My daughter Bea and I recently obtained our Schengen Visa - Short Stay (Visit/Tourism) from the Ambassade de France aux Philippines. It is located on the 16th Floor of the Pacific Star Building on the corner of Sen. Gil Puyat and Makati Avenues in Makati. I observed the following steps when I applied for our visas:
- First is to set an appointment via the French Embassy’s designated Call Center. Appointments may only be made within three months from the date of departure. The number to call is 1 (909) 101-3333. Be sure to have all your passport details and trip itinerary ready because it’s a toll number and the phone call costs P32++ per minute.
- Once an appointment is set, you may start completing the requirements for submission:
- Signed Schengen visa application form with photo (35mm x 45mm – white background) — application form may be downloaded from www.ambafrance-ph.org
- Valid passport (3 months’ validity from the end of intended stay) and a photocopy of the first page of said passport
- Photocopies of valid and former visas (when applicable)
- Cover letter explaining the purpose of your trip including day-to-day itinerary
- Proof of accommodations (hotel vouchers or, if staying with a French resident, original copy of Attestation d’accueil delivered by the City Hall where the host is residing)
- Round-trip flight booking
- Proof of employment (such as Certificate of Employment stating monthly salary and approved leave of absence; for self-employed – official business registration for current and previous year)
- Proof of income or financial capability (e.g., latest income tax return, recent bank certification, photocopy of last 3 months statement of account of the same bank account) — this is the most important of all the requirements, I heard one of the agents tell the applicants
- Identity/marital status: for single applicants – photocopy of birth certificate; for married applicants – photocopy of marriage contract and birth certificate)
- International travel insurance covering medical expenses and repatriation for the entire period of intended stay and valid for all Schengen states (minimum coverage should be €30,000)
- Visa fee payable in cash at the Embassy (€60 for adults; €35 for children 6 to 12 years old; fee is waived for children below 6 years old) and may be paid in its equivalent in Philippine peso based on the prevailing exchange rate
- On the appointed date and time, you will get a number stub at the reception. Wait for your number to be called and proceed to the designated counter. An agent will ask you all sorts of question regarding your personal information (e.g., What is your job? How long have you been in your profession? What is your husband’s job? Is this your first time in Europe?) and your intended trip.
The agents can somehow be very intimidating because of their thick French accents and straight faces, so just be very honest and upfront with your replies. I think it also helps to be extra-courteous to them (I smiled a lot and addressed them as “Ma’am” all the time). After the submissions and question-and-answer part, you will be asked to have your biometrics taken (digital photo and fingerprinting) at the counter.
You will be given a date and time to come back for your passport/s. Processing of the visa application takes 5 to 7 working days, unless additional documents are required and further verification is needed. The whole process is not so difficult after all, as long as you submit all the necessary documents. Bon chance!!!