Travelling to Europe is a dream to many. Who wouldn’t want to experience history while viewing the Parthenon and the Colosseum, or have a date in the moonlight by the Eiffel Tower, or geek out at the art collection of The Louvre, or marvel at the impressive architecture of La Sagrada Familia?
But for many, these dream destinations remain dreams. Aside from expensive airfare, travelling to Europe requires a lot of paperwork (especially if you’re from the Philippines!)
Filipinos going to Europe, or at least going to 27 countries in the continent, require a Schengen visa for them to enter.
A Schengen visa allows holders to enter Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, and Sweden without having to apply for a separate visa for each country.
This should make fulfilling your dream of a European tour easier – except it doesn’t. The task and the papers involve seem too daunting.
But don’t fret! It’s not as difficult as it seems. Here, we break down applying for a Schengen visa in seven easy steps.
Make an itinerary
Aside from ensuring that you maximize your stay in Europe, an itinerary is essential as it is one of the documentary requirements for applying for a Schengen visa. Your itinerary will also determine what embassy you should submit your application.
Determine where you will apply
Now that you have an itinerary, check what country you will stay in the longest. This would determine what embassy you will submit your application to.
So, let’s say you plan to spend three days in Portugal, five days in Spain and two days in Italy, then you should apply for a Schengen visa at the Spanish embassy. If you plan to spend the same amount of days in every country you visit, then you should get a Schengen visa from the embassy of the country of first entry.
Check and gather requirements
While the European Commission has specified a list of requirements common to all Schengen countries, individual countries may require additional requirements. For example, Italy requires that tourists get health insurance at least €30,000.
This is also the time that you book flights and hotel accommodations as these are among the documentary requirements.
Here is a list of the general requirements for tourists:
Accomplished application form
One recent colored passport-sized or 2x2 photo with white background
Valid passport and photocopies of biographical page, last page, and pages with visas and immigration stamps
Old passport/s if available
Proof of financial means
Bank certification, bank books
Personal bank statements, credit card statements or balance for the last six months
For minors: Proof of economic means of parents or legal guardian
Proof of travel
Copy of roundtrip airline reservation with Passenger Registration Number or reservation number and travel itinerary
Proof of will to return
Copy of employment contract or social security contribution, if applicable
Copy of real estate property title-deed, if applicable
Proof of family ties (e.g. marriage certificate)
Proof of occupation
For those who are employed
Certificate of employment
Certificate of leave of absence
For those who are self-employed
Department of Trade and Industry or Securities and Exchange Commission registration of business
Income tax return
Business financial statement
Proof of enrollment
Certificate of leave of absence, if travelling within the school year
If travelling with spouse and/or children
PSA certified marriage contract
PSA certified birth certificates of children
For non-Filipinos living in the Philippines
Copy of Alien Certificate of Registration
Affidavit of support and consent of parents, especially from the non-travelling parent, or legal guardian
Copy of passport of parents or legal guardian
PSA certified birth certificate
Department of Social Welfare and Development clearance
Hotel confirmation or voucher
Detailed day-to-day itinerary of the trip
Make an appointment (if needed)
You can apply for a Schengen visa as early as three months before your planned entry. Schedule an appointment with the embassy where you would apply.
Not all application centers require a scheduled appointment. Some VIA centers for Italy, for example, allow walk-ins.
So, make sure to check!
Appear at the embassy
Head to the embassy on the scheduled date to submit all required documents and get your biometrics taken. Pay the €60 Visa fee and the P1,100 VIA service/handling fee.
Patiently wait for your passport, hopefully with the Visa attached, to be mailed back to you.
It’s best to travel worry-free. As mentioned above, some countries may require that a Schengen visa applicant has some form of insurance. Fortune General offers a travel insurance plan which can cover your trips to any country you wish. So, go ahead and sail by the Greek islands and watch the Northern Lights in Ireland free from anxieties! Get insured now!