Got plans to visit Europe and don’t know where to begin? This simple guide will help you get your Schengen visa in easy-to-follow steps.
Let’s start from the very beginning!
Where to Apply
1. For a visit to ONE Schengen state, the visa application must be lodged at the Embassy/ Consulate of that particular Member State.
For example: Yay! I’m going to spend 20 days in Paris ONLY. This means I have to apply for the Schengen visa at the French Embassy.
2. For a visit that includes MORE THAN ONE destination, visa applications must be lodged at the Embassy/ Consulate of the Member State whose territory constitutes the MAIN destination of the visit(s) in terms of purpose or length of stay. If an equal number of days will be spent in each of the Member States to be visited, the visa application must be lodged at the Embassy/Consulate of the Member State which will be the point of entry.
(1)Yay! I have 20 days of vacation. I’ll be spending 13 days in Paris and 7 days in Rome. This means I have to lodge my application at the French Embassy. (in terms of length of stay)
(2) Yay! I have 20 days of vacation. I’ll be spending 10 days in Germany and 10 days in Austria. But I’ll be flying to Berlin from Manila so this means that I should lodge my application at the German Embassy. (in terms of point of entry)
Now that you know which Embassy you have to apply to, it’s time to visit their websites (I won’t be posting them here anymore, just Google for them). When you check their websites, here is a short list of the things you should look for and maybe download:
(1) The Embassy contact number, address, and operating hours.
(2) The visa application process. Some require you to go to the Embassy and submit the documents there. Others will have a courier/messenger pick up the documents from you.
(3) The requirements list.
(4) Applicable fees and charges in relation to the type of visa you are applying for.
Once you have all of those information, give them a call to set an appointment. Some embassies can also be emailed but I think it is better to just call them and be able to ask their representatives your questions over the phone. They’d be able to explain the process to you too and give you immediate answers. Be ready to provide the following information:
(1) Your full name, civil status, and birthdate
(2) Your email address
(3) Your passport number and other pertinent passport details such as date of issuance and the “valid until” date
(4) Your contact numbers
(5) Your travel dates to the Member State(s). This is the date on which you will enter the Schengen territory.
You will be given a reference number (which you should take note of) and you will be asked if you have a preferred date and time for your appointment. They would also usually give you available dates to choose from. It is important to note that these Embassies are swamped with applications everyday and it would help if you have your appointment scheduled WAY in advance. As per my experience, I scheduled my appointment in January (first week) and the next available date that was open for appointments was already the 4th of February. This was at the French Embassy.
When to Apply
You might ask: “When do I need to apply for the Schengen visa?”
You can apply at LEAST three months (90 days) before your planned entry in any of the Schengen member state. For instance, you plan to leave on May 24, 2014. You can start applying for your visa from February 24, 2014 onwards. But, like I said, due to the number of applications to these embassies, you may schedule for your appointment a month in advance. In my example, you can start calling the Embassy for your appointment schedule around the last week of January.
What to Submit
So now you have your appointment date for submitting your application to the Embassy/ Consulate, it’s time to gather all the documents required for your application based on the Schengen visa requirements list. I will be basing the following from the list I got from the website of the French Embassy since that is where I applied for my Schengen visa.
(Note: Always have the original set of documents with you when submitting your application. You might be asked to present the original documents. The following are the required documents for the tourist visa application. Photocopy the original documents because the Embassy will keep the photocopies for their file.)
1. Signed application for Schengen visa with photo (35mmx45mm,white background) + 1 extra photo: You can download the application form from the website (in this case the website of the French Embassy) and have your photo taken at any PictureCity, Tronix, or whatever photo shop is near you. Take note that you have to have a neutral facial expression in the picture and your face and head should be free from any headgear (i.e. hat, fancy headband, eyeglasses, sun glasses, etc).
2. Valid passport (3 months’ validity from end of approved duration stay) and photocopy of valid and former visas: photocopy ALL the relevant pages (all the pages with stamps showing your travel history). Even if your old passport is blank/ you have not traveled overseas yet, photocopy the relevant page and bring it still.
3. Cover letter explaining the purpose of your trip as well as dates and places to be visited: It doesn’t have to be a very long letter. I’ll be posting a separate entry for the cover letter that I made.
4. Details about the trip:
a. Proof of accommodation:
- For tourists: hotel vouchers or AirBnB reservations. You can print your hotel reservations directly from the website where you booked or you can print the reservation details that is emailed to you. If booking with a travel agent, the agency will give you your hotel bookings.
- If staying with a French resident: Attestation d’accueil + copy of that host’s national identity card (if EU citizen) or residence permit (if citizen of a country other than the EU).
b. Roundtrip flight booking: do not purchase your ticket unless your visa is granted. In my case, however, I already bought my plane tickets and train tickets prior to my application. It was a risk I took since the prices were so low and I feared that they might go higher as the date of my trip drew nearer. You can get flight bookings from the airline of your choice or from your travel agent.
c. Complete itinerary with departure and return dates: You don’t have to be too detailed about this. I only put “March 30 -April 06: Paris, April 06-April 12: Rome”.
d. For family visit, proof of relationship: birth certificate, marriage certificate
5. Proof of employment: (if any)
a. Certificate of employment with monthly salary and leave of absence approved by employer
b. If self-employed: official business registration for current and previous year
c. For priests, nuns, and missionaries: certificate from the Apostolic Nunciature and guarantee letter from French and Filipino congregation
6. Proof of income:
a. Income tax return from previous year, where applicable
b. Recent bank certification. Banks charge around Php100 to Php250 for each certification. You don’t have to show all your accounts. Only show that which is relevant to your application. The accounts you will show should contain enough funds to support your trip.
c. Photocopy of the last three months statement of the account of the same bank account. The Embassy will be checking the activity of the accounts that you will show.
d. Credit card statements: I showed my credit card statements because I indicated in the application form that part of my travel will be supported by my credit cards. I only showed three months worth of statements for all credit cards I have.
7. Identity/ Marital Status:
a. photocopy of the first page of your valid passport and relevant obtained visas
b. If married: photocopy of your marriage contract and birth certificate authenticated by the NSO
c. If single: photocopy of your birth certificate authenticated by the NSO
d. For minors: notarized affidavit from one or both parents if they don’t travel with the child
8. An international insurance (medical expenses and repatriation) covering the entire period of the person’s intended stay and valid for all Schengen states. Minimum coverage should be EUR30,000. You can get travel insurance from various insurance companies here in the Philippines. I’ll have a separate post for this. I got mine from Blue Cross at around 2,600+Php. It was done online which made it fast and easy.
You can download the above list from the Embassy website. The different websites may word the above requirements differently but essentially they should still be the same. I’ll posting some of the requirements in detail in a separate post. And oh, do arrange your documents in the order listed in the requirements list.
Schengen Visa Application Form Answering Guide
Completing the Schengen visa application form is, of course, very important in your application for the tourist visa. It is of utmost importance that you answer the form honestly and properly. Here is a copy of the application form. It is from the website of the French Embassy in Manila.
Here’s how I answered the Schengen visa application form: (the numbers below coincide with the numbers on the form)
- Surname: I wrote my surname, of course
- Surname at birth: Since I’m not yet married and have been using the surname I was given at birth, I left this blank
- First Name, Given Name: My first name. Since I have two names (example Maria Patricia) I wrote both on the form.
- Date of birth: My birthday, in the prescribed format (see the format indicated in the form)
- Place of birth: The city I was born in
- Country of birth: The country I was born in
- Current nationality: My nationality. There’s also a portion that says “Nationality at birth, if different”. I left it blank since I have not yet undergone nationality/citizenship changes
- Sex: I wrote Female. Of course if you’re a man then indicate Male. 🙂
- Marital Status: I checked Single. You check whatever is applicable to you.
- This portion is for minors. Indicate the details required. Since I’m not a minor, I left this blank.
- National Identity Number: I left this blank. I don’t think this applies to Filipinos
- Type of travel document: I checked Passport. Check whatever is applicable to you from the given choices
- Travel Document Number: Since I checked Passport, I indicated here my Passport Number
- Date of Issue: This can be found in your passport. Just copy it.
- Valid until: Again, this can be found in your passport. Copy the date.
- Issued by: Another detail found in your passport. I wrote mine as “DFA Manila”
- Applicant’s home address and email address, Telephone Number: I simply wrote my home address, including the zip code and country. And then below it, I wrote my email address. For the telephone number, I wrote the number of our house phone with the area code.
- Since I have not yet resided in another country, I checked No. Indicate what is applicable in your situation.
- Current occupation: I wrote my current position at the office. I guess if you’re unemployed indicate None. Or if you are an entrepreneur, indicate Business Man/ Woman. If you’re still a student, indicate Student.
- I wrote the name of the company I’m working for, my office’s address and my office telephone number. For students, state your school’s name and address.
- Main purpose of stay: I checked Tourism. Checked whatever is applicable to you.
- Member State/s of Destination: Since I am visiting France and Italy, I indicated both countries.
- Member State of first entry: Since I am taking the train from London to Paris, I indicated France.
- Number of entries requested: I checked Single Entry. Check whatever is applicable to you.
- Duration of the intended stay or transit: State the number of days you plan to stay within the Schengen area. I indicated 14 days since that was my length of stay in Paris and Rome.
- Schengen visas issued during the past three years: I checked No since I have not been issued a Schengen visa before.
- In relation to #26, I checked No again.
- I left this blank.
- Intended date of arrival at the Schengen area: I stated the date I was to arrive in Paris
- Intended date of departure from the Schengen area: I stated the date I was to fly back to Manila
- Since no one was inviting me to Paris or Rome, I simply wrote the names of my hotels. If you booked through AirBnB and will be showing AirBnB vouchers/ reservations, indicate the name of your host. Write the address of your hotel/s or hosts, as well as telephone numbers.
- I left this blank
- Check all that applies to you. I checked the portion that the cost of the travel will be shouldered by ME and checked the various means I will be supporting my travel. I checked all that was applicable (cash, credit card, prepaid transportation- since I already bought my plane tickets and train tickets).
- I left this blank
- I left this blank
- Place and date: where and when I filled up the form
- Signature: My signature
Don’t forget to indicate again the Place and Date and your Signature at the bottom of the form.
I printed the Schengen visa application form in a Letter size paper and my answers to the form were all handwritten using a black pen. Please write legibly, as best as you can.
There’s a lot more to the Schengen visa application than just filling up an application form. Click on the button below to view the rest of the visa series articles.