First of all, if you have decided to climb Mont Blanc, we just want to say – hurray! We speak from experience when we say it is going to be one hell of an experience. What the mountain lacks in altitude (relative to a lot of peaks in our backyard - the Himalayas), it makes up for in a complex terrain which makes you sweat even in its frigid temperatures to get to its top-most point. It is a challenging climb interspersed with the most luxurious climbing experience, very far away from the camping life in good old Himalayas. European Alps are known for their high-altitude huts and you will experience three of these right here on the trail to the summit of Mont Blanc. A soft disclaimer here is in order: the appeal of these huts is hard to shake off and may have you coming back to the Alps for more and more - and just a little bit more.
Given that the mountain stations itself at the borders of Italy, France and Switzerland, anyone from outside would need a Visa to get into these countries – from whichever side you plan to climb the mountain (Italy or France). Needless to say, you need a valid passport issued not more than 10 years ago from the date of travel, to get the Visa. If you are new to the Visa process like we were when we first climbed this beautiful peak, know that we are here for you every step of the way.
Below, we have tried to go over each step in as much detail as possible to help you through the process of securing a Visa to get to Mont Blanc. Since our assisted climb of Mont Blanc goes through the Goûter Route which falls entirely in France, the process detailed below is that to secure a France Visa.
THINGS TO REMEMBER
- You need a Schengen Visa for France.
- Applications for the Visa are accepted no sooner than 6 months before the date of travel.
- The Visa type required for this climb would be a Short-Stay Visa which is applicable for a stay of less than 90 days within the country.
- No matter your countries of transit or stay during the visit, the Schengen Visa will be issued for the country in which you are spending most of your days of visit to the region.
- Do not make any mistakes while filling in both the applications. Recheck and review your forms on completion for any errors.
The French Visa process is managed by VFS Global and is fairly straightforward. VFS takes a fee to mediate and makes it a seamless experience. There are no direct channels to get a France Visa other than going through VFS.
Although the link https://visa.vfsglobal.com/ind/en/fra/apply-visa provides a very clear step by step guide on how to apply for France Visa, we have also detailed out the process below in case you have any questions.
There are two accounts you will need to create and two forms that you need to fill up.
1. France Visa (The Official Visa Website for France): https://france-visas.gouv.fr/en/web/france-visas/. Create an account here.
2. VFS Global for France Visa: https://visa.vfsglobal.com/ind/en/fra/apply-visa. The website takes you through the Visa application step by step with very clear instructions. Follow the steps and requirements. After filling out the form, the only other step is go to the VFS office on the date of appointment and submit your papers (as listed in their application process). You need to submit your passport along with your documents at the VFS Global office. You should hear word from them (of either approval or rejection) in under 3 weeks. If your visa is accepted, they will stamp it on your passport and courier it to you.
You may need a transit visa for whichever country (depending on the number of hours you spend in the transit country) you are flying through. Based on your flight bookings, remember to check up on the transit visa rules for your country of transit. These will not be done thorough VFS Global.
Below is a step-by-step process to be followed:
A. Registering on France-Visas Website:
Step 1: Follow the link https://france-visas.gouv.fr/en/web/france-visas/ to land on the portal.
Step 2: Click on the My Account button on the top right to land on the following page. Create an account if you don’t already have one.
Step 3: Creating an account will land you on a page from where you can manage your account. Next step is to go to Create a New Application.
Step 4: Once you create a new application, the next step is to fill out the information. This is a multi-step process as indicated clearly on the website. For this step, it is helpful to keep the following documents handy:
- You last Visa to the country (if applicable)
- Documents pertaining to your accommodation during the stay
- And other relevant supporting documents as pointed to in the application
You can save the application at any point to come back to it later. The saved application will remain on the dashboard of your account when you come back to the website and log in again. Once you finish the application and secure an appointment, you will receive a reference/registration number beginning with FRB followed by 11 digits. You will need this number for your VFS Global Application.
B. Registering on VFS Global
Step 1: Follow the link https://visa.vfsglobal.com/ind/en/fra/apply-visa and click on ‘Book an Appointment which will land you on the following page.
Step 2: Clicking on View More will open the following panel. Here, click on the I accept – Book an appointment now in India button.
Step 3: This will bring you to the Sign In page. Create a new account in case you don’t have one.
Step 4: This is where your VFS application begins. Here is where you will need to put in your France-Visas Reference/Registration Number. Subsequently, fill in each of the sections of the form and book an appointment to visit the VFS Global Visa Centre in a city of your choice/ ease. You can either make the payment online or you can pay at the Visa Centre on submitting your application. At the center, they will check your documentation to see if everything is in order. They also collect biometric data post which you will be required to leave your passport with them. Once your Visa either gets accepted or rejected, your passport will get delivered to your house. Remember to fill in a separate form with postal address of the place you want your passport delivered.
You will need all your supporting documents in place to fill in the required details of this form.
Check the following tab for VFS appointment centers available in India. They also list out a calendar for available dates in a city of your choice.
When should you apply for the Visa?
As indicated before, applications for the Visa are accepted no sooner than 6 months before the date of travel. The entire process after your physical appointment where you submit all your documents should take less than 3 weeks. However, it is a good idea to keep enough time in between your appointment and your travel dates to account for a possibility of rejection so that you may have enough time to reapply in case you need to.
What to do in case of your Visa getting rejected?
In case it is rejected, they courier the passport to your address along with a letter of rejection explaining the reasons for your Visa to get disapproved. You can reapply or appeal their decision as a next step. Use the information given in the rejection letter to make your application stronger and mitigate any of the concerns they might have indicated to.
DOCUMENTS REQUIRED to be submitted at the VFS Global Visa Centre
Make sure you have all the following documents in order before your appointment at the VFS Global Visa Centre. In absence of any of these, your application will be considered incomplete which is grounds for rejection of the Visa.
· Online filled Application form duly signed by the applicant
· France-Visas Registration Receipt
· Valid Passport that should have been issued within the last 10 years and the validity should be exceeding by three months after the scheduled return. It should have at least two blank pages
· Two recent (not older than six months) passport-size photos in color with white background and 80% face coverage.
· Clear photocopy of first and the last page of the passport
· Copy of Schengen visas (if applicable)
· Covering Letter addressed to the French Consulate – Mumbai explaining the purpose of visit and summary of the travel plan duly acknowledged and signed by the applicant.
The cover letter is an important document and must cover the following points:
- A clear purpose for visit
- Your passport number
- Number of days you plan to be in the Schengen region
- Your motivation for the visit
- A detailed itinerary
- Information about documents attached to the application
- Proof of sufficient funds for your intended stay in France. France wants you to show evidence of attesting 120€ per day. So ensure that your bank statements reflect this amount.
· Proof of accommodation (for all days while in the country)
You will need your documents of accommodation and internal travel, so, in case you are planning to climb with us, you will first need to secure your slot in our fixed departure dates so that we can make your bookings and send you the documents required from our end to secure a Visa.
Alternatively, you can also make bookings on a portal like bookings.com with the pay-on-property option.
- Income Tax Return acknowledgment for the last assessment year
- Bank statement showing transactions of the last three months updated within 45 days.
- Pay-slips for the last three months or Employment contract or Salary certificate
- If the applicant is a company owner or self-employed: Certificate of registration of the company or Shop establishment Act or Partnership Deed or GST certificate
- If the applicant is sponsored: Sponsorship letter with any Govt ID proof and the Bank statement showing transactions of the last three months updated within 45 days.
- If the applicant is a Professional (Lawyer, Doctor etc) – Degree Certificate is required.
- If the applicant is retired
- Pension statements for the last three months.
- Proof of regular income generated by ownership of property or business or any investment documents.
- Additional supporting documents if any
You will need two kinds of insurance for the trip:
1. Travel Medical Insurance: To cover accident, injury or sickness during your travel and stay in the host country. The cost will depend on the number of days you plan to stay in the host country including travel days.
2. Insurance to cover your climb: To cover cost of rescue if need be, in addition to medical and health coverage in case of sickness and injury during your time on the mountain. The cost depends on the service you choose, the number of days you are exposed to the risk and the altitude of the mountain of choice. There are adventure insurance companies based in India but it would make sense to get insured by a company which might have better reach in the region of travel for speedy service. (Note: We can send you leads for this if you may need any help)
· Air Tickets - Pre-booked and confirmed onwards and return flight tickets
We hope that this article was helpful for you to get started on your Visa process. If you have any questions or concerns at all, regarding any step of the process, do not hesitate to reach out to us and we will be happy to assist you in any way that we can.
For detailed information on all you need to know about climbing Mont Blanc, read: A Comprehensive Guide to Climbing Mont Blanc
See you on the mountain!