Dreaming about going to Europe? Wanna see Colosseum in Rome or Eiffel Tower in Paris? Wanna try biking in Amsterdam or exploring a castle in Ghent? Getting a Schengen Visa is the first step to fulfill your dream going to Europe.
WHAT IS SCHENGEN TOURIST VISA?
Schengen Visa is a 90-day (max) tourist visa that allows you to visit 26 countries in Europe.
WHAT COUNTRIES ARE COVERED BY SCHENGEN VISA?
- Czech Republic
For more info, click HERE
WHAT EMBASSY SHOULD I APPLY FOR A SCHENGEN VISA?
There are lots of European Embassies that can give you a Schengen Visa. Apply to an Embassy to the country where you will stay the most. For example, you have a total of 10 days and you will cover 3 countries; 3 days each for France and Netherlands and 4 days in Italy. You should apply at the Italian Embassy. It doesn’t matter if your point of entry is France or Netherlands. As long as you’ll enter in a Schengen State, everything will be fine.
If you will travel 3 days per country (9 days), you should apply to the country of your first entry.
WHAT IS VFS or VIA?
VFS Global and VIA PH are outsourced agencies of European Embassies.
WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR SCHENGEN VISA (TOURIST VISA)?
Requirements for Schengen Visa (SHORT STAY/TOURISM)
- Signed Schengen Application Form (France / Italy) with photo (Photo Guide)
- Passport (valid at least 3 months after your return) and photocopy of previous passport
- Travel Insurance with minimum coverage of €30,000 (click for more info)
- Bank Certificate and Statement of Account (SOA)
*Embassy of France –bank certificate and SOA – 3 months from the month of your application
*Embassy of Italy – bank certificate and SOA – 6 months from the month of your application
- Certificate of Employment with monthly salary and Approved Leave of Absence
- Latest Personal Income Tax Return (ITR/Form 2316)
- Official Business Registration for current and previous year (if self employed)
- Proof of Accommodation
a. Hotel RESERVATION (for the whole stay in Schengen area)
b. if staying with friends/relatives, they need to provide:
*Attestation d’accueil if staying with a French resident (click for more info)
* Dichirazione Garanzia e/o Alloggio if staying with an Italian resident
- Round Trip Airline RESERVATION
- Photocopy of Birth Certificate and Marriage Certificate (if applicable)
- Cover Letter and Day to Day Itinerary (see sample)
You have to be very sure on the travel dates you are going to declare in your application. Most of the time, embassy will just grant you a visa based on your declared dates. For example, the travel dates I stated in my itinerary were April 24 to May 9 and the Embassy only gave me 4 days extension (April 23-May12).
If someone will fund your vacation, request from your sponsor their financial documents (ITR/Bank Certificate, SOA) and a letter that they will pay for your Europe trip.
NOTE: Consider having at least PHP250, 000 or more “show money” in your bank account. The Embassy must be convinced that you are financially able and that you can fund your Europe Trip.
WHEN SHOULD I APPLY FOR A VISA?
You can apply 3 months before your planned departure date. For example, you want to go to Europe in April; you can apply as early as January. I suggest you apply as early as possible so you can still get some cheap airfares (booking a flight becomes more expensive as the departure date becomes nearer).
You can also choose your preferred date of appointment for submission of documents and biometrics.
WHERE CAN I APPLY FOR A VISA?
You can apply in any Embassy that’s part of Schengen State like Netherlands, Belgium, Greece, Spain, etc.
Here are 2 Embassies that I considered applying before:
|COUNTRY||ADDRESS||CONTACT NUMBER||WEBSITE||PROCESSING TIME||VISA FEE||HANDLING FEE (VIA/VFS)|
|France||Mezzanine Floor, Ecoplaza Bldg.,
Don Chino Roces Ave. Extension, Makati City
|790 4903||VFS FRANCE||3-5 days||PHP3,140||PHP 1,361|
|Italy||3rd Floor, Allegro Center
2284 Chino Roces Extension
Barangay Magallanes, Makati City 1232
|845 9215||VIA ITALY||15 days||PHP3,152||PHP1,100|
|Unit 1004-B 10th Floor Keppel Center,
Samar Loop corner Cardinal Rosales Ave.,
Cebu Business Park, Cebu City
TIP: You might want to consider applying at France Embassy to get that entry ticket to Europe. According to a recent study, France is one of the most generous in approving Schengen Visa.
HOW MUCH IS A SCHENGEN VISA (TOURIST) APPLICATION FEE?
Please see table above. The rates are as of Nov 2, 2016.
Approved or disapproved/withdrawn, visa + handling fees are non-refundable.
Since it’s my first time to apply for a visa, I wanted my application to run smoothly so even if I already knew the requirements (stated at VFS/VIA website), I still sought help from a trusted travel agency, Fiesta Tours to compile and ensure that all requirements are correct and complete.
Since I did couchsurfing in my entire trip and I don’t want to hassle my hosts in making invitation letters, Fiesta Tours helped me with hotel and airfare reservations (dummy booking). I didn’t have a credit card that time so thank God that the agency was very helpful in preparing it for me. They are generous in giving tips also 😉 They are not just an agency who only wants to get payment for their service but they care on how you can save more money on your trip.
Should you decide to couchsurf, I suggest to still check some hostels for 2nd option in case of unexpected circumstances. There are some couchsurfers who cancels/declines request when you are already in their country (happened to me twice!). I will share about my experience in couchsurfing in a different post soon!
To summarize, all you have to do is:
- Complete all the requirements for visa application
- Schedule an appointment with VFS/VIA
- Show up at VFS/VIA Center to submit requirements and have your photo and biometrics taken.
Then all you need to do is wait and pray hard that your visa will be granted 🙂 Good luck and safe travels! 😉