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I will be flying in to Rome 3 days ahead of my cruise sailing date which sails out of Rome for an 11 day cruise of Greek isles (including 3 port days in Turkey), finally disembarking in Athens. I will also be staying an extra 3 days in Athens before flying out of Athens to go home.

Where should I apply for a Schengen visa, at the Greek embassy or at the Italian embassy? What happens if I apply to the wrong embassy?

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Doesn't matter which Schengen state you issue the visa from. – Nean Der Thal Oct 6 '13 at 23:52
@HaLaBi It doesn't matter once you have the visa, however the rule is that you must apply to the country which is your “main destination” (the place where you'll stay the most nights), or failing one from the place of first entry. – Gilles Oct 6 '13 at 23:57
Not sure this is a duplicate, the question is where to apply, not what happens once you have a visa. @Gilles explained the main rule but it would be useful to know how it apply to cruises (Are you staying in Greece? Would Italy reject the application?) and what happen if you get it wrong (You would obviously lose time but do you need to pay twice if either Greece or Italy don't want to process your visa application?). I edited the question and nominated it for reopening. – Relaxed Nov 14 '13 at 12:40
@Annoyed Upon reflection, you're right, a cruise is a bit of a special case. If the boat stays at sea, what country does it count as? I have no idea. I voted to reopen. – Gilles Nov 14 '13 at 13:01
But surprisingly, cruises providers do not give such information on their website, relying on the travelers' country authority, which in turn first asks which country is visited. – Vince Nov 14 '13 at 13:24

2 Answers 2

In a nutshell, the rule is to apply to the main destination and, if there is no main destination, to the first country you will visit in the Schengen area. Based on your description, I don't think there is a clear “main destination” to your trip so I would apply to the country through which you will enter the Schengen area, namely Italy. But it's also possible to regard Greece as the main destination because of the time spent in the islands.

What happens if you apply to the wrong embassy/consulate is that they should decline to process your visa application as per article 18 of the Schengen Visa code:

Article 18

Verification of consular competence

  1. When an application has been lodged, the consulate shall verify whether it is competent to examine and decide on it in accordance with the provisions of Articles 5 and 6.

  2. If the consulate is not competent, it shall, without delay, return the application form and any documents submitted by the applicant, reimburse the visa fee, and indicate which consulate is competent.

(Article 5 is the one defining the rules I described at the beginning of my answer.)

In particular, it's not a “refusal” (article 32), it does not count as a negative decision or precedent and you should even get your documents and money back (which is not the case for a refusal) so you have lost nothing except the time it takes to wait for the consulate to get back to you and reapply somewhere else.

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If you start in Rome, then it's easiest to apply to the Italian embassy of your country though not strictly necessary. They will anyway ask you for the purpose of your visit at which point you can show your itinerary.

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Do you have any reference to back that up? Especially how do you know "it's easiest to apply to the Italian embassy"? – Vince Nov 14 '13 at 15:51
Hi David and welcome to Travel.SE! I think you missed the point of the question (in both cases in fact). In principle, it's not up to you which country you should apply to. Countries can and do refuse to consider visa applications if they think that they are not the main destination of the journey. The question is what do the rules mandate in this particular case. – Relaxed Nov 14 '13 at 16:17
@Vince, based on friends' past experience, it's always easier to apply to the country through which you will first enter the Schengen area. To Annoyed, true but that largely depends on the person processing your request and their appreciation. – David Brossard Nov 14 '13 at 17:40

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