“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” —Eleanor Roosevelt
I never really dreamed of traveling the whole world until I started traveling last 2012. Even though I’ve been to more than 10 countries abroad, there are some places which are harder to travel to because of visa restrictions. If you have a Philippine Passport, you would know the pain of applying for a visa. And even though I’ve applied for a Schengen Visa (Norweigan Embassy) before, I was still very nervous to apply for another Schengen Visa.
I applied for a Type C Tourist Visa for Poland since I’m flying there first before I head on to Czech Republic to visit the most beautiful library in prague, The Strahov Library. And because there is no Polish Embassy here in the Philippines, I have to apply to the Embassy of the Netherlands.
I won’t list all the requirements here since you can easily find them online. If you want a more detailed explanation, you can read this post which helped me gather all the documents I needed for my application. I will focus on my experience and what I learned from the Visa processing since that’s what sets me apart from all the other bloggers who have written about Schengen Visa.
I spent a lot of time preparing all my documents in our home and even bought a rim of A4 bond paper. I like to do all my planning so ofcourse I did everything from booking online tickets, hotels and travel insurance to printing all my requirements. I was very confident that I had everything ready so I went ahead and booked for an appointment at the Embassy of the Netherlands. I didn’t book through VFS because it was only my second option. So at 8:30am at Nov. 27 I went to the Embassy earlier than my appointment time armed with my complete documents (or so I thought). I was scheduled to be interviewed at 9:10am. I can’t really say it’s an interview but more like confirming your application since all they will ask is found in your application.
I booked my accommodations (ALL of it) to be sure and also booked all my transportations (except some local trips where I need to buy the tickets from the driver). I also tweaked my itinerary with the new hotels and transportations and updated my cover letter explaining the details even more.
I spent my whole morning and afternoon finishing my application and I finally finished it at around 8pm. I didn’t have any choice but to book with VFS but I couldn’t get their online appointment to work. So I sent an email to VFS and they informed me that only VIPs could book through email. I didn’t want to spend more time trying to find ways to book online so I went ahead and enrolled in their VIP Program. Best decision ever.
By this time I already paid 500pesos more for additional printing. When I arrived in VFS, I printed some papers again because I wanted everything to be in A4 as the only paper size available in the place I was staying was short bond paper size. After I had my documents printed, I went to the front desk where I got my number and other stubs. Since you cannot bring anything inside except for your documents, you need to leave your things in a locker. My locker was free because I was a VIP which was really cool and they also offer free photo for their VIPs and even though I already have my passport photos with me, they still took a new one.
I then proceeded to the VIP area with lovely, comfy seats and a table. I was alone in the room until one of the staff came in and helped me arrange my documents. They aren’t allowed to touch your documents or write anything for you so you have to do it on your own. I needed more time since I needed to fill up my application again so it took a while before I finished. She was so kind and helpful and it really made me relax. She also gave me my free Krispy Kreme donut and Pineapple juice which is a freebie for being a VIP too.
What I really liked about it was I didn’t have to queue outside. When I went out of the VIP area, I went straight to the biometrics section and after that I was free to go. So easy!
If I would apply for a Schengen Visa in the future, I would probably enrol with their VIP program again. I’m really grateful that everything went very well and all I needed to do now is wait.
Now here comes the hardest part: waiting for your visa to arrive. My visa was sent to Malaysia the same day I applied for it. The embassy there will be the one to make a decision. So if you plan to travel soon, make sure you give yourself ample time to apply for a visa.
My Schengen Visa from the Norwegian Embassy took only 3 days so I was hoping it would be the same but the status of my application was still the same on Friday, Dec. 1. The staff at VFS told me that it would take 15 working days maximum for my visa to arrive and 3-5 days if I chose to have it sent through a courier. So when my sister told me that my visa already arrived (I have it sent in her office) I was surprised since it was only a week. Well, she didn’t told me it arrived but sent me a peek of my visa. *grin*
Tadaaaaaaaaaaa! I got it! 🙂 Saying I’m happy is an understatement!
It is indeed a very Merry Christmas. I will be celebrating my birthday on the 18th so this is an advance birthday present as well. 🙂 Can’t wait to visit Central Europe and make memories! Oh, and take lots of pictures!
- Always check your documents before you submit them because I made this mistake. If I had paid for the appointment in advance, it would’ve cost me a lot to schedule and pay for another one.
- Make your Travel Itinerary as detailed as possible. Book hotels and transportation if you can. I thought it would be okay to not book all the hotels that I’m planning to stay but it’s not. I believe it is better to overdo it rather than submitting incomplete documents.
- If you live outside Manila, make sure to give yourself enough time to process your visa. I’m not from Manila so I had to fly to submit my requirements and for my biometrics to be taken. And if your first appointment won’t work out like mine, at least you have some time to reschedule and book for another appointment.
- RELAX. Seriously, it’s not that scary. 🙂 And always have a positive attitude no matter what happens. Negativity and being rude won’t get you there.
- Last and the most important one, never ever lie in your documents or submit fake ones. I always try to submit original copies even if they only ask for the photocopy… because… I’m carved like this. 🙂
Check out how much it cost me to travel to Europe here.