France Schengen Visa Application for Short Stay Tourist

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Another journey starts with another visa application. This time we plan to go to Europe with Schengen visa. There are several Schengen country where we can apply the visa from Edinburgh, but because of one and another, we chose France as the best option available. France visa application in UK is processed via TLSContact in Edinburgh.

Our trips plan

There will be the four of us traveling together, myself and my husband a postgrad student, and our daughters age 3 and 8. We plan to have two separate trip via France. One will be on the end of July, 5 days in France. The second will be 13 days of trips to France, Spain, Italy and Greece. Thus we will apply for the multiple entry.

Filling visa application form

We started with making an account here. We created one account for all the traveling persons. Once the account has been created you can use it as long as you like without any expired date. But bear in mind, once you created visa application forms, your data will only be stored in 3 days. If in 3 days you haven’t submitted it, then it will be deleted from the system. Your account will stay remain though.

Creating application was simple. You need to fill all of personal data and date of intended of travel. We filled our first trip dates, which is 5 days in France. Note that France must be the main country of your visit (the longest period of stay) in order to apply the visa.

You will need to provide the address and contact detail of where you will stay during in France. You can write your hotel address and contact or if you are invited by friends or family, you will need them to make a letter called Attestation d’accueil .

The document list

After creating the account, we list all the documentation needed. The complete list of all the documentation needed is written here

The visa appointment

We came to the TLSContact office in Edinburgh as in our appointment around the end of June. All four of us came together. Be sure to arrive at least 15 minutes earlier than your appointment time. Once in, we waited to be called, it was a quite long waiting actually. We waited for at least 2 hours, perhaps June-July is the high season so the office is busier than usual. Children under 12 doesn’t have to come, but in case there’s any problem we brought all the girls along with us. After being called, we prepare the document checking.

The document checking

Note that all copies made must be on A4 paper and don’t bother to clip it together because you will need it to handed it one by one. I had to say that the submission hadn’t went very well, most of the document we submitted was questioned by the officer for not being comply to the visa application document, and later was marked as missing or not comply. Your document will still be submitted to the embassy, so the best thing you can do is explain clearly so it will be written on the document checklist, and hoping that the embassy will consider it valid.

Here’s the list of our documents that needed for all of us :

  1. ID photo – 1 piece for adult and 2 pieces for children, because child will be exempted from biometric data recording, thus the visa vignette photo will be taken from the photo we submitted. Be very careful with the photo since the requirement is quite strict. Sample photos can be found here. I had mine and my younger daughter photos rejected. Mine was because part of my face and eyebrows were covered. My daughter was because she didn’t look directly to the camera (I wish I could tell how difficult it is to make a 3 year old child stay still and looks straight to the camera while being photographed). Luckily there’s a small photo studio at the nearby Sainsbury so at the end of our appointment, we went to get the right photo then came back again to TLS office to submit the correct photo.
  2. Short stay Schengen visa application, completed and signed (Original) – when you fill your application form online, after you submitted it you can print out the filled form and sign it. No need to print out the empty form and write it down again. My husband signed our daughters’ application forms.
  3. Valid passport (Original & copy) – your passport valid for at least more than 3 months beyond the validity of the requested visa. Copy only the ID page, content not needed.
  4. Old passports (Original only) – bring your old passports, they may wanted to know your travel history.
  5. British Residence Permit (Original & Copy) – bring your BRP card and make a copy of the front ID face.
  6. Proof of travel (Original & Copy) – since nowadays we usually receive tickets as a pdf then I just print one copy for us each. I have my airline return ticket with me to France printed.
  7. Proof of accommodation (Original) – Marked as missing/not comply. I booked my hotel through Agoda, so I printed out the Agoda hotel voucher, with only my husband’s name on it. The officer marked it not comply since there is only my husband’s name on the booking.
  8. Travel insurance (Original & copy) – Marked as missing/not comply. I bought a family Silver travel insurance from coverforyou valid for one year and travel across Europe. I printed one page of the insurance validation certificate, with all the data written, except the policy wording explaining what the insurance cover. That was why it was marked missing. So, big lesson, next time make sure to print out those small prints explaining the cover of your insurance (usually includes repatriation, medical cover, etc.)
  9. Travel itinerary (Original) – previously I wrote down both of our trip plan, but the officer said we can only submit itinerary of our first trip plan. We tried to explain that we need the visa to be multiple entry, but she said it was up to the embassy to give you single or multiple. We were given a new travel itinerary form and filled our 5 days trip to France. Template of travel itinerary form can be found here
  10. Proof of financial guarantee (Original & Copy) – Marked as missing/not comply. We had one original document and 3 copies. My husband obtained a bank statement from his bank but we just realized that the statement was only in 2,5 month span. It needed to be 3 months, so it was marked as missing.
  11. Letter from University stating the course details (Original & Copy) – Marked as missing/not comply. We had one original document and 3 copies. My husband used his enrollment letter from uni. It was generated from the uni self-service system and it stated that the letter was legal and official and need no wet stamp on it. But the officer questioned it and marked it as missing.

These were the additional documents needed for me as a spouse traveling together with my husband :

  1. Copy of my husband’s passport ID page
  2. Marriage certificate (Original & Copy)
  3. Official translation of Marriage Certificate (Original & Copy) – Marked as missing/not comply. Since my marriage is written in Indonesian, I need to give the translation. I only had copy of my original translation, it was translated and signed by sworn translator, but not stamped by my embassy. That was why it was marked missing.

These were the additional documents needed for our children as a child traveling together with both parent :

  1. Birth certificate stating both parent’s name (Original & copy) – it was written in both English & Indonesian
  2. Official translation of the birth certificate (Original) – marked as missing/not comply. It was a scan copy of the original translation by sworn translator and not stamped by embassy. That’s why it was marked missing.
  3. Copy of both parent passport ID page

It was rather frustrating, given all of those document we submitted marked as missing or not comply. So it is worth noticing that next time we apply again, we would definitely learn from our lessons. The officer then gave us the document checklist we need to bring when we collect our passport.

Biometric data recording

All adults (age more than 12 year old) will need to wait to be taken biometric photograph and scan their fingerprints scanned.

Paying the visa fee

We then given option whether to collect the passport in person to TLS office or sent by mail. We opted to collect. The Visa fee paid to the same document submission officer, by cash or debit/credit card. Fees are paid in GBP equivalent from the EUR rate. I only had the GBP rate though. Adult is GBP 47.24. My 8 year old paid GBP 23.62. My 3 year old is free.

Visa process tracking

You can do tracking by logging in to the website where you fill your application. You will see when it was sent to France consulate general/embassy, when it was processed, brought back, and finally available for collection.

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Approved France Schengen Visa

Passport collection

My husband did the collection for all of us. Documents he brought for passport collection were all of our BRP cards, copies of all of our passport ID, document checklist. We also made authorisation letter for my husband in case it was needed since he was the one who collect the children’s passports and mine. But it turns out this wasn’t needed, perhaps because we are traveling together with him and in one family.

I can say the process is pretty quick, we submit the documents on Monday and on Friday afternoon we received an SMS and email that our passport were available for collection. With all of those documents marked missing, actually I was more than pessimistic. But it turned out we got all of our visa granted with multiple entry for 3 months period with 45 days maximum staying date. I think the more cash you have in your account when you present the bank statement the more visa period you will get. At that time we only had GBP 8,000 for the four of us. But 3 months works perfectly for us, so it’s now time to prepare the journey.

Lesson learned was, prepare your document accordingly and when you found your document marked missing or not comply, don’t get panic, try to explain as clearly as possible. Happy traveling!

Edinburgh, 8 July 2016, 1.36 PM

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