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Schengen Visa for South Africans

2020 Camino Guides

jsalt

Jill
Camino(s) past & future
Portugués, Francés, Le Puy, Rota Vicentina, Soulac, Norte, Madrid, Salvador, Primitivo, Aragonés
Hi, my group members need to each apply for a Schengen Visa at the Spanish High Commission in Pretoria. Do any South Africans out there have any tips? We are going in Sep 2017 for 3 weeks (Leon to Santiago) and I have pre-booked every night in (mostly) private albergues and a few hotels. However, the bookings are in my name for xx beds.

It is very costly for each member to travel from Nelspruit to Pretoria and back, only to be refused the visa, the application of which is non-refundable. It will cost each person about R2,000 to do this, so we have to get it right the first time.

Last year, when my friend joined me on a camino, she got her visa by booking one hotel (on booking.com) for the whole length of time she was away, and then cancelled the booking when she got her visa. I can’t possibly do that for a medium-sized group of xx people for 3 weeks.

I understand that the Confraternity of St James in South Africa will assist by providing members with documentation to “prove” the member will be walking the camino, but I feel that’s an extra expense (for all of us to pay for membership) if it’s not necessary.

I have put together a 7-page “brochure” on the trip, with lots of info on the camino, practical details, a full itinerary with the names of every overnight stop, a packing list, etc, so it looks like a proper organized tour, and which they can take with them to Pretoria.

Any info or advice much appreciated!
Jill
 

erikas

New Member
Hi, my group members need to each apply for a Schengen Visa at the Spanish High Commission in Pretoria. Do any South Africans out there have any tips? We are going in Sep 2017 for 3 weeks (Leon to Santiago) and I have pre-booked every night in (mostly) private albergues and a few hotels. However, the bookings are in my name for xx beds.

It is very costly for each member to travel from Nelspruit to Pretoria and back, only to be refused the visa, the application of which is non-refundable. It will cost each person about R2,000 to do this, so we have to get it right the first time.

Last year, when my friend joined me on a camino, she got her visa by booking one hotel (on booking.com) for the whole length of time she was away, and then cancelled the booking when she got her visa. I can’t possibly do that for a medium-sized group of xx people for 3 weeks.

I understand that the Confraternity of St James in South Africa will assist by providing members with documentation to “prove” the member will be walking the camino, but I feel that’s an extra expense (for all of us to pay for membership) if it’s not necessary.

I have put together a 7-page “brochure” on the trip, with lots of info on the camino, practical details, a full itinerary with the names of every overnight stop, a packing list, etc, so it looks like a proper organized tour, and which they can take with them to Pretoria.

Any info or advice much appreciated!
Jill
Hi Jill,
All the best for your Camino! You will require a letter from the Confraternity of St James S.A. to get the Schengen visa.
It is well worth joining...you also receive a pilgrims passport and there are other benefits. Have a great Camino!
 

jdpiguet

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Past? Not enough.
Future? Sure!
Hi Jill,

Do you really need a visa from the Spanish commission, or any Schengen country would suffice?

Buen Camino, Jacques-D.
 

jsalt

Jill
Camino(s) past & future
Portugués, Francés, Le Puy, Rota Vicentina, Soulac, Norte, Madrid, Salvador, Primitivo, Aragonés
Hi Jill,

Do you really need a visa from the Spanish commission, or any Schengen country would suffice?

Buen Camino, Jacques-D.
Hi Jacques-D, my understanding is that we have to apply to the consulate (or high commission) of the country we will be visiting.
Jill
 

Tincatinker

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Lots ;0)
Jill, it might well be worth your while to contact the Spanish Embassy with this question - and send them a copy of your 'Brochure'. Spain embraces the camino and peregrin@s; you are likely to experience more support than resistance from the Ambassador and their staff.

It seems that the personal attendance issue arises from the requirement to provide fingerprints. Whether the Embassy would accept certified fingerprints taken at a local police station or some other p.o.i might be worth exploring.

And as JD suggests Schengen is Schengen - for now at least Europe is one big place.

Good luck
 

Jodipup

Member
Camino(s) past & future
del Norte, Primitivo, Finisterre 2014, Portugeuse 2015, Frances 2016,2017, del Norte 2017,
Hi. By joining the Confraternity in SA, you will get a letter which enables you to receive your visa. Membership is R100 per family for three years. Only a small outlay towards your Camino. They offer invaluable advice and help. They need membership fees to continue there wonderful help.
 

Beekay2109

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese Sept 2016
Hi, my group members need to each apply for a Schengen Visa at the Spanish High Commission in Pretoria. Do any South Africans out there have any tips? We are going in Sep 2017 for 3 weeks (Leon to Santiago) and I have pre-booked every night in (mostly) private albergues and a few hotels. However, the bookings are in my name for xx beds.

It is very costly for each member to travel from Nelspruit to Pretoria and back, only to be refused the visa, the application of which is non-refundable. It will cost each person about R2,000 to do this, so we have to get it right the first time.

Last year, when my friend joined me on a camino, she got her visa by booking one hotel (on booking.com) for the whole length of time she was away, and then cancelled the booking when she got her visa. I can’t possibly do that for a medium-sized group of xx people for 3 weeks.

I understand that the Confraternity of St James in South Africa will assist by providing members with documentation to “prove” the member will be walking the camino, but I feel that’s an extra expense (for all of us to pay for membership) if it’s not necessary.

I have put together a 7-page “brochure” on the trip, with lots of info on the camino, practical details, a full itinerary with the names of every overnight stop, a packing list, etc, so it looks like a proper organized tour, and which they can take with them to Pretoria.

Any info or advice much appreciated!
Jill
Hi Jill

I found the letter from the Confraternity was sufficient to overcome the visa hurdle and was well worth the membership fee, it certainly beats the return trip if the visa is not initially issued. I know that the visa for Spain is no longer handled by VFS so you may want to check who is handling applications now and contact them

Buen Camino

Barry K
 

jsalt

Jill
Camino(s) past & future
Portugués, Francés, Le Puy, Rota Vicentina, Soulac, Norte, Madrid, Salvador, Primitivo, Aragonés
Many thanks to all who replied. I see now that joining the Confraternity of St James in South Africa http://www.csjofsa.za.org/ is the way to go. So, using my South African passport details, I have submitted an online membership application form, and purchased their credential, together with a request for a Schengen Visa Letter, which will all be snailmailed to me. I don’t actually have to do this, as I can travel on an EU passport, but I want to be on the same page as the members in my group. To help future South African pilgrims I will update this thread on how my group get on with their visa applications.

I will still welcome further tips and advice on Schengen Visa applications from previous South African pilgrims who have been through the same process – forewarned is forearmed!

Jill
 

Givesome

Cape Hiker
Camino(s) past & future
CF 27 March 2017
Schengen Visa update for South Africans 2018.

South Africans who want to visit the Schengen area (most of the EU countries) need to apply for a Schengen visa.

Where to apply?

You need to apply to the consulate of the country where you are staying the longest or the country of entry. If the time spend in more than one country is the same then apply to the country of first entry.

For most of the Camino’s apply at the Spanish consulate or Portugal at the Portuguese consulate. Some South Africans fly to Paris as well as a port of entry.

Spain has appointed BLS International (https://sa.blsspainvisa.com/) and Portugal VFS Global (http://www.vfsglobal.com/portugal/southafrica/) to handle visa applications. The visa application centres act as the intermediate between the applicant and the consulate. They only collect the information and pass it on to the consulate for processing. They are not part of the processing process and cannot guarantee a successful visa application. The consulates do not accept direct applications anymore and will refer you the visa application centre.

If you want to enter the Schengen area in France then apply for your visa at Capago (https://fr-za.capago.eu/). The processing time for a tourist visa (Schengen –short stay) for France is only 48 hours.

The Schengen application forms and required documents are the same for all Schengen member states. One of the requirements is pre booked accommodation for the duration of your stay in the member state. This is not easy when you plan to do a Camino. Become a member of the Confraternity of St James South Africa (http://www.csjofsa.za.org/). The membership fee is R 100.00 and they will issue you with a confirmation letter that you are a pilgrim which you need to include in your visa application. It will eliminate the need of pre booked accommodation. You only have to book accommodation for the first and lasts evenings in the Schengen area. As a member of the confraternity you visa application will be much easier.

If you plan to visit another country outside of the Schengen area at the same time with different visa requirements you have to apply for that visa prior to you Schengen application and include the approved visa in you Schengen application.

The fee for the visa application varies between R 800.00 and R 900.00. The visa application centre also charge a fee of R 400.00 plus. These fees are not refundable. So if your visa application is denied you will not be refunded. It is important that you collect and provide all the required documentation when you apply for your Schengen Visa. All the Schengen member states share the same visa information and once a visa has been denied it becomes more difficult the next time when you apply.

You need to make an appointment with the visa application centre to submit you application form with all the required documentation. They will do an interview and collect the biometric information as required in the application process. All the visa application centres have a facility on their websites to track the visa application process.
 
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