Maxing out the Schengen Visa in the Balkans

We travelled to a number of non-schengen countries in the Balkans recently, using our multiple entry Schengen visa issued by Slovenia. Some details are below.

  • Serbia. Technically Indian passport holders don’t need a visa. But the immigration authorities at Belgrade airport and at the Mali Dvornik road border crossing both checked and scanned our Schengen visa. At road border they also checked our car papers for car insurance documents.
  • Croatia. We entered Croatia at a number of road border crossings. Each time they checked our Schengen visa. They never checked car documents. Ours was a Serbia registered rental car.
  • Bosnia-i-Hercegovina. They also checked our Schengen visa and let us in (at two different border crossings including one between Montenegro and Bosnia). They also checked car insurance papers.
  • Montenegro. They also checked our Schengen visa and let us in . They also checked car insurance papers.

Overall the Schengen visa was very useful in the Balkans! And these countries are a pleasure to drive in. I found Bosnia to be especially beautiful.

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Russia – 3 Day Transit Visa

We flew to Europe via Moscow a few weeks back. We decided to stay 2 nights in Moscow. For this we were able to get a “Transit” visa rather than a full Tourist Visa. The Transit Visa is much easier to get. Key requirements are listed below:

Documents Needed:

  • Hotel bookings in Moscow
  • Flight bookings showing arrival and departure from Moscow
  • Filled Application form
  • Passport sized photos
  • Approx INR 2500 per person application fee

The visa took around 10 working days to process. We applied at the Russia Visa application centre at Barakhamba Road. Had to go there with an appointment after filling the application form online.

Restriction on this visa is that your stay can’t be more than 3 days. But it saves the hassle of finding a local sponsor etc.

Moscow is one the most beautiful and friendly cities I have seen. Well worth the hassle of getting a visa.

Slovenia – Schengen Visa

My wife and I recently got a multiple entry tourist Schengen visa from Slovenia in New Delhi. Below is an outline of the process and experience:

Application Centre: VFS at Baba Kharak Singh Marg in Delhi

Key Documents needed:

  • Filled Application Form
  • Hotel Bookings in Schengen Zone (had to have more time in Slovenia than in other countries).
  • Flight Bookings (they demanded confirmed paid-for flights)
  • Travel Insurance (I bought from ICICI Prudential).
  • About Rs. 13,000 (for two people) Application Fee paid in Cash (no credit card accepted) at VFS

We were also visiting Croatia on this trip and intended to use our Slovenia visa for Croatia as well. The VFS officer advised us that if we showed less time in Schengen zone than in Croatia, the visa will get denied.

We had to show that we were entering Slovenia multiple times, in order to get a multiple entry visa.

It took 3-4 working days to process after submitting the documents.

Overall easy process. And Slovenia is a country well worth visiting!

Indian Passport Application for 9 Month Old Baby

We have a new traveler in our group now. Our baby girl is 9 months old as of this month. We applied for her Indian Passport in Delhi last week (ITO Passport Seva Kendra). It was a fairly straightforward process. This was under the General Category (not Tatkaal).

Documents that were looked at by the officers:

  • Baby’s birth certificate (online black and white printout from South Delhi Municipal Corporation was acceptable).
  • Passports of Both Parents (photocopies of first 2 pages and last page were needed)
  • Our passports had spouse names endorsed – so that helped simplify things
  • Parents’ Aadhaar Cards for Address Proof (our passports had an older address from a different state).
  • Annexure D (Declaration of Parent/Guardian for Minor Passports) – make sure when you sign this, the signature matches that on your passport. Available at: http://passportindia.gov.in/AppOnlineProject/pdf/AnnexureD.pdf
  • 2 passport sized photographs (on white background) were needed — this was not listed on the passport website, but luckily a friend warned us. They don’t photograph the baby, but use the photos that you take with you.

They did take a fingerprint of the baby, with the ink-pad (not with the scanner machine).

That was it. We were given a fast track number, because baby was less than 4 years old. Our number was called very quickly at each counter, and we were done in less than 1 hour. The passport is apparently in the mail now (6 days after applying).

Police Verification has been initiated on a post-issuance basis. This means that the passport will be issued, and police verification will happen afterwards.