Whether you’re travelling as a digital nomad or you’re in for a no-work-strictly-leisure vacation of a lifetime, Europe is truly one of the grandest places you could ever visit. And for Filipinos, enjoying the rich culture of European countries all start with one document: Schengen Visa.
Schengen visa and how to apply for one
Schengen visa covers the majority of countries in Europe (click here for a complete list of Schengen Member States). How would you know where to apply for a Schengen Visa? Ther are two basic rules:
- A traveler should apply for a Schengen Visa from the country where most of one’s stay in Europe would be spent. For example, If you’re staying two days in Paris, five days in Amsterdam, and three days in Rome, you should apply for a visa through the Dutch embassy because you’re staying in Amsterdam the longest.
- If a traveler is to stay for equal periods in more than one country, one should seek for a Schengen visa from his or her point of entry. For example, if you’re spending four days in Paris, four days in Rome and four days in Amsterdam, then you should apply for a Schengen visa through the French Embassy because Paris is your point of entry.
Travel Agency vs. DIY Travel
I’ve once been granted a Schengen Visa back in 2011 when we went on a European Highlights Cosmos bus tour, which we availed from a travel agency. The agency got our Schengen Visas from the Italian Embassy as it was where we spent most of our stay in Europe. The Italian Embassy didn’t require personal appearance, so all we had to do was to submit the requirements to the travel agency. They took care of the rest and after about a week, our passports with Schengen Visas were delivered to our doorstep.
This year, we decided to travel around Europe sans a tour package. Not only is a DIY Eurotrip a lot more affordable, but it will also give us more time to enjoy Europe at our own pace. If you’re also thinking of touring Europe on your own, be prepared to spend an ample amount of time organizing your requirements and planning your trip from scratch (read about our Schengen Visa personal appearance and submission of requirements in this blog post).
Basic requirements for Schengen Visa
Schengen Visa requirements may vary from country to country. However, the basic requirements are the following:
- Accomplished visa application form
- Passport-size photo taken recently
- Passport valid at least 3 months prior to departure with at least two blank pages
- Copies of previous visas
- Round trip airline reservations
- Travel itinerary
- Proof of accommodation (e.g. hotel or apartment boking)
- Proof of sufficient means of subsistence (e.g. Certificate of Employment, Bank Statements, etc)
Schengen Visa Approval Rate
There are various rumors about European consulates with regard to approving and disapproving Schengen Visa applications. Some say that the Italian embassy screens Filipino applicants more meticulously because apparently, there are many Pinoy illegal immigrants in Italy.
A few years ago, a former colleague of mine applied for a Schengen visa though the Spanish Embassy even though he knew he would be staying in Italy the longest during his Eurotrip. He did so thinking that the Spanish Embassy was laxer in approving Filipino visa applications than the Italian Embassy. He was granted a Schengen Visa by the Spanish Embassy alright, but it doesn’t really prove his theory.
According to 2016 statistics, the top Schengen countries with the lowest rate of denied visas are: Iceland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Finland (click here for the 10 Easiest Schengen countries to obtain a Schengen Visa). Some travelers may feel the urge to tweak their itineraries just to be able to apply for Schengen visas through these countries. But as long you’re going to Europe for a vacation and don’t have plans of doing anything illegal, the best thing to do is to be honest and stick with your itinerary.
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