Filipinos are required to have a Schengen visa when traveling to a country within the Schengen Area in Europe. As of 19 December 2011, the Schengen Area consists of the following European countries:
Applying for a Schengen visa — or any other visa, for that matter — in the Philippines can be a somewhat tedious process, with countless forms to fill, myriad documents to procure, expensive fees to pay…you get the drift. Here’s a guide to help you on your own application.
The following is based on our own application at the Italian Embassy on August 2012. It applies only to short-stay tourist visas for visits of less than 90 days, for Filipinos residing in the Philippines. For other types of visas and foreign residents, contact their call center.
We applied at the Italian Embassy since Italy was our point of entry and exit. Unlike most embassies of Schengen countries in the Philippines, the Italian Embassy does not require a personal appearance, which is convenient for applicants who live outside of Metro Manila. However, if you’re going on a European tour and Italy is not your main destination nor your entry/exit point, the embassy’s call center will likely instruct you to apply for a Schengen visa at the embassy of your main destination and/or entry/exit country.
1. Prepare the required documents
It would be wise to have most of the requirements ready before you schedule a courier pick-up date with the embassy’s call center. You can listen to a recorded list of requirements by calling +63 (2) 845-9200. Here are the documents to submit to the Italian Embassy:
- Cover letter. This is not required, but since there is no personal interview, we included one to better explain the purpose of our visit. You can download our sample cover letter here.
- Completed Schengen visa application form. The application form can be downloaded here. Don’t forget to affix your signature on the last page.
- One (1) passport-size photo with white background. Click here for picture specifications; the studio photographer is likely already familiar with these. Do not bother sending more than one copy; we sent two copies each and they returned the extra one along with our passports. Do not staple.
- Original Philippine passport. Passport must be valid for at least three (3) months from the end of your trip and have at least two (2) blank pages.
- Photocopies of information page (second page) and signature page (inside back cover) of passport
- Photocopies of information and signature pages of old passports
- Photocopies of previous visas and immigration stamps (Schengen or otherwise), if any
- Proof of occupation. For employee: Certificate of Employment with approved leave of absence, photocopy of company ID and payslips, etc. For self-employed: photocopies of Certificate of Registration and latest Income Tax Return, etc. For students: photocopies of Certificate of Enrollment and school ID, etc. You can provide more proof, such as photocopies of latest professional tax receipt and membership cards in professional organizations, if you feel it will help.
- Proof of sufficient funds. Original bank certificates and photocopies of passbooks covering transactions for the last six (6) months. If you have a non-passbook ATM account, you can ask the bank for a copy of your Statement of Account for that period, or print it yourself if available through the bank’s online facility. If you have credit cards, you can submit your credit card statements for the same period. Obviously, you must have enough money in the bank to cover the costs of your airfare, accommodation, tours, food, etc. Click here for the daily minimum amount required in Euros for tourists in Italian territory.
- Detailed travel itinerary. This is for the entire duration of your trip, including stays outside of Italy. If your trip is a package tour from a travel agency, the agency will likely provide this for you. If you’re on a DIY trip, simply make one yourself. For example:
|Date||Activity and location||Accommodation|
|4 April 2013||Self-guided walking tour, Rome, Italy||Welrome Hotel, Rome, Italy|
- Confirmation of reservation of round-trip tickets. You need not buy your tickets at this time; confirmed reservations are sufficient enough. You can get a booking certification from any reputable travel agency for a fee (we got ours for PHP 560). Some agencies even offer it for free. Note: booking certifications issued by travel agencies usually have a validity period; be sure to send your application within that time.
- Confirmation of reservation of accommodation. Same as above, you need not pay your hotel/hostel/etc at this time; your travel agency can make the necessary reservation and issue a booking certification. Alternatively, you can book online and print the voucher yourself; Booking.com allows you to make reservations without a down payment. If you’re staying with a friend or a relative instead, you will need to submit an invitation letter from them and a photocopy of their passport or residence permit. The template for the invitation letter can be downloaded here. (Edit: Click here for an English version of this invitation letter.)
- Confirmation of reservation of tours, if any. Same as above, your travel agency can arrange this for you.
- Photocopy of travel insurance policy with a minimum coverage of EUR 30, 000. Your travel insurance should cover the entire trip duration plus an additional 15 days from the end of your trip. Click here for the list of accredited Philippine insurance companies. The most convenient is the Prestige Euro Plan of Blue Cross; you can easily purchase it online here and have the policy instantly delivered to your email address.
- Other supporting documents. You may submit other documents which you feel will help establish your rootedness in and assurance of return to the Philippines, such as photocopies of marriage certificate, birth certificate of children, land titles, etc.
- Manager’s check payable to ‘PIASI’. You can procure a manager’s check from any commercial bank where you have an account. You will be informed of the current visa fee when you set an appointment with the embassy’s call center. At the time of our application, the fee was PHP 4, 495.
- Document checklist with disclaimer. Simply print a list of all the documents you will submit and add the following disclaimer at the bottom: “Incomplete requirements may be grounds for the refusal of my application.” Affix your signature to the checklist above your printed name.
2. Set a pick-up date with their call center
You may contact the call center of the Italian Embassy through the following toll numbers:
Calls cost a whopping PHP 32 per minute from landline (more from cellphone). Once connected, the customer service agent will give you a reference number and inform you of the date the courier (usually 2GO) will pick up the documents from your specified address.
3. Submit requirements to the courier
The courier will pick up your documents on your appointment date and give you an acknowledgment receipt. Before submission, place all the requirements in a long brown envelope and seal it with tape. Write the following on the back of the envelope:
First line: ITALIAN EMBASSY VISA APPLICATION
Second line: TOURIST VISA
Third line: [YOUR COMPLETE NAME]
Fourth line: [YOUR PASSPORT NUMBER]
Fifth line: [YOUR REFERENCE NUMBER]
Visa processing at the Italian Embassy takes up to 15 working days. If all your requirements are in order and the consul approves your application, the courier will return with your passport with Schengen visa within that time.
If approved, the embassy will send a notice along with your passport saying that you may be asked to provide copies of the required documents at the point of entry or anytime during your stay in the Schengen Area. Personally, we did not experience this; the immigration officer merely stamped our passports and waved us through without saying anything at all. Unless you change your point of entry to another country, you probably will not be questioned upon arrival in Italy.