No exaggeration: Probably the best gift I've ever received in all my 25 years of living was my university graduation present—a month-long jaunt to Europe with my family. In those few weeks, we were able to see a grand whoppin' total of six countries (Belgium, France, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, and Germany, to be specific), flitting from geotag to geotag by bus and boat. It was a whirwind adventure; imagine falling asleep on a picturesque, fairytale road scaling the Rhine River near medieval Rothenburg then waking up mere hours later in the snowcapped Austrian Alps.
None of that starry-eyed stuff would have even happened, of course, if we hadn't gotten our Schengen visas! Read on for an ultra-cohesive, FAQ-driven manual on how Philippine passport holders can get their hands on that madly coveted tourist visa.
Which countries comprise the Schengen Area?
First of all, which European nations fall under the Schengen spectrum? To answer your question, here's a list: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
At which country's embassy should I file my visa application?
Three months prior to your intended flight, your application should be made at the consulate of the country you're going to enter first, or the consulate of the country you're planning to stay the longest in.
If, however, the country you have in mind is one of the following: Austria, Denmark, Belgium, France, Malta, Netherlands, or Norway; submit your application to VFS Global Philippines as their respective consulates outsource their visa processing via VFS!
What are the primary requirements for Schengen visa application?
1. Passport. Must be valid for the next six months upon application.
2. Filled-out and signed application form. Ensure that it's legible and everything you write is the absolute truth!
3. Two identical passport photos following these specifications:
- Taken within the last six months
- Colored, taken against a white or light gray background
- Size: 35mm x 45mm
4. Flight and/or hotel reservations. These don't necessarily need to be paid for just yet.
5. Day to day itinerary for your trip
6. Bank certification and bank statement. Remember that these are two entirely different documents that both need to be present! These are important as you've got to prove that you have the financial means to support your stay in the Schengen Area.
If you’re not the one paying for your trip, then submit an affidavit plus the financial documents of your sponsor.
7. PSA birth certificate and/or marriage contract
8. Travel insurance that covers the entire duration of your intended stay. Minimum coverage is €30,000. Make sure the provider you select is accredited by the embassies!
9. Cover letter. Find out what this should detail here, but in a nutshell, you need to provide more specific information about your trip, like, say, why you want to visit the Schengen Area, which of the member states you wish to travel to, and the amount of time you'll be spending in each spot.
Do requirements differ depending on my employment status?
Yup, they do! Below, check out our comprehensive guide.
For Filipino employees:
- Certificate of employment (with indication of monthly salary)
- Current bank statement
- Approved leave of absence permission from employer
- Income Tax Return (ITR) form
For the self-employed:
- A copy of your Philippine business registration and/or license for the current and previous year
- Company bank statement from the last 6 months
- Income Tax Return (ITR) form
For Filipino students:
- Proof of enrollment or enrollment certificate
- Approved leave of absence (if applicable)
- Affidavit of support from parents
- Birth certificate
- Application form signed by both parents. In cases where one parent has full custody over the child, the family court order must be attached.
- Certified copies of IDs/passports of both parents
- Notarized parental authorization by both parents or guardians if the minor is travelling solo
- Pension statement of the last 6 months
If unemployed and married to a citizen of the European Union (EU):
- Confirmation of Employment letter (no older than three months) from the spouse's employer. Must state the position held within the company as well as the starting date
- Spouse's valid passport
- Official marriage certificate
I have all my requirements. So what's the process like?
1. Check and double check that your documents are correct and complete! It's best to have extra photocopies of everything handy, just in case.
2. Schedule your appointment through VFS Global or the proper, according consulate agency.
3. Arrive at least 30 minutes before your scheduled time. Dress well. As fashion girls, you can bet we've even whipped up an appropriate OOTD primer.
4. If an interview is required, be confident (not cocky!) and answer every single one of the officer's questions truthfully.
5. Now all there's left to do is wait, wait, wait. They'll send you an e-mail or text message once your visa is set for release.
6. This is it! Pick up your passport and see if you made it!
How much does a Schengen visa cost?
As of 2019, the visa fee for a Filipino adult is P3420. For children aged six to 11, the price clocks in at P2000, while kids any younger than that get processed for free. If you're coursing your application through VFS Global, note that there will be an additional service fee of P901 per person. See a complete list of prices here.
What if I get denied?
Unlike visa rejections from other nations (e.g. Japan and South Korea), you'll actually be informed of exactly why they decided to turn you down. There are nine official, general reasons for refusal. If you disagree with the reason selected and have the documents to back up your claims, you can submit a remonstrance letter. If not, you may submit a new application to a different embassy. Your dreams ain't crushed just yet!
How long is my Schengen visa valid for?
A short-term visa is valid for 90 days. The number of days' stay might vary from one person to the next, depending on the itinerary you submitted and, ultimately, the consulate's decision.
Can I use my Schengen visa to visit countries outside of the EU?
Yes, you can! Isn't that fun? With your Schengen visa, you can also venture out to Albania, Antigua and Barbuda, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovnia, Bulgaria, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Georgia, Gibraltar, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Sao Tome and Principe, Serbia, Taiwan, and Turkey.