*Cue Jaws Music*
Okay the Italian Consulate isn’t that scary. I will admit that the whole experience was fairly intimidating, but my entire appointment lasted 10 minutes and I got my visa in 4 days. My appointment was on a Thursday and I received my passport in the mail on Monday afternoon. I definitely do not recommend making an appointment so close to your departure date, but if you live in the jurisdiction of the San Francisco Italian Consulate then you might just be okay.
Here are my top five tips for your consulate appointment:
1. Show up at least 15 minutes early to your appointment
They will have to check you in and verify your appointment date and time so make sure you arrive promptly. My appointment started exactly on time and ended just 10 minutes later so there is not a lot of cushion room to make mistakes.
2. Have your documents in the correct order, as listed on the website
The officials have back to back appointments every day and it makes your life and their lives just a little bit easier if you come prepared with your documents in the right order. You definitely want to be on their good side since they hold the key to getting into Italy!
3. Don’t sign the documents until you are in front of the official
In my case, the official was a little bit perplexed as to why I did not sign my visa application ahead of time. While on some of the documents it states that an official from the consulate must witness the signature, that rule may not always apply. It is always better to be safe than sorry! Make sure you alert the official and let them know that you have not signed the documents so the papers do not get filed unsigned as this could cause problems for you later.
4. Don’t show up without an appointment
Like I mentioned before, the officials have to conduct interviews and issue visas five days a week and every traveler is on a tight deadline with flights, vacations, business meetings, and courses so respect the process and make an appointment online. There are usually emergency appointments available for people who may not have been able to book an appointment before their departure date so reach out the consulate in your region to get more information about that.
5. Make sure you read the visa requirements carefully
This one should be self-explanatory, but I watched multiple people get turned away for making silly mistakes such as bringing a personal check instead of a cashier’s check or bringing a FedEx envelope instead of a USPS envelope. Go over the visa requirements one last time before you walk into the building for your appointment to make sure you have everything in order.