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Schengen Visa for South Africans

Discussion in 'South Africa' started by jsalt, Jan 31, 2017.

  1. jsalt

    jsalt Jill Donating Member

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    Location:
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    Camino(s) past & future:
    Portugués, Francés, Chemin du Puy, Rota Vicentina, Voie de Soulac, Norte
    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
     
  2. Rick of Rick and Peg

    Rick of Rick and Peg Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Location:
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    Camino(s) past & future:
    SJPdP-SdC-Finisterre-Muxia (66 days, May-July 2015)
    Using a visa agency might be worth their fee. They must have handled tour groups before. Although there have to be others I found one at https://www.travelstart.co.za/visas (although my browser is so old I wasn't able to read their page.)
     
    jsalt likes this.
  3. erikas

    erikas New Member

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    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!
     
    Peter Fransiscus and jsalt like this.
  4. jdpiguet

    jdpiguet Active Member Donating Member

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    Location:
    Thun, Switzerland
    Camino(s) past & future:
    Voie de Vézelay, part of Camino Frances (2007); Camino Frances, Fisterra, Muxia (2012); Part of Frances (2014)
    Hi Jill,

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

    Buen Camino, Jacques-D.
     
  5. jsalt

    jsalt Jill Donating Member

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    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
     
  6. Tincatinker

    Tincatinker Moderator Staff Member Donating Member

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    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
     
  7. Jodipup

    Jodipup Member

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    Location:
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    Camino(s) past & future:
    del Norte(2014)
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    Finisterre(2014)
    Portugeuse (2015)
    Frances Sept (2016)
    del Norte April 2017 and Frances May 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.
     
  8. Beekay2109

    Beekay2109 New Member

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    Camino(s) past & future:
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    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 likes this.
  9. jsalt

    jsalt Jill Donating Member

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    Location:
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    Camino(s) past & future:
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    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
     
    SYates and Rick of Rick and Peg like this.

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