Autumn in Europe, The Making Part 2: Our Schengen Visa Application

We applied for a Schengen tourist visa at the Italian Embassy here in Doha because Italy is our main destination.  That is, we will be staying longer in Italy than in France or the Netherlands.

The following summarises the requirements for securing a Schengen tourist visa from the Italian Embassy in Qatar:

  1. Valid passport (not less than 3 months) + copy
  2. One recent passport size photo (with dark gray or light sky blue background)
  3. For non-Qatari:  Valid residence permit (not less than 6 months)
  4. Air ticket
  5. Medical insurance policy that is valid for all Schengen countries (with 30,000 euros minimum insurance coverage)
  6. Hotel reservation in Italy (this may be replaced with a letter of invitation written and signed by the hosting relative, friend, family or Institution representative sent by fax, together with his/her copy of identity document, directly to the fax numbers of the Embassy: +974 44831909)
  7. Letter from the employer/sponsor stating the date of employment, position in the company and salary
  8. Bank statement for the last six months
  9. Proof of sufficient funds (credit card or traveller’s cheques)
To read more, please visit the website of the Italian Embassy in Doha.

The application

We went to the Italian Embassy at 9 AM (visa applications are from 9-11 AM on weekdays).  We just walked in as there is no need to schedule an appointment.

[Blooper No. 1]:  Just as we were entering the gate of the Italian Embassy, my husband realized that he has left his passport at his office.  He hurriedly went back to get his passport while I waited at the Italian Embassy entrance.  He managed to get back at around 10 AM and we were allowed to get inside the application office after checking in all our baggages.

We waited in line (for what seemed to be forever) to be ‘interviewed’ at the Italian Embassy as it turned out that the first person in the queue was applying for a Schengen visa for a couple of persons.  We then transferred to the other Italian ‘interviewer’.  When it was my turn, the ‘interviewer’ also called my husband and she checked our documents altogether.  It was not the interview that we prepared for as there were not much questions.  She just asked where we intend to go and how long do we plan to stay in each city.  She asked us to write the dates of our stay at the top of each hotel reservation printout and entertained another applicant.  We had to rush accomplishing what she wanted us to do as the application window time is almost ending.

When it was our turn once again, she asked further questions and asked where our (paid) e-ticket is.  We only had a confirmed reservation then as we wanted to ensure that our visa applications will get approved prior to investing on the tickets.  She asked us to pay for the plane tickets and return to the Italian Embassy with a copy of the paid tickets.  She then asked for our payment of 281 Qatari Riyals per person and told us that in case our visa application becomes disapproved, the payment is non-refundable.

[Blooper No. 2]:  They do not accept debit cards nor credit cards and our cash was short for the payment of the visa application and the ATM is 20 minutes away.  (We were used to using our ATMs in Qatar offices and we thought that the same is applicable at the Italian Embassy.  Okay, this is not a good excuse!)  We did not have sufficient cash because I thought that he brought the ‘fund’ and vice versa.   And I thought we were very prepared…

The ‘interviewer’ then scolded us for wasting her time… =P  It was already 11 AM and the only way to pursue the visa application is to come back and undertake the same process one more time.  

As they were closing their office, I took the chance to plead our case to the other ‘interviewer’.  That is, if she permits, I will come back on the same day to pay and give a copy of the paid tickets.  She agreed but reprimanded me strictly that it was a special case and they won’t allow that to  happen again.  (And we thank you Madame from the bottom of our hearts.)

Our passport with the Schengen visa was released after 3 working days, which finally gave us a breath of relief.  We officially had the document to start psyching and gearing up for an autumn in Europe! 🙂

Post Notes:

The Schengen Visa is a type of visa that makes traveling between 25 member countries (22 European Union states and 4 non-EU members) much easier and less bureaucratic.  The Schengen Visa means makes it possible for the visa holder to travel to any (or all) member countries using one single visa and avoid the difficulties and costs of obtaining individual visas for each country. 

The following countries are in the Schengen territories:
- Austria
- Belgium
- Czech Republic
- Denmark
- Estonia
- Finland
- France
- Germany
- Greece
- Hungary
- Iceland (not a European Union Member State)
- Italy
- Latvia
- Liechtenstein (not a European Union Member State)
- Lithuania
- Luxembourg
- Malta
- Netherlands
- Norway (not a European Union Member State)
- Poland
- Portugal
- Slovenia
- Slovakia
- Spain
- Sweden
- Swiss (not a European Union Member State)

If you plan to stay in 2 or more Schengen countries for equal amounts of time, you may secure the Schengen visa from the embassy of your first port of entry.

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