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I am planning a tour from the UK to my European destinations. As per my itinerary, I have max stay in Italy. I am also visiting Switzerland and Paris.

My problem is that when I applied for a Schengen visa in the Italian embassy, they asked me for all the travel documents, as in the tickets from Rome to Zurich, Zurich to Paris, and of course tickets from the UK and back to the UK.

Is this a trend with only the Italian embassy? I found it very discomforting to do all the bookings before getting the visa. If they reject the visa, I have no way of recovering my money.

Do any of you guys have any experience on this? Am I missing something? Surely there has to be a easier way of getting a visa without planning each day of my trip right now.

  • If you don't have your travel planned out, how can they be fairly sure that you won't just turn up on a tourist visa and then do something other than what it'd been issued for? (eg work) – Gagravarr Jul 20 '14 at 19:27
  • Even if you do have your travel planned out, how can they be sure that you will leave? – karancan Jul 21 '14 at 6:58
  • What is your nationality? – Prometheus Jul 21 '14 at 17:34
  • @Prometheus : Indian – Pratik Jul 21 '14 at 20:19
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In principle, the rules are the same for all three countries. Formally, presenting a confirmed ticket is not a requirement but you do need to justify the purpose of your stay and show that you intend to leave the area at the end of the trip. Plane tickets are but one type of “supporting documentation” that can be submitted to this end. It would be more-or-less the same for the French or Swiss consulate (I do know for a fact that French consulates do require a lot of details and documentation – at least in some countries).

In any case, your Italian visa would also be valid in France and Switzerland so the Italian consulate is basically issuing it on behalf of these and other countries in the Schengen area. That's why they want to know you will return to the UK and not merely leave Italy.

  • so if i understand this correctly the general procedure is to ask for bookings... I should not be worrying about it – Pratik Jul 21 '14 at 20:21
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The consulates usually ask for flight bookings when they are not sure about the intent of travel. Now that they have asked for it, you cannot and should not try to negotiate with them. You have two options as I see it:

  1. Book refundable flight and train tickets.
  2. Approach a travel agent and provide them with a rough itinerary. Most travel agents can make and hold a reservation for a certain amount of time (usually 3 days) for the same price. Ask them not to confirm the booking but just to create a temporary ticket. You can submit this to the consulate. The itinerary comes with a booking reference which checks out at checkmytrip.com and other similar websites. Once you get the visa you can confirm the booking to the travel agent. If the "booking hold period" exceeds the time to get the visa, you can ask the agent to make a fresh booking on the same itinerary.

The main hurdle here is finding a travel agent who will be willing to this for you. You should be able to assure them that you will eventually book tickets through them. I usually use the same agent for all my travels, so they are quite accommodating towards such requests when possible.

  • I ended up making most of my bookings .. with varied level of refund options. and opted for using the Expedia book now pay later kind of hotels so that i can change it if i need to .. but the overall feeling i got from my experience is that its better to book all the tickets and apply well in advance... – Pratik Jul 25 '14 at 15:26

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