How to Apply for a Schengen Visa - France
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Register at France-Visas Website
- Set an Appointment with VFS
- Requirements/Supporting Documents
- Submission of Schengen Visa Application
- Schengen Visa Application Timeline
Where Should You Lodge Your Schengen Visa Application?
- For travel to a specific Schengen state, the Schengen visa application must be lodged at the embassy/consulate of that member state e.g. attending a 5-day conference in Spain or taking tours in Iceland. You should lodge your application at the Spanish Embassy or the Consulate of Iceland.
- If the visit includes more than one member state, the application must be lodged at the embassy/consulate of the member state where you are staying the longest e.g. 2 nights in Germany, 4 nights in France, 3 nights in Spain. You should apply at the French Embassy.
- If the visit includes more than one member state and you’re staying the same number of nights in multiple member states, apply at the embassy of the member state you are entering first e.g. 4 nights in The Netherlands, 2 nights in Belgium, and 4 nights in France, you should lodge your application at The Netherlands Embassy.
To give you a background, this is my fourth time applying for a Schengen visa.
- The first time was through the Embassy of the Czech Republic in 2016. I was granted a single-entry visa valid for 22 days (I requested 21 days). They have since outsourced visa applications to VFS.
- In 2018, I applied for a multiple-entry visa at the Greek Embassy. I was planning to travel to the Balkans i.e. Croatia, Montenegro, and Bosnia & Herzegovina (which are non-Schengen states) with an itinerary of 23 days but my application was denied.
- In 2019, I applied for a single-entry visa with an itinerary of 16 days and was granted a multiple-entry visa with a 30-day stay by The Netherlands Embassy.
The Schengen visa application process is mostly the same for all member states, but this post will specifically be about the application process for France.
Register at France-Visas Website
Like most Schengen state embassies in the Philippines, the French Embassy only accepts Schengen visa applications lodged via VFS Global. Their office is at the 30th floor (shared with Switzerland) of The World Center in Makati while the VFS that processes applications for The Netherlands is in Eco Plaza Building, Chino Roces.
But before you can get an appointment with VFS, you must first create a France-Visas account. This is where you’ll fill out the Schengen visa application form. After completion and submission of the form, you will get a France-Visas Registration Number which you will need to get an appointment with VFS. It’s important to secure an appointment first before gathering your documents.
After registration, log in to your account and select “Create a new application in a new group of applications”. Just fill out all the details required in each section.
After filling out all the fields (except for additional information, which is optional), you need to click on Verify.
The screenshot above will appear at the bottom of the page after you click on Verify. You can either save your progress and continue the application at a later time or click on Next to go to the next section.
If you clicked on Next, you will get the pop-up message above. So, check that you have entered your correct passport details before proceeding to the next step.
This is where you’ll enter your personal details.
Your Last Visa
Enter the details of the last Schengen visa issued to you (if any). If you have been issued a Schengen visa before, you might still be asked for your biometrics when lodging the application.
The first question on this section is whether or not you will be traveling to other member states (even for a few hours).
If you select Yes, then it will display a section where you need to list ALL the member states you are planning to visit. Be sure that this will match with the detailed itinerary you will be submitting as part of the requirements. Don’t worry if “Member State of first entry” remains blank in the draft application form that will be generated. I think this is a glitch on the site. I went back a number of times to make sure I selected France from the dropdown list, but it’s still blank in the end. I pointed this out to the VFS officer when I lodged my application, and she said it’s okay.
If you selected No to the above, then the only fields that you will need to fill out are your intended date of arrival and departure from the Schengen area. You can enter this using the date picker/calendar dropdown. The planned duration of stay is computed by the number of days.
You will also be asked how many entries you are requesting: single, two entries, or multiple entries. Since my itinerary does not involve leaving the Schengen zone, I just selected single. In the end, I was still given multiple entries.
Then there’s a section “Number of stays planned in France for the coming year”. I entered 2 as I thought they might give me a longer visa validity if I declare that I plan to return within a year. In the end, I only got a validity of 45 days. LOL
Here, you will be asked whether you have a sponsor that will accommodate you, if you were invited by an organization or a company, or whether you will take care of your own lodging e.g. staying in a hotel/hostel. In my case, I chose the last one. Then I entered the details of the first hotel where I’ll be staying at.
Then there’s the section regarding funding. I chose “Myself” and then checked Cash and Credit card as my means of subsistence.
After filling out the sections, there will be a page where you can review if all the details you entered are correct. Once you’re sure, check the box “I declare that all the information provided is correct and complete to the best of my knowledge. I promise to print out and sign the form associated with my application.” then click Continue.
Finally, you will get a page listing the documents you need to support your application and the Schengen visa fee, which you will pay on the day of your application. As of writing, the fee is EUR 80. The Peso equivalent will be dependent on the day’s exchange rate (approximately Php4,500+).
Once you’ve submitted the form, download the PDF file. This is your Schengen visa application form together with the Registration Receipt indicating your Registration Number (17 characters starting with FRA). You must print this and take with you to your appointment.
Set an Appointment with VFS
Go to VFS Global – France and create a new account.
Once you have an account, sign in, and then click on “Start a Booking”.
The appointment details will look like this:
Based from experience, the earliest appointment date is around 2 weeks from the date you are checking. This should be enough time for you to prepare your requirements.
Next step is to enter your personal details and the France-Visas Registration Number.
Then, you will select the date and time of your desired appointment. You can also select additional services like the premium lounge or SMS service. I personally didn’t avail of these services. Take note that you will still get an email or SMS even if you don’t avail of the SMS service.
After checking that everything is correct, pay the VFS service fee of Php2,100.00. A PDF of the appointment confirmation and receipt will be emailed to you. You also need to print this and bring with you to your appointment.
These are the requirements I submitted.
- Signed and dated Schengen visa application form
- Receipt France-Visas
- Passport, copy of the personal details page and all pages with visas, and entry and exit stamps
- Recent passport photo
Purpose of Travel/Stay
- Roundtrip airline reservation. DO NOT BUY A PLANE TICKET YET. Embassies highly discourage buying tickets before a visa is issued. You can get airline reservation from travel agencies for Php500 to Php1,500 (price depends on the route).
- Detailed day-to-day itinerary
For background, I am a freelancer/self-employed individual.
- DTI Certification and BIR Certificate of Registration
- Contracts and invoices (latest 6 months) from my regular clients
- Latest Income Tax Return (1701A)
- Voluntary payments of government-mandated contributions i.e. SSS, Philhealth, and Pag-IBIG Regular and MP2 savings
If you are employed, then you need proof of occupation such as Certificate of Employment, latest pay slips, certificate of leave of absence, latest ITR/2316, SSS contributions, etc.).
- BPI and Chinabank bank certifications. You can get this from your respective bank(s) for Php100.00.
- BPI bank statement for the last 6 months. You can request the latest 3 months from a BPI branch for Php50.00/page or just print it from your BPI online account.
- Chinabank passbook savings account statement for the last 6 months
- PayPal and Wise earnings of last 6 months
- BPI Gold and Metrobank Travel Visa Platinum credit card statements of the last 6 months
A common question is, how much money do you need in the bank? It is recommended that you have at least EUR 120 per day x the number of days you’re planning to stay. To be on the safe side, I would say add Php100,000 on top of this amount for your airfare.
- Hotel reservations. Again, these do not need to be paid bookings. You can select properties that don’t require prepayment and/or can be canceled for free. I reserved mine via Agoda.
Travel Health Insurance
- Standard Insurance Co., Inc. Travel Protect Policy with at least €30,000 coverage. I paid around Php2,700+ for 18 days of coverage. The coverage must include the days of your departure and arrival. Take note that depending on the insurer, the policy might not be refundable in case your visa application is denied. So, ask the provider first.
Since I am a single and childless with no properties under my name, I also submitted supporting documents as proof that I will return to The Philippines after the trip.
- Photocopies of personal details page of previous passports, visas, and all entry/exit stamps. I have been to 28 countries at the time of application.
- Copy of my PSA birth certificate, my mother’s PSA birth certificate, senior citizen ID, follow-up check-up/laboratory requests, and copy of my father’s death certificate. I submitted these as I stated in my cover letter that I am the sole carer of my senior citizen mother. I also stated she is a cancer survivor and require continuous check-ups and monitoring at 3- or 6-month intervals.
- Sunlife Sun MaxiLink Prime Variable Life Insurance and Sunlife Fit & Well Anniversary Statements
- COVID-19 vaccination certificate
- Although not part of the requirements, it is highly recommended that you make a cover letter introducing yourself, the purpose of your trip, your travel history, etc. This is also where you can explain if there’s any requirement that you cannot submit.
With the exception of original bank certificates, which are often printed on the bank’s letterhead on Letter (8.5×11) sized paper, everything must be printed in A4 size. Do not staple or bind your documents. These will be sorted and checked by the VFS officer and placed in their own clear plastic envelope.
Oo, sis, mala-thesis talaga sa kapal ang mga papeles na dadalhin mo! hahaha
Submission of Schengen Visa Application
As mentioned above, the VFS office that accepts Schengen visa applications for France is located at the 30th Floor of The World Center, Sen. Gil Puyat, Avenue, Makati City.
I suggest arriving 30 minutes before your scheduled appointment. You might need to line up to get a visitor’s pass and sometimes, you even need to line up to use the elevator.
There is a locker area on the 30th floor where you can leave your things. You can only bring your documents and wallet inside the center.
There is a counter at the entrance which asked for the France-Visas receipt. I was then asked if I would like to avail of the SMS service, and I said no. I can’t remember if they asked if I wanted to pick up my passport or by courier (it was automatically by courier during the pandemic), but since I live in Laguna, I really want the courier option. They then attached the LBC waybill on my France-Visas receipt. I was then given a queue number and told to wait for my number to be called in the waiting area.
When it was my turn, the officer checked my papers and asked a few questions about my trip. She informed me that since my last Schengen visa application was 3 years ago, they will need to take my biometrics again. She then placed my papers in their own plastic envelope and told me to wait for my queue number to be called again by the cashier. After payment, I then waited to be called into the biometrics room. Biometrics was very quick. And that’s it! The waiting game begins.
Schengen Visa Application Timeline
I lodged my visa application on a Friday morning. That same afternoon, I already got an email saying my application has been dispatched to the Embassy of France in Manila. Since it was already the weekend, I assumed they will review my papers by Monday of the coming week.
By Wednesday morning, I got another email that the visa application has been processed.
And by Thursday, at around noon, my passport with the visa has been delivered. It was that fast!