Applying for Schengen Visa

I applied for Schengen visa twice so I can visit Germany. I went to Germany in 2010 for the Global Young People’s Convocation Planning Team meeting, and in 2011 for the Convocation and Legislative Assembly proper. In both applications, there were difficulties and uniqueness so I decided to revise a previous entry and repost my experiences here.

TRIVIA: Schengen Visa is valid for Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. If you got this kind of visa, you are free to move from one country to the other.

Visit the German Embassy website. My first step is to visit the German Embassy website and take note of all the requirements. There are different requirements depending on the purpose of travel. The following are the general requirements to be submitted in original and photocopy:

  1. Application form duly completed (including date and signature of applicant). This can be downloaded in PDF format.
  2. Two (2) recent passport photographs with applicant’s full name and birth date written on the back.
  3. Valid passport (valid for at least 3 months after expected date of return; passport must not be damaged) and Xerox copy of the applicant’s passport (pages containing data and Schengen-Visas).
  4. (for business) Invitation letter in German language, confirmed hotel reservation stating name, date of birth and passport number of applicant.
  5. Proof of health insurance valid for all Schengen States covering an amount of € 30.000 in case of illness, repatriation and/or accidents and accredited by the Schengen-Embassies in Manila.

So I already have my passport and have accomplished the application form. I have secured by airline booking ahead of time, too.

Duration of stay. In the application form, you are asked to state how many days you plan to stay in the Schengen territories. You may want to add a day or two just to be sure you are covered.

During my second application, I requested for 16 days, that’s the exact days but was only granted 15 days. I did not notice that until I was already checking in at the airport. I had to rebook my flight and pay a large sum of dollars just to follow what is written in my visa.

I had to cut my stay in Italy (from Germany, I flew to Rome) a day shorter to accommodate the expiration of my visa.

Call the Embassy and secure an interview appointment. This step is I think the most difficult to do. At least in my second application, we were in a group; so one of us volunteered to call the embassy for all.

Unlike with the US Embassy where you can set a visa interview appointment online, German Embassy need you to call their call center. It was not an easy dialing and talking call. It is a toll number assigned to every service provider. It’s very expensive as it cost PhP32-37 a minute.

I tried calling using the landline but I cannot get through it. It says “The number you dialed is not yet assigned.” Again, slowly this time. The same answer. So I called customer service to verify of our phone’s IDD is active, and they said yes. Dialed again, the same answer. I called the General Inquiries phone of the embassy to ask if there is a problem in their number. They said none. Dialed the toll number again, the same answer. I called Bayantel customer service again to check and the CRS says there is a service error in our account.

Since the matter can’t wait, because of the minimum days requirement for application is 15 days and I urgently needed an appointment, I loaded ₱500 credits on my cellphone. Dialed and not connected. I called Globe’s customer service to check again if IDD is active on my handset and they said yes. I asked for the instruction in calling a toll number. Dialed and at last I got an answering machine then a Customer Service representative. I was trying to give my name when the call dropped. Dialed again. I was in the middle of giving my passport number when the call dropped again. On the third call, I was spelling the address of my host when the call dropped. I run out of credits. So I need to load up again. Finally, I was able to set up an appointment but have spent almost a ₱1,000 just for that. The calls took so long because I needed to spell everything with the phonetic alphabet (alpha, bravo, charlie, etc.).

So before calling, be sure to know the phonetic alphabet or at least have a copy with you. Correct spelling is the key for a faster call.

Get a recent passport size picture. I needed to make sure the photographer follows the picture requirements. Yes, there are specifications. You can view it here on page 4.

Appear at the Embassy. The instruction said, be at the embassy 30 minutes prior to the appointed time. The usual traffic to Makati every morning delayed me for some time but it was fine. The embassy is at 25/F RCBC Tower 2 in Ayala. I proceeded immediately to the lobby where I signed my name and get my visitor’s ID. When I arrived at the 25th floor, an arrogant guard greeted me and checked my bag. Upon inspecting, he told me that I should have deposited my laptop at the lobby. Obediently, I went down again and left my laptop. Going back to the guard, he let me in. At the window, I was given a waiting number. That time, I knew I had to forget my appointment time and just wait for my number to be called. I walked to the other side of the hall, left my cellphone at the locker, got my key and entered the room.

At least, there were less people compared to the US Embassy when I had to line up for three hours. There, I was sitting pretty. Just waiting patiently and a little nervous. When my name was called, I immediately appeared at the window with a Filipino woman consul. She got my forms and payment but instructed me to get more requirements, a travel insurance and my confirmed hotel booking. I did not have those documents with me then because the invitation letters said that the DMYP and my host shall take care of all expenses. While she was talking to me, I observed that she stamped my passport. I knew then that it was approved. If not, she should have given back my passport. Then, I paid the visa fee worth €60 or its peso equivalent, ₱3870.00. Then left, thinking where in the world will I get a travel insurance and how would I pay for it.

Get a travel insurance with US$50,000 coverage. Yes, that is the minimum coverage or at least ₱2.5 million. That same day after the application, I surveyed the accredited insurance companies and ask about travel insurance to Schengen countries and how much it worth. I got the best deal with Mafre Insular for only US$25 or ₱1208.50. I just needed to wake up early morning the following day and go to their office in Ortigas.

During the second application, DMYP sent us an insurance coverage certification but the company is no longer accredited with the Embassy, so we needed to look for one that is on their list. Not all insurance company that provides travel insurance coverage are good.

I did not have any trouble with my hotel booking it was sent to me via email the following day. So two days after the application, I went back to the embassy to submit the remaining requirements. I could have used their accredited courier but it would cost me ₱160 plus the cost of calling their toll number again. So better find time going back to the embassy.

Upon submission of the requirements, the consul told me to go home and wait for my passport to be delivered after two weeks.

Wait, wait, wait patiently. This is I think the hardest part. There is no specific time or day when my passport will be delivered. I was just told two weeks. And to follow-up I need to call the toll number again… too much expense. I had a lot of appointments and I was worried if I miss the courier. There is not always a person staying at home. Gladly the CSR at the embassy told me to follow-up on July 1 to see if my passport can be released on that date. I was worried because I am scheduled to fly on July 6, Monday and July 1 is a Wednesday. What if, it is not delivered in time for my flight. Well, I just have to put my trust in them and (with the Lord).

July 1. I called the Visa Section of the embassy. The one who answered me says the visa cannot be followed-up over the phone. I need to call the toll number to verify it. So I tried to call but all get was the answering machine repeatedly saying the spiel. I just waited for half day. Then I tried again. Finally, I got through and someone answered affirming that my passport and visa was released yesterday and scheduled for delivery today. So I wait.

Return to the Embassy. When required, go back to the embassy when you arrive. I wasn’t required the first time but on my second time, when we travelled in group, some of us got a sticker on our passport that says:

“The applicant is required to report back to the German Embassy in Manila within 10 days after expiration of his/her visa. If he/she fails to report, further visa applications will be rejected.”

There are other provisions like the person holding the visa should not get married or get a job while in the Schengen area. So to have a clean bill of health, I went back to the embassy to have my visa cancelled.

I just hope next time, the embassy will have a new system that will allow online appointment and bank deposit for payment for a lesser cost and more efficient use of time.

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