Visiting Sweden in 2017 was never really part of my plan. In October, I was thinking about preparing my documents to apply for a Korean tourist visa since Miguel and I had plans to visit Korea in December. Little did I know, I am actually preparing for my Schengen visa application to Sweden!
I received an invitation to visit Sweden and I have to leave in 2 weeks. Applying for a Schengen visa is overwhelming! I’ve read a lot of stories about how hard it is to apply, and how much pocket-money you should bring. Anyway, I am going to share my visa application experience and the steps on how to apply for a Schengen visa.
If you are planning to visit Sweden, or if Sweden is your entry point, then you should apply for a Schengen visa via Norway Embassy with VFS Global.
Although the Swedish government just reopened its embassy in Manila, they are not handling the applications for any visitor’s (tourist) visa. VFS Global handles all visa applications to Norway, Estonia, Finland, Iceland and Sweden.
How to apply for a Schengen visa
1. Know your visa type
First, you should identify your purpose of travel before gathering the necessary documents. I wasn’t fully aware about my visa type, so I sent an email to firstname.lastname@example.org (UPDATE: email@example.com), informed them about my visit, and asked which visa type I should apply for.
For the visitor’s visa, here are the following visa type:
- Business Trip, Official Visit, Cultural or Sports Event
- Family member of EU/EEA national
- Seafarer Joining Vessel
- Visit Boyfriend/Girlfriend,
- Other Relatives/Friends
2. Gather the necessary documents
Since my purpose of travel is business trip, I prepared the documents for Business Trip, Official Visit, Cultural or Sports Event. The checklist per visa type can be found here. The checklist is easy to understand and follow since there are descriptions per requirement.
I’ll also share here some information about the requirements listed in the checklist.
1. Cover letter
Register your visa application to Norway Application portal. You will receive a confirmation email including the cover letter after registration. See step 3.
2. Proof of sufficient funds of applicant – original bank certificates/transcripts and photocopy of credit card statements for the
last 6 months.
One thing I like about this is Sweden has a specific amount of money required per day. Currently, applicants should have 450 SEK (about PHP 3,000) per day. If you already paid your accommodation and food, the amount required can be lower. In my case, I already have my accommodation and breakfast covered. So, I only have to spend for my food for lunch & dinner and transportation.
Just to be sure, provide an original bank certificate which has enough money for the entire duration of your stay (450 SEK * # of days in Sweden).
3. Photocopy of travel medical insurance – may be bought from an insurance company in the accredited list; should be valid in all Schengen States and cover the entire period of the person’s intended stay or transit. The minimum coverage shall be EUR 30,000.
Check the list of accredited insurance company here.
I bought my insurance from BPI/MS Insurance Corporation. I bought the policy online, and BPI emailed it to me. The cost of insurance depends on the duration of stay and plan. Currently, BPI/MS Insurance Corporation has three plans: Gold, Diamond and Platinum. Since the minimum coverage is EUR 30,000, my plan is Diamond which only costs PHP 1,161.55 including taxes.
- Arrange the documents according to the checklist.
- Aside from the checklist, there is a questionnaire that you need to fill out and submit. You can find it on the next page of the checklist. Do not leave anything blank. If the question is not applicable, just simply write “N/A”.
- Attach a letter of explanation if you have document/s that you cannot submit. I didn’t have work by the time I applied, so I explained it in my letter.
- All documents should be in A4 paper size.
3. Fill out the visa application form at Norway Application Portal
- Create an account in the portal. This account will be used in registering an application and booking an appointment where you can submit the documents.
- Register your application. Once you are logged in, you will see two options on the start page: Want to apply and Want to book appointment. Since you have not registered your application yet, select Want to apply.
- Select the applicable options to your application.
- Fill in the application form. Always double check your information to the application form, and provide the correct details.
- Pay fee. The application fee at Norway Application Portal is EUR 60. You can only pay using credit card. Also, there is another fee at VFS Global once you hand in your documents.
- Submit the application form. After you submit the application form, check your email for the confirmation email including the cover letter. Print the cover letter.
4. Book an appointment and submit the requirements at VFS Global
- In Norway Application Portal, select Want to book appointment.
- You will then see a list of your applications that is ready for booking. Select Book appointment button.
- Before you proceed with the booking, you will see the steps that you have completed:
- You have filled in the application form for: Visitor’s visa
- You have paid the fee of 60 EUR
- Your application has been sent to: Royal Norwegian Embassy, Manila
- Next, you will see the steps that you must complete to hand in your application:
- Book an appointment
- Print cover letter
- Print checklist
- Hand in the documents in person
5. Hand in the documents in VFS Global
My visa application experience
October 19 – Appointment Date
Appointment at 11:00 AM. I arrived at 10:30 and they processed my application as soon as I got there. I guess because there weren’t many people who were applying that time.
The VFS personnel checked my documents, and asked about the purpose of my visit before submitting it to the embassy for review. It was a quick one, then I paid a fee of Php 1,612. I also opted to pickup my passport, instead of having it delivered to me.
Next step is the biometrics. I had a quick interview (or probably just a conversation) while doing my biometrics. I told him that I was just invited to Sweden for a final interview. He asked about what I do and assured me that I already got this job, that I should no longer worry. I was really hoping that that was the case. He congratulated me after!
Once done with the biometrics, I only have to wait for their email and text message regarding my application. The processing time is usually 3-5 working days (as of date, the processing time is now 7-10 days), but the maximum time is 15 days.
It took me only 30 minutes for everything. It could have been a lot faster, but they had to get my biometrics again because of some issues with the machine.
- Applicants can only pay the VFS fee in cash.
- Additional fee of Php 370 for courier.
October 24 – Decision date
After 3 days, I finally received a text from Royal Norweigan Embassy Manila! I was really nervous because the text says, “Please check your e-mail regarding your application.” Lol! When I checked my email, I haven’t received any yet!
Anyway, I got the email on the same day and my application was approved! This means I can pickup my passport the next day.
October 25 – Pickup passport
Applicants can only pickup their passports at VFS Global from 1:00 to 5:00 PM. Just bring your ID and receipt upon pickup, then the VFS personnel will give your passport.
I only stayed in Stockholm, Sweden for a few days. Sweden is the first country in Europe that I’ve been to! The last time I had an international trip was in 2011. I never imagined that my next international trip was Sweden!
Schengen Visa Application Expenses:
- Application fee – EUR 60
- VFS service fee – PHP 1,612
- BPI/MS Insurance – PHP 1,161.55
VFS Global – Manila Address
Norway Visa Application Centre, VFS Global
Ground Floor, Ecoplaza Building,
Don Chino Roces Avenue, Makati City, Metro Manila)