Getting a Schengen Visa at the French Embassy: What You Need to Know

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The French embassy in the Philippines has just recently delegated processing of Schengen visa applications to VFS Global. Continue reading this article — including the Comments section! — for my personal experience and tips on applying for a visa, then head to my new article How to Get A Schengen Visa Through the French Embassy (2016) to learn all about the NEW procedure for getting a Schengen visa through the French embassy.
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To secure a Schengen visa for a trip to France, here’s a summary of what you need to do:

  1. Make sure you’re applying for a Schengen visa at the right embassy.
  2. Set an appointment through the embassy’s designated Call Center.
  3. Prepare the required documents.
  4. Go to the embassy at the appointed time to personally lodge your application.
  5. Wait for the results.

Should you be applying at the French embassy?

A Schengen visa allows you to travel to France and/or any of the other countries in the Schengen Area. In other words, once you obtain a visa from ANY of the Schengen countries, you can travel to ALL of the Schengen countries. That said, you can’t just apply for a visa in any Schengen country. The rule is: your visa application should be lodged at the embassy/consulate of the country that constitutes the MAIN destination of your trip in terms of purpose or length of stay.

  1. Are you traveling only to France?
  2. Is the main purpose of your trip in France, even though you will be visiting other countries?
  3. Is France the country where you will be spending the most time?

If you answer yes to any of the questions above, then, yes, you should apply for a visa at the French embassy.

Please note that “purpose” in no. 2 usually refers to business or some other official engagement. If you spend 3 days in France and 4 days in Germany, you need to apply for a visa at the German embassy, no matter how much you protest that the main purpose of your trip is to visit the Eiffel tower.

If you are spending equal time in 2 countries — say, 3 days in France and 3 days in Germany — that is when other factors are taken into consideration, such as where your flight from the Philippines will actually land.


Set an appointment.

First of all, you should know that:

  • The French embassy is in Manila. If you’re from other parts of the Philippines, you’ll have to fly there. No exceptions.
  • Applications may only be submitted 3 months prior to departure at the earliest. If you’re one of those people (like me) who want to prepare things well ahead of time, sorry, we will just have to deal with our anxieties till 3 months prior.
  • On the flip side of the coin: waiting times for appointments can sometimes take a month or more. Moreover, the embassy warns that while visa processing usually takes just 5-7 days from the date of interview, it’s possible it will take up to 8 weeks — for instance, if they ask you to provide additional documents. Procrastinate, therefore, at your own risk.
  • Your embassy appointment is when you will be handing over your requirements. Make sure you give yourself enough time to secure things like bank certifications and marriage contracts.
  • Visa application interviews are held from Monday to Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

Ready?

You can set an appointment by calling any of these numbers anytime from 8am to 6pm, Mondays thru Saturdays except public holidays.

  • For PLDT/Smart/Touchcard Subscribers: 1 (909) 101- 3333
  • For Globe/Innove/Touchmobile Subscribers: 1 (900) 101- 3333
  • For Bayantel Subscribers: 1 (903) 101- 3333

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Prepare your requirements.

Here are the documents you need to submit in support of your visa application:

  1. Signed Schengen visa application form with photo. (Get the form here. See the photo specs here.)
  2. Valid passport and photocopy of valid and former visas. Schengen countries require that your passport be valid a mere 3 months from the end of your intended stay. However, be aware that some countries (including those you might have a layover in) require 6 months’ validity.
  3. Cover letter explaining the purpose of your trip and proposed day-to-day itinerary. (See a sample here.)
  4. Round trip flight booking. (The embassy says not to purchase a ticket unless and until you’re given a visa, but as airline bargain hunters out there know, this sort of prudence is not always possible.)
  5. Proof of accommodations. You need to present confirmed reservations from the hotels you will be staying in. Most hotels in Booking.com will allow you to reserve without paying, and many even let you cancel up to a few days before your stay without charges. Paris hotels we’ve stayed in and recommend:
  6. Proof of employment. You need to submit:
    • A certificate of employment with monthly salary, and
    • A leave of absence form approved by your employer, OR
    • If you’re self employed, your official business registration for the current and previous years.
  7. Proof of income. You need to prove that you can actually afford your trip. This means you should submit a copy of your income tax return from the previous year (if you have one). In addition, most Schengen countries require that you have cash on hand equivalent to at least €34 per day of travel. (Of course, if you only have that much money in your bank account, that would raise some eyebrows, yeah?) At any rate, you should obtain the following documents from your bank:
    • Recent bank certification, AND
    • Statement of account of the same bank account from the last three months.
      If someone else is paying for your trip, it would be best to have him/her execute a notarized Affidavit of Support. See sample HERE.
  8. Proof of identity and marital status. This means a birth certificate and, if you’re married, a copy of your marriage contract.
  9. International travel insurance from Schengen-approved insurance companies with a minimum coverage of €30,000. See the following articles for more info: Travel Insurance for European TripsSample Itineraries and Prices from Blue Cross.
  10. Visa fee of €60, to be paid in cash, in Philippine pesos. The embassy will only accept the exact amount; they will not let you say “keep the change.” This means you’ll have to bring lots of change to make sure you can pay the exact amount as dictated by the day’s exchange rate.


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Special requirements:

  • If your purpose is to visit family in France, you’ll need to present proof of your relationship, such as birth certificates and/or marriage certificates, his/hers and yours.
  • If you’re staying with a French resident, you can forego #5 and instead submit an original “Attestation d’accueil” from the City Hall of the area where your host resides, PLUS a copy of your host’s national ID or residence permit.

You have to prepare TWO sets of documents: the originals in one set, photocopies in the other.

Tip from personal experience: don’t put your documents in a clear book. They won’t accept the clear book and you’ll have a hell of a time pulling all those papers out of the plastic sleeves while the embassy staff look on impatiently.

Show up at the embassy.

Before you ask, YES, you have to be there in person, even if you have a travel agency handling your application, because the embassy needs to get your fingerprints.

Please, please make sure your documents are complete — again, even if a travel agency prepared your paperwork. The staff at the French embassy are not known for their kindness and I have personally witnessed an elderly couple being grilled in a rather humiliating manner by one of the interviewers, all because they were not able to bring a bank certificate. Their agency had apparently overlooked the omission. Sometimes, you will be given additional time to submit lacking documents, but this may not always be the case. Some embassies take the position that if you did not care enough to make sure your paperwork was complete, that means you’re not serious enough about traveling to their country.

There is no actual prescribed dress code, but you need to look like you can afford the trip. Don’t try too hard, though: an ill-fitting suit that you’re obviously uncomfortable in won’t do you any favors.

As for the interview itself, when I was there in 2011, the process was: we first had to present our documents to one of the staff, who checked it for completeness. We were then interviewed more thoroughly by another member of the staff. Be prepared for questions from both. Make sure you know your itinerary and that, if necessary, you can explain why you’re going to this place or that. Be prepared for some snark if you’re from the medical professions or other industries prone to immigration, legal or otherwise. Unlike courts of law, embassies are not required to presume that you’re innocent until proven guilty.

At this stage, some visa applicants are already turned away, based on initial examination of their papers. If you’re lucky enough to escape unscathed, your documents will be accepted, your fingerprints taken, and you’re advised to return at a later date. This does not mean that they’ve already decided to give you a visa (as I presumed during my time). Rather, your application will be subjected to a more thorough study — you may even be contacted and asked to provide more information. When you come back at the appointed date, that’s when you’ll know the verdict.

Good luck!

 

Related posts:

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Getting a Schengen Visa at the French Embassy: What You Need to Know” was created by LSS for travel site Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved. Contents verified as of 02-April-2014.

 


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170 thoughts on “Getting a Schengen Visa at the French Embassy: What You Need to Know

  1. Hello..galing po ako sa Vfs yesterday.. they ask my original invitation kaya po Di pa ako nkapg apply ng visa..sabi sa Vfs yun na lang kulang. Ko na documents.. ask ko po how much the visa then they said 6,080 peso..ang tanong ko po bakit ang mahal and sure po ba magrant schengen visa ko if kumpleto na kahit mgbayad ako ng ganon?thanks po..

    • Hi Maan! To answer your questions:

      Bakit ang mahal? — Ang usual visa fee po ay 60 euros (for short-term visa) at ang service fee ng VFS ay 26 euros. Mga P4,500 lang po yun so tanungin nyo po ang VFS kung bakit naging P6,080.

      Sure ba ma-grant Schengen visa…? — Hindi. Nagbibigay sila ng visa base dun sa information sa mga documents mo. Usually ang tinitingnan nila is: meron ka bang financial capacity to pay for your entire trip, malaki ba ang posibilidad na hindi ka na babalik sa Pilipinas, at kung tourist visa ang ina-apply-an mo, talagang tourism lang ba ang pakay mo dun o baka hahanap ka ng trabaho.

      Good luck Maan!

      • Thank you po sa reply..tinanong ko na po sa embassy why 6,080 then madami po sila sinasabi service charge etc.then sponsor po ako ng bf ko na Maltese citizen.. kaya nga po ngtataka ako bakit any mahal kahit yung mga kasabay ko ganon din bayad nila…wla po ako work and single mom po ako.. gusto po ng bf ko mameet family nya kaya invite nya ako..possible po ba magrant ako kahit wla ako work dito?and my letter of assurance naman bf ko na pababalikin nya ako dito after 1month..thanks po

      • Hi Maan! I think marami din namang nabibigyan ng visa kahit walang work dito as long as okay lang yung documents. I think ang kailangan mo lang talaga i-prove — aside from yung financial capacity, which is sagot ng bf mo — is na babalik ka dito sa Pilipinas at hindi ka mananatili dun beyond the validity of your visa. I think it will help din na single mom ka, kasi your child is still here in the Philippines, so malaki ang chance na babalik ka.

  2. Hello there. I’d like to ask kung saan nag papa-notarize ng Affidavit of Support? My partner will be sponsoring my travel kasi. We’ll be travelling together. He is a French citizen and residing here na in Manila. We’ll just gonna copy your format for Affidavit of Support.

      • hello po, pwede mag-ask kasi mag-ssubmit ako ng documents para sa au pair visa sa france and 1 yea rng contracta ko sa host family ko. mas mabuti po bang maggawa nalng din ako ng notarize letter from me and my host family. para katibayan na uuwi ako after 1 year of contract . salamt po

      • Hi Nicole! Sorry, di kasi ako familiar sa requirements para sa au pair visa, pero I think naman makakatulong (or at least hindi makakasama) kung magsusubmit ka ng notarized letter galing sa host family mo. Good luck!

  3. Hi, I already have the original copy of the “Attestation d’accueil” from my french boyfriend, tanong ko lng po kung kailangan ko pa ng invitation letter from him?

    • Hi Jevy! The requirements checklist only mentions the attestation d’accueil, a copy of his passport, and proof of your relationship BUT I think it won’t hurt if you get an invitation letter from him as well. Good luck!

      • Hi! thank you for the reply. I got my Schengen Visa last week just 3 days after I’ve submitted my documents at VFS. 🙂 Also, they’re asking me to report to the French Embassy after my trip.

      • Yayyyy!!! So happy for you. 🙂 Thanks for taking the time to let me know, and about reporting back to the embassy as well. Have a wonderful trip. 🙂

  4. Hi, i just submitted my documents at vfsglobal and the waiting begins! :-)please assure me of my chances of approval.. To prove intent to return- i submitted my COE, approved leave, 2 titles and 1 contract to sell (with me as buyer) to prove financial capacity is my 250k enough, with supporting bank statements. And my COE with compensation showing gross annual income of 1M. Thanks so much

    • Hi Maria! Well, I can’t really assure you of anything, but based on what you said, I think you have a pretty good chance of getting a visa. Good luck and enjoy your trip! 🙂

  5. Hi! My parents and I are planning on a trip to Europe (8 countries/15 days) and we actually had a talk with our travel agent but I am still worried because I’ve been unemployed ever since I graduated last oct 2014. I have some freelance works but I don’t have ITR or any proof that I can support my trip. Our travel agent said that an Affidavit of support and bank statement will do. Do you think po ba na maapprove visa ko? And pwede nyo po ba ako bigyan ng idea on how I am going to prove them that I have no plans on staying in Europe. Lastly, Kailangan po ba attorney gagawa ng Affidavit of support? or kahit ako nalang then pa notarize? Can you give me a copy po ng Affidavit? I would really appreciate if masasagot nyo. Thank you so much! 🙂

    • Hi Bea,

      If you are going with your parents and they are paying for you trip, then they can just provide you an affidavit of support. You can also submit proof of the income you have from your freelance work, such as your bank statement and any contract/agreement you have with the people you work for. I can’t guarantee that you will be given a visa but if your parents are paying for the trip, you probably have a good chance.

      Proof that you have no plans of staying in Europe — that will usually involve documents to show that you are gainfully employed (or have a steady source of income) here in the Philippines, that you have property here, that you have family here, etc. It will also help if you have traveled outside Asia before and you’ve always come back to the Philippines after your trip(s).

      You can create your own affidavit (sample here: http://smalltowngirlsmidnighttrains.com/2015/08/06/sample-affidavit-support-visa/) and have it notarized or you can have an attorney make one for you. (The latter will probably be more expensive.)

      Good luck!

  6. Hi, may interview ba? What questions did they asked you? Very tricky ba questions nila like sa US interview? Sino ngiinterview? Foreigners din?thanks.

  7. Hi! im a registered nurse in ph & i am wondering if they are as strict as the US embassy when it comes to granting tourist visa to nurses like me? Or would it better if I apply as my husband’s dependent (housewife) thank you:))

    • Hi Cheese! Sorry for the late reply, the past few days have been really busy. I’ve been trying to think of nurses I know who have gone to France, but I think most of them were working in another country, so I can’t really say if the French are as strict as the US when it comes to nurses. However, I *think* the French won’t be as strict, because it’s much more difficult to stay in France illegally to work as a nurse — for one, you would have to speak French. So, anyway, if you are working as nurse in the Philippines, you can’t hide that because they will want to know what your job is. But if you’re not working as a nurse and you’re currently a housewife, then maybe you can just say you’re a housewife and only bring up the nursing thing if they specifically ask you what you studied in college. And either way, just make sure that your requirements are complete and that you can show that you have ties to the Philippines so they will know that you are definitely coming back. Good luck!

      • Thank you so so much, really appreciate your response:))

        Just one more question, my husband started working in kuwait july of this year with residency stamp on his passport, can he still apply here in ph for schengen visa? We wanted to apply together & its also more convenient on his side. Thanks again in advance.:))

      • Hi Cheese. The French embassy website says: “The Embassy of France in Manila is only competent to process visa applications of persons residing habitually in the Philippines, the Federal States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and the Republic of Palau. If you have been residing for the majority of the year outside the Philippines, you must lodge your visa application via the Embassy/Consulate of the place of your habitual residence.” However, I’m not sure about your husband’s case because, even though he has a residency stamp for Kuwait, he only started living there in July, so technically he hasn’t spent the majority of the year there. I suggest you call the French embassy to ask them directly, since the final decision will be theirs. I hope they will still allow your husband to apply here. Good luck!

  8. i was thinking the same thing. Ill call the embassy tomorrow just to be sure. Thank you again for the insights. Hope everything goes smoothly.;))

  9. Hi! I read your article about 1 week in Paris for 50k.

    Did you accomplish everything, from visa application to your tickets and to your stay in Paris all by youurself?

    Could you recommend a travel agency to assist me in preparing/processing docs kor applying Schengen visa and also for the ticket purchase in an affordable price.

    Thanks in advance!

    Janette

    • Hi Janette!

      I’m very sorry for the super-delayed reply, I have just been really really busy. Yes, I did everything myself. If you get a travel agency, I don’t think it will be possible to spend just 50k since of course the agency will be charging you for their efforts.

      I know it can be intimidating, thinking of doing everything by yourself, but if you just take it one step at a time, you can do it!

      For tips in getting affordable plane tickets, see this article: http://smalltowngirlsmidnighttrains.com/2015/04/30/piso-sale-cheap-flights/

      Good luck!

    • Hi Karen! I don’t think you *have* to book the train tickets prior to getting a visa, although in my case I already purchased them as soon as the bookings opened so I could avail of cheaper fares. Good luck!

  10. Hi there. I was recently granted a Schengen visa thru the French Embassy, and like the one posted above, it also has a stamp that says Kindly report to the French Embassy after your trip. In addition, some notes were stapled to my passport, one reminding me to personally report to the embassy upon completion of the trip, and the other just a general reminder of what other documents may be asked of me (hotel reservations, return ticket, budget) upon entry to the Schengen states. My question is, what did they ask of you when you appeared at the embassy? Do I need to make an appointment? It would be my first time to go to France and I am the only one in our family that has a stamp like that. Im not sure if it’s because it’s the first time I applied for a Schengen visa or because I am currently not working. Thank you in advance.

    • Oh and I have another question pala, sorry, di ko naisama dun sa isa. I was granted a multiple entry visa, valid for one month, with a duration of stay na 20 days. Multiple entry means I can enter the Schengen region more than once di po ba? hehehe. And the duration of stay na 20 days means that is the maximum number of days I can stay within Eu per trip. In my understanding po, kumbaga, if I go to let’s say to France, and I stayed there for 2 weeks, and went back to Manila, I can return to France or any other Schengen state again after a week and stay there there for another week, without securing a new visa, because I have a multiple entry visa, as long as it is within the validity dates (one month) and that I dont exceed the 20 days limit. Tama po ba? Kasi po our original trip lasts for 18 days, which is within the 20 days na duration of stay. However, I plan to visit another state (Iceland), so I was think I have to exit the Schengen region and go somewhere easy and visa free for us that is relatively near Eu, and then enter again, just so I dont exceed the 20 days allowed duration. Again, my visa is valid for 1 month with multiple entries. When I asked a friend po kasi, she told me I have to get a new visa if I want to do that. But I doubted her answer because the visa is multiple entries with 20 days duration for 1 month. Thank you po and sorry kung medyo nakakalito ang question ko. =)

    • Hi kca! First of all, sorry for the super-delayed reply, I’ve been very busy. For reporting to the French embassy after the trip, I didn’t have to make an appointment, I just went there, showed my face to the lady who gave me the visa, no questions, she just stamped my passport “Seen upon return” and that’s it. 🙂 Enjoy your trip!

      • Hi there! Thank you so much for your response. Esp regarding the duration of stay. Thanks for that article. Im getting so much inspiration and help from your blog. Im excited to celebrate the New Year in Paris. Thank you again and God bless! More travels for you!

      • Ay wow! I can already imagine the Eiffel Tower lighting up, with fireworks overhead. So excited for you! Enjoy your trip! And thanks! 🙂

  11. Hi. I came across your blog after searching in Google about French visa application. I have just one question, because I never bothered asking the ‘cranky” French consul today, and somehow you have stated it here, that even though they took my passport, it’s not guaranteed that I will be given a visa, right?

    By the way, I’m a Filipino and I’m currently living and working here in Brazil. And I just applied for a French visa today in Rio. I still have two documents that I need to submit to them but there was no mention if I was denied or will be given. I guess, I’m taking into account my experience when I applied for a US visa. They will not take your passport kung denied. Or may congratulations pag bibigyan ka ng consul. Pero ang Frenchie kanina…super suplado! So hindi na ako umimik nung binigyan nya ako ng papel at sinabi na isubmit ko na lang yung kulang sa email nila. Super stressful! Kaloka!

    Do you happen to know what they will do if you’re denied of a visa. This waiting game is nakaka-wrinkles! haha

    Thanks for the very helpful blog. More power!

    • Hi Dinhs!

      Sorry for the super-late reply. I hope you’ve gotten your visa by now.

      I don’t know if it’s the same process there in Brazil, but here in the Philippines, yeah, they take your passport and that’s not a guarantee that they’ll give you a visa. Nalito din ako the first time I applied at the French embassy kasi naka-experience din ako sa US embassy, they gave me back my passport right away (kasi denied hehe). So when I went to the French embassy, and they took all my documents including my passport, sobrang happy ko pa afterwards, akala ko sure visa na. Hindi pa pala. 😀 When I went back to get back my passport, may mga kasama ako na for claiming din na hindi nabigyan ng visa.

      Anyway now, here in the Philippines, the French embassy visa applications are handled by VFS na, so talagang kukunin nila yung passport and other documents mo, and they will pass them on to the French embassy for review. You’ll find out na lang when you get back your passport. Nakaka-anxious talaga!

      Have a good trip! 🙂

  12. Hi! How many days po ang itinerary nyong sinubmit kaya binigyan kayo ng 30 days ME, sagad ba na 30 days? Kapag ako nagsubmit ng 7 or 18-day lang na schengen itinerary (3 countries, major stay in France) automatic po ba na 1 month ang range at 30 days ang valid stay na ibibigay sa akin or kung ilan lang nakalagay sa iti? Gaya s UK ko 7 days lang inaply ko and yet 6 mons pwede magstay. may way ba na makakuha ng 6 mons kahit less days lang stay, aside for my trip po kasi this december, may balak ako bumalik by march or april next year? Thanks!

    • Hi Proveto! I don’t know, I think prerogative lang nila yun, I don’t know if you can request for a specific period of validity. Yung first Schengen visa ko, 1 month validity lang yata yun, 30 days stay, tapos yung second visa ko, 1 year na yung validity, 90 days stay. So feeling ko they will give you a longer period of validity for subsequent applications na, once you’ve proven na pumunta ka na doon at hindi ka naman nag-overstay. But that’s just my theory, baka rin may ibang embassies lang na mas generous sa visa.

  13. Hi! would like to share our experience on vfs france manila. We lodged our application Nov 14 Monday. Received sms Nov 18 Friday that our passports were ready for pick. Nov 21 Monday went to vfs with such anxiety and anticipation, our visas were granted!!!!:)))) Booked our ticket ahead of time and it was all so worth it. My husband & I were very anxious about the processing time because he only went home for the visa application and he needs to fly back to work on Nov 25th. But the processing was very timely & smooth:))

    Thank you for all the information & insights! Will celebrate our first wedding anniversary in europe!:)))

    Good luck & Godbless everyone!

    • Yay!!!!! I’m very happy for you! Oh wow, first anniversary in Europe. Wishing you both all the best, on your trip and in life.

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