Do you want to know how to get Schengen visa in the Philippines? Is it your first time to apply for a Schengen visa? Unlike other nationalities with stronger passports, it is a long process that needs mindful preparation. In this post, you will read 10+ easy tips to increase your chances of getting approved.
Table of Contents
- Draft an itinerary
- Beef up your travel history
- Check the requirements + consulate policies
- Set a timeline for important dates
- Ace that “show money” dilemma – Save, save, save!
- Prepare a detailed cover letter
- Read the instructions and steps carefully
- Be consistent with the numbers, dates, and activities
- Provide as many relevant documents as you can
- Be honest and confident
During the second half of August 2019, I was in Europe, visiting Berlin, Prague, and Vienna. I was supposed to go to Budapest and Amsterdam too, but loneliness got the best of me and I went home earlier than planned. Prone to sadness when solo traveling? Read my post about it!
To be honest, applying for a Schengen visa as a solo female traveler and a Filipino freelancer was nerve wracking. It would’ve been costly if I got denied… because I already booked my tickets! Not advisable but I couldn’t resist the promo fares! Plus, my situation was already a huge red flag.
- Solo female – “She might extend her stay and look for a job,” “she might marry a local for a visa,” or worse, “she might go TNT”
- Freelancer – “She doesn’t have a ‘real job’ and might look for work,” “She doesn’t have a strong attachment to her country,” or in other words, “she has no reason to return”
But I did my research on how to get Schengen visa in the Philippines. I learned from the experiences of others like me. I made sure I’ve got every base and potential doubt covered, and my application was tight as it could be. So, here are the things I did that helped me get that Schengen visa from the German Embassy.
Draft an itinerary
Europe includes about 50 countries, and the Schengen visa covers 26 countries. Check if the country you want to visit is included.
If you’re traveling to more than one country, figure out how many days you want to stay in each. The country where you want to stay the longest is where you will apply for the Schengen visa. My point of entry was Berlin. I also stayed there the longest. So, I applied at the German Embassy.
Here’s a complete budget guide to making your own travel itinerary.
Beef up your travel history
Traveling in Europe is long term vision, and for most of us, it really is years in the making. For my Europe 2019 trip, I started planning and saving 2.5 years ago. While I waited for the right time, I made sure to collect stamps in my passport.
Then, when you apply for the Schengen visa, make your travel history apparent by arranging the details in a table. Always make it convenient for the consular officer going through your application. Here’s how I arranged mine.
Why do you need to have previous travel experience before going for a Schengen visa? To show that traveling is part of your lifestyle, decreasing any suspicion that you’re going to Europe to stay and work illegally. It also shows that you have the financial capacity as well as multiple evidences that you never overstay and “always come back home,” if that makes.
There are many visa-free countries for Filipinos. Since saving for Europe is the ultimate goal, ASEAN countries plus some Asian countries will be your best bet. Once you start building up your travel funds and getting extra savings, you can include Japan and Korea in the mix.
Here’s a complete list of the 64 countries Filipinos can enter without visa.
Check the requirements + consulate policies
In general, there is no one answer to the question, “How to get Schengen visa in the Philippines” because requirements could be different in each country. So, always check the specific consulate website of where you intend to apply. For Germany, here’s the list of requirements for short stay (maximum of 90 days) visa for tourists above the age of 18.
- Identity: Passport, passport-size photo
- Purpose of travel: Itinerary, roundtrip tickets, confirmation of accommodations
- Financial coverage: Bank statement, bank certificate, payroll (if applicable), any proof of income
- Rootedness: Certificate of employment, letter of approved leave of absence, letters from clients, business registration, income tax return
- Health insurance (minimum coverage of €30,000, pick from a list of providers the consulate provided)
- Visa fee (to be paid upon application)
- Application form (to be filled up online)
Find out whether you can submit the application to the consulate or you have to go through an agency. The German Embassy processes Schengen visa application, but slots are limited! I missed booking a schedule, so I went through their service provider, VFS.
I suggest, if you have everything ready and can go through the consulate, do so! You will save around P1,000 of agency service fee.
Set a timeline for important dates
Dates are important because your documents need to be updated when you submit your Schengen visa application. Let’s say your trip is in August, you can already book for an interview slot three months before the date of your trip.
That means, all statements and certificates should be ready by then. Now, when you plot your timeline, will you hit your target “show money”? Will your savings cover everything with an extra left behind after your trip? Of course, you wouldn’t want to be broke after traveling in Europe. If it’s doable, then set the plan in motion!
Ace that “show money” dilemma – Save, save, save!
One of the most frequently asked questions when figuring out how to get Schengen visa in the Philippines is, “How much is ‘show money’?” Honestly, there’s no specific amount to target, just a range which highly depends on your itinerary. Here’s a list of expenses to consider when preparing your application.
- Plane tickets
- Other transportation costs (trains, buses, cabs)
- Entry fees to attractions
- Visa fees
- Travel tax
- Daily travel costs (which depends per country: see here)
Total everything so you will get a ballpark figure of how much you will have to save in addition to what’s already in your savings account. As for my two-week Europe trip across four countries, my initial batch of expenses (those I was sure of before application) were the following.
|Plane (Manila to Berlin)||17,866.18|
|Plane (Amsterdam to Manila)||17,296.00|
|Plane (Budapest to Amsterdam)||3,520.50|
|Bus (Berlin to Prague)||1,148.01|
|Train (Prague to Vienna)||854.56|
|Train (Vienna to Budapest)||1,714.38|
|Schonbrunn Palace tickets||1,560.44|
|Berlin Welcome Card||2,577.47|
|Vienna 48H pass||870.00|
|Visa + VFS||3,520.00|
|China transit visa||1,400.00|
Roughly, the list above should have covered a part of the “daily travel costs” in Germany which is €45/day (around P2,521). Overall, my budget for the trip was around P100,000 to P120,000. Then, I made sure I had both buffer money and permanent savings to show the consul that I was financially capable in case something happened.
Prepare a detailed cover letter
Obviously not one of the requirements, but a cover letter helps the consul officer understand the reason of your travel in your own words. It’s like a job application. The cover letter allows you to present yourself, explain why you want to travel, and give background about the documents you prepared, or lack of, for the application.
What to include in the cover letter for Schengen visa application? List all the possible red flags you think you have and address them one by one. Here are some best practices and see the actual letter I submitted to the German Embassy below!
- Introduce yourself, what you do, your source of income
- Share why you want to go to Europe and the specific countries you’re visiting
- Explain the documents you’re submitting
- Don’t leave anything up for misinterpretation
- Be formal and respectful
Also, a cover letter is great especially if you’re going through VFS since there’s no interview!
Read the instructions and steps carefully
To save you time and prevent your application from being denied, ensure that you filled up the form completely and according to the instructions provided. If you can’t fit all of the information, put a note that leads the consul to an attached document.
In my case, since I’m home-based, I put “PLEASE REFER TO COVER LETTER FOR EXPLANATION” under employer and employer’s address. In addition, since I was staying in more than one accommodation, I only included the information of my hostel in Berlin and directed the consul officer to the others with, “MINIMAL HOSTEL + PLEASE REFER TO DOCUMENTS.”
Be consistent with the numbers, dates, and activities
Make sure that the number of days you’re applying for reflects not only your itinerary but also the dates on your plane tickets, accommodations, and entry tickets of attractions you pre-booked. In my case, the hotel reservations that I made were of course consistent with the days I was spending in each country.
Don’t ask for 30 days when you’re only staying for 14 days. If that’s the case, just ask for 14 days. Don’t ask for multiple entry if you don’t need to. Generally, inconsistency is a red flag—a sign dishonesty.
I remember while I was submitting my requirements at VFS, the guy beside me was asking the local staff if it’s possible to request for a multiple-entry visa for 90 days since he intended to go back multiple times.
However, the documents he presented was good for one entry only. What he should’ve done, in my opinion, was asked for a single entry with the appropriate number of days, then put in his request and explanation in the cover letter (if he had one).
Provide as many relevant documents as you can
A tricky part while I was researching how to get Schengen visa in the Philippines was my work setup. It was a bit unconventional. I was working home-based for less than a year. So, to make my application stronger, I provided as many documents as possible.
- Bank statement
- Bank certificate
- “Certificate of employment” (which included the nature of my work, my salary, my approved leave of absence)
- Business registration as a self-employed individual (even if it was registered just a month before I applied!)
- Income tax return (previous year, when I was still working in a physical office)
- Payoneer transactions
- Credit card statements
- Travel history
In your case, find out what documents you can show to prove your financial readiness. If you need certifications for projects completed and payments sent from your clients, ask! I’m sure your clients would be happy to help. My only tip here is you should draft the letter for them, so they only have to sign and scan!
Be honest and confident
Whether in the documents you’re submitting or on the day of your interview (if you have one), just relax, stick to your itinerary, and be confident. But this is me assuming that you’re going to Europe just for travel and nothing else fishy!
Honestly, before I submitted my application, I was ready to back down. First, because I was supposed to travel with my friends (but they weren’t able to make it). Second, just plain old negative and overthinking. And third, I didn’t want to get a refused/denied/rejected stamp on my passport. But I pushed through and I’m glad I did.
Knowing how to get Schengen visa in the Philippines lies primarily in doing your own research, planning ahead, and following rules diligently. If Europe is one of your dream destinations, then you really have to start preparing and saving now (if you haven’t already).
Are you traveling to Europe any time soon? I hope this post helped you a bit! Good luck!