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Where to Apply for a Schengen Visa – How to Choose the Right Embassy/Consulate/VAC to Submit the EU Visa Application

Schengen visa gives to its holder the opportunity to visit 26 European countries. However, when it comes to where one should apply, the Schengen countries have very strict and clear rules. Many applicants fail to understand where they should apply, and in absence of information, apply at the wrong embassy.

Along with the required documents, figuring out at which European embassy/consulate to submit the application, are two of the most important steps in the entire Schengen visa application process because applying at the wrong embassy or consulate does not result in a successful application, even if the applicant did it by mistake.

That is why you should pay attention to your main destination country, which is the country responsible to process your visa application.

How to figure out where to apply for a Schengen visa?

The three following factors are determinative on where you should file your Schengen visa application:

  • The number of countries you will be visiting
  • The number of days you will be spending in each
  • The country where you will step in first, in case you visit more than one of the Schengen member states

After having clear three factors given above, then you will be able to decide where to apply, according to the following rules:

  • If you are planning to visit only one country – then you need to apply at the diplomatic representation of the Schengen you will be visiting, located in your country of residence.
  • If you are planning to visit more than one country – then where you need to apply depends on the number of days you will be spending in each of the states you will be staying.
    • When spending an equal amount of days in each – then you need to apply at the diplomatic representation of the country where you will arrive first.
    • When spending unequal amount of days in each – then you will need to apply at the diplomatic representation of the country where you will be spending more time.

When you have it clear which is your main destination country that has to process your Schengen visa application, check about its diplomatic representation in your home country.

Depending on how your Schengen destination state has regulated visa submission in your country, you may have to lodge your application at:

  • Their embassy
  • Their consulate
  • A visa application center, to which your visa-processing country has outsourced visa submission
  • The embassy / consulate / VAC of another Schengen state, to which your visa-processing country has outsourced visa submission
  • The embassy / consulate / VAC of your destination country located in a neighboring country, to which the embassy in your country of residence has outsourced visa submission

In addition, in some larger countries, one Schengen state has more than the embassy and one consulate that accept visa applications. In cases like that, usually the embassy and each consulate have their jurisdiction. You will have to apply at the embassy or consulate / VAC under the jurisdiction of which, the area where you live falls.

What happens if I apply at the embassy / consulate of the wrong country?

Applying at the wrong embassy / consulate may result in visa rejection, or the embassy where you applied will direct you to the right one.

However, this means you have already lost time, energy and money (since the fees are non-refundable even in these cases) applying at the wrong one. That is why you should pay a lot of attention where you are lodging your application.

What if my destination country does not have an embassy / consulate / VAC in my home country?

If there is no diplomatic representation, or a VAC of your main destination country to file a Schengen visa application at, you will have to check with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in your home country. Visa submission may have been outsourced to one of the following:

  • The embassy / consulate / VAC of another Schengen state, to which your visa-processing country has outsourced visa submission
  • The embassy / consulate / VAC of your main destination located in a neighboring country of your home country

My destination country has a consulate in my home country, but they told me to apply at the embassy of another country. Why?

In some third-world countries, Schengen states have their honorary consulates, which do not receive or process visa applications. Instead, they have outsourced visa application to the embassy / consulate / VAC of another country. In cases like this, submit your application as directed.

How do I know under the jurisdiction of which consulate or the embassy I fall?

You should contact the embassy of your destination country, or the consulate general. They will give you further information how your destination country has organized jurisdictions in your country of residence.

Can I apply for a Schengen Visa from a foreign country?

To apply for a visa to Europe you must be either a citizen of the country you are in, or on a valid residence permit issued by that country. Most of the countries do not accept Schengen visa applications from non-residents.

Still, if you need to travel to the Schengen area urgently, you can contact the embassy of the country you wish to visit and they will inform you if they make exceptions (since some of the countries do in extraordinary situations).  You must provide a justification for your application as a non-resident.

What exactly is a Visa Application Center?

A Visa Application Centre (VAC) is an exclusive third-party service provider authorized to accept visa applications on behalf of a country. The VACs then transmits the information on the applicant and their application to the responsible body for visa processing which is the embassy or consulate of the applicant’s destination country.

Which are the best countries to apply for a Schengen visa?

Some of the Schengen states from which are the easiest to obtain a Schengen visa are Latvia, Lithuania and Iceland. However, if these countries are not in your to-visit list, you can still check the list of the easiest Schengen countries to obtain a Schengen Visa, and find if there is listed any of the countries you plan to visit.

If your itinerary is all up to your choices, and you can decide where you wish to stay longer (or step in first) then you can arrange it in a way that you have to apply at one of the countries with the lowest rates of visa rejections.

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