After I have experienced applying for a US tourist visa, I realized how difficult it is to apply for a Schengen visa.
My first Schengen Visa application was in 2017 when I got an invitation from a company (my current employer) to visit Stockholm, Sweden. Then in both 2018 & 2019, Miguel applied for a Schengen Visa to visit me. We applied for a Schengen Visa in Sweden Embassy.
Previously the Norway Embassy handles the applications for Sweden. But in 2019, the Sweden Embassy handles all applications for Sweden.
I helped him prepare for his Schengen Visa application in the Philippines. In this post, I will focus mainly on the Visa to visit family/friends. The general requirements for Visa for tourism (or other purposes of visit) are similar—it only differs on supporting documents.
What is a Schengen Visa?
A Schengen Visa allows you to stay in the Schengen area for up to 90 days (short term stay). It is usually given to a person if the purpose of the visit is for tourism or business purposes.
If you want to study, work, and live in one of the countries in Schengen, then you need to apply for a residence permit.
What countries are in the Schengen Area?
- Czech Republic
Where to apply for a Schengen Visa?
You should apply for a Schengen Visa at the embassy or consulate, or visa center of your main destination in the Schengen area.
Most of the Schengen Visas in the Philippines are processed through VFS Global Visa Application Center in Manila or Cebu.
If you are visiting more than one country in Schengen:
- Apply at the country where you spend most of the days, or
- If you will stay in countries with the same number of nights, then apply to the country where you first enter.
Sample itinerary 1: 5 days in Sweden, then 3 days in Denmark, and 5 days in Norway. The length of time is the same in Sweden and Norway. Since you will first visit Sweden, then you should apply to Sweden.
Sample itinerary 2: 3 days in Denmark, 3 days in Sweden, 3 days in Norway, 3 days in Finland, and 5 days in Iceland. Then you should apply to Iceland.
For more information, visit the specific VFS Global per country:
- Belgium — also represent Luxembourg and Slovenia
- Czech Republic
- Netherlands — also represent Poland and Latvia
If Greece is your main destination, apply at the Embassy of Greece in Makati.
If Italy is your main destination, then you should apply to PIASI VIA Center, also located in Manila and Cebu.
The processing is approximately 15 days. It may take longer if the embassy asked for more documents or information from you.
I had my Schengen visa approved within 3 working days when I applied in 2017. Miguel has also been approved within 3 working days when he applied in 2018. In 2019, it took him 7 working days to get his application approved.
How early can you apply for a Schengen Visa?
Starting 2 February 2020, applicants can apply for a Schengen Visa six months in advance of a trip.
The latest Schengen Visa application, however, is still 15 calendar days before the intended trip.
How to apply for a Schengen Visa with your Philippines Passport?
You might feel overwhelmed with the documents to submit when you apply for a Schengen Visa. Some requirements depend on the embassy. As long as you follow the steps properly, and you provide all the necessary documents, then your chance of getting a Schengen Visa is higher.
1. Know your visa type
When you apply for a Schengen Visa, there are required documents and general requirements for all applicants. Then each type of visa has specific additional documents that need to be submitted. So, before you prepare your documents, you should know your visa type.
For the visitor’s visa (Schengen Visa – Type), here is the following visa type:
- Visiting Family or Friends
- Official Visit, Cultural or Sports Event
The naming of the visa type depends on the visa center where you will apply, but those are types I have listed above are what you will often see. It is important that you know the purpose of your visit before applying.
2. Gather the necessary documents
- Schengen Visa Application Form*
- Write your middle name in the Surname at birth field.
- One recent color passport-sized photograph (45mmx35mm) with white background
- Original passport
- Valid for 3 months after departure from the Schengen area.
- Must have at least 2 unused pages.
- Photocopy of original passport
- The biodata page must be attached to your application.
- Photocopy of previous passports and past visa stamps to the Schengen countries (if any)
- Miguel was asked to submit his other visas as well aside from Schengen visa.
- Photocopy of Paid Travel Medical Insurance
- The travel insurance should be valid for all Schengen states and cover the entire period of your intended stay. It should also cover the cost of emergency treatment and transport home for medical reasons.
- The minimum coverage shall be EUR 30,000.
*This depends on which embassy you are applying. Some embassies require the applicant to fill out the visa application form at the VFS Global portal.
List of Schengen Accredited Insurance Companies in the Philippines
Purchase travel insurance in one of the Schengen accredited insurance companies in the Philippines:
- ACE Insurance Philippines
- Chartis Philippines Insurance, Inc.
- Pacific Cross (I recommend this)
- BPI — MS Insurance Corporation (I recommend this)
- Fortune General Ins. Corp
- MAA Insurance
- Malayan Insurance Company, Inc.
- MAPFRE Insular Insurance Corporation
- Paramount Life and General Insurance Co.
- PNB General Insurers Co., Inc
- Standard Insurance Co.
- UCPB General Insurance Co. Inc.
- Worldwide Travel Insurance Plans
- Everest International Group Administrators Inc.
- FPG Insurance Co., Inc.
- Philippine British Assurance Co., Inc.
- Starr International Insurance Philippines
- Oriental Assurance Corporation
- Philippines First Insurance Company
- Pioneer Insurance Company
- Liberty Insurance Corporation
- QBE Seaboard Insurance Philippines, Inc.
- Reliance Surety & Insurance Co. Inc.
- Prudential Guarantee PGA Insurance
- The Mercantile Insurance Co., Inc.
Source: Accredited Travel Insurance – VFS Global Sweden
General Requirements for all Visa Applicants
- Proof of sufficient funds of the applicant for the entire visit (or parents/legal guardian if the applicant is a minor)
- Photocopy of bank certificates/statements/credit card statement or balance covering the last 6 (six) months. This is optional if the reference person has stated that all expenses are covered by him/her.
- Sweden requires you to have SEK 450 per day per person.
- Photocopy of Roundtrip Airline Ticket Reservation with Passenger Reservation Number
- Travel Itinerary
- Proof of will to return
- Photocopy of the employment contract or social security contributions (if applicable)
- Photocopy of Real Estate Property – title-deed (if applicable)
- Other proof of family ties in the Philippines (e.g. marriage certificate)
- Proof of occupation
- If employed
- Certificate of employment
- Statement from the employer that the applicant is granted a leave of absence
- If self-employed
- Photocopies of DTI (Department of Trade Industry) Business Name Registration Certificate or SEC (Securities Exchange Commission) registration
- Business financial statement
- Latest income tax return
- If currently a student
- Certification of enrolment from school.
- If employed
- If traveling with the spouse and/or children
- Photocopy of Marriage Certificate certified by PSA
- Photocopy of Birth Certificates of children certified by PSA
- If minor under the age of 18
- Affidavit of support and consent from parents or legal guardian
- Photocopy of parents’/legal guardian’s passport or government-issued ID
- Photocopy of the minor’s Birth Certificate certified by PSA
- Photocopy of DSWD clearance
Additional documents depending on the purpose of visit
- Photocopy of accommodation
- Detailed day-to-day itinerary of the planned trip
Visit family or friend
- Letter of guarantee or invitation form 241011 for Sweden
- Proof of relationship (birth certificate, marriage certificate)
- Photocopy of the biodata page of the passport and/or travel history of the sponsor in case of non-formalized relationship (boyfriend/girlfriend)
- Arrange the documents according to the checklist.
- It’s good to write a cover letter stating why you are visiting Sweden and explaining your relationship with the invitee. If you have documents that you cannot submit, it’s good to write an explanation.
- This is the sample cover letter we used in our Schengen Visa applications.
- All documents should be in A4 paper size.
4. Submit the documents and provide biometric data at VFS Global
Some embassies require you to book an appointment with the VFS Global due to the high volume of applicants.
Starting in 2019, Sweden no longer requires applicants to book an appointment with the VFS Global.
The visa fees should be paid in cash inside the visa application center. For other destination’s visa center, credit or debit card is allowed.
All visa applicants will also need to provide their biometric data (fingerprints) at VFS Global. This will only take a few minutes.
VFS Global Visa Application Center Philippines
Ecoplaza Building, Mezzanine Floor, Don Chino Roces Ave, Extension, Makati, 1231 Kalakhang Maynila, Philippines
VFS Global – Cebu
503, Keppel Center, Samar Loop, Cebu City, 6000 Cebu, Philippines
Schengen Visa Fees and Expenses
Schengen Visa Fee
|Child between 6-12 years of age||40 EUR|
|Child younger than 6 years of age||Free|
VFS Service Fee
- This depends on your main destination’s visa center. But it varies between PHP 900 to PHP 1,600.
Optional Additional Services
Some services may or may not be available in all VFS Global. Also, the prices vary. Visit your main destination’s visa application center website for accurate prices.
|Two-way shipment fee||PHP 1,460||For Sweden Embassy only. Applications are sent to the Embassy of Sweden in Bangkok.|
|SMS Solution||PHP 120||Get an update on each process of your application.|
|Courier||PHP 370||Have your passport delivered straight to your door.|
|Photobooth Service||PHP 170||Have your photo taken based on the requirements.|
|Photocopy (per page)||PHP 5|
Frequently Asked Questions
I’m going to another country in Schengen, do I need a double-entry or multiple-entry visa?
Single-entry Schengen Visa means you are allowed to enter the Schengen area once. As long as you are not leaving the Schengen area, a single-entry visa should suffice.
If, for example, you are traveling to Sweden (part of Schengen) then you want to visit the UK (not part of Schengen) and go back to any Schengen country, then you need to get a double-entry visa.
So, if you are traveling to another country in the Schengen area, then you only need a single-entry visa.
Is there an interview?
It’s possible that you will be asked to provide additional documents to support your application. If deemed necessary, you might also be invited for an interview.
How much pocket money do I need?
Sweden requires SEK 450 per day or approximately PHP 2,400. It could be lower if the cost of food and accommodation is paid in advance, or if you are going to stay with relatives or friends.
How to find cheap flights to Europe?
It’s cheaper to travel on weekdays than on weekends. You should also be flexible with your dates or time as this affects the prices of tickets.
Compare different flights and searching through Skyscanner helps you find the cheapest flights.
How can I reserve flight tickets?
There are travel websites that you can use to reserve flight tickets without paying the full ticket price.
Another option is to purchase flight reservations in one of the travel agencies.
We get reserved tickets from Great Wall International Travel, Inc.
My Schengen Visa application is rejected. What should I do?
In most cases, Schengen Visa applications are rejected if they cannot see that you have stronger ties to the Philippines. If your application is rejected, you will get a note that indicates why it was rejected.
You can send an appeal letter if you think your Schengen Visa application shouldn’t be rejected. I’ve gathered the information that needs to be in the letter:
- Personal Details
- Date when your application was rejected
- Reason why behind your visa refusal
- Why you believe the rejection was incorrect
- Your signature
You can also attach supporting documents together with the appeal letter.
Where is your next destination in Europe? How was your Schengen Visa application?
I hope this guide on how to apply for a Schengen Visa helps you! If you have any questions on how to apply for a Schengen Visa, just comment below and I will try my best to help you. 😊
Also, you can always contact VFS Global if you have any inquiries. In my experience, they usually respond fast (sometimes within hours) and gives a clear answer.
Good luck with your Schengen Visa application!