One downside to being a citizen of our beloved country is having to apply for visa when travelling to non-Southeast Asian countries. I was able to apply for a US visa last 2007 and a Schengen visa just this March. Fortunately, I got approved for both. So now I am hoping to give you some tips on how to prepare and apply for a Schengen visa.
(First and foremost disclaimer, this post is purely based on my experience getting a Schengen visa through the German Embassy so you still HAVE to read through the embassy’s website for the documentary requirements and procedures relevant to your circumstance.)
Know where to apply for a Schengen visa.
For this trip, we applied at the German embassy because we’re staying here the longest. If you plan to go to multiple countries you need to determine where you’re staying the longest, or if there’s equal length of stay determine where your country of entry is.
Determine the type of visa.
This is very important because the requirements that you need to submit depend on the purpose of your travel. Examples are for the purpose of business, visiting a fair, visiting family and/or friends, and tourism. For us, we applied for a visa for the purpose of visiting a friend, who will be our host in Berlin. Go to the German embassy webpage and read the descriptions to make sure you’re applying for the correct one.
Prepare your requirements.
Take note that the embassy does not accept incomplete documents, so check and double check (or even triple check) that you have everything you need.
If you’re also visiting family and/or friends in Germany, you need to prepare the following:
1. Passport and 2 current passport pictures
2. Fully completed and signed visa application form completed online or thru their Callcenter. (We completed this via the Callcenter and we got the printed copy on our appointment date and just signed off on the document. If there’s any correction to the information, you can always edit the form and countersign.)
3. Visa declaration form which has been fully completed and signed by hand.
4. Documentary proof of the purpose of travel. Since ours was to visit a friend, we submitted a copy of the informal invitation by the host, containing information on our host’s exact residence address, telephone number, her work information, our purpose of travel and the full duration of our travel and stay with her. We also submitted a copy of her passport and residence card. And as an additional proof of our relationship, we included photos of us together and her old employment certificate to show that we knew each other because of our previous employment.
5. Proof of reservation of a round-trip ticket. This will prove that you are returning to the country and not overstaying.
6. Proof of financial coverage of the cost of travel and stay. Since I am employed, I prepared copies of my bank account and credit card statements for the past six months. This is something you need to prepare for at least a year prior to your intended trip- you really need to save, save and save to provide proof that you have sufficient funds to cover the trip.
7. Original travel health insurance with a minimum coverage sum of 30,000 Euros.
8. Proof of employment such as most recent income tax return, certificate of employment and a signed letter of approved leave of absence signed by the employer.
9. Visa fee. On your appointment date, you will be made to pay the visa fee of 65 Euros in its peso equivalent so best to bring the exact amount.
I prepared 3 sets of documents: 1 original and 2 photocopies. Mabuti na ang praning hehe. To make sure I got everything covered, I used the checklist from the embassy website as guide. Just to reiterate, it is best to always check the website to make sure that the information you have is updated.
Set an interview appointment
It is advised that you call for an appointment at least one month prior to your trip because of the standard two-week processing. But you can’t also book for an appointment really early because it has to be at most 90 days from your intended date of trip.
Be at the embassy for your appointment.
The earlier you arrive for your appointment, the better. Make sure you have all your documents, and all forms are signed and completed as you need to submit all of these during the interview.
For the interview, just relax and answer all questions as complete and as concise as you can. Some basic questions are: how long are you travelling, where are you staying, what is your relationship with and how do you know the host, how are you paying for your trip. Since I was travelling with a friend and he was interviewed before me, I wasn’t asked too many questions. I think it also helped that I’ve had some previous travel experience.
Towards the end of the interview, I was told to expect my passport within 5 days. I took this as a very good sign because from what I’ve read and heard from other people, you wait from 2 weeks to a month for your passport and that’s the only time you know if you’ve been approved or denied. True enough, I received my visa on the fourth day! Yaaayyy!!!
In just 6 more days and we’re Germany-bound. I can barely contain my excitement! I hope to post more helpful tips during the trip and of course, some pictures and details of our itinerary.