Being a Filipino, we are required to apply for a Schengen visa in European countries before traveling. And this normally entails a rigorous process and requires a lot of planning, time and money. This is the reason why I was so stressed out for months before my Euro trip. But setting foot to Europe and having visited my dream destinations, it was all worth it! Don’t let the application process deter your dream of going to Europe. So here’s a guide on how to apply Schengen visa for Filipinos.
In this article, we’ll discuss the process on how to apply for a Schengen visa through German Embassy.
Please note that this post specifically covers the process for Schengen visa application in German embassy and for Filipino citizens.
What is Schengen Visa?
It is a tourist visa issued for traveling within Schengen area. Schengen area comprised of 26 countries in Europe and through Schengen agreement, they abolished common border controls within the zone which basically means you only need one visa even if you’re planning to visit several countries within Schengen.
This visa allows us to stay in Schengen zone up to 90 days within 6 months period.
Note: I thought that embassy automatically gives you 90 days of entry! So please don’t make the same mistake I did. Make sure to apply the correct number of days when applying a tourist visa.
Which Countries Are Members Of Schengen Zone?
Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
On a side note, if you are Schengen visa holder, you can also enter European countries that are outside of the zone such as Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Serbia and Romania without getting additional documents or visa. Days of entry depends on each country and mostly, only applicable with multiple entry Schengen visa. Some of these countries are in the process of joining the agreement.
Which Embassy Should I Go To If I’m Going To Multiple Schengen Countries?
If you are going to multiple countries in Schengen zone, you need to apply to the embassy of the country that you’re going to visit first OR the country you will spend most of your time. So if you’re planning to stay for the same number of days to each country you’re visiting, then you have to apply to the country you’re entering first. In my case, I apply for German Embassy since I was planning to stay longer in Germany.
Address of the Embassy: German Embassy Manila 25/F Tower 2, RCBC Plaza 6819 Ayala Av.
Phone: 63 2 702 3000
When Can I Apply a Schengen Visa?
The earliest you can apply is 3 months before your intended departure date. The processing only takes 7 days for German embassy (other countries have different processing days) but the appointment setting might take a while. My interview was set 3 weeks after I called them for an appointment. If you can apply earlier, the better so just in case something happens – like delays in processing, or failing to provide complete documents or like in my case, I got denied first – you still have ample time to sort things out.
How Can I Set An Appointment For Interview?
You can now just set an appointment online by using their online visa appointment system. Select Schengen Visa, then click continue, fill up the form and just follow the remaining instructions. You will then select an appointment date and time. You will also need to print out the form which you will include to your documents on the day of the interview. Please note that you have to make sure you print out the form in high quality as possible, especially the last page with the bar code so the data processing system can read it. For additional information, please refer to this link: Visa Appointment Details
Lucky you! German Embassy has finally set up an online appointment system! About time! LOL. Before, you either had to call them through their call center or go to the embassy personally. Calling might cost you 500-1000 pesos depending on how good the agent is in collecting your data. Mine cost about Php1500, go figure! 🙂
What Are The Requirements?
1. Your identity as a traveler.
- Original Passport – which must be valid for at least another 3 months upon the conclusion of the travel and must contain two empty pages and one photocopy of the passport, and further valid / invalid passports.
Make sure to bring your old passport/s especially if they already have stamps/ visas of your previous travels. This increases your chance of approval.
Two current passport pictures – please check this link for picture requirements
2. Visa Application Form
- One fully completed application form signed by your own hand and completed by you (the online form you filled up that has to be printed)
- Security questionnaire fully completed and signed by you. You can either get it from the receptionist before your interview or download it in advance here.
3. Purpose of Travel
- Submit your flight reservation, hotel confirmation, itinerary and cover letter.
For flight reservation, you don’t have to book a ticket in advance and even embassies do not encourage applicants to book your ticket until you get your visa to avoid wasting money on expensive flights. There are travel agencies who can reserve flights for you in a reasonable price. Please note that you can’t use the flight reservation to fly – that is just for the embassy. If you want to book the same flight, you will have to talk to the travel agency and pay the actual flight cost.
For hotel confirmation, you can book your accommodation for free or for small deposit through booking.com or hostelworld.com. Or you can reserve accommodation through Agoda that you can cancel depending on the fine print. Again, please make sure to read everything first before you book any room.
For cover letter and itinerary, you can check a sample cover letter and the common mistakes here and for itinerary here.
4. Visa Fee
Please note that visa fee is payable in Philippine peso at the current exchange rate for the day. Make sure to pay in exact amount or bring smaller bills at least.
5. Health Insurance
You have to get a travel insurance valid in Schengen States for the duration of your stay and it should have a minimum coverage of €30,000. For a list of Schengen accredited travel insurance based on the Philippines, please refer to this article. You need to print the travel insurance certificate that the agency will send you.
I used Malayan when I got my insurance and I was pretty satisfied with their service. I also found it to be the cheapest among Philippine based insurance companies. Although I’m not sure when it comes to claiming though 😛
6. Your Rootedness in the Philippines
This basically means you have to prove to the embassy that you’re going back to the country after your trip.
If you are employed: most recent income tax return, certificate of employment (including your employer’s full name, complete address and telephone number with area code details regarding your position or professional designation, income, duration of the working relationship) and letter of approved leave of absence signed by your employer OR
If you own a real estate property, you can also show the deed of sale or the land title.
- Bank Statement of Account in the last 6 months and is confirmed by the bank.
- Credit cards statements if applicable.
OR if you are an applicant with sponsor, your host needs to give you a Formal Obligation that you will need to submit to the embassy as well. For the process of getting the Formal Obligation, your host can check this instruction. You also don’t need to book a hotel or accommodation if your host is going to shoulder this.
For monetary requirement (or show money as Filipinos call it), for Germany, you need at least €45/ day. So that means if you are only staying in Germany in 10 days for example, you need to have €450 at the least. Obviously, your flight and accommodation costs should not be included on this amount.
For further information regarding requirements, please check the German embassy website.
Please make sure you have photocopies of all your documents. Separate the photocopies from your original copies and only submit original documents if they ask for it. They will take your passport so they can attach the visa into it once you pass the interview.
What Is The Process During An Interview?
Once you’re in the RCBC tower 2, find the ground receptionist of German embassy. From there, they will give you a visitor pass to the building. Once in the 25th floor, you will have to pass another security check. Then you will be called by the receptionist to check your documents and to give you a number. Once clear, you will then need to go to the waiting area. You will be asked to leave your mobile phone inside a locker. And then, you will just need to wait for your turn for the interview.
Please make sure to have your complete documents ready before going to the embassy or the embassy receptionist will just send you away. Also bring an extra ID aside from your passport that you can leave in the ground receptionist. You can’t also bring umbrella or food inside the embassy. Another thing, don’t be late but don’t arrive too early either. If you’re too early, you can’t stay in the 25th floor and you’ll be just sent away downstairs. Loitering is also prohibited in the ground floor but you can tell the security guards that your interview is near and you don’t have enough time to go outside anymore.
What Is My Chance of Getting a Schengen Visa?
To be honest, I don’t know. No one knows. Approval of Schengen visa is a case-to-case basis. During my first application on May 2015, I got denied. Surprisingly. This is after providing them complete documents, answering their questions confidently (I’m a seasoned traveller so interviews for me are not a problem) and having been to over 10 countries from the last 5 years and having visited half of them for 2-5 times.
But during the interview, I noticed that the interviewer had a problem with my job set up. I’ve been working for an American company remotely as VP of Operations for more than 3 years. This means I don’t have a job in the Philippines and our company is located in the US. Additionally, I am also single and I have no kids. This means I don’t have “domestic” and “economic” responsibilities which are the main indicators if someone will return to the country.
I had an option to file for an appeal. But I did not do it. In filing remonstration, an applicant will send a letter of appeal to the embassy with additional documents or proof (based on the reason of rejection). Then the applicant will wait until the embassy evaluate the application again and see if the first decision will be turned over. This process might take weeks or months which was why I did not bother. I decided to try other embassies since I didn’t have a problem with my itinerary, I could always change it if I wanted to. However, because of a couple of unexpected events, I wasn’t able to apply in Czech Republic. Even my plan of applying to Croatian consulate did not materialize as I was late by a day for their required minimum days of processing. In the end (a week before my flight), I wrote a letter to German embassy (not a normal remonstration letter). I also did not provide any additional proof that I’m going back to the country. I got so frustrated, I almost threw a fit but luckily, my letter made it to the Head of Visa Department and he was impressed that he called me personally and apologized. He then promised me that I would get my visa in time for my birthday celebration in Europe.
So you see, even an over confident seasoned traveller with a stable job like me can still be denied. But it doesn’t mean, you won’t try anymore. Like I said, the interviewer had her reason for rejecting me (although when I sent a letter to the embassy I called the reasons ridiculous lol). My point is, make sure to prepare properly. If you think there’s something in your application where the embassy could find a loophole, find a solid reason for that. Over prepare than sorry. Be confident and wear smart clothes. And lastly, if you really are just going to Europe for holidays (and I hope you really do), be honest. Because that’s what saved me from a heartbreak of not stepping on Europe on my birthday. 🙂