Leaving On A Jetplane to Germany: How To Get A German Schengen Visa in Manila
I spent the day before and the first hours of my birthday this year on a 14-hour flight from the Philippines to Germany. I could not believe it. It was merely two months ago when I was applying for a visa and now I’m sitting on a plane. Looking back at the whole experience of the visa application, I realised that the process was actually quite uncomplicated contrary to what I had imagined. It was nail-biting, for sure, but that’s just because it was my first time.
Germany has always been on top of my mind when I think of travelling abroad, stemming from my love of Die Mannschaft, or the German National Football Team. I thought I was one step closer to reaching there when I met my husband.
He has been to Europe a few times – Amsterdam, Barcelona, Bucharest, Frankfurt am Main – that many times we’d talk about his travel experiences. Come the time of planning our honeymoon trip, we settled for Germany and applied for Schengen tourist visa.
What Exactly Is A Schengen Visa?
The name of the visa came from the Schengen Agreement which aims to have borderless travel within various European countries. These territories make up the Schengen Area.
To know more about the Schengen Area – it’s history, member states, and more – you can start here.
When to Get A Schengen Visa from the German Embassy in Manila
Before we go further, I would like to emphasise that this article focuses mainly the Schengen tourist visa.
You should only get a German Schengen visa if Germany will be your first point of entry to the Schengen Area. You can go forward to other Schengen countries during the validity of your visa as long as Germany is where you will arrive first. If, for example, you will first arrive in the Netherlands and then later go to Germany, you would need to apply for a Dutch Schengen visa.
How to Get A Schengen Visa
Getting a visa involves gathering your documents, setting an appointment to submit your requirements and getting interviewed. To start off, you need to visit the German Embassy Manila website. Their website provides plenty of information for visa applicants. Take note that I will be providing you with information that is accurate as of this writing which can change without notice, so please always check their website for updated information.
Below is a high-level overview of what you should do prior to submitting your application:
- Book an interview appointment here. The embassy requires that you set a date when you will submit your application requirements and be interviewed. Once the reservation is done, you will receive a confirmation via email. You must bring the printed confirmation email on the day of the interview. Make sure that you take note of your scheduled appearance at the embassy.
- Compile your requirements. Your application should be supported by a handful of paperwork, which I will discuss in detail in the next section.
- Have your passport photo taken. The embassy is very strict on their photo specifications. Fortunately, they have a page dedicated to explaining this. Bring at least two copies or more, just in case.
- Download, print, and sign the Application Form and the Declaration according to § 54 AufenthaltsG. These are needed upon submission of documentation.
- Prepare the visa fee. Getting your visa requires you to pay EUR 60. Of course, you can pay in pesos based on the exchange rate at the time of your application.
Visiting the FAQs section of the Visa Processing is advised if you are in doubt. Additionally, if your questions aren’t found on the website, you can send them an email here.
What Documents Are Needed to Get A German Schengen Visa
Aside from the application form, passport pictures, visa fee, and the Security Declaration, here are the other requirements that you must provide:
- Passport – The embassy requires that your passport is valid for ‘at least another three months on the date the visa application is submitted’. It also must have ‘two empty pages’ for them to stamp your passport. If you have renewed your passport, bring your old one/s with you. These are needed especially if you have previous overseas trips.
- Travel Destination/Route and Itinerary – Normally, this would just include your complete flight itinerary. Remember that you do not need to book/pay for the ticket yet. You just need to show that a flight itinerary from the Philippines to your destination exists. However, I advise that you also prepare a detailed itinerary (e.g. the exact destinations/sights that you will be visiting) just in case the embassy asks for it.
- Confirmed Accommodation/s – The German Embassy needs you to provide them a proof that you have paid for your accommodation. For this one, we provided a printout of our confirmed AirBnB reservation. I would recommend that you book rooms/accommodations with the option to refund in case of rejection.
- Bank Statements For The Previous Six Months – Bank statements are necessary to prove that you can support yourself financially during your travel. When submitting this, include a bank certificate.
- Travel Health Insurance – A Travel Insurance with ‘a minimum coverage sum of EUR 30,000’ is recommended by the embassy. You must provide this along with a photocopied version.
- BIR Form 2316/ITR, Letter of Approved Vacation Leave (VL), and Certificate of Employment (COE) – These documents support your rootedness in the Philippines. In other words, these are proofs that you will return to the Philippines. Provide your most recent income tax return, along with a VL letter signed and approved by your employer, and a COE from your current employer. If self-employed, bring your ITR, business registration, and company documents. If you’re a student, a school/university certificate is needed plus a letter of exemption from studies.
- Land title/Deed of Sale – For property owners, submitting a land title is a requisite.
In Preparation of the Interview
- Review possible questions – Questions that they will ask you are usually based on the documents you will provide. So make sure your data is correct.
- Plan your travel and take note of the address. The address is: 25/F Tower II, RCBC Plaza, Ayala Avenue, Makati City. Be prepared to take a cab, if you must.
- Get enough sleep. I cannot stress this enough. You need to be mentally alert at the interview as they will ask you several questions.
On The Day of the Interview
You’re all set: your documentation compiled in an envelope, and the form and declaration printed and signed. In my case, my husband (bless him) took time and effort to print and photocopy the paperwork in A4 size. I can still remember him saying that this is the ‘European’ standard and he’s hoping that it can leave a good impression. I cannot blame him.
- Dress appropriately. You do not need to be dressed to the nines at the interview. Coming in in smart-casual attire works just right.
- Come to the appointment at least fifteen minutes before schedule. I had to italicise ‘at least fifteen minutes before schedule’ to emphasise professionalism. You would need to allocate a few minutes to fill up the form at the security desk on the ground floor, go up to the 25th floor, and deposit your things (especially mobile phones) before you step right in.
Before you step inside the embassy, a person at the booth next to the door will ask you to hand in your passport and the printout of the appointment confirmation. You will then receive your passport back and a serving number. Once inside, you will have to wait for your number to be called.
The minute you’re called…
- Greet the officer, and then give your documents to her/him.
- When you’re asked a question, answer in complete sentences. However, be concise and do not over-explain or talk around your original answer.
- If you do not understand the question, you can always ask the officer to repeat it.
- Follow the officer’s instructions on the biometrics part of the interview.
- Once the interviewer signals the end of the interview, you will then be asked to pay the visa fee. The officer will hand you a receipt.
Visa processing usually takes 3 to 5 working days. In our experience, after waiting nervously for the result, our visas came in after the fifth day. We were overjoyed – I was literally jumping the second I saw my own visa! Here is my visa:
That’s it! I hope this have helped clarify the process at least a bit. Viel Glück!