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1. What a Schengen visa is and why you need it
Many countries automatically consider Filipinos as illegal immigrants, as though every Pinoy wants to jump ship, leave the third world behind, and seek employment in another country. Painful, but very true. I personally think that EVERYONE has the god-given right to see the world as they please; obviously, the UN thinks otherwise.
So anyway, you need a Schengen visa if you intend to visit countries in the Schengen region, including France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Czech Republic, etc. (see list here). It is NOT valid in the
Getting a Schengen visa is easy if:
(a) you are honest;
(b) you have enough funds to fund your trip;
(c) you can establish that you have every reason to come back to the
It doesn't matter if you are single, married, if you have kids, dependents, etc. If you are a real tourist and you intend to come back after your trip, you WILL get a visa (I believe). If you plan to go hiding, the consul will see right through you, and your application will be denied.
It's not an exact science, and no two applicants have the same exact experience, so all I can do is tell you about what happened to us. It's up to you to deduce whatever tips you can.
2. Determining which embassy to get your visa from
We applied in the Consulado de Espana en
You need to apply in the embassy of the country that is your main destination. Don't try applying through
3. What papers to submit and when
Processing of application takes a minimum of 15 days in the Spanish embassy, and it takes another two weeks to get your visa if you are granted one.
Pass all the requirements to the embassy you are applying in, and wait for their call regarding INTERVIEW APPOINTMENT.
Check the website of the embassy for the exact processing times. Required documents vary (only a little) across embassies, but the most basic include:
- your itinerary (ask a travel agency to prepare this for convenience)
- birth certificate
- bank statements and bank certificates
- certificate of employment + letter stating that your employer is allowing you to take a vacation for the days you specified in your itinerary
- if you own a business (like we do), submit your DTI, SEC, BIR, etc.
4. What to wear to the interview
Don't overdress. You will look funny, like you are dying to impress. Just wear what you normally do when you work, and maybe add a special piece.
I wore my go-to Marc Jacobs top, no-brand jeans, and Pucci flats. I brought my Prada handbag of course but had to leave it in the car (they don't let bags in for security purposes). MSP wore his usual white, short-sleeved Dockers polo, good jeans (I think it was Seven for All Mankind), his good watch, and leather shoes. That's what he looks like everyday, except for the leather shoes part. He usually wears sneakers.
NO ONE we saw wore coats + ties or formal dresses, so please :)
5. How much "show money" is "required"
I'm not even sure that "show money" is really what it is; I mean, will the consul really judge you for the money you have in the bank?
But doing the math, it makes sense to have at least P300,000 per person if you plan to be in
Now for the details: MSP and I have a joint account with an AVERAGE balance of just around P1.7 million +/-. This is liquid savings we have slowly accumulated in an account that we've had for three years. In those years, the balance has exceeded and dropped below that, of course, as we bought property, invested in stocks, and then put some money back in. This "naturalness" is crucial.
The consul will want to know when the account was opened and what account activities have taken place since, just to screen against Pinoys who just borrow money "for show." You need to establish that your account has been around for quite some time, and that it has ALWAYS had money in it. We showed a photocopy of our passbooks, which detailed naturally-occurring deposits and withdrawals over three years.
Our savings was certainly not a lot, but enough to get visas for two people. If we spent, let's say, a tight budget of P400k for both of us during our stay in
The embassy didn't ask to see the following, but we also brought them to the interview just in case we are pressed about our finances:
- Bonds and stock certificates (This was to show that some of our money is invested in instruments other than our savings account.)
- Titles of real estate property we own
- Certificate of vehicle registration
- Our company's bank account and ITR (Being working shareholders of our own company, we technically own whatever our company owns after taxes and obligations. This may have helped, as it showed that we had more than what our savings account balance said.)
We were asked about the details of these other moneys/investments, but the consul never asked for the papers. My tip is to just bring all the proof of income, property titles, and financial statements that you can, in case the consul wants to see them. And of course, be honest. The company we own is small, but we're quite proud of its relative profitability. That really showed.
6. What did the consul ask?
MSP and I were interviewed separately, even though it was clear to the consul that we intended to travel together.
The interview section of the Spanish embassy is small and other people waiting can hear everything, so prepare to divulge information you otherwise wouldn't say to a crowd of 30.
Some questions the consul asked me:
- What is your work here in the
- How much does your company make? (Ensure that your answer tallies with your employee ITR or your company's ITR)
- What other countries have you been to?
- Have you and your boyfriend always traveled together?
- You have a joint account. Do you have your own account?
- How long have you been together?
- Why are you going to
- How long will you stay in
- How long will you stay in
I also heard what the consul asked MSP:
- What is your work here in the
- How much does your company make? (Maybe he was verifying our figures)
- What cities will you visit?**
**MSP had no clue, so he answered honestly. "I don't know the cities exactly," he said. "(Mussolini) takes care of the itinerary. All I know is our first stop is
7. What happens after the interview
The whole interview process lasted about 5 to 10 minutes per person. Short and sweet. The consul just said, "Okay, we're done here." We said, "Umm...thanks." At that point we didn't know if we were given visas or not; the consul was cryptic.
But he did take all our papers, and the clerk said that meant our applications were approved and that they need our papers for processing.
We didn't want to be too optimistic or anything, so we didn't make a fuss of it. Ten working days later, our travel agent called to say that we got our visas :)
And here we are, finally, OFFICIALLY planning our trip :)