Step by step: How to apply for a Schengen Visa

Ever wanted to explore the French vineyards of Bordeaux or the Spanish Steps in Rome? Now you can explore the best of Europe, with this step-by-step guide on how to apply for a Schengen Visa. Visa applications can be a stressful task, so we’ve included everything you need to know to ensure you’re well prepared for the application process. Now all that’s left to do is book your ticket and pack your bags!

You will need a Schengen Visa if you are a South African passport holder and travelling to one or more of the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland.

Please note this process is applicable to South African passport holders.

schengen visa rome

Types of Visas

There are two types of Schengen Visas: a tourist Schengen Visa and Business Schengen Visa.

Validity of Schengen Visa

A multiple entry Schengen Visa allows the holder to stay within the Schengen area for up to 90 days within a six-month period. You may leave and return any number of times within this period as long as the combined stay does not exceed 90 days.

Learn more about the Business Schengen Visa.

How long does it take to get a Schengen Visa?

The processing of a Schengen Visa usually takes about 10 working days. However, it could be slightly longer if additional documents are required. Most websites allow you to track your application online.

You will be notified when your passport is ready for collection. If you did not opt for the visa courier service you will need to collect your passport from the visa application centre. You will need to provide proof of payment and identity.

Schengen Visa Cost

The Schengen Visa cost in South Africa will vary depending on the age of the applicant and which application process you use.

Costs can vary from R 427.22 to R 960.00. Agencies usually charge a service fee on top of the Consular Visa fees and offer additional services such as a Visa Courier facility. Processing times and terms and conditions vary from agency to agency.

schengen visa cost

Schengen Visa Requirements

  • A completed Schengen Visa application.
  • An original and copy of your South African passport. The passport will need to be valid for at least three months beyond your date of return, not be older than 10 years, and have at least two blank pages.
  • Two colour photographs that meet the Schengen requirements.
  • Copy of return flights and travel itinerary (i.e. accommodation reservations or a letter from a host and a copy of their ID).
  • Proof of sufficient funds for the duration of the trip (i.e. Three months bank statements or proof of purchased foreign exchange).
  • Proof of employment or full-time study (i.e. a letter from your employer or educational institution stating that you are taking leave and will be returning to the country).
  • Schengen Travel Medical Insurance to cover any repatriation costs and medical expenses.
  • An unabridged birth certificate is required for children younger than 18. Supporting documents may be required, such as marriage certificates, a letter stating that the child will be supported by their parent during the trip, and a certified letter from the parent who is not travelling with the child.

Note: Documents may vary from country to country.

schengen visa requirements

Schengen Visa application

  • Book an appointment at the embassy or through the website of a visa service provider.
  • Plan and make the necessary reservations for your trip. You will need to submit copies of your flight reservation and hotel bookings with your application.
  • You are only allowed to be in the Schengen area for up to three months, so ensure your trip does not exceed this time period. It is also recommended that you buy travel insurance, in case your visa is not approved and you have to cancel your trip.
  • Download and complete the Schengen Visa application form.
  • Gather all your documents. Follow the link for a detailed explanation of the Schengen Visa requirements for South African citizens.
  • Submit your application and attend the interview in person at the embassy/consulate or visa application centre. You will need to pay the relevant fees and may be required to give biometrics.
  • When answering the interview questions, answer firmly and ensure you offer the correct information. Some questions you may be asked include: Which countries are you planning on visiting? What is the purpose of your visit? Where are you going to stay?

Note: You can apply up to 12 weeks before you travel.

schengen visa

Where to apply for a Schengen Visa

There are two options when applying for a Schengen Visa: in person at the embassy or consulate, or through one of the visa processing agents.

  • If you are only travelling to one Schengen country, you will need to apply for the visa at the embassy or consulate for that country.
  • If you are travelling to more than one Schengen country, you will need to apply for the visa at the embassy or consulate of the country you will be spending most of your time.
  • If you will be spending equal time in each Schengen country, you will need to apply for the visa at the embassy or consulate of the first country you will be visiting.

Many countries have outsourced the application process to an external service provider. Some of these agencies include Intergate Visalink, VFS Global, and Capago. Companies such as MDS VisaPak offer collections and tracking. You will still need to appear in person to provide biometrics.

Note: If you will be visiting other countries outside of the Schengen area, you will need to apply for additional visas to those countries before applying for a Schengen Visa.

Embassies

Embassy of Austria Embassy of Belgium

(also represents Luxembourg)

Address: 454 A Fehrsen Street,

Brooklyn,

Address: 625 Leyds Street,

Muckleneuk,

Pretoria, 0002

Phone: (+27) 012 452 9155 Phone: (+27) 012 440 3201
Business hours: Monday to Thursday

09:00 – 12:00

Business hours: Monday to Friday

08:30 – 12:30

Email: pretoria-ob@bmeia.gv.at Email: pretoria@diplobel.fed.be
Website: www.bmeia.gv.at Website: southafrica.diplomatie.belgium.be
Embassy of the Czech Republic

 

Royal Danish Embassy

(also represents Iceland)

Address: 936 Pretorius Street,

Arcadia,

Pretoria, 0083

Address: iParioli Office Park, Block B2,

1166 Park Street,

Hatfield, 0083

Phone: (+27) 012 431 2380 Phone: (+27) 012 440 3201
Business hours: Monday to Thursday

09:00 – 12:00

Business hours: Tuesday and Thursday

09:00 – 11:00

Email: pretoria@embassy.mzv.cz Email: pryambvisa@um.dk
Website: www.mzv.cz Website: sydafrika.um.dk
Embassy of Finland Consulate General of France
Address: 628 Leyds Street,

Muckleneuk,

Pretoria, 0002

Address: 191 Jan Smuts Avenue

Parktown North

Johannesburg, 2196

Phone: (+27) 012 343 0276 Phone: (+27) 011 778 5618
Business hours: Monday to Friday

08:00 – 12:30

13:30 – 15:00

Business hours: Monday to Friday

08:30 – 13:00

Email: visa.pre@formin.fi Email: visas.johannesburg-fslt@diplomatie.gouv.fr
Website: www.finland.org.za Website: johannesburg.consulfrance.org
Embassy of Germany Consulate General of Greece
Address: 201 Florence Ribeiro Avenue,

Groenkloof,

Pretoria, 0181

Address: 261 Oxford Road,

Illovo,

Sandton, 2196

Phone: (+27) 012 427 8900 Phone: (+27) 011 214 2300

(+27) 011 214 2316

Business hours: Monday to Thursday

08:00 – 14:00

Friday

08:00 – 13:00

Business hours: Monday to Tuesday

09:00 – 13:30

Thursday to Friday

09:00 – 13:30

Email: info@pretoria.diplo.de Email: greekconsulate-johannesburg@mfa.gr
Website: www.southafrica.diplo.de Website: www.mfa.gr
Embassy of Hungary

(also represents Latvia)

Embassy of Italy

(also represents Malta)

Address: 959 Arcadia Street,

Hatfield,

Pretoria, 0083

Address: 796 George Avenue,

Arcadia,

Pretoria, 0083

Phone: (+27) 012 430 3030 Phone: (+27) 012 423 0000
Business hours: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday

09:00 – 12:00

Business hours: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday

09:30 – 12:00

Wednesday

14:00 – 16:00

Email: mission.prt@mfa.gov.hu Email: segreteria.pretoria@esteri.it
Website: www.mfa.gov.hu Website: www.ambpretoria.esteri.it
Embassy of Lithuania Embassy of the Netherlands
Address: 235 Grosvenor Street,

Hatfield

Pretoria, 0028

Address: 210 Florence Ribeiro Avenue,

Nieuw Muckleneuk,

Pretoria, 0181

Phone: (+27) 012 760 9000 Phone: (+27) 012 425 4500
Business hours: Monday to Thursday

08:00 – 17:00

Friday

08:00 – 15:45

Business hours: Monday to Thursday

08:00 – 17:00

Friday

08:00 – 13:00

Email: amb.za@urm.lt Email: pre@minbuza.nl
Website: za.mfa.lt Website: www.netherlandsandyou.nl
Royal Norwegian Embassy Embassy of Poland
Address: 165 Lynnwood Road,

Brooklyn,

Pretoria, 0181

Address: 14 Amos Street,

Colbyn,

Pretoria, 0083

Phone: (+27) 012 364 3700 Phone: (+27) 012 430 2631

(+27) 012 430 2632

Business hours: Monday to Friday

09:00 – 12:00

Business hours: Monday

14:00 – 18:00

Tuesday to Friday

09:00 – 12:00

Email: visa.pretoria@mfa.no Email: konsulat.pretoria@msz.gov.pl
Website: www.norway.no Website: www.pretoria.msz.gov.pl
Consulate General of Portugal Consulate General of Slovakia
Address: 11 Ernest Oppenheimer Avenue,

Bruma,

Johannesburg, 2198

Address: 930 Arcadia Street,

Arcadia,

Pretoria, 0002

Phone: (+27) 011 622 0645

(+27) 011 622 0646

Phone: (+27) 012 342 2051

(+27) 012 342 2052

Business hours: Monday to Thursday

8:30 – 15:00

Business hours: Tuesday and Thursday

9:30 – 13:00

Email: consulado.joanesburgo@mne.pt Email: emb.pretoria@mzv.sk
Website: www.cgj.org.za Website: www.mzv.sk
Consulate General of Slovenia Embassy of Spain
Address: 9 Queen Street,

Durbanville,

Cape Town, 7550

Address: 337 Brooklyn Road,

Brooklyn,

Pretoria, 0181

Phone: (+27) 021 976 6249 Phone: (+27) 012 460 0123
Business hours: Monday to Friday

09:00 – 16:00

Business hours: Monday to Thursday

08:00 – 16:30

Friday

08:00 – 13:30

Email: info@slovenianconsulate.co.za Email: emb.pretoria.vis@maec.es
Website: www.slovenianconsulate.co.za Website: www.exteriores.gob.es
Embassy of Sweden

(also represents Estonia)

Embassy of Switzerland

(also represents Liechtenstein)

Address: 1166 Park Street,

Hatfield,

Pretoria, 0028

Address: 225 Veale Street,

Nieuw Muckleneuk,

Pretoria, 0181

Phone: (+27) 012 426 6400 Phone: (+27) 012 452 0660
Business hours: Monday

09:00 – 12:00

Wednesday to Thursday

09:00 – 12:00

Business hours: Monday to Friday

09:00 – 12:00

Email: ambassaden.pretoria@gov.se Email: pre.visa@eda.admin.ch
Website: www.swedenabroad.com Website: www.eda.admin.ch

Getting to the embassy / parking options

Many embassies do not offer parking for the public, so arriving by public transportation or drop-off is recommended. An extensive public transport network will ensure getting to and from the embassy is relatively easy. Options include: Gautrain, MyCiTi, Uber, public buses, metered taxis, and minibus taxis.

Printing and Visa Photographs

For printing and photographs, the following businesses can be found in the surrounding area:

Pretoria

PostNet

Address: Shop 4, Brooklyn Design Square,

309 Veale Street, Pretoria

Telephone: (+27) 012 460 1484

Kodak Express

Address: Shop 1, Brooklyn Mall,

Corner Veale and Fehrsen Streets, New Muckleneuk

Telephone: (+27) 012 346 0868

Johannesburg

PostNet

Address: Corner St. David’s Place and Wellington Road, Parktown
Telephone: (+27) 011 484 2134

Kodak Express

Address: High Point Shopping Centre,

Kotze Street, Hillbrow, Johannesburg

Telephone: (+27) 011 447 4056

Cape Town

Digital Express

Address: Shop 10

2 Long Street, Cape Town

Telephone: (+27) 021 418 5099

Tothills Photo-chemists

Address: Boland Bank Building,

18 Lower Burg Street, Cape Town

Telephone: (+27) 021 421 2421

Durban

PostNet

Address: Shop 6, Cowey Park Shopping Centre,

91 Problem Mkhize Road, Essenwood, Berea

Telephone: (+27) 031 208 0166

Foto First

Address: Shop G48, City View,

10 Matthews Meyiwa Road, Greyville

Telephone: (+27) 031 309 8928

schengen visa photo

*Disclaimer!

All information on this blog page was correct at the time of publishing and may change at any time without prior notice. Travelstart is not affiliated with immigration authorities or their application centres and will not be liable for loss or inconvenience arising from the use of this volatile information.

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Our Readers Comments

  1. Hi Aislinn Corbet

    I really appreciate your hard work. it helps me a lot

    thank you 🙂

  2. I need a Spain visa. Are there any consulates in Cape Town or Port Elizabeth?

    • Hi Susan,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      They have two consulates and two visa application centers.

      Please find contact details and address below:

      The Spanish Embassy – Pretoria
      Telephone No : 012 460 0123
      Fax No : 012 460 2207
      Postal Address : P.O. Box 1633, Pretoria, 0001
      Street Address : 337 Brooklyn Rd., (Lord Charles Building, Brooklyn Rd corner Charles St) Menlo Park, Pretoria 0181
      Email : emb.pretoria.vis@maec.es
      Consulate-General of Spain (Cape Town)
      Telephone No : 021 422 2415
      Fax No : 021 422 2328
      Street Address : 37 Shortmarket Street, Cape Town, 8001
      Email : visacapetown@maec.es
      Website : http://www.exteriores.gob.es/consulados/ciudaddelcabo
      Spanish Tourist Office : http://www.tourspain.es
      All long term, immigration and residence visas must be submitted at the
      Consulate in Cape Town

      BLS: Spain Visa Application Centre (Cape Town)

      Telephone No : 021 003 8050
      Street Address : 1st Floor, Block B, North Park, Black River Park, 2 Fir Street, Observatory, Western Cape, Cape Town, 7925
      Email : info.cpt@blshelpline.com
      Website : https://sa.blsspainvisa.com/
      BLS: Spain Visa Application Centre (Pretoria)
      Telephone No : 012 683 8793
      Street Address : Regus Lakeview, Ground Floor, Lakeview Building 1277 Mike Crawford Avenue, Centurion, 0157
      Email : info.pry@blshelpline.com
      Website : https://sa.blsspainvisa.com/

  3. Would be need a Schengen visa for 10 days in Croatia, if I have a valid Portuguese Temporary Residency Card?

    • HI there,

      Thanks for the interesting question.

      I am not able to say as we do not specialise in this area. I recommend you contact the Embassy direct they will be able to provide you with the most up to date info.

  4. please can we have a step by step for UK visa, this infor is really useful – thanks

    • Hi there,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      We did write the following Blog: “The UK Visa Application – A Guide for South Africans” – see link below.

      http://www.travelstart.co.za/blog/uk-visa-application-process-south-africa/

      Here we provide as much info as possible. However visa info can change at any time and we recommend you contact the Embassy or official visa handling agency for the most up to date info as they specialise in this area.

  5. My wife and me ill be visiting Venice and do the Greek Islands and also three days in Slovinia. We need Schengen Visas. We are leaving South Africa on the 23/06/20018.
    What do wee need and where are your offices in Cape Town

  6. Hi Marcelle
    My husband and I plan to cruise around the world on our own yacht, starting at the end of this year.
    From the Caribbean, we plan to sail to the Mediterranean and spend at least two – four years there.
    We would obviously not know our exact arrival date, but the time to sail from the Caribbean to the Med normally starts around May, so we would need it from around May 2019.
    How do we go about getting a long stay Schengen visa?
    Also, we would need to apply for this before we leave at the end of this year.
    Any advice would be appreciated.
    Many thanks

  7. I have been issued with a 5 year schengen. On the schengen in the right hand top corner is typed 90 days.May I stay in schengen required countries for 90 days per year or 90 days in 5 total in 5 years?
    Please
    Thank you

    • Hi Johanna,

      If you have a multiple-entry visa, it allows the holder to go in and out of the Schengen Area as pleased. However, this visa allows its holder to stay in a Schengen Zone for maximum 90 days within half the year, starting from the day one crosses the border between a Schengen member country and the non-Schengen member country.

      You would need to contact the Embassy who granted the visa. They will be able to advise after how many months you can return on that same visa to stay another 90 days.

  8. Is it possible for a South African resident to apply for a schengen visa from outside the country. My son is currently in America working on a cruise liner. He would like to go from there to Greece without coming back to apply for the visa from here. He will be spending some time in Freeport in the Bahamas, but otherwise is mostly onboard. An help would be appreciated.
    Thank you

    • Hi Bryony,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      If your son has a work visa for the USA to work on the ships (visa issued by USA government), that means he is a current resident in the USA, and he will be able to apply through the Greek Embassy or Consulate in the USA for a Greek Schengen Visa.
      IF he was there only as a normal tourist (not resident in the USA) he would need to apply back home in South Africa.

      However we do advise to contact the Embassy direct to get the most up to date information on their rules, as this could change at anytime.

  9. Good day,

    We are SA citizens going on a msc boat cruise embarking Barcelona Spain, visiting Portugal, France, Italy and Morroco back to Barcelona.

    What travel documents do we need?

    • Hi Yvette,

      Thanks for contacting us.

      If you are applying for a Schengen visa for the Schengen countries you are travelling too (Spain, Portugal, France, Italy) you will need to contact the Embassy of that country you are applying through or the official visa handling agency. They will advise you on what documents are required, the correct procedures to follow and the cost involved.

      Morocco is not part of the Schengen states so you would need to contact them separately to get the required info.

  10. Hello
    I need a visa for Nicaragua. Does anyone know who I can contact for that?
    I can’t seem to find any help at all.

  11. Hi,

    I require a schengen visa and I visit Netherlands -France – Italy. Netherlands is the first point of entry and I’m unsure as to where I need to submit my application. I read that BLS has overtaken VFS Global and just need a little help going forward.

    If I have to apply directly with the Dutch Consulate, do I have to phone and make an appointment?

    Thanks in advance

    • Hi there,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      I’ve checked on Travelinfo and it shows that VFS is still the official visa handling agency. You welcome to contact them direct, they will be able to advise on the correct procedures to follow. What documents are required and cost involved.

      Please see contact details below:

      VFS Global: Visa Application Centre
      Telephone No : 012 425 3005
      Email Address : Info.nlza@vfshelpline.com
      Website : http://www.vfsglobal.com/netherlands/southafrica/index.html

      Office Hours

      VFS: 08h00-12h30 and 13h30 to 15h00 Mon-Fri (Submission)
      10h00 to 16h00 Mon-Fri (Passport Collection)

      Days Closed:
      2018:
      VFS: 01 Jan / 21, 30 Mar / 01, 02, 27, 30 Apr / 01, 05, 10, 11, 20, 21 May / 16 Jun / 09 Aug / 24 Sep / 16, 25, 26 Dec

  12. Hi, I am a South African with a valid passport, but I live in Costa Rica and want to go to Spain in September, how do I go about getting a visa from Costa Rica to Spain?
    Regards Amaure.
    Why cant I post this!

    • Hi there,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      If you are living is Costa Rica and have a valid visa for living there, you should be able to apply at the Spanish Embassy for your Schengen visa.

      However as we are not the ones granting the visa’s you would need to contact the Spanish Embassy in Costa Rica. They will advise you on the correct procedures to follow, what documents are required and the cost.

  13. Hi!

    I’m going on a river boat cruise in Switzerland and also visiting Holland and Germany. Which visas do I require? I was told I would need a specific one for Switzerland and one for the other two countries; is correct? Many thanks!

    • Hi Christiaan,

      All 3 of these countries fall under the Schengen State, so only one visa is required.

      You need to apply at the Embassy or official visa handling agency at the country you will be staying at the longest or the country which is your first point of entry.

  14. Hi. My mother and I will be going on a MediterraneanCruine soon. I want to know what can I give as a proof of sufficient funds? Credit Card Statement etc? Should my mother also give her proof of funds or only the one of us? Do I have to show a specific amount into my account for the three months or how does this work?

    • Hi Ian,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      You welcome to read our Step by step: How to apply for a Schengen visa – Blog.

      Under: Schengen Visa Requirements we give all the relevant information needed when applying for a visa.

      We do however recommend you contact the Embassy direct for this most up to date information as this info could change at anytime.

  15. Hi there,

    We are planning a trip for our highly independent, 77yr old mum who is a government pensioner. We(her kids) are funding the entire trip as a gift. She does not have oodles of money in her bank account, in fact it is basically zero every month as she is dependent on us.
    She will be travelling on her own. She is very healthy, does not take a single tablet and has only been to hospital to give birth.
    In connection with the: Proof of sufficient funds for the duration of the trip (i.e. Three months bank statements or proof of purchased foreign exchange), do we need to show a copy of our bank statements? We are going to give her a travel card loaded with money and pay for accommodation seperately.

    Do you have advice on this?

    • Hi Ruth,

      If you are funding your mothers trip the Embassy you will be applying through would probably also been needing a copy of your bank statement.

      Best to contact the Embassy or official visa handling agency direct, as the Embassy is the one granting the visa they will be able to provide you with all the relevant information you need for your mom’s visa application. On what they require, the correct procedures for you to follow and what the cost would be.

  16. Hi I am travelling to the UK at the beginning of May until 1 October 2018 and would then like to go to Holland. However, I am not able to apply in South Africa now for travel in October as it is beyond the required 90 days. Am I able to apply for a Schengen visa in the UK or is there any other way to overcome this? Thank you

    • Hi Emma,

      This should be possible. However please contact the VFS the official visa handling agency, they will be able to provide you with the most up to date information if you would be able to apply in the UK for a Dutch visa.

      Their contact details are:

      VFS Global: Visa Application Centre
      Telephone No : 012 425 3005

  17. Hi, I am going on a European cruise starting in Spain, then to France and Italy, and ending in Spain. Do I need a single or multiple entry visa – I am a South African citizen.

    • Hi there,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      As you are entering Europe once and visiting all the following Schengen states you would only need a single entry for that trip.

      If you were going to Spain, then to the UK after and then to Italy then you would need to apply for a multiple entry Schengen visa and the UK is not part of the Schengen states.

      However please check with the Embassy you will be applying through to get the most up to date information as they are the ones granting the visa’s.

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