If you have friends or family visiting you in Austria from outside of the Schengen area, then you might be familiar with the “invitation letter” that a host should write, and the traveller may be asked to present at border control.
The actual documents necessary for entry into Austria will mainly depend on the traveller’s citizenship. If they come from a visa-required country, such as India, South Africa, or Bolivia, for example, they might need to show proof of sufficient travel means, including health insurance, proof of stay, and even a return ticket.
The letter of invitation is what would be accepted as proof of a place to stay for cases when the person is staying with friends and family – and cannot show a hotel reservation.
It will need to be presented to Austrian authorities in the country of residence before the travel to issue a visa.
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However, even people coming from visa-free countries, including the United States, Brazil, the UK, and Australia, are advised to travel with documents showing their stay’s purpose and duration.
This is because even if you come with a visa or come from a visa-free country, the border control officer is the person to make a final decision on whether or not you are allowed in. On the European Commission’s website, the recommendation is that even those with an approved visa take supporting documents with them.
“At the border or during other controls, you may, for instance, have to provide information on your means of support, how long you intend to stay in the Schengen States, and why you are visiting the Schengen State.”, the website states.
“In some cases, such checks may result in a refusal for the visa holder to enter the Schengen State or the Schengen area.”
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Carrying documents such as the invitation letter can help “make the border control procedure easier and avoid delays at the border”.
What is the letter of invitation?
There is no official model from the European Union for the invitation letter. Still, it should be written by the host, dated, and signed.
It should state information such as the host’s name, address, relationship to the traveller, reason and purpose of the invitation, dates and duration of stay, and any financial arrangements, such as if you are funding their trip.
The letter could be written in German or English. It is also helpful to attach copies of documents such as the Austrian resident’s Meldezettel (proof of residence) and passport.
It may be that at the border, nobody asks the visitor to show any documents, and more often than not, this is what happens, especially to citizens of visa-free countries.
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However, the border officer is entitled to question any person trying to enter the country – in that case, a document such as a letter of the invitation could save your mom or dad a big headache when they are visiting you in Austria.
Is there a model of a letter?
Officially, no. However, there are several models that can be found online. The important thing is for the letter to have the basic information on who is visiting whom, how long, the purpose of stay, and financial means. For example, your letter could look something like this:
Location and date
Re: Invitation Letter for NAME OF TRAVELLER with Passport No. XXX
I, YOUR NAME, currently residing at YOUR ADDRESS, and a citizen of YOUR CITIZENSHIP with residence in Austria, am writing this letter to support the entry application of my RELATIONSHIP (mother/friend/etc.), NAME.
The purpose of the entry of my NAME is to visit me and spend time with me in Austria. She will be visiting me for DURATION OF STAY and then return to COUNTRY OF RESIDENCE, where she/he resides.
NAME will be visiting during the following dates: DATES.
During the specified trip dates above, we will be staying in LOCATION. In addition, NAME will be staying at my house, YOUR ADDRESS. The trip will be funded through their own means/ I will be paying for her/his trip, and she/he won’t pay for accommodation in my house.
If you require any information, please do not hesitate to contact me at PHONE NUMBER or EMAIL.
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With the letter, it is recommended to carry documents such as travel confirmations, other documents stating the purpose of stay, and even the travel insurance.
Again, none of this is mandatory for those who already have a visa or come from visa-free countries. Still, they can save time and avoid complications in case of questions at the border. Especially if mom and dad don’t speak any German – or English.