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Schengen visa is the great white whale to many Egyptians, and Arabs, because it’s not exactly the easiest visa to acquire. Yet, with some careful planning, and plenty of sufficient proof you’re coming back, you’ll emerge triumphant with a Schengen visa in your back pocket and the gates of Europe ahead.

The Schengen Area is comprised of 26 countries that have agreed to allow free movement of their citizens within this area as a single country. Of the 26 countries bound by the Schengen agreement, 22 are part of the EU and the other 4 are part of the EFTA. These are the countries of the Schengen area:

Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

Latvia is leading the numbers of Schengen visa issued, with a 99.3% rate of Schengen visas issued, meaning the rate of rejection by the Latvian Embassy is only 0.7% out of all applications received. Right behind Latvia are Iceland and Lithuania with an equal rate of visas issued of 99.1%. These two countries are followed by Estonia with a 99% rate, Slovakia 98.4%, Poland 98.3%, Greece with 98%, and Luxembourg 97.9%. Lastly, and evidently not so far behind, stretches out the Czech Republic with only 2.2% refusal rate, meaning you have a 97.8% chance of being granted the Schengen Visa type inquired.

Greece is the easiest country to acquire the visa from as an Egyptian and Switzerland is the hardest, and you should have a clear itinerary in mind with all you plan on doing in the destination country.

The Schengen visa allows you to stay for a maximum duration of 90 days within a 180-day period. Your visa will be valid for a specific period, which may be shorter than 90 days. You can travel freely between the 26 Schengen countries while your visa is valid. If you wish to leave and re-enter the Schengen area within the 180-day period, choose the multiple-entry option when making your application.

TYPES OF VISA

Uniform Schengen Visas (USV)

The Uniform Schengen Visa stands for a permit of one of the Schengen Area Member Countries to transit or reside in the desired territory for a certain period of time up to the maximum of 90 days every six month period starting from the date of entry.

According to the purpose of traveling the Uniform Schengen Visa applies to all of the two categories, “A” and “C”. 

A” category stands for the Airport Transit Visa which allows its holder to travel through the international zone of the Schengen Country Airport without entering the Schengen Country Area. Airport transit visa is mandatory for the citizens travelling from one non-Schengen state to another non-Schengen state through a change of flights in a Schengen Country airport.

C” category stands for a Short-term visa which allows its holder to reside in a Schengen Country (Schengen Area) for a certain period of time depending on the visa validity. This particular category, according to the holder’s purpose of the travel can be obtained in a form of:

Single-entry visa, which allows its holder to enter a Schengen country (Schengen Area) only once for a certain period of time. Once you leave the certain Schengen Area you entered the visa validity expires, even if the time period allowed to stay in the Schengen Area is not over yet.

Double-entry visa, which applies for the same policy as above mentioned; however you are allowed to enter the Schengen Area twice, meaning that for the certain period of time permitted by your visa you can enter the Schengen Zone, leave, and enter again without any problems. Once you are out of the country for the second time the visa expires.

Multiple-entry visa, which allows its holder to go in and out of the Schengen Area as they please. However, this visa allows its holder to stay in a Schengen Zone for maximum 90 days within 6 months, starting from the day one crosses the border between a Schengen member country and the non-Schengen member country.  

TOURIST VISA CHECKLIST

When applying for a Schengen Visa in order to travel to one or more of the Schengen Zone countries, there are some requirements one has to establish prior to the application. If you are planning to travel to more than one Schengen country, it’s best if you apply at the embassy/consulate of the country you will be staying at the most, or your point of entry. Once you are issued a multiple entry visa you are able to travel to all of the Schengen Zone countries for the time permitted on the visa.

  • The visa application form must be fully completed and signed in the corresponding blanks.
  • One photo is to be attached; the photo must have a passport format, full-face capture, and a light background. The photo must be recently taken.
  • The passport as well as all the copies of your previous visas, valid for at least 3 months prior to your departure, is required. The passport must have at least two blank pages.
  • Round trip reservation or itinerary with dates and flight numbers specifying entry and exit from the Schengen area.
  • The travel health insurance policy is to be secured, covering any medical emergency with hospital care and travel back to one’s native country due to medical motives. This health insurance policy has to cover expenses up to 30,000 euros, the sum depending on the residing days, and also it has to be valid in all Schengen countries. The health insurance policy must be purchased before picking up the visa and if your visa is refused you can cancel it!
  • Proof of accommodation for the whole duration of the intended stay in the Schengen area (hotel or hostel booking).
  • Proof of sufficient means of subsistence during the intended stay in the Schengen area. Varies from country to country, but an average of 1000 Euros would do the trick.
  • A bank statement (for the last 6 months). In case one doesn’t have a bank account or doesn’t own enough funds to be taking care of their expenses during this travel, one must ask the visiting friends or relatives to sign and send an “official affidavit of support” at the corresponding office in his/her place of residence and also a letter of invitation. Make sure you carry the original document when applying for the visa.
  • The applicant’s description of their trip, the purpose of travelling, the time frame, and all the personal date written down in a letter.
  • For employees, an HR letter stating your position in the company and your salary as well as the date of your employment. Plus a Leave permission from the employer.
  • For self-employed individuals, a copy of your business license, company statement for the latest 6 months, and Income Tax Return (ITR)          
  • For students, proof of enrolment and a no objection letter from school or university.
  • For minors, the minor’s birth certificate, application form signed by both parents, ID copies for both parents, and A notarized parental authorization signed by both parents / guardians if the minor will be travelling alone.

VFS GLOBAL CONTACT INFORMATION (GREECE)

Address:

44, Office #G, 2nd Floor, Giza Residence Tower, Giza St., Giza

Working Hours:

Submissions:

Sunday to Thursday

8:30 AM to 12 PM

Visa collection:

Sunday to Thursday

02:00 PM to 04:00 PM

Contact Number:

02-33323001 (call between 08:30 AM and 04:30 PM, Sunday – Thursday)

Email Address:

Infogreece@vfshelpline.com 

* Anyone can apply at Cairo visa application center except those with a passport issued in the following offices 18, 19, 20, 21, 36 & 37 (they have to apply at the Greek consulate of Alexandria).

Greece Consulate in Alexandria

Address:

63, Rue Alexandre Le Grand, Shatby

Contact Number:

(00203) 4878454, 4878455, 4802088, 4802099 (call Monday to Friday, 10:00 AM – 1:30 PM)

Email Address:

grgencon.ale@mfa.gr 

STEPS (GREECE)

  • Complete the visa application form, and prepare it alongside the documents mentioned above.
  • Book an appointment at the visa application center.
  • Make sure all the documents are in English.
  • If the applicant doesn’t have a previous Schengen Visa in his/her current passport, he/she must bring an old passport that covers the last 7 years (the gap between the two passports doesn’t exceed 15 days) and if still no Schengen visa exists, the applicant must bring a movement certificate from Tahrir Compound for the last 7 years with all the passports mentioned in it duly translated.
  • For a minor, aside from the abovementioned documents, if the minor is applying without one of the parents/without both of them, both parents must come to VFS to sign the application in front of VFS office. If one of the parents is traveling abroad, he/she must make the approval at the Greek consulate of the country and it should be submitted as an original at VFS with photocopy of their passport.
  • For Spouses, the marriage certificate is mandatory if they are applying together or one of them is applying with documents related to the other.

*THESE STEPS MIGHT CHANGE FROM ONE EMBASSY OF A SCHENGEN COUNTRY TO ANOTHER

Notes:

  • All the applicants must attend the appointment at the visa application center, minors and adults.
  • Visa fees are non-refundable and have to be paid only in cash at the time of submission.

·       In case of any missing documents, the applicant can resubmit the application within the next 5 working days from 12:00 to 13:00 without booking another appointment.

·       It is advisable to prepare all your required documents corresponding to your travel dates, to avoid delay in the application process.

·       Documents issued originally in Arabic must be duly translated, except the following documents must be translated at the Greek community (at 17 Soliman AL-Halaby, Downtown) only:

                        I.         Commercial registry.

                      II.         Tax card.

                    III.         Tahrir compound movement certificate.

FEES AND DURATIONS

Short stay Schengen visa, less than 90 days: 60.00 EUR

Long stay visa, more than 90 days: 99.00 EUR

Children between the ages of 6 and 12: 35.00 EUR (Greece offers free visa to children under 12 years old, though)

MILITARY PERMITS
If you are permanently exempt from the army, you don’t need a travel permit but need to ensure proof of exemption on your passport.

If you’re still within the legal age of conscription – even if you’ve completed your military service and are still part of the reserve forces – you’ll need to get a travel permit from the army.

There are other cases if you’re within the legal age of conscription where you will need a travel permit.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How long does it normally take for this visa to be issued?
Two to three weeks on average, we do, however, recommend applying 2-3 months in advance because sometimes the appointments are fully booked.

Do I need a security clearance from the Tahrir Compound (tasree7 amny) for any of the Schengen countries?
No, you don't need a security clearance for any of the Schengen countries.

Do I need a family registration document (qeid 3a2eli)?
No, you don’t need it.

Do I need a certificate of movement (shehadet ta7arokat)?
This will depend on the case. If the applicant doesn’t have any previous Schengen Visa in their current passport, they must bring an old passport(s) covering the last 7 years, if that also doesn't have a Schengen visa, they must bring a movement certificate from Tahrir Compound for the last 7 years with all the passports mentioned in it duly translated.

Do I need a bank statement for this visa?
Yes, you need a very recent bank statement with transactions for the last 6 months; each page has to be stamped and all the statement must be submitted in English including the name.

What do I do if I’m a freelancer?
The main issue with not providing an HR letter is the fear that you might leave the country and never come back, so you need to somehow guarantee that you have sufficient reason to come back to Egypt. There are a couple of ways you can do that:

  • You have proof that you’re working as a freelancer, meaning you can provide a bank statement showing regular monthly payments. That, or you can provide the contract/agreement between your freelance employer and yourself as proof (if applicable).
  • You can provide a bank statement showing a significant amount of money –– meaning you have something to come back to, or likewise provide documents showing you have assets (lands, real estates, etc.) or anything that might help prove your intention of coming back.
  • In some cases, you can apply as someone unemployed (with no proof of employment in your passport). Don't get your hopes up with this option, but it's a last-ditch effort that works with some embassies and not others.

Do I need a need an airport transit visa?
If you’re transiting through a Schengen country, while going to another Schengen country, you’ll already have a valid Schengen visa. So, there would be no need to get an airport transit visa.

If, however, you’re transiting through a Schengen country, while going to a non-Schengen country, you’ll be needing an airport transit visa, unless you fulfil one of these criteria:

  • You have a valid Schengen visa issued by a Schengen state.
  • You hold a visa valid for a Member State of the European Union or the European Economic Area, Canada, Japan, or the United States.
  • You hold a valid residence permit issued by a Member State of the European Union or the European Economic Area.
  • You hold a residence permit issued by the Principality of Andorra, Canada, Japan, Republic of San Marino, or the United States, that guarantees unrestricted right of return.
  • You are a family member of a citizen of the EU, EEA or Switzerland.

What does the visa process look like for children?
Minors are required to present specific requirements outlined above, while children under 6 years old are exempt from visa fees.

If I get rejected, when can I apply again?
If an application is rejected, you can reapply 90 days after the rejection date

What happens if I break my visa?
Overstaying your Schengen visa can have serious consequences. The first one would be a hefty fine, or you could face a record in your personal file, meaning things might get complicated in your next Schengen interview. Last but not least, you could face a ban from entering the Schengen area for up to 1-3 years.

Do I need certain vaccinations before going to Greece?
There are no mandatory vaccinations before traveling to Greece. However, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends taking these vaccinations as a precaution if you want to be extra safe. Either way, it's best to follow general hygiene rules – washing your hands before you eat, eating fresh food, drinking bottled water, and so on.

How do I travel to a Schengen country with a pet?
Your dog or cat must fulfill these conditions:

  • Pet microchip
  • Rabies vaccination between 30 days and 12 months prior to entry (and the animal has to be at least 12 weeks old at the date of vaccination)
  • Rabies titer test
  • Health certificate from a veterinarian 
  • Treatment against Echinococcus multilocularis for dogs

Now you know all the details you need to travel to a Schengen country. Been to Europe before? We’d love to hear your story!