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We're planning to take a cruise from Kiel, Germany (returns to the same port) for 14 days. However, all the ports we'd be visiting are in Norway.

We're Indian passport holders, applying for a Schengen visa. However, we are unsure whether to apply for it through the German Consulate or the Norway Consulate.

The general guideline is to apply through the country where you spend most days.

We're confused in this case. Do our 14 days count as days in Germany (since the cruise begins and ends in Germany) - or Norway (since we'll be in Norwegian waters, visiting Norwegian ports)?

Has anyone faced this issue? Please help!

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    The actual rule says you must apply to the country that is the main destination, and only lists duration as a fallback to determine that. Since the cruise mainly (only) visits places in Norway I would say that is the main destination. Commented May 30 at 9:17
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    What advice did the cruise line give when you asked them? I’d guess this situation occurs (very) frequently.
    – Traveller
    Commented May 30 at 12:18
  • The Consulates are only available through email, and have sent us some irrelevant, copy-pasted responses - repeatedly. VFS is kind of clueless. Having said that, the German Consulate website FAQs says that we should apply, pay the fee - and if they're not the competent authority to issue the Visa, they'll promptly send the application back, and refund the Visa fee. (We still might lose the VFS fee - but that's a chance we'll take at the moment.)
    – Priyanka
    Commented May 31 at 4:42
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    You might consider writing in the Main purpose(s) of the journey: other (please specify): field: Cruise tour that starts and ends in Germany (togeather with checking Tourism). This will make it clear why you chose Germany for the application. Commented May 31 at 4:57

2 Answers 2

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However, we are unsure whether to apply for it through the German Consulate or the Norway Consulate.

With good reason.

Neither the Schengen Visa Code nor the German Visumshandbuch deal with the question on how such cruise trips should be dealt with.

Since the cruise ship starts and ends in Germany and you are spending the greater part of the time on the ship itsself, the main purpose of the stay is taking a cruise that starts and ends in Germany (Article 5 (1)(b)):

(b) if the visit includes more than one destination, or if several separate visits are to be carried out within a period of two months, the Member State whose territory constitutes the main destination of the visit(s) in terms of the length of stay, counted in days, or the purpose of stay; or

I would then suggest that German Consulate should be tried first.

The consulate themselves may know, since yours is probably not the first such case that they have dealt with. So a call to them may clarify on how they wish this to be dealt with.

When in doubt what the main destination is, then Article 5 (1)(c) comes into play:

(c) if no main destination can be determined, the Member State whose external border the applicant intends to cross in order to enter the territory of the Member States.

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  • Thank you for taking out the time, and responding in such detail. Yes - I think we will speak directly to the Consulates before submitting our application.
    – Priyanka
    Commented May 30 at 9:45
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    Sadly, many consulates, and even more so the preprocessors like VFS, completely ignore the "purpose of stay" and only take into account the number of days spent in each country. No idea whether the German consulate competent for OP (and their preprocessor) applies this or not, though.
    – jcaron
    Commented May 30 at 9:55
  • @jcaron That may be true, but for a cruise, where the exact amount of time inside the waters of each country may not be known, this may be an exception. Commented May 30 at 10:00
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    Not disputing the answer, however to me the purpose of stay is to cruise Norwegian ports of call, Germany seems more akin to transit on the way to Norway.
    – Traveller
    Commented May 30 at 12:21
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    @Traveller It could go both ways, it will be the consulate who will deside if they accept the application or not. This cruise trip is rather straight foward, but for others it would be difficult to determine which country has more days. So they may have a (unpublished) understanding on how to deal with cruises (The cruise sites are not helpful in this regard). Commented May 30 at 12:51
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When applying for a Schengen visa, the general rule is to apply through the consulate of the country where you will spend the most days. In your case, since your cruise starts and ends in Germany but spends most of the time in Norwegian waters visiting Norwegian ports, it can be a bit confusing.

Here's a detailed breakdown to help you:

Days in Norway: Count the total number of days you'll be in Norwegian ports. This is crucial as it likely will be the majority of your trip.

Days in Germany: Since you will start and end your cruise in Kiel, Germany, you typically do not count the day of departure and the day of return as full days in Germany.

Given that most of your time will be spent in Norwegian ports, you should apply for your Schengen visa through the Norway Consulate.

Has anyone faced this issue before? Yes, cruise travelers often face similar questions, and the standard practice is to apply through the consulate of the country where the majority of days will be spent. In this scenario, it would be Norway.

It’s always a good idea to confirm with the consulates directly for any specific requirements or clarifications.

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  • This is extremely helpful! Just a quick follow up - Do I count all days the ship docks at ports - or, just the days I intend to visit a port city? Thank you so much for your response! :)
    – Priyanka
    Commented May 30 at 9:35
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    (+1) Although the days of departure/return in Germany do count towards the 90/180 days stay rule, AFAIK.
    – Traveller
    Commented May 30 at 12:33

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