What is an invitation letter for a Schengen visa?

  • Depending on your purpose for visiting the Schengen area, you may need to present an invitation letter to the consulate/embassy through which you are applying. Invitation letters are essentially written requests for you to stay with a host, conduct business, or participate in various events in the Schengen area.
  • The majority of invitation letters should be written and addressed to the applicant (i.e. the person being invited). Occasionally, letters of invitation for the purpose of business may be addressed to the consulate/embassy, however, this almost exclusively involves high level invitations for official members/representatives.
  • You will send your invitation letter(s) to the consulate/embassy you are applying through, which will determine whether or not it is a genuine invitation letter for a Schengen visa application.
  • For the below cases, an invitation letter is therefore one of the supplemental documents you must present in addition to your Basic Required Documents as part of your Schengen visa application.
  • Invitation letters may be required for travel to the Schengen area for the following purposes:
    1. Tourism.
    2. Visiting family and friends.
    3. Business.
    4. For participation in cultural, scientific, religious, sporting, political, or other events/programs.
    5. Official invitations.

Who needs an invitation letter?

  • If you are travelling to the Schengen state for touristic purposes and staying with a host (i.e. staying at a person’s home, rather than paying for lodging) you will need an invitation letter.
  • If you are travelling primarily for social reasons (i.e. to visit family or friends) and are staying with them (i.e. staying with the person you are visiting rather than at a hotel) you will need to provide an invitation letter.
  • If you are travelling to the Schengen area for the purpose of conducting business, you may need an invitation letter from a business entity formerly requesting your participation in business-related conferences, meetings, and general events.
  • If you are travelling primarily for one of the following purposes, you will need an invitation letter:
    1. Cultural purposes (i.e. to participate in cultural events);
    2. Scientific purposes (i.e. to conduct scientific research or attend a scientific conference);
    3. Religious purposes (i.e. to participate in religious activities/assemblies);
    4. Sports purposes (i.e. to participate in athletic events, including as a member of a team);
    5. Political purposes (i.e. to participate in political activities, such as attending conferences).
  • If you are travelling primarily because you are on an official visit, i.e. you are a member of a political delegation and you were invited to visit a state or states within the Schengen area by the government entity of a Schengen state, or a Schengen deliberative body, you will need an invitation letter.

Who does not need an invitation letter?

  • If you are travelling primarily for touristic purposes and not staying with a host (i.e. you are staying in hotels or renting your own lodging) you do not need an invitation letter.
  • If you are travelling primarily for medical reasons (i.e. you are seeking medical care), you do not need an invitation letter.
  • If you are travelling primarily for educational purposes (i.e. to attend course in a school or participate in educational or scholastic events/programs), you do not need an invitation letter.
  • If you are transiting through the Schengen area on an Airport Transit Visa, you do not need an invitation letter.

Invitation letter for Schengen visa for tourism

  • If you are travelling to the Schengen are for the purpose of tourism and are staying with a host (i.e. you are staying with someone you know rather than in a hotel) you will need to provide an invitation letter.
  • The letter should be written by the family member(s) or friend(s) you are visiting.
  • The letter should be in the form of a written request for you to stay with the letter writer during your visit to the Schengen area.
  • The contents of the letter should include the following:
    • The name of the letter writer.
    • Nature of your relationship (i.e. how you are related/know each other).
    • Dates and duration of your stay.
    • His or her complete address.
    • Planned activities.
    • Financial details relating to the visit (who is paying for your trip/stay).
    • If your host is your financial guarantor for your trip, he or she should supply information regarding their employment, including annual income.
  • In addition to the written invitation, the letter writer may have to include a photocopy of his or her personal identification document (such as an official ID or passport).
  • If you are staying with multiple hosts throughout your journey, each host you intend to stay with must write a letter on your behalf. This may be particularly relevant if you have a multiple entry Schengen visa. For example, if you are entering and exiting the Schengen area multiple times, and are staying with 3 different hosts throughout your stays in the Schengen area, you will need three separate letters.

Invitation letter for Schengen visa for visiting family and friends

  • If you are travelling primarily for social reasons (i.e. to visit family or friends) and are staying with them (i.e. staying with the person you are visiting rather than at a hotel) you will need to provide an invitation letter.
  • The letter should be written by the family member(s) or friend(s) you are visiting.
  • The letter should be in the form of a written request for you to stay with the letter writer during your visit to the Schengen area.
  • The contents of the letter should include the following:
    • The name of the letter writer.
    • Nature of your relationship (i.e. how you are related/know each other).
    • Dates and duration of your stay.
    • Complete address.
    • Contact information (phone number, email).
    • Planned activities.
    • Financial details relating to the visit (who is paying for your trip/stay).
    • If your relative/friend is your financial guarantor for your trip, he or she should supply information regarding their employment, including annual income.
  • In addition to the written invitation, the letter writer should include a photocopy of his or her personal identification document (such as an official ID or passport).
  • If you are staying with multiple relatives or friends throughout your journey, each person you intend to stay with must write a letter on your behalf. For example, if you are staying with 3 different relatives throughout your stay in the Schengen area, you will need three separate letters.

Invitation letter for Schengen visa for business

  • If you are travelling to the Schengen area for the purpose of conducting business, you will likely need an invitation letter from a business entity formerly requesting your participation in business-related conferences, meetings, and general events.
  • The letter should be written by the organization(s), institution(s), or person inviting you to the conference/doing business with you.
  • The letter should be in the form of a written request for you to participate in business events during your visit to the Schengen area.
  • The contents of the letter should include the following:
    • The company, organization/institution or name of the letter writer.
    • Description of the company, conference, and/or organization/institution.
    • Description of business to be conducted/events the applicant intends to participate in.
    • Dates and duration of events.
    • Complete address of organization/institution.
    • Planned activities.

Invitation letter for Schengen visa for cultural, scientific, religious, sporting, political, or other events/programs

  • You may need an invitation letter formerly requesting your participation if you are travelling primarily for one of the following purposes:
    1. Cultural purposes (i.e. to participate in cultural events).
    2. Scientific (i.e. to conduct scientific research or attend a scientific conference).
    3. Religious (i.e. to participate in religious activities/assemblies).
    4. Sports (i.e. to participate in athletic events, including as a member of a team).
    5. Political (i.e. to participate in political activities, such as attending conferences).
    6. Other (events/programs to which you received an invitation to participate in).
  • The letter should be written by a person representing the organization(s) institution(s) (s) you are visiting/participating in.
  • For example, if you are travelling for religious purposes, you must have a written invitation from a religious organization inviting you to participate.
  • The letter should be in the form of a written request for you to participate in cultural, scientific, religious, sporting, political, or other events/programs: during your visit to the Schengen area.
  • The contents of the letter should include the following:
    • The name of the letter writer/organization name.
    • Description of the organization/institution.
    • Description of events the applicant intends to participate in.
    • Dates and duration of events.
    • Complete address of organization/institution.
    • Planned activities.
  • In addition to the written invitation, you should also include copies of tickets to the event(s) you were invited to (if applicable).

Invitation letter for Schengen visa following official invitation (political)

  • If you are travelling primarily because you are on an official visit, i.e. you are a member of a political delegation travelling on behalf of a non-Schengen third country (your country), which was officially invited to visit a state or states within the Schengen area by the government entity of a Schengen state, or a Schengen deliberative body, to participate in political events, negotiations, programs of cultural exchange, etc. you will need:
    1. A copy of the official invitation seeking your country’s (and therefore your) participation in the outlined event.
    2. A letter written by an authority in the third country (i.e. your country/ the non-Schengen state) declaring that you are an official member of the formal delegation journeying to the Schengen state in order to take part in the political events outlined in the official invitation. 
  • The contents of this letter should likely include the following:
    • The name of the letter writer or government entity/agency.
    • Description of events the applicant intends to participate in.
    • Dates and duration of events.
    • Name and address of organization/institution in destination country (if applicable).
    • Planned activities.

General information

  • Bring original documents when available, otherwise print out copies of documents and submit them with your visa application.
  • Please note, while the above general types of structure, format, and content are considered universal, different countries may have different requirements/preferences for letters of invitation.
  • Additionally, certain countries might require the letter writer to provide additional, specific documentation. These documents will supplement the original invitation letter and are country specific. For example, Sweden requires the letter writer to present a special civic registration certificate, which must be ordered from the Swedish Tax Agency.
  • Certain countries may supply individual forms and templates for invitation letters, available for download via their consular website. For example, the website of the official Swedish migration service has an invitation form available for download, which can be filled out by persons in Sweden who wish to invite relatives or friends from abroad. To access these forms, and for more detailed information on the format and contents of invitation letters, please check with your specific consulate/embassy.