Schengen Visa and Proof of Accommodation

| June 18, 2024

Citizens of any of the European Union (EU) member states can travel freely within the EU and Schengen Area with just a valid passport. The same is true of nationals of countries that have a visa-exemption agreement with the EU, such as the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and others. British citizens continue to enjoy this freedom of movement despite having left the European Union following Brexit, but this situation is set to change in the coming years.

As the United Kingdom will be deemed a “third country”, British passport holders will soon require an ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System) approved passport to visit a European Union and, possibly, a Schengen Visa to enter or transit through a Schengen member country.

The majority of visitors to any of the Schengen Area member countries are termed “world travellers” and will need a Schengen Visa to enter or stay within its confines. Which type of Schengen Visa is required will depend on the traveller’s reason for entering the region, and each type of visa application requires its own supporting documentation.

For most types of visa, there are four main documentation pieces that must accompany the application form:

  • A letter explaining the purpose of the visit
  • Copies of air, sea or rail bookings
  • Proof of adequate finances to cover the length of the visit
  • Proof of adequate health insurance coverage in case a medical emergency arises

These four are required for all types of Schengen Visa being sought, but there is a fifth item that may also be requested, and this is proof of accommodation while within the Schengen Area.

Reasons for Proof of Accommodation

Not all Schengen countries will ask a visa applicant for proof of accommodation, but this is very often the case. There are several reasons why booked accommodation, or an intended place of stay, may be asked for, including:

  • As a form of proof that the visitor is entering the Schengen Area for legitimate reasons
  • As a point of contact should the authorities wish to contact the visitor
  • Demonstrating the visitor has adequate funds for the duration of the stay

Providing evidence of booked accommodation is fairly easy to do if the visitor is staying at a recognised hotel or guest house, but this is not always the case as some visitors may be staying with friends for all or part of the stay or may have just booked the first night or two with the intention of travelling within the country or into neighbouring Schengen countries.

When proof of accommodation is required as part of the application process, the following are acceptable to the Schengen authorities:

  • Hotel or guest house reservations or confirmed bookings
  • Letter of invitation from host if staying with friends or relatives
  • Evidence of included accommodation as part of an organised tour

In the case of travellers staying with family or friends the letter of invitation should be accompanied by a copy of the host’s passport or residency permit.

Different Scenarios

Depending on the Schengen country being visited, it may not be necessary to provide proof of accommodation, but when required, it is important to provide exactly what is asked for. Everything depends on what form of accommodation has been booked and what form of documentary evidence can be acquired. Schengen authorities often assume that visitors will have booked hotel accommodation for the duration of the trip but this is not always the case as there are other alternatives available.

For most visitors, accommodation will fall into one of four main categories: a hotel, a relative’s home, a leased or rented apartment, or possibly a school dormitory or similar for students. In each of these scenarios, the proof of accommodation required would be:

  • Booking from the hotel showing full name and address of the hotel and dates booked
  • Address and status of relative or friend with a copy of the host’s passport or letter of residency
  • Lease or rental agreement for apartment
  • Letter of confirmation from the school or educational establishment providing the accommodation.

All documents provided should be clear and concise and provide as much detail as possible regarding the exact location of the accommodation, intended dates of occupancy and contact details for the person or organisation providing the accommodation.

Whether a traveller is staying at one location or several it is vital that as much information as possible is provided for the Schengen authorities. It is not enough to provide a vague description of the planned accommodation or approximate dates of arrival and departure.

Details are extremely important and providing insufficient information will likely result in an application being returned for amendments or possibly even refused. Whatever accommodation is planned, or whomever with, the following should be included in the supporting documentation:

  • Contact information (Name, phone number and email).
  • Full address including the street, number of house, hotel or apartment, city and postal code.

If staying with a host, the host’s full name, address, contact details, residency status and letter of invitation.
If staying in more than one location, then the same level of detailed information will be required for all intended accommodations planned. Giving more information than is required is far better than not providing enough. A letter explaining and detailing planned trips and dates of travel between destinations can be included to better explain where a traveller will be staying, and on which dates, can be of tremendous benefit to Schengen Visa processing staff and will only aid in simplifying, and speeding up, the application process.

A letter of invitation is not confined to just friends or family of any arriving traveller. It can also apply to people arriving on business or wishing to attend a special event. Once again, the letter from a business or organisation should be detailed and specific and provide all information pertaining to the business or organisation extending the invitation. This may include copies of business registration and a letter explaining the reason for the invitation and providing proof of any accommodation booked or provided by the party concerned.

No Accommodation Booked?

Not every world traveller wishing to enter the Schengen Area will have booked accommodation prior to travel. Some will wish to roam freely and stay where and when they wish while others may have planned a camping or backpacking vacation. In such cases, providing proof of accommodation is, of course, impossible, so what will be required instead?

Of primary importance is demonstrating to the authorities that a visitor has sufficient funding to cover all expenses which may be incurred during the visit. This may be provided in several ways:

  • Recent bank statements showing a reasonable credit balance on the most recent statement
  • Recent credit card statements showing a positive balance
  • Proof of employment and copies of recent payslips

These may be required to show that a traveller is entering the Schengen Area with adequate funds for accommodation should it be necessary and is unlikely to simply disappear once admittance has been granted. The Schengen authorities may also request an outline of the route planned and on which dates (approximately) the traveller intends to be at a specific destination.


When intending visitors to the Schengen Area are asked to provide accommodation details, they should do so fully and honestly. The dates and details submitted will be checked with the named providers,, and any discrepancies will be discovered.

Providing a fictitious hotel name or the wrong dates will be viewed as more than just a means of circumventing the rules but as a fraudulent effort to gain entry to the Schengen Area and severe repercussions are likely to follow. If accommodation has not been booked and paid for then it is acceptable to provide details of the reservation which may be prudent as there is no guarantee the visa will be approved and any money paid may be lost.

In the event that the accommodation is provided free of charge, which may happen if the trip is a prize or gift or if staying with relatives or friends, there is an option on the application form to tick the “accommodation provided” box under the category for means of support.

The relevant consular authority will check all accommodation details provided as part of the visa processing system, and erroneous, false, and incomplete details will be discovered. This will most likely result in the visa being denied, which is why all information supplied on the supporting documentation should be accurate and true.

Changes Coming

Although the European Union is currently rolling out its new ETIAS programme it is not yet a requirement for British citizens wishing to visit the EU. This will change in 2024 when ETIAS approval will be a requirement before any European visits can be undertaken. The ETIAS will also be valid and required when British passport holders wish to visit any of the four countries that are Schengen members but not part of the EU. As things stand, it is unlikely that British citizens visiting a Schengen country will be required to possess a Schengen Visa to do so, but this is not set in stone, and further changes to travel regulations are always a possibility in this regard.