona as my dream destination. It's not too far from the UK, which is perfect, and the weather and food are as close as I can get to my own tropical country.

Not being a citizen of the UK, though, I'm required to apply for a Schengen visa to travel to Spain. I don't want to go into detail about the history, purpose and coverage of the Schengen visa, because to be honest, I don't know much about it, so if you need to know more, just look it up on Google. (insert cheeky grin here).

First things first.

1. At this point we've established the fact that you definitely are planning to go to Barcelona with a specific date in mind, so what you need to do now is to BOOK YOUR ACCOMMODATION. Indeed. They will need to see proof of accommodation on your appointment date, so yes, it's actually quite ironic because what's gonna happen if you don't get granted a visa, right? The best thing to do then is to find a hotel/hostel that allows you to cancel your booking.

I personally find Trip Advisor a very useful app for all my traveling. Reviews are very important in helping me choose where to stay. I read through the negative comments with a non-judgmental mind. No matter how good hotels are, there will always be unsatisfied customers, so as long as you're objective whilst being practical at the same time, I'm sure you can find yourself a good deal.

I have tried Airbnb in the past, but I don't advise it for solo travelers. I don't know, maybe it's just me, but it's always better to be safe than sorry.

2. After booking your accommodation, the next thing to do is to BOOK YOUR FLIGHT. Again, they need proof of this on your appointment date, However, they want your flight to say CONFIRMED, meaning it should already have been paid for. If it only says RESERVED, they won't accept it.

3. Another important thing you need to have is your TRAVEL INSURANCE. Traveling to Spain requires you to have a minimum coverage of 30, 000 euros for Medical coverage. If you type in "travel insurance for Europe" in Google, it should give you several suggestions. Money supermarket is good at comparing prices between insurance services so you can choose which one suits you best. To be honest, most of them normally give you enough medical coverage anyway.

Online Schengen Visa Application for Barcelona/Spain

1. This is the official website for the Spanish Visa Centre here in the UK. I found that this website doesn't support mobile format so it's better to use your laptop when applying online.

2. If you go to Visa Type, and then click Tourist Visa, it should come up with several categories based on what you need to prepare for. Under the Documents Required tab, there's a link for "Checklist" at the very top. Make sure you download and print that one. The rest of the requirements are listed there as well.

3. They're all pretty self explanatory so I think you should get through them really easily. The next step is to click on the Book Appointment heading to choose which date you want to have your appointment. Just be careful, though, because sometimes the only available dates are already weeks later and you need to allot 15 days for visa processing before your planned trip.

4. After booking an appointment with them, they will send you your appointment letter (via email). Make sure you print this out and take it with you on the day of your appointment.

What to Bring on Your Appointment Day

I've noticed how a lot of people were struggling with their documents. I really wondered if they read the website at all, it was horrific to watch. I hate to say this, but I breezed through the whole thing when my turn was up. I just handed in all the documents they asked for and voila, I was done before I knew it.

1. Print your appointment letter. I cannot emphasise this enough.

2. Make sure you fill-out your application form before you come to your appointment. I even had two photocopies for mine (as per the instruction on the website), but they only took the original copy.

3. Your passport and a photocopy of the identification page (the one with you name and photo). I actually had a photocopy for every page of my passport (as per website's instructions again), but they didn't take those as well.

4. Your work visa/residence permit card and a photocopy.

5. Certificate of Employment with an original signature. Go to you HR Department and ask for an original COE, not just an email copy with a scanned signature.

6. Original bank statements for 3 months. Make sure you have enough balance to cover the cost of your trip. They just require a positive balance of 500 pounds on the day itself. Have your bank statements ready from the last 3 months. To be safe, a day before your appointment, go to your bank and print out a summary of expenses starting a day after the end of your last bank statement. For example, if your bank statement ended at March 28th, and your appointment is April 19th, print out your statement covering the dates in between. Then, don't forget to have it stamped by your bank, considering it's not an official bank-issued statement. Include this additional print-out with your other 3 original bank statements.

7. Proof of accommodation. Print this out from your email.

8. Flight ticket. Print from email.

9. Travel insurance.

10. Cover letter explaining why you want to travel to Spain and who you're going to travel with. The lady who assessed my documents wasn't too keen to include this, but I insisted she take it as it was listed on the website anyway.

Hope you found this blog useful! Let me know in the comments below.

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