First and foremost let me tell you my profile. I am a full-time travel blogger with BIR registration holding a regular passport. I live in Davao City, Philippines. This post is mostly applicable if you are a full-time blogger/content creator or a freelancer WITH BIR registration. That means you have your annual Income Tax Return (ITR) filed and stamped.
If you are employed or self-employed, that’s okay too. You can still use this as a guide in getting your Schengen Visa.
I applied at the Austrian Embassy through VFS Global since my point of entry will be Vienna and I will be spending equal time in other countries that I will be visiting. If you are unsure which embassy to apply to, just read below.
RELATED: Check out how much I spent on my 26 days Dream Euro Trip
What is a Schengen Visa?
A Schengen visa is a short-stay visa allowing its holder to travel in the Schengen area. The Schengen area covers 27 countries (“Schengen States”) without border controls between them. Filipino citizens are required to get a Schengen visa if they wish to visit Schengen areas such as France, Austria, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, etc.
What countries are in the Schengen area?
- Czech Republic
- Croatia – newest member as of 1 January 2023
Where to apply for a Schengen Visa in the Philippines?
Here’s the thing, you should lodge your Schengen Visa application at the Embassy or visa center of your main destination in the Schengen zone.
In the Philippines, most of the Schengen Visa applications are processed through VFS Global Visa Application Center in Manila or Cebu City.
If you are visiting more than one country in the Schengen area, you have to consider two things:
- Apply to the country where you spend most of the days of your trip, or
- Sample itinerary: 5 days in Austria, 3 days in Germany, and 2 days in France >> Apply at the Austrian Embassy thru VFS
- If you will stay in countries with the same number of nights, then apply to the country where you first enter.
- Sample itinerary: 3 days in Spain, 3 days in Italy, 2 Days in France >>> Apply at the Spanish Embassy since it’s your point of entry.
You can also check out VFS Global for detailed information on the visa application process.
How early can you apply for a Schengen Visa?
You can apply for a Schengen Visa at least 6 months before your travel date. Plan ahead, and apply as early as possible but 3 months before your departure should be okay. Sometimes, you will be asked for more documents so it’s better to apply early. In my case, the Austrian embassy emailed me because the travel insurance company that I got is not accredited. I had to purchase another insurance from another company.
Schengen Visa Requirements
- Duly filled and signed application form.
- You can download the form here.
- Original passport and photocopy of the bio page + photocopies of each page with visa and stamp
- Valid at least 3 months beyond the expiration date of the requested visa (exit of Schengen), at least 2 blank pages.
- Passport Photo
- Not older than 6 months, format 3.5 x 4.5 cm, color, no photoshop rework, light background (preferably white), complying with ICAO guidelines, glued on the application form. You can see the detailed description of the photo requirement here.
- Travel Insurance with COVID coverage
- Valid for all Schengen countries and for the full duration of the intended stay, minimum coverage sum of 30,000 Euro, travel insurance cannot be accepted if it excludes the coverage of a pandemic illness.
- Only the following insurance companies are accepted by the Austrian Embassy:
- As mentioned above, I got contacted by the Austrian Embassy by email informing me that the insurance I got wasn’t valid so I had to purchase a new one and submitted the new policy by email. Make sure you do not commit the same mistake to avoid the hassle. You can see more information here.
- Proof of travel arrangements: Flight reservation
- Copy of the round trip airline reservation, issued in the name of the traveler with the complete itinerary. You do not need to purchase the ticket yet. I got mine from a local travel agency. I paid Php800 for it.
- Applicants financial means
- You will be required to submit the following:
- Bank certification (original) – you can get this from your bank. It should be addressed to the embassy you are applying for a Schengen Visa
- bank books
- personal bank statements showing regular income for the past 6 months. You can also get this from your bank. I only got one from my main bank and I only submitted e-statements from my secondary bank.
- credit card statements or balance covering the last 6 months.
- For minors: proof of parents or legal guardian’s economic means.
- In addition, I also submitted copies of my earnings from Adsense and Agoda.
- You will be required to submit the following:
- Proof of ties in the Philippines
- You can submit the following documents:
- Proof of social security contributions – I only had a screenshot of my contributions from the SSS online portal.
- copy of real estate property (title-deed).
- proof of family ties in the Philippines (e.g. birth certificate of children or marriage certificate) which should be issued by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA)
- In addition, I also submitted the following documents, just to strengthen my visa application:
- Stocks certificate from COL Financial (digital copy)
- Memorial plan
- Copy of Life Insurance Plan
- You can submit the following documents:
- Proof of occupation
- If employed: Certificate of employment, certificate of leave of absence, latest income tax return
- If self-employed: Proof of company registration issued by the Department of Trade Industry (DTI) or Securities Exchange Commission SEC registration of business, latest Income tax return, business financial statement.
- If pupil/student: Proof of enrollment, certificate of leave of absence if traveling during the school year.
- Since I am registered as a professional and do not have an SEC registration or DTI certificate, I submitted a copy of my BIR Registration form 2303 and a copy of my latest ITR (2021).
- If traveling with spouse and/or children
- Marriage contract certified by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).
- Birth certificates of children certified by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).
- Proof of accommodation
- Confirmation of hotel booking, hotel voucher, or letter of the promise of accommodation by the host (invitation letter); printed on max. 2 pages. I used Agoda to book my hotels. I chose the offer than can be canceled for free just in case my application is rejected.
- If traveling alone or with only one parent: written consent of the non-traveling parent/legal guardian or proof of sole custody of the traveling parent or legal guardian. If the name of the father does not appear on the PSA-issued birth certificate, no consent is required.
- Copy of bio-data page of parent(s) or legal guardian’s passport.
- Birth certificate certified by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA)
- If traveling alone: Department of Social Welfare and Development (DWD) clearance.
- Detailed day-to-day itinerary of the planned trip, indicating arrival and departure in other Schengen countries. See a sample of the itinerary I submitted.
- Cover Letter
- Submitting a cover letter is optional but it could help you get a visa. I highly recommend you write one for you detailing your reason why you want to go to Europe. Check out the sample cover letter I submitted.
- I was also asked to submit a copy of my vaccination certificate which I got online from https://vaxcert.doh.gov.ph/
- Visa fee
- Schengen visa: Php 4,568.00
- Schengen visa for ages between 6-12 years: Php 2,284.00
- Apart from the visa fee, there is also a logistics fee of Php 2,324.00 payable to VFS Services Philippines Pvt Inc.
- Courier Fee: Php450
- SMS Fee: Php150
See the checklist of requirements for Schengen Visa Application from the Austrian Embassy.
Step-By-Step Guide On Applying For a Schengen Visa
- Gather all the requirements. Always use the checklist to make sure you don’t miss anything.
- Print and fill out the application form.
- Schedule your appointment through VFS Global
- Be at the center at least 30 minutes before your appointment schedule. You will be allowed to enter 15 minutes before your schedule. Do not come too early as there are no chairs outside their office. There’s a coffee shop though but it was only for takeout when I was there due to the pandemic restrictions. There is no dress code but dress appropriately.
- Wait for your turn. Then submit your papers to the person in charge. The windows have labels on which embassy they represent.
- Go through the biometrics process.
- Exit and you’re done!
- If you need to go through an interview, answer the questions truthfully.
- Monitor your email, the embassy will send you an email communication if there is something missing in your documents. In my case, they emailed me to get another travel insurance accredited by the embassy.
- Wait patiently. If you avail of the SMS service, VFS will send the message when the passport is back from the embassy. In my case, it took 10 days. It could have been earlier if I got the travel insurance right the first time.
- Your passport will be sent to your mailing address. As of writing, no pick-up option is offered.
Schengen Visa Processing Time
The visa application processing is is usually between 5 to 15 days. Depending on the volume of applications received by the embassy, it may take longer or shorter if your papers are complete.
- Print at least one extra application form and bring it when you submit your application at the VFS. This is just in case you need to fill out a new form.
- Attach documents that you feel will help you get a visa. I attached a copy of my memorial plan, just to let them know that I do not have any plans to stay there forever. Hahaha. Most visa rejections are because of the rootedness in the country. So, show them that you will come back.
VFS Global Visa Application Center
Address: Ground Floor, EcoPlaza Building, 2305 Chino Roces Ave. Extension, Makati City,Makati,Philippines,1231.
Helpline Number: +63 2 528 2500
Got any questions? Want more travel stories and inspiration? Follow us on IG: @escapemanila
Glen Nomad is a travel blogger and the founder of Escape Manila, one of the top travel blogs in the Philippines. He has visited all 82 provinces in the Philippines and has explored 53 countries across Asia, North & South America, East Africa, Europe, and Australia. Follow him on IG at @escapemanila