When applying for a visa, gathering the necessary supporting documents can be challenging, especially when specific requirements must be met. To avoid complications, it is advisable to start preparing these documents well in advance of your intended travel dates. Here are six tips to help you properly prepare your visa supporting documents:
- Request paper statements: While electronic statements are more common nowadays, some governments, particularly for Schengen visa applications, still require original paper statements. Requesting paper statements from your bank or utility company ensures that you have eligible documents for your visa application. Although some governments may accept printed versions of electronic statements, they may also require the statement issuer to stamp the print-out for legitimacy. To save time, set up paper statements several months in advance if you know you will be applying for a visa soon or frequently due to work obligations.
- Choose monthly statements: If you have the option, select monthly statements over quarterly statements. Visa applications typically require supporting documents issued within the last three months. With quarterly statements, there will be a period where you don’t have the most current statement, which can cause issues during your visa application. Opting for monthly statements ensures you always have sufficiently recent documentation, even if it’s a month old.
- Include all relevant names on documents and accounts: When managing accounts, bills, and bookings within your household, ensure that all relevant individuals are named on the documents. This allows any named party to use the documents for their visa application without complications. If a different person is named on an account or supporting document you intend to use, you will need to prove the relationship between the parties. Naming all individuals involved avoids unnecessary hassle.
- Name the (lead) visa applicant on accounts and travel documents: If only one person in your travel group needs to apply for a visa, it’s best to have the visa applicant’s name on all supporting documents. For example, when booking a hotel room, make the reservation in the visa applicant’s name to ensure their name appears on the booking confirmation. This simplifies the visa application process and avoids the need to prove the relationship between the applicant and the person named on the booking. If both you and your partner are applying for a visa, decide on a lead applicant and make all bookings in their name for consistency.
- Ensure copies are in the correct format: When submitting original documents, you will also need to provide photocopies. Pay attention to the format requirements for copies, as failing to follow the rules can result in delays or rejection of your visa application. Common format mistakes include using the wrong paper size, printing double-sided (single-sided is usually required), and ensuring that copies contain all necessary information without cropping.
- Highlight or mark relevant information on photocopies: Help consular officials reviewing your visa application by using a highlighter to underline relevant information on your photocopies. This includes your name, dates, and any other details they may be looking for, such as specific financial transactions on a bank statement. If submitting multiple documents of the same type (e.g., booking confirmations for different hotels), write the sequence of your stay in the margin of each document. Similarly, if different members of your travel group are using different documents for the same purpose (e.g., travel insurance policies), note the individuals covered on each document. These markings make it easier for officials to confirm your accommodations and insurance coverage, simplifying the application process.
By following these tips and adequately preparing your supporting documents, you can increase the likelihood of a smooth and successful visa application.