I will be traveling to Italy (main destination) and France (three days) in July. I have an interview at the Italian consulate for the Schengen visa next week. We plan to stay with friends in France. My friend has put in an application for a letter of invitation at the city hall in her area. At the moment we don't know if I will receive the letter from France in time, before the interview. The Italian consulate requirements are confusing. Previous phone call they said to carry the letter in person and today they said I could fax it. Regardless, I have less than a week before it gets approved and sent to me. In the meanwhile I have booked refundable accommodation at a local hotel for the short stay in France.

Will it be OK to change accommodation from hotel to staying at my friend's place (assuming the letter arrives after my Schengen visa interview)?

I will be carrying the letter with me as evidence. But I am not sure if there is any endorsement/stamping by the Italian Consulate for the French letter of invitation.

The basis for my question is this excerpt from consulfrance-houston:

This certificate must be obtained at the City Hall by the person you are visiting in France. It is a compulsory requirement for people applying for a visa to visit family or friends. Be advised that you must provide the original certificate as it needs to be officially stamped and might be presented at the border in France.

Since I am not trying to deceive, would this change in accommodation with accompanying evidence be OK?

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    There are no border controls between Italy and France, hence no "French authorities at the border". to examine anything. – Gayot Fow Apr 28 '15 at 8:44
  • Thanks Gayot, do you know if the letter of invitation gets stamped during the visa interview? – whompus Apr 28 '15 at 15:42
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    How did you find out that you need a "letter of invitation (attestation d'accueil) from my French friends"? Did the Italian consulate say that you need it? – phoog Apr 28 '15 at 16:15
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    @whompus, they are not going to put some sort of official seal on your invitation letter if that's what you're after. They do not 'authenticate' evidence with something that you can use later to impress someone with. Unless you specifically ask for it, they may not even give it back to you. The question is unclear, There is a lot of Schengen expertise on the site, but the question is confusing and that's why nobody has answered as yet. Close voting as 'unclear'. – Gayot Fow Apr 28 '15 at 18:29
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    @whompus, see if this is of any use and then you can edit your question with specifics... travel.stackexchange.com/questions/44258/… – Gayot Fow Apr 28 '15 at 20:36

Not sure whether this fully addresses your question but the “stamp” mentioned by the consulate is that of the local municipality. The consulate will want to see it, if you want this “letter” (attestation d'accueil) to count for something in support of your application.

But if you do get a visa on your own, without invitation, there is nothing illegal about staying with some friends in France. You can make reasonable changes to your itinerary and foreigners are not required to stay at hotels or, in fact, to register their address in any way, whether for short-term or long-term stays.

The text from the French consulate in Houston also implies the invitation could be examined at the French border but that's only because they assume you would enter the Schengen area directly. It should really read “at the external border of the Schengen area”. Theoretically, Italian border guards could thus ask to see it too, if you tell them the main goal of your trip is a visit to friends or family in France.

  • Thanks relaxed. It's a relief to hear that such changes are permissible. – whompus May 1 '15 at 16:06
  • I just have a related question: Does the consulate let you know right away if the schengen visa has been accepted/denied? – whompus May 3 '15 at 0:05
  • @whompus What do you mean? It takes at least a few days, possibly a a few weeks. – Relaxed May 3 '15 at 8:40
  • Thanks. I was hoping they would let me know the status right away and ship the passport in 2 weeks. – whompus May 3 '15 at 19:44
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    @whompus If the consulate had made a decision, why would they need two weeks? They probably have a few things to do after that (prepare the visa sticker, etc.) but most of the time is used to evaluate the application (or simply waiting until someone has time to evaluate it). Plus refusals have to be noticed in a certain way (with a form citing one of a handful of valid grounds for refusals and informing the applicant of the possibility to appeal the decision). It would be more difficult to do this properly if you tell people on the phone. – Relaxed May 3 '15 at 21:46

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