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I'm a first-time traveler to the Schengen area. I did a lot of research when putting my documents together and I used a Booking.com (Free Cancellation) booking to support my visa (short-stay) application, which I submitted to the Embassy yesterday; securing Schengen visa (tourism) appointments in my city of Dublin, Ireland is very, very difficult and challenging. I was searching for months to find an appointment and yesterday was the earliest date available to book. Unfortunately, I was told to return for passport collection at the Embassy on July 28th, which is just a couple days before my travel date (August. 1) and several days after the Booking.com Free Cancellation deadline. I'm anxious and facing a dilemma because I've learned that that particular Embassy has been denying visas a lot recently and this is my first Schengen visa application. If I don't cancel my hotel booking on July 23rd, I will be billed € 1,400 for my full stay at the hotel but I won't find out whether my visa application is approved or rejected until July 28! I can't cancel the hotel booking on the 23rd (just in case my visa will be rejected) because the Embassy might call the hotel and deny me a visa on the basis that I don't have a valid booking. I don't know what to do - I've saved up for a couple of years for this holiday and I can't afford to lose € 1,400 if my visa isn't approved. Please advise

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  • Try to contact the hotel, or just do a second booking and cancel the previous one. Considering "free cancellation", you can imagine that such booking have not much weight on overall decision for the visa. Jun 20, 2023 at 10:26
  • Thanks Giacomo. If I cancel that booking and then go on to make another booking at the same hotel, will this not put my visa application at risk? I don't know how Embassy staff confirm that hotel bookings are valid but isn't there a risk that they'll deny my visa if they find that the booking reference of the first booking has been canceled? Am I overthinking?
    – Bijou07
    Jun 20, 2023 at 13:37
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    Are you indeed told to come for the passport on Jul 28, or is just the maximum possible processing time? I'd assume that usual processing times should be shorter.
    – Petr
    Jun 21, 2023 at 10:13
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    Also, I don't know about Ireland, but where I live insurance companies offer insurances against failed trip, that may include compensation of hotel cost in case of visa refusal.
    – Petr
    Jun 21, 2023 at 10:19
  • I very much doubt you can extend the free cancellation period; you might be able to amend the booking (keeping the existing reservation reference) to one that allows you to cancel up to/including the arrival date but I’m pretty sure there’d be a fee. What did Booking.com say when you contacted them?
    – Traveller
    Jun 21, 2023 at 11:16

2 Answers 2

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If you need a hotel reservation to get a visa best book with the hotel and make sure they agree that you can cancel till after the date you are sure you have your visa, (or do not get it,) which might well be the date you fly to the country.

Booking sites, including booking.com, mostly work with automated systems which do not allow for extended cancellation periodes.

Do read the information about hotel bookings before you apply for a visa, some countries insist on you having a reservation for the hotel you are going to stay and at times that is checked during the visa application process and/or during or after your stay, other countries do not want you to book hotels and even flights till you have the visa. At this time the Schengen countries seem to insist on having a reservation at the hotel you are going to stay.

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I don't think Embassy staff call up individual hotels for each application and verify bookings. Happy to be corrected on this fact though!

As a foolproof alternative, you can make a fully flexible booking directly with the said hotel, as these are usually cancellable up to the day of arrival. So in case the Embassy does call them, your name and reservation will be genuine.

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    I've read reports on embassy contacting the applicant after a booking was cancelled during visa processing. Moreover, I've read reports on embassy cancelling an already issued visa after tourists cancelling a booking used in the applications. So it seems that they can indeed check.
    – Petr
    Jun 21, 2023 at 10:24
  • Contacting a hotel directly is a good suggestion though.
    – Petr
    Jun 21, 2023 at 10:25
  • Thanks for your inputs all. I called the hotel directly and was told that since I made the reservation via Booking.com, I'd need to send the hotel an email through Booking.com which I did a few days back - received no response. I'll try to call them again (making no mention of the Booking.com reservation and ask for a fully flexible booking, cancellable up to the day of arrival as suggested by "TheYoungMunk". I might also try Traveller's suggestion even though Booking.com hasn't been of much help thus far.
    – Bijou07
    Jun 22, 2023 at 11:07
  • I called Booking.com and was told that since this is a fully automated prepayment, the charge will go through as scheduled on July 23 if I don't cancel the reservation beforehand. The customer service agent gave me his name and told me that in the unfortunate event that my visa is denied, he'll "look into" securing me a refund retroactively. That statement didn't give me much confidence though. @Petr, I was told to come on the 28th to collect my passport and given a collection slip with that date on it. I'll look into the insurance angle as you've suggested
    – Bijou07
    Jun 22, 2023 at 11:10

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