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I would like to travel from Lebanon to Switzerland for a short duration, and for that I am applying for a Schengen visa. There are no direct flights so I had to book an Italian flight so there will be a 4 hours transit in an airport in Rome before I get to the flight to Switzerland.

  1. In the Schengen Visa Application Form, do I set "Italy" as "Member State of first entry"? even if I'm just transiting or does it not count as "first entry"?
  2. Would I need to claim my luggage to transit or is that automatic?
  3. I will be staying in Switzerland but there is a possibility that I will visit Germany and Austria for few hours tourism via train. Will I need to specify that at someplace other than the Personal Letter?
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From a visa perspective, the easiest way to think of the Schengen region is as if it was a single country, with multiple states. That's not technically correct, but it's close enough for most situations.

In your case, you'll arrive in Italy on an "international" flight (from a non-Schengen state), and you'll depart from Italy on a Schengen "domestic" flight (to a Schengen state) - thus you will go through immigration in Italy. Based on that, your first point of entry will indeed to Italy.

Despite the fact you'll go through immigration in Italy, within the Schengen region you go through Customs at your final destination - thus there is no need to collect your bags at your first point of entry as there is for some countries. Thus presuming your airline is able to check your bags all the way through (which in general they will be able to do, presuming it's the one airline and/or booked as a single ticket) then you will NOT need to collect your bags in Italy.

A schengen visa generally allows you to travel to any country in the Schengen region - even if you didn't specify them when applying for the visa. That said, as with any visa application it's never a good idea to lie or leave out information. If you think it's likely you will visit Germany and Austria then you should list them as destinations on the application. If it's more of just a "plans might change and I might go there one day" style plan then you could just as readily leave them off - if your plans do change and you end up there then you won't have any issues as a result.

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