After reading several blogs and forums to get tips on having a successful Schengen visa application, I thought I should also give back by posting my very own Schengen visa application experience. For us in the Philippines, getting a travel visa is always a tedious process since we need to spend time and money on collating several documents, paying fees and the actual submission of application and /or attending the actual interview. (Most of the embassy does not require interviews anymore though.)
At the beginning of 2019, I’ve decided to spend my Christmas break overseas. I thought, a South American trip will be easier because I won’t have to get any visas to enter a few countries but upon realizing that the flights are way more expensive there and with last year’s tragic Amazon fire and the economic turmoil in the region, I opted to just push through with a European getaway.
I will also be sharing some stories on my month-long mini-Euro vacation but before that, para sa mga pinoy who are also looking for some tips, I am going to list down what I’ve submitted for my Schengen visa application.
First off, What is a Schengen visa?
A Schengen visa is a short-stay visa that allows a person to travel to any members of the Schengen Area. It is valid for 26 Schengen member states and is for short stay for a maximum period of ninety days within a six months period. A Schengen visa allows the holder to travel freely across the Schengen member states.
The following 26 countries have implemented the Schengen Agreement: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lichtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
The Schengen visa application goes through VFS Global –
VFS Global, also known as “Visa Facilitation Services Global,” is an outsourcing and technology services company that serves governments and diplomatic missions worldwide. The company manages visa and passport issuance-related administrative and non-discretionary tasks for its client governments.
I applied for a short-term Schengen visa mainly for tourism so this post is only applicable for those who will be traveling for leisure in and around the Schengen states.
The general requirements I’ve submitted are the following:
1. Valid Passport
2. Round-trip flight reservation.
(Remember, you just need a reservation. Please don’t buy your tickets without an approved visa yet.)
3. Travel insurance policy with a with a minimum coverage of 30,000 euros (I got mine from Malayan)
4. Proof of Accommodation (I booked all of my accommodations via booking.com which are all cancellable – again, do not pay in advance if you’re not sure that you’d actually be getting a visa.)
5. Proof of Financial Means
I’ve submitted a bank certificate indicating my account number, its daily balance and account balance.
I’ve also submitted the following:
Current bank statement from the latest 6 months upon submission.
Leave permission from the employer. (The one that my employer provided includes the start date of my leave and the date I was expected to return.)
My latest income Tax Return (ITR) form or the 2316 form.
6. My Trip Itinerary (I included the places that are on my bucket list of course, but I also did a lot of research on what I should be see in each respective places – I think it helps that you personalized your itinerary as much as possible.)
7. A cover letter which really helped, I think.
The submission of application is by schedule through the VFS Global website, just register, log in and select a date and time of your submission. The Netherlands Embassy does not require any interview, at least as far as I know. You will be evaluated by its consul based on all the documents you’ve submitted.
I’ve had my schedule on November 15, 2019 – about a month before my intended trip and I chose the earliest time available – that’s around 07:00 AM. It was actually very straight to the point. You will be instructed on where to line up and just follow the procedure and give out the documents and pay. No interview needed, although the lady who collected my documents asked the purpose of my application (tourism was my answer) and the date of my intended departure from the country as well as the date of my planned return and that’s it!
I’ve paid around P4,876.00 which includes
Logistic – 901
Courier – 400 because I cannot afford to pick it up myself due to work but you can choose to personally claim your passport or have a representative pick it up for you.
SMS – 150, I thought this was a good idea at first but it turns out it’s just a waste of money. I’ve only received one message saying: Visa Application MAKA/********01 has been forwarded to the Netherlands Regional Support Office in Asia on 11/15/2019 and never got an update. I even had to call the office because I cannot seem to track my visa status online regularly because it’s not working all the time.
So the whole two weeks, I was being so paranoid because I am second-guessing my chance of getting approved since I’ve read horror stories of some pinoys who are well-traveled and well-funded still getting rejected for some reason. I’ve only been to eight countries prior to this application with 2 visa-requiring territories so I’m kind of hoping that would give me a bit of an advantage but yeah – it was a nerve-wracking two weeks for me.
But the odds are definitely in my favor as I’ve received my passport with an approved visa! It took 14 freaking calendar days! I was very happy because I was given a multiple entry visa, with 45 days validity and 30 days duration of stay!!!
Looking back, I thought it’d be very difficult but it’s really just straight forward. You just have to make sure that you have the resources, the right intention and the correct documents.
Hit me up privately or through the comments if you have any concerns or questions that I may help you with!!!
When this pandemic dies down, I would definitely apply again because I really had a blast visiting parts of Europe for the first time and I wanted to see more!!!
Because we have this on-going pandemic and we’re now living the new normal, I am not sure about the changes when it comes to the visa application but I reckon it will still be the same, but with more precautionary measures to prevent the spread of Covid19.
I wrote this article a few months after the Pandemic hit the Philippines and I didn’t think that it would be so catastrophic that even now that the year’s about to end, the cases are still getting worse particularly in Europe. I hope the vaccines that were approved recently will give us hope to move forward from this darkest year of our generation.