Requirement for a SCHENGEN Visa Application in KenyaPosted on 2018-12-11 in: Travel Insurance in Kenya
As the holiday's seasons approach, many Kenyans are planning to travel to different parts of the world for holiday with their loved ones. The Schengen area is one of the top destinations for Kenyan travelers going overseas. For many first time travellers, it may be a daunting task applying for a visa with the added fear of rejection. It is therefore prudent to take some time to understand the requirements before you kick off the process. Getting this process right will give you the best chance of getting that coveted Schengen visa sticker in your passport.
What is the Schengen Area?
The Schengen area is a group of 26 European countries that have abolished passport and all other types of border control at their shared borders. The countries are Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
NOTE: The United Kingdom is not part of the Schengen area even though it is part of the EU pending the BREXIT process. Therefore, to visit the UK, Kenyans must apply for the visa to the United Kingdom, the details of the application process can be found here.
Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania, and UK are NOT part of the Schengen Area.
Type of Schengen Visas
- Uniform Schengen Visas (USV) which permits its holder to travel or reside in any country that is part of the Schengen Area for a maximum duration of 90 days for every 6 months commencing from the date they arrived or entered the Schengen zone.
- Limited Territorial Validity Visas (LTV) allows its holder to travel solely within the Schengen country/ countries from which they have received the visa.
- National Visas for individuals who wish to study, work or take up permanent residence in any Schengen state.
Of the 3 types of Schengen visas that are available, the National and Uniform Schengen visas are perhaps the most common ones available to Kenyan citizens.
Where should I apply?
The common mistake that most travellers make is applying to the embassy of the country to which they are travelling.
The recommended procedure is to check the visa/consular section of the country that you are travelling to and get the correct details of the application process. For many Schengen countries including Italy, Finland, Sweden, Norway and more including non-Schengen countries, the application process is handled by VFS Kenya. This organisation is contracted by the embassy to process visas application. Another service provider that handles Schengen Visa applications for select countries (e.g. Spain visa) is BLS Kenya located in Westlands, Nairobi.
A traveler needs only one Schengen visa to visit one or more countries in the Schengen. If you are travelling to more than one country in the Schengen region, it is advisable to apply for the visa to the country where you will spend the greater part of your stay or to the first country of arrival into the region if you are staying for a equal amounts of time in multiple countries in the Schengen region.
How much will it cost?
There are 2 main charges that applicants for the Schengen visa have to bear.
Visa processing fee: This is the business-processing fee charged by the processing centre such as VFS or BLS in Kenya. It is for the business operational cost of the handling firm in dealing with the application. This is usually about KSh 2,000 to KSh 3,000.
Consular charge: This is the cost charged by the respective embassy that decides the outcome of the visa application, conducts any background checks required and issues the visa required. The visa will be issued as a sticker inside the applicants passport.
Delivery fees: Sometimes an applicant may choose to pay for delivery of their passport and documents from the visa-processing center via safe and recorded courier service. This is after the respective consulate has arrived at a decision on the visa application and returned the applicant's passport back to the processing center. This will vary in cost and may extend up to KSh 1,000 within Nairobi.
Express / Priority fee: This is yet another optional fee depending on the applicant's desire. Because of the high demand of Schengen visa, it may be difficult to schedule an appointment on short notice. Even with an appointment, the waiting time at the processing center may take hours and hours. It is for this reason that some applicants prefer to pay for a priority appointment to expedite the whole application process. The cost of this may vary from KSh 1,000 to KSh 3,000 per application.
When Should I apply?
Applicants can apply up to 3 months but no later than 15 days before the planned travel. The visa application is usually decided within 15 calendar days (in specific cases up to 60 days). Therefore it is advisable to start the process well in advance of the travel date and include contingency time allowance in case further documentation is required, an in person interview is arranged by the consulate. In addition, some types of long stay visas may require additional processing time compared to standard visitors visas and student visas.
List of Visa Application Requirements
- Valid passport not less than 3 months from expiry and valid for at least 3 months the entire duration of the visa you are applying for.
- Visa application form. Fully completed and signed. This may be downloaded from the consular website or from the processing agency portal e.g. VFS
- Passport photos : Two recently taken photos must be attached. Both photos must be taken within the last three months, according to the visa photo requirements. If you are visiting a photo studio, please specify the purpose for which the photos will be used.
- Return trip reservation or itinerary. It must include dates and flight numbers specifying entry and exit from the Schengen area. Dates should correspond to the start and end dates of the visa requested.
- Travel insurance policy. A document that proves you have travel health insurance for the whole Schengen territory, with a minimum coverage of EUR 30,000 in case of any medical emergency as illnesses, accidents and even repatriation in case of death. See above section on Schengen travel insurance for more details.
- Proof of accommodation for the entire stay: This may be a hotel/hostel booking or a rental agreement for longer stays. It could also be a letter of invitation from a host with who you will be staying.
- Proof of financial means - Evidence that you have enough money to support yourself financially throughout your stay in the Schengen. This can be one of the following:
Verified bank account statement for the most recent last 6 months
Sponsorship Letter – by another person or institution that confirms they will be financially supporting your trip to the Schengen. In order for this letter to be valid, it must be accompanied by a bank statement of the sponsor, no older than three months.
A combination of your bank account statement and a letter of sponsorship.
- Proof of Payment of Visa fee. A receipt for the payment of the Consular visa application fee.
Extra requirements for minors / children
The parents / legal guardians of minors applying for a Schengen visa in Kenya, must submit additional documents for the underage applicant:
- The minor's birth certificate
- Fully filled application form signed by both parents.
- Certified copies of ID / passport of both parents
- A notarized parental authorization signed by both parents / guardians if the minor will be travelling alone.
Extra Requirements of Schengen Student Visa
- Letter of acceptance at an EU University/College/School. Applicants are always encouraged to present a full unconditional acceptance letter
- Proof of financial means. Documents that show one is able to reside and financially maintain him / herself during their stay in the Schengen zone.
For more FAQs, check out the office EU questions page here
Travel insurance for Schengen Visa
This is a mandatory requirement for any applicant to get a Schengen visa, failure to produce the correct type of insurance required may lead to a rejected visa application. It is also commonly referred to as medical travel insurance because it's main limit of liability is the emergency medical expenses and evacuation. Having travel insurance is a smart thing to do when traveling. With the new culture, different climate, different cuisine, loss of baggage, flight delays among others, anything can go wrong as one travels. However, with travel insurance, one can relax and enjoy their holiday.
The travel insurance policy must cover the period of the traveler's stay or transit in the Schengen area (up to 90 days within a 180-day period), be valid in all Schengen countries, have a minimum coverage amount of EUR 30,000.The policy must also cover emergency medical evacuation, urgent medical attention, return of mortal remains and emergency hospital treatment during your stay in the Schengen region. While most applicants buy a bare minimum travel cover to fulfill the requirements of the visa application, it is advisable to take out a more comprehensive cover to give you that extra peace of mind. Check out some of the cheapest travel insurances on our detailed blog article.