Dreaming of visiting Europe this year? With travel back in full swing, more Filipinos are poised to travel internationally this year, and Europe is high on many people’s travel bucket lists.
Before booking flights, however, one of the major requirements Filipino nationals have to apply for is the Schengen Visa. This short-stay visa allows travel to 27 European countries under the Schengen Area, per stay up to 90 days for tourism or business purposes.
Member countries of the Schengen Area currently include Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
Which countries issue the most Schengen Visas to Filipinos?
Some countries are known for being very meticulous and stringent with their requirements, while others are generally more considerate to those traveling on a Philippine passport, increasing chances of approval should you plan to apply.
The Embassy of the Netherlands in the Philippines remains one of the most popular countries for lodging Schengen Visa applications because of their relatively friendly process compared to other countries.
According to statistics from SchengenVisa.info, which collates data on Schengen visa application from consulates around the world, the top five countries Filipino travelers applied to last year were the Netherlands, France, Spain, Italy, and Germany.
The Netherlands takes the lead as the most friendly country for Philippine passport holders in terms of the volume of applications. In 2022, the Netherlands approved 43,387 out of 45,354 applications it received with a 96% approval rate from the Philippines.
France, the most visited country in Europe, is very popular with Filipino travelers. The French embassy issued the next highest number of visas last year, granting 24,330 out of 26,596 applications, with an approval rating of 92%.
The Spanish and Italian embassies have 94-95% approval ratings for Philippine passport holders, while the German Embassy has an even higher approval rate of 96%.
Which countries have the lowest and highest rejection rates?
Of the five most frequently visited countries, Germany and the Netherlands seem to be the best choices, with 3.1% and 3.4% rejection rates respectively. There are other countries, however, that don’t receive as many applications that also offer promising entry points for Filipino travelers.
In informal inquiries regarding a possible Schengen Visa application, a travel agent from Journeys and Discoveries, Inc. told PhilSTAR L!fe that it’s relatively easy to get a visa from the Czech Republic. An agent of Travel Enterprise Inc. also recommended Spain as an entry point.
Czech Republic has a low rejection rate and doesn’t receive that many applications compared to other countries. They only rejected 20 out of the 1,196 applications in 2022, for a 1.7% rejection rate, while Spain has a 4.5% rejection rate according to 2022 stats from SchengenVisa.info.
Greece also has a low rejection rate of 2.1%, increasing the chances of Filipino travelers eager for a Greek getaway. Switzerland and Belgium are also relatively considerate based on the numbers.
Writer Aleah Taboclaon of The Solitary Wanderer, who has three approved Schengen visas (two from Belgium and one from Spain) and two rejections (Spain and France) over the years, recommends Belgium as an entry point for tourist visas based on personal experience and the number of requirements needed.
Based on 2022 numbers, the countries with the highest rejection rates that first-time travelers should probably avoid include Finland (27.6%), Denmark (10.7%), Poland (9.6%), Austria (8.7%), and Hungary (7.6%).
What are the basic requirements for a Schengen Visa?
According to several Filipinos surveyed by L!fe who recently traveled to Europe, the process is fast and there should be no problem in getting your visa approved as long as all your documents are in order.
Basic documents you need to prepare for a Schengen Visa from the Philippines include:
- Application form
- Your Filipino passport (original plus a copy)
- Identity photographs following the Schengen visa photo guidelines
- Civil status certificate (birth certificate, marriage certificate, etc.)
- Proof of accommodation
- Round-trip flight itinerary
- Travel health insurance
- Proof of paid visa fee
- Cover letter
- Copies of previous Schengen visas (if applicable).
- Birth certificate and proof of parental consent (for minors)
- Proof of financial capacity (bank account statements)
- If employed: an employment contract and certificate of annual leave from the employer
- If self-employed/freelancer: business license (if applicable) & business bank statements
- If a student: Certificate of Registration at university, school, or college, etc.
- If retired: bank statement showing the pension received for the last six months.
Each embassy or consulate of the countries may also have its own specific set of additional requirements.
Tips from travelers
Filipino travelers who have applied for Schengen Visas to travel to Europe also shared the following tips:
Avail of tour packages and Schengen Visa processing from travel agencies. For first-time visitors to Europe who want to save time, it’s helpful to avail of the services of a travel agency or join package tours. This is ideal for families traveling together for the first time after the pandemic who don’t want to take care of all the paperwork.
Winner Travel Experience offers European packages including a 10-day package tour that enters through the Czech Republic, with visits to Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, and France as the exit point inclusive of airfare for about P180,000 per person. The Schengen visa processing cost an additional P9,500 according to a recent traveler who joined a tour. Aside from the personal appearance to submit papers and get biometrics, no interviews were conducted for the French embassy, with visas issued within a week or two.
While there's no guarantee that your visa will automatically be approved, getting help from a reputable travel agency can increase your chances of success because they can do the legwork and guide you in case additional documents are needed.
However, if you want to save on costs, and want more flexibility in your trip, you can simply apply for Schengen Visas themselves and plan everything yourself. The Schengen Visa Fee normally costs around 80 euros (P4,815.86), roughly half the cost of going through a travel agency.
One traveler who recently spent 18 days on a family trip to Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Salzburg, and Munich with a Schengen visa issued by the German Embassy, which is handled by VFS Global told L!fe that the process was relatively smooth and fast for DIY travelers, with visas issues within less than a month. Another who applied directly as an individual at the French embassy got her visa in five working days.
Apply at the embassy where you plan to stay the longest. According to travel agents, you have to get a Schengen visa from the embassy of the country you will stay longest in. If you plan to stay in Germany for four days on a European tour, and two days only in other countries, then you will have to apply for your Schengen visa there.
Enter through the country you got your visa from. Aside from picking the embassy of the country with the longest stay, Joshua Berida, a full-time IT professional who applied for a Schengen Visa through the Austrian embassy during the pandemic advises travelers to enter the country first where you got your visa from to avoid any hitches.
“For example, if you got your visa from Austria you enter there first. I've heard from friends and acquaintances that they were asked more questions and spent more time in passport control when they entered a different country first,” he wrote on his travel blog The Wandering Juan.
Submit proof of “rootedness” or deep ties to your home country. “The main consideration is if they assess that you will leave when you intend to leave; thus, it is necessary for the embassies to see that you have ties to the Philippines that are stronger than the temptation to stay illegally.,” Taboclaon told L!fe.
Additional requirements and proof of rootedness in the country of residence can include properties under your name, Land Titles, Car Registration, Stock/Certificates, etc. as well as the financial capacity to travel (bank statements and certificates, proof of income, savings) which could increase chances of approval.
Make sure you have enough show money in your bank account. “When you apply, the embassy doesn't want you to return home with nothing in your account. So when you apply, you need to have more than enough left in your account after deducting daily expenses and flight tickets. In my opinion, a safe amount would be 80 euros a day (P4,820) plus flight tickets. The amount will depend on the country you will visit, the daily amount could be higher or lower,” said Berida.
Berida told L!fe that the required daily amount for show money in Eastern/Central Europe (ex. Czech Republic, Croatia, Poland, etc.) is generally lower than countries in Western Europe (Germany, France, Switzerland, Belgium, etc.)
“Based on various sources in my travel circle, the recommended show money should be about 40-50 euros (P2,400 to P3,000) per day for countries in Eastern and Central Europe. For Western Europe, it's around 70-100 euros (P4,200 to P6,000) a day,” he said.
If needed, get a sponsor. In the case of students, freelancers, or those who think their savings are not enough to prove their financial capacity, it helps to show supporting documents from parents, relatives, employers, or anyone who can financially support your trip.
“What helped in my case for the Belgian-issued visas was that I had a sponsor who guaranteed to pay all my expenses. Through documents (bank accounts, investments, land/house titles), I demonstrated that I could have paid for all my expenses, but the guarantee from my sponsors strengthened my statement that I would not use my travel to the EU to look for work there and stay illegally,” Taboclaon told L!fe.
Then, it’s a matter of waiting and hoping your luck out.
“It’s up to the embassy if they'll give you a single, double, or multiple entry visa. The Austrian Embassy gave me a multiple entry visa even when I didn't specifically apply for one. The embassy might give you a shorter or longer stay and visa validity than the number of days you applied for. I was given an extra couple of days beyond the number of days I applied for,” shared Berida.