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How To Apply for Schengen Visa: An Ultimate Guide for Philippine Passport Holders

How To Apply for Schengen Visa: An Ultimate Guide for Philippine Passport Holders

Out of 175,703 Schengen visa applications in 2018 from the Philippines, 14,449 (8.2%) were rejected. France may have received the highest number of applications in the world at more than 4 million, but it also ranks as one with the highest rejections at a rate of 15.7%.

Based on the data above, the probability of your application being approved is 91.4%. It’s now your understanding of the application process that will make or break your chances of getting a visa.

In this article, I’ll show you a Do-It-Yourself guide to getting a Schengen visa focusing on tourism as a purpose of the trip; discuss the different documents needed to support your application; walk you through the different stages of the application process, and provide you tips and warnings based on my personal experience. Your most frequently asked questions are also answered.

Table of Contents

 

What Is a Schengen Visa and What Are the Countries Covered Under the Visa?

schengen visa 1

Schengen visa is a short stay visa allowing its holder to travel in the Schengen area.

The Schengen area covers 26 countries without border controls between them. These countries are:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland

Short stay means transit through or an intended stay in the above countries for a duration of no more than 90 days in any 180-day period.

For purposes of this article, I will provide information on how to get a Schengen visa from the top 3 countries that received the highest number of applications, namely, France, Germany, and Italy. I will also discuss the process in the Netherlands where I applied twice and was granted a 1-year multiple entry visa on my recent application.

Applying for another tourist visa? Read our application guides for an Australian visa, US visa, Korean visa, and Japan visa

 

What Are the Schengen Visa Requirements?

schengen visa 2

Listed below are the elements of a visa application in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 810/2009 (Visa Code). These documents and requirements are common to all regardless of which Schengen country you lodge your application.

1. A completely filled out and duly signed application form

In France, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands, you can fill out the form online, print the completely filled-out form and physically submit it to the third-party service provider of the Consulate of the country you intend to visit.

2. Travel document

Passport which

  • must be valid for at least 3 months from the date on which you leave the Schengen area
  • must have at least 2 blank pages

3. Passport photo

It must meet the specifications of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), that is,

  • 45mm by 35 mm
  • must not have been taken more than 6 months

Check-out the detailed photo specifications here.

4. Biometrics identifiers (Photo and Fingerprint Collection)

Biometric identifiers shall consist of your photograph and your 10 fingerprints taken flat and collected digitally.

Your biometrics data shall be collected at the time you submit your application at the Consulate of the country you intend to visit. In the case of France, Germany and the Netherlands, it will be collected by VFS Global and in the case of Italy, it will be collected by the VIA Centre – both are third party service providers.

5. Supporting documents

Under Annex III of the Commission Implementing Decision of 3.9.2014, below are the harmonized list of supporting documents that you need to present when submitting your application.

Note that this is a harmonized list agreed by the local Schengen cooperation in the Philippines (it means these are the same requirements throughout Schengen countries with consular offices in the Philippines).

a. Proof of your financial means

  • Bank certification, bank books
  • Personal bank statements, credit card statements or balance covering the last six months
  • For minors: Proof of economic means of parents or legal guardian (cf. the above)

b. Proof of travel

  • Copy of the roundtrip airline reservation with Passenger Registration Number (or reservation number) and travel itinerary

c. Proof of will to return

d. Proof of occupation

e. If traveling with spouse and/or children

  • Marriage contract certified by the National Statistics Office (NSO), Birth certificates of children certified by the National Statistics Office (NSO)

f. For non-Filipino applicants who have valid residence status in the Philippines

  • Copy of Alien Certificate Registration (ACR) 3, Re-entry permit

g. For minors

  • Affidavit of support & consent of parents (especially of the non-traveling parent) or legal guardian
  • Copy of passport of parents or legal guardian, Birth certificate of the minor certified by the National Statistics Office (NSO), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) clearance

h. Documents to be submitted depending on the purpose of travel

Tourism.

  • Proof of accommodation: Hotel confirmation or hotel voucher
  • Detailed day-to-day itinerary of the planned trip

Family or friends visit

  • Proof of sponsorship
  • Letter of guarantee, invitation letter or hotel reservation
  • Proof of relationship (birth certificate, marriage certificate)
  • A photocopy of the biodata page of the passport and/or travel history of the sponsor in case of non-formalized relationship (boyfriend/girlfriend)

Note that a checklist enumerating the above requirements will be provided to you by France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands. What you’ll need to do is to arrange the documents and submit them in the order prescribed in their checklist.

6. Medical insurance

The insurance should be valid throughout the Schengen area, and for the duration of your stay. The minimum coverage shall be EUR 30,000.

7. Visa fee

The visa fee shall be paid during the submission of your application in the amount as follows

  • Twelve years old and above – EUR 60
  • Children from 6 years old to below 12 years old – EUR 35
  • Children below 6 years old – free

In addition to the visa fee, an additional service fee shall be charged to you by external service providers facilitating your application. In the case of France, Germany, and the Netherlands, VFS Global charges a service fee of Php 901 while for Italy, the service fee is Php 1,350 per applicant (visa application lodgment & biometric service, inclusive of return courier & all applicable taxes)

UPDATED VISA POLICY

In May 2018, the European Commission adopted a proposal on the revision of the Regulation (EC) No 810/2009 (Visa Code). Changes to the Visa Code will be discussed throughout the article.

Increased fees for visa applications: Effective 2 February 2020, from €60 per application, visa fee will now be €80, and from €35, it will now be €40. Children aged 0 to 6 remain exempt from the visa fees.

 

How To Apply for a Schengen Visa in the Philippines: A Step-by-Step Guide

1. Decide which Consulate you are going to lodge your application

Given there are 26 countries in the Schengen area, the first thing to do is to decide which country you should lodge your application. Here are the rules:

a. If your travel destination is only one Schengen country (e.g., only France), your application must be lodged in the Consulate of that country.

b. If you intend to travel to more than one Schengen country, you must lodge your application in the country of your main destination.

The main destination means a country where you will stay the longest.

Example: You will travel to the Netherlands for 5 days to attend a friend’s wedding. You also decide to explore the region and wants to travel to Belgium for 3 days, in France for 4 days and Germany for another 3 days. You should lodge your application in the Consulate of the Netherlands because you are staying in the country the longest.

c. If your main destination can not be determined, you should apply in the country where you will first arrive (or cross).

Example: You booked a round trip ticket from Manila to Amsterdam and plans to travel in the Netherlands, Belgium, and France for 5 equal days each. You may lodge your application in the Consulate of the Netherlands as it is the country where you’ll arrive first.

2. Start the application process at the applicable Consulate

Basically, there are two stages of visa application regardless of where you lodge your application.

The first stage is when you successfully lodge your application at the third party service provider of the Consulate of the country you are going to. Two things you need to ensure:

  • You book an appointment
  • You submit all required documents stated in the checklist (see “What are the Schengen visa requirements” above)

If you meet all the requirements, you applications is considered admitted. Once admitted, your documents will be forwarded to the Consulate for examination.

You enter the second stage when you pass the scrutiny of the consulate. To ensure success in this stage, make sure:

  • Your travel documents are authentic (not false or counterfeit)
  • Your purpose of stay is justified (e.g. tourism and not illegal immigration)
  • You have sufficient means to fund your travel
  • Don’t give the examiner doubts as to the authenticity, veracity, and reliability of your supporting documents as well as to your intention to leave the Schengen area before the expiry of the visa applied for.

Now that you have a general idea of the application process, let’s now proceed to the country-specific Schengen visa guides.

 

Steps in Applying for a French Schengen Visa

schengen visa 3
Paris, France. Photo courtesy of the author.

a. Access the website France – Visas, the official visa website for France.

b. Click on the ‘Start your visa application”, you will be directed to create an account.

c. Once an account is created, fill-out the online form. It is composed of 5 sections, namely:

  • Your travel plans
  • Your personal information
  • Your previous visas
  • Your stay
  • Your contacts

d. Once complete, print the online application form and affix your signature.

(Note that your visa application form will be automatically filled in with the information provided)

e. Schedule an appointment at theVFS Global Manila website. Here’s how to schedule an appointment at the VFS Global page:

  • If it is your first time using VFS, you will be asked to create an account by clicking the “New User” button. Otherwise, you will be asked to log-in
  • Click on the “Schedule Appointment”, choose which centre you will submit your application (either Makati or Cebu), click “continue”
  • Click “Add applicant” and fill out the details requested in the form and click “continue”
  • On the next page, you will be asked to choose a date and time where you can submit your application. Once a date and time is chosen, click “confirm”
  • Your Appointment Letter will then be emailed to you. You need to print the letter and bring it with you on appointment day so you will be allowed access to the VFS office

f. On the day of your appointment, bring your appointment letter, signed application form together with the receipt of the application and all supporting documents to the VFS Office.

The checklist of requirements/supporting documents will be given to you during the filling-out of the online application form as the list depends on your response.

Here’s what to expect at the VFS Global Office:

  • You will be required to present your appointment letter to allow access to the Centre
  • You need to take a token/ticket and be seated in the waiting area
    You will then be called to the submission counter where your application will be scrutinized by a VFS Global agent. The agent will verify if your documents correspond to the checklist of documents provided by the French consular authority
  • If there are missing documents, you have the option to withdraw your application (you can then complete your application and return to VFS on another day. If you opt to continue to submit an incomplete application, you are requested to sign a document that indicates the incompleteness of your application, specifying those lacking)
  • Your biometrics information will be taken
  • Finally, you will be issued a receipt for the fees and service charges paid as an acknowledgment of your application

g. Track the status of your application here. Just key in your “Reference Number” and last name.

h. Collect your passport at the visa centre or wait for courier delivery. If you choose for your passport to be delivered via courier, a service fee of Php 330 will be collected.

Additional Information/Instruction:

a. You must attend your appointment in person and bring all the required documents, a copy of each document including the passport and its ID pages

b. If your accommodation in France is provided by a host, here are the rules:

 

Steps in Applying for a German Schengen Visa

schengen visa 4
Frankfurt, Germany. Photo courtesy of the author.

a. Access the website VIDEX, the visa application portal of Germany. The site allows you to complete your visa application online.

b. Once you are on the page, fill-out the online form composed of 5 sections, namely:

  • Personal details
  • Contact data
  • Documents
  • Travel data
  • Assumption costs

Note: If you are not sure of what information to input, just click on the “launch assistant” icon on the right side of the page and it will guide you with the required input.

c. Once complete, print the online application form and affix your signature.

(Note that your visa application form will be automatically filled in with the information
provided).

d. Schedule an appointment at the VFS Global website. You can schedule an appointment here.

e. Submit your signed application form together with all your supporting documents at the VFS Centre. Here is a checklist of requirements for the German Embassy.

Important Reminder: The procedure for booking an appointment at the VFS office; what to do and what to bring on your appointment date; what to expect while inside the office; how to track your application; and how to collect your visa are the same as when you are applying for France so just check the process discussed above.

Additional Information/Instruction:

a. You must attend your appointment in person and bring all the required documents, a copy of each document including the passport and its ID pages

b. An additional document called “Declaration according to § 54 Aufenthalts”, fully completed and signed by your own hand needs to be submitted as well. This document is included in the checklist

c. If someone is sponsoring your trip to Germany, your host will need to send you the “Declaration of Formal Obligation” which you need to submit at the Consular Section of the German Embassy. Further information on the Declaration of Formal Obligation is found here.

 

Steps in Applying for a Dutch Schengen Visa

schengen visa 5
Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Photo courtesy of the author.

a. Access the website Ministry of Foreign Affairs Consular Services. This is the portal where you can apply for several consular services including applying for a Schengen visa and completing the online application form.

b. Click on the “Schengen Visa” and choose “Short Stay Visa (less than 90 days).

c. On the next page, click on “Start Visa Application”.

d. Fill-out the online form composed of 7 sections, namely:

  • Application
  • Personal details
  • Journey
  • Destination
  • Funding
  • History
  • Summary

Note: the questions are straightforward and can be readily be answered. If you do not understand the question, just click the question mark (?) next to the field to know what information is being asked.

e. Once complete, print the online application form and affix your signature.

(Note that your visa application form will be automatically filled in with the information
provided).

f. Schedule an appointment at the VFS Global website. You can schedule an appointment here.

g. Submit your signed application form together with all your supporting documents at the VFS Centre. Here is a checklist of requirements for the Dutch Embassy.

Important Reminder: The procedure for booking an appointment at the VFS office; what to do and what to bring on your appointment date; what to expect while inside the office; how to track your application; and how to collect your visa are the same as when you are applying for France so just check the process discussed above.

Additional Information/Instruction:

Note that if the purpose of your trip is to visit friends or family, there is a form that needs to be filled out by your host and must be signed in the presence of an authorized municipal officer. Here is the link to the form.

In the case of a non-formalized relationship (boyfriend/girlfriend), the latter’s photocopy of the biodata page of the passport and/or travel history needs to be submitted as well. Both of these requirements are indicated in the checklist.

 

Steps in Applying for an Italian Schengen Visa

schengen visa 6
Venice, Italy. Photo courtesy of the author.

a. Access the website VIA Centre. This is the visa application guide for Italy.

b. Click on “Start the application”.

c. On the Visa Application form, click “Short term”.

d. On the next page, fill out the online application form for short term visa. It is composed of 10 sections, namely:

  • Passport Information
  • Applicant Information
  • Residence Information
  • Entry Information
  • Schengen Information
  • Fingerprint Information
  • Permit
  • Arrival and Departure
  • Member’s information
  • Family Data

e. Once complete, print the online application form and affix your signature.

(Note that your visa application form will be automatically filled in with the information
provided).

f. Submit your completed visa application form and all required supporting documents at the VIA Centre at the address below:

  • If applying in Makati – 3rd Flr Allegro Center, Chino Roces Ave, Makati, 2284 Metro Manila, Philippines
  • If applying in Cebu – 1004, Keppel Bldg, Cardinal Rosales Avenue Cor Samar Loop, Cebu City, 6000 Cebu, Philippines

VIA Centre accepts visa applications from Monday to Thursday from 8:00 AM to 2:30 PM and Friday 8:00 AM to 1:30 PM.

Note that you can go directly to the VIA Centre to submit your application even without an appointment (walk-in). Setting up an appointment is optional.

Here is a checklist of requirements for the Italian Embassy that you need to bring.

g. At the VIA Centre, your biometrics will be collected.

h. Pay the visa fee and collect the receipts.

i. Wait for the result and claim your passport and visa.

Additional Information/Instruction:

a. Per instruction in the VIA website, you need to bring the following:

  • Original copies and photocopies of all required documents
  • Your original old and most recently issued passport
  • Photocopies of the first page and last page of both the old passport and most recently issued passport
  • Photocopies of previous visas and immigration stamps from countries previously visited

b. Your application must be arranged in the following order upon the time of submission:

  • Passport
  • Application form with picture
  • Introduction letter
  • If invited by friends/relatives: a. Invitation letter, b. Copy of proof of identity, c. Proof of relationship
  • Or if staying in a hotel: a. Hotel Booking, b. Copy of Passport, visas and immigration stamps
  • Proof of occupation
  • Proof of economic means
  • Travel health insurance
  • NSO documentation
  • Flight booking
 

Tips and Warnings

1. Do not book a confirmed flight when applying for a visa

There’s no guarantee that your visa will be granted. Also, plans and travel dates do change.

Instead, get the required reservation ticket. You can buy reservation tickets at travel agencies. I bought mine from a travel agency and it cost me Php 1,000 for a round trip ticket.

You may book a confirmed flight provided that you can cancel the bookings for free later on.

2. For accommodation, book a place that you can cancel once a visa is issued

Again, you are not sure if your visa will be granted and by experience, plans change often. For booking accommodations that can be canceled, I usually choose Booking.com. They offer free cancellations.

3. In building your day-to-day itinerary, please ensure details are consistent with your airline reservation ticket and hotel reservations

If you are traveling to multiple cities, you need to provide all hotel bookings for all the places you are visiting. You also need to ensure all the days of your itinerary are covered with accommodation. I noted that this is what the agent at the VFS Centre is checking. Again, just book accommodation that you can cancel for free.

4. If you are traveling to multiple cities, you do not need to submit proof of transfer within the Schengen areas (bus tickets or airline booking from one city to another).

The harmonized list of supporting documents only requires proof of outward and return tickets. It does not require proof of transfers. I did not provide such document when I applied for a Dutch Schengen visa and I had no problem.

5. Changing plans after getting the visa is okay

In your actual trip, you don’t have to follow the itinerary you submitted. No one is going to check if you decided to ride a gondola in Venice instead of taking a cruise along the canals of Amsterdam.

In my application, I only applied for a three-week itinerary and only indicated 4 Schengen countries to visit with the Netherlands as the country of arrival. In my actual trip, I ended up traveling to 12 Schengen countries for 89 days with Greece as the first country of arrival. I did not encounter any problems doing this.

6. In case your visa gets denied, visa fee and service fee to third-party service providers are not refundable.

7. When buying insurance, make sure that the coverage is not less than EUR 30,000.

Insufficient insurance is a ground for rejection of your application. I bought insurance from Pacific Cross and Chubb and had no issues.

8. When filling out the online form, have your passport, itinerary, accommodation and other documents with you ready

It’s easier to fill out the form if you have these documents readily available.

9. Be sure to read your appointment letter and take note of the time and date of your appointment as well as the address of the chosen centre (e.g. VFS Global)

I made the mistake of not paying attention to the address of VFS Global and went to a different address instead. This caused me to miss my appointment. If you miss your appointment, you can just book again. Booking an appointment in VFS is free.

10. If you miss bringing a passport photo or photocopies of your documents, VFS has additional services to cater to this

However, the fees are expensive (photocopy service – Php 5; photograph service – Php 150) so be sure to have everything photocopied before going.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. When can I submit my application?

2. When will the consulate decide on my application?

3. What is the validity of my visa? How long can I stay in the Schengen area on the basis of my visa?

4. How can I get 6 months to 5-year multiple-entry Schengen visa?

5. Do I need to submit a cover letter in my visa application?

6. How much money do I need to have in my bank account to prove I have sufficient means?

7. I have a scheduled trip next month. Does the embassy keep my passport during the visa application processing?

8. I have a one-year multiple-entry visa. Can I stay in the Schengen area for more than 90 days in one given period?

9. Can I go to the United Kingdom or Ireland using my Schengen Visa?

10. Are there non-EU countries I can travel using my Schengen visa?

11. Can I apply for an extension of my Schengen visa while in Europe?

12. What are the grounds for the refusal of a Schengen visa?

13. What should I do if my Schengen visa application is denied? Does a visa application refusal lead to an automatic denial of subsequent application?

Written by Atty. Kareen Lucero

in Juander How, Travel and Leisure

Last Updated

Atty. Kareen Lucero

Kareen Lucero is a lawyer previously doing litigation before working for different agencies in the government and for a multinational corporation. She has traveled to 52+ countries including a 3-month solo backpacking in South East Asia and more than 1 year of solo traveling across four continents in the world. As part of giving back, she is passionate about sharing her knowledge of law and travel. She is currently doing consulting work for a government agency. For inquiries, you may reach her via Facebook Messenger (https://m.me/kareen.lucero.77) or email ([email protected]).

Browse all articles written by Atty. Kareen Lucero

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