How to Get a Schengen Visa at the German Embassy

How to Get a Schengen Visa at the German Embassy in Manila, Philippines | SGMT
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When I visited Munich two years ago, I was on a trip through several European cities and had gotten my Schengen visa from the Dutch embassy. For that reason, when last week my mum’s friend asked me to help her get a visa to visit her sister in Germany, I told her I would still have to look up the specific procedure at the German embassy. (You see, procedures can vary among different embassies: some use third-party visa application centers, some handle it themselves; some require cover letters, some don’t; and so on.)

The website of the German embassy in Manila was very helpful but with the wealth of information there, it took several clicks to tease out just the information that I needed. So…I figured it might be useful if I gathered all the information for tourists/family visits and put them all here in one page.

Please note that this guide is for Filipinos who want to go to Germany either (1) for tourism, or (2) to visit family and friends there. The website of the German embassy in Manila can guide you if you want to go to Germany for other purposes:

  • Au pairs (see requirements HERE)
  • Business (see requirements HERE)
  • Employment (get more info HERE)
  • Fairs (see requirements HERE)
  • Family reunion and subsequent permanent stay (see requirements HERE)
  • Jobseekers – highly skilled professionals who want to look for a job in Germany (see requirements HERE)
  • Language course less than 3 months (see requirements HERE)
  • Language course longer than 3 months (see requirements HERE)
  • Marriage and subsequent permanent stay (see requirements HERE)
  • Nurses seeking employment in Germany (get more info HERE)
  • Seafarers joining their ship in a German harbour (get more info HERE)
  • Studying in Germany (see requirements HERE)

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*Applying for a Schengen Visa at the German Embassy: The Basics
Applying for a Schengen visa at the German embassy_1_The Basics

Basically, there are 5 things you need to do to get a Schengen visa from the German embassy:

  1. Prepare your travel itinerary.
  2. Fill up the online application form.
  3. Gather all your requirements.
  4. Set an appointment at the Germany embassy.
  5. Go to the embassy at the appointed date and time and submit your requirements.

Personal appearance is necessary.

The earliest time you can apply for a visa is 3 months before you intend to enter the Schengen area. For example, if your flight from the Philippines to Germany is on the first week of November, the earliest you can apply for a visa is on the first week of August.

According to the embassy website, processing will take one week — and it is NOT possible to expedite the visa processing.

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Step 1: Prepare your itinerary
Applying for a Schengen visa at the German embassy_2_Step 1 Prepare your itinerary

The first thing you need to do is to prepare your travel itinerary because you will need to write the details of your trip when you fill up your application form online (in Step 2).

The information and documents you need to have on hand are as follows:
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How to Get A Schengen Visa Through the French Embassy (UPDATED 2017)

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The French embassy in the Philippines has entrusted processing of Schengen visa applications to VFS Global. Here’s what you need to know about the current procedure for getting a Schengen visa through the French embassy.

See if you are one of the people allowed to apply directly to the French embassy HERE.

Want to know about my personal experience applying for a Schengen visa at the French embassy? Read this article.

Basic steps

  1. Prepare your documents.
  2. Schedule an appointment with VFS.
  3. Go to the visa application center on your appointment schedule to submit your documents and have your biometrics taken.
  4. Wait for the result.
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When should you apply?

You can only submit your visa application within 90 days from your date of departure. For example, if you are leaving the Philippines on August 1, 2016, you can submit your visa application from May 3, 2016 onwards.

Things to take into account as you decide when to apply:

  • The processing time for a short stay visa is 48 hours from the time the complete application is received at the French Embassy, while the processing time for a long stay visa is 15 working days receipt at the French Embassy. If you are asked to submit additional documents, processing time may take up to 4 to 8 weeks.
  • In 2015, the French embassy received almost 20,000 visa applications! (That’s actually why they decided to get the help of VFS for visa application processing.) Don’t take it for granted that there will be an appointment slot available anyday.


Is personal appearance necessary?

Yes! You will need to have your photo and fingerprints taken.


Will there be an interview at the French embassy?

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How to get a Schengen visa for Poland in 4 simple steps

The World Youth Day will be held in Krakow, Poland this year. In response to a reader inquiry, I’ve put together a simple step-by-step guide for getting a Schengen visa to visit Poland.


In the Philippines, Schengen visa applications for Poland are handled by the embassy of the Netherlands.* Thus, many of the steps and requirements are similar to the ones for getting a Schengen visa at the Dutch embassy.

* There is no Polish embassy in the Philippines. Rather, the Polish embassy in Kuala Lumpur represents Polish interests in Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam, and the Philippines. In the Philippines, there are honorary Polish consulates in Manila, Cebu, and General Santos City, but they do not process visa applications.

You can lodge your visa application no earlier than three months before the start of your intended visit. For example, if you are scheduled to depart for Poland on July 25, you can submit your Schengen visa application from April 25 onwards.

Here are the 4 basic steps to getting a Schengen visa for Poland:

  1. Pay the necessary fees at any Unionbank branch.
  2. One day after payment, book an appointment with the Embassy through VFS.
  3. Go to the embassy on your scheduled appointment and submit your requirements.
  4. Wait for the results.

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Sample Affidavit of Support (for Visa Application)

When I first applied for a Schengen visa, my bank account balance was not impressive at all. I could pay for my trip — I travel frugally, for the most part — but I figured the people at the French embassy would be happier if my father were to guarantee to shoulder part of my expenses. He executed an Affidavit of Support, I got a visa, and the rest you can read here.

People often ask me for a sample affidavit of support — as well as a sample cover letter, a sample itinerary, and so on — so I finally decided to come up with this Schengen Visa Pack:

It’s very cheap — less than the cost of most Starbucks drinks! — and since I’ve so far obtained Schengen visas from the embassies of 3 separate countries, I can honestly say that the documents work. Just try to be as meticulous as you can in putting the requirements together and you’ll have a great shot at a visa.

By the way, the Schengen Visa Pack also contains a PDF copy of The Visa Applicant’s Guide to Show Money. I really recommend that you read it.

I hope everyone reading this gets a visa and that all of you have a great trip. 🙂

Happy travels!

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Sample Cover Letter for Schengen Visa Application at the French Embassy

A cover letter is one of the requirements when applying for a Schengen visa at the French embassy. In the letter, you’re supposed to explain the purpose of your trip and your proposed day-to-day itinerary. If you’re applying for a visa and you need some ideas for what to say in the letter, how long the letter should be, et cetera, here’s what my 2011 cover letter looked like:

Slight cheesiness alert

Slight cheesiness alert 😀

The itinerary in this letter is only an overview; I submitted a more detailed one as an attachment.

A sample cover letter is included in our Schengen Visa Pack. Other incredibly helpful contents include:

  • A sample Affidavit of Support, which you can use if someone else, like your parents or your boyfriend, is paying for your trip
  • A detailed itinerary template, which includes a budget column to help you prove financial capability for your trip
  • Tips and things you need to know about “show money” requirements for visas

You can learn more about how to get the Schengen Visa Pack HERE. (We accept payments through Cebuana Lhuiller, PayPal, and BPI deposit/transfer, so it’s very easy and convenient.)

The checklists inside the Schengen Visa Pack are based on the official checklist of the Italian embassy but most Schengen countries have similar requirements anyway so I’m sure you will find them helpful, even if you’re applying at the French or another embassy. (Do make sure that you check with the official embassy/VFS/VIA websites for any new/special requirements they might have.) The sample cover letter, the itinerary template, and the sample Affidavit of Support can definitely be used for any Schengen country.

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Good luck and happy travels!



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© Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved. Thanks to Jasmin of Artistitch for the post inspiration!


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How to get a Schengen visa through Norway’s Visa Application Center in Cebu

Filipinos planning  to travel to Norway, Estonia, Finland, Iceland and Sweden can apply for a Schengen visa at the Norway Visa Application Center in Cebu starting May 7, 2015.

Quick facts and links:

  • Address:
    Norway Visa Application Centre – Cebu
    Unit 503, 5th Floor, Keppel Center, Samar Loop cor. Cardinal Rosales Ave.
    Cebu Business Park, Cebu City 6000
  • “Please be advised that visa applicants can walk in/go directly to the Centre in Cebu and submit their application after they have registered their application in the Application Portal. There is no need to book for an appointment before applicants can proceed.”
  • Visa Fee: PHP 1,233 (Source: VFS)
  • Process: How to Apply
  • Requirements: Norway | Estonia | Finland | Iceland | Sweden

When I have more time I will update this post with detailed information; in the meantime, I hope this helps.

(Yay! More options!) happy dance

How to get a Schengen visa through Norway’s Visa Application Center in Cebu” was created by LSS for travel site Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved. Special thanks to Analyn for the heads up. 🙂


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


Both the Netherlands Embassy website and the VFS Global Services website contain useful information on the application process for a Schengen visa. (VFS is the company that assists the Netherlands embassy in processing visa applications.) It can be a little confusing, navigating both websites and all their visa-related pages, so we put together this step-by-step guide.

To secure a Schengen visa for a trip to the Netherlands, here’s a summary of what you need to do:

  1. Before anything else, make sure you’re applying for a Schengen visa at the right embassy. The Netherlands must be your main destination.
  2. Pay the visa fees at Unionbank.
  3. Schedule an appointment through the VFS website. Wait at least 1 business day after paying the visa fees before making the appointment.
  4. Prepare the required documents.
  5. Go to the embassy at the appointed time to personally lodge your application and submit your requirements.
  6. Wait for the decision.

Should you be applying at the Netherlands embassy?

A Schengen visa allows you to travel to the Netherlands 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 the Netherlands?
  2. Is the main purpose of your trip in the Netherlands, even though you will be visiting other countries?
  3. Is the Netherlands 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 Netherlands embassy.

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

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

Pay the visa application fees.

The total fee for an adult is PHP 4,540
— this includes the actual visa application fee (PHP 3,700), the VFS service fee (PHP 740), and the bank charge (PHP 100). This amount is payable at any Unionbank branch in the country. Bring your passport with you when you make the payment, and fill out a bank payment form (download it here) in advance.

Schedule an appointment.

First of all, take note that you need to pay the visa application fees before scheduling an appointment. The appointment system will require your receipt number and date of payment, so it’s just not possible to make the appointment before paying. Second, you need to wait at least 1 business day after paying, to make sure that your payment details have been entered into the system.

When deciding on your appointment date, there are certain factors you need to consider:

  • A visa application may only be lodged 3 months prior to intended departure at the earliest. (I know — the suspense kills me too.)
  • After lodging your application and requirements, you will usually receive a decision within 10 calendar days. That said, you may be asked to submit additional documents, or your application might need to be referred to authorities in the Netherlands, which will certainly take time. Procrastinate 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, confirmed hotel reservations, etc.
  • If you need to fly to Manila, make sure there are flights available on your appointment date.


You can schedule an appointment here. Again, you will need your Unionbank receipt number and your payment date, so have those info on hand.

Prepare your requirements.

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

  1. Completed and signed Schengen visa application form with photo. (Application Form | Consent Form | Photo Specifications)
  2. One passport picture, 35 x 45 mm, white background — this is in addition to the photo attached to your application form.
  3. Valid passport. 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. In addition, your passport must have at least two blank pages available; otherwise, you need to get a new one. (A passport with only one page left — oh, what a nice problem to have!)
  4. International travel insurance with a minimum coverage of EUR 30,000. The Netherlands embassy doesn’t specify that your insurance should be issued from Schengen-approved companies; however, it’s best to cover your bases. Here’s a helpful list of Schengen-approved insurance companies from the French embassy. (I used Blue Cross, as it is extremely easy to apply for their insurance online. See the following articles for more info: Travel Insurance for European TripsSample Itineraries and Prices from Blue Cross.)
  5. Detailed travel itinerary. This means where you’re planning to go on which day (and “why” might be something they’ll ask during your interview). Make your itinerary as detailed as possible; it’s one way you can reduce the risk of being suspected of planning to stay in the Netherlands illegally. I put in flight numbers and train schedules; whenever possible, I actually specified which station the train was departing from, the coach number, and the seat number. (I don’t know if that really helps but…I got a visa. With no fuss. So.)
  6. Documents proving sufficient means for the entire visit — at least 34 euros per day of your trip. The VFS website just states “such as bank statement or copy of bank book” but, again, it’s best to cover all your bases. Get bank certificates and statements of account; prepare a copy of your latest income tax return too, just in case.
  7. Copy of hotel reservations for the entire trip, including in any other Schengen country you will be visiting.
  8. Copy of flight booking. (“The Embassy advises you not make any payment for…flight tickets before you are granted a visa.”)
  9. Letter of employment or other proof of livelihood, such as your official business registration.
  10. 1 copy of all the documents above. For the passport, photocopy those pages with your photograph, personal data and previous visas.

Download the VFS checklist here.

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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.

I was lucky enough to be interviewed at the Netherlands consulate in Cebu on the very last day that they were accepting visa applications. (The Cebu visa desk was closed on November 11, 2013.) It was actually less of an interview and more of making sure that all my documents were in order. The papers were examined thoroughly but there were no raised eyebrows or suspicious tones. The lady who interviewed me was nice enough; she even gave me a chance to tweak my itinerary (long story) and come back later that day. It was a pretty straightforward interview and, overall, a more pleasant experience than the one I had at the French embassy.

Wait for the decision.

After your documents are accepted by the embassy staff, they will be sent on to the Regional Support Office in Kuala Lumpur, which will decide on the merits of your application. Processing time is usually 10 calendar days. You can track your application here.


One week after I filed my visa application, I received a package from the Netherlands office in Kuala Lumpur. My fingers trembling, I tore open the plastic and anxiously examined my passport…and there it was, a Schengen visa issued by the Netherlands. At that time, Typhoon Haiyan had just struck the Philippines and I was up to my neck in relief operations; my birthday was also coming up in a few days. The visa felt like a birthday gift and a pat on the back from the universe at the same time. Small pleasures, I guess, but for someone who loved to travel, who had spent the last few months researching and organizing and preparing, who desperately needed a break…that visa could not have come at a better time.

Good luck with your visa application!


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Getting a Schengen Visa at the Netherlands Embassy: What You Need to Know
© Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved. Contents verified as of 08-April-2014.



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