As some of you may already know, applying for a Schengen Visa can be such a hassle — but it’s never an impossible task to be granted one! My first Schengen application was actually to the Embassy of Belgium, so I might as well help you guys out if you’re also planning on getting a similar one. Let’s go and make your Europe dreams come true! (Belgium Schengen Visa)
What to Do in Belgium…?
Come and check out this list of the top things to do in Belgium which features the best activities and tours to do in places like Brussels and more!
But first, some disclaimers…
- There are different types of visas (for fiancé, work, study, etc.) but my main focus for this article will be on the ‘Visa for Tourists‘ in which the requirements are quite similar ‘Visa for Family Visit or Private Invitation’.
- To see a list of requirements for other types of visas for Belgium, go here.
- NO ONE can give you the guarantee of your Schengen Visa’s approval — not even a lawyer, a consultant, a travel agent, or an embassy employee. Anyone who says otherwise is most likely going to be a scammer. So what I’m rather offering you here is a comprehensive guide with helpful tips to increase your chances of getting that visa. Nothing more, nothing less.
A Schengen Visa is a document that allows the holder to travel freely within the Schengen Area or Zone for a maximum stay of up to 90 days in any 6 month period. This Schengen Area is a group of 26 European countries (22 European Union member states and 4 EFTA member states) that have abolished passport and immigration controls at their common borders and they are namely:
These 26 countries are namely:
 Excluding Greenland and the Faroe Islands
 Excluding overseas departments and territories
 Excluding Aruba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten, and the Caribbean Netherlands
 Excluding Svalbard
 With special provisions for Ceuta and Melilla
There are certain nationalities worldwide that are exempted from applying for a Schengen Visa, but as Philippine passport holders, in order to visit one or more of these Schengen states, we are required to apply for the visa. (Remember, Schengen Tourist Visa holders are NOT allowed to live permanently nor work in Europe, they only have the right to travel as a temporary visitor within the allotted timeframe indicated on their visa.)
» READ: How to Stay Longer in Europe
NOTE: It helps to mention that there are non-Schengen members in Europe that allow entry to their country if you have a Schengen Visa, namely: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Macedonia, Monaco, Montenegro, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Turkey, and Vatican City.
HOWEVER, you must check these details beforehand since their rules might have changed. Plus, customarily, only multiple-entry Schengen visas are allowed. For starters, you can check this list for a list of countries you can visit with a Schengen visa.
» When should I apply for a Schengen Visa?
Apply as early as three (3) months or 90 days before your planned trip date departure.
You can apply several days before your trip, sure — but it’s always best that you give enough time for the embassy to look into your application. After all, you wouldn’t want to make plans only to have the embassy provide you with a visa that has a validity period that’s NOT within your intended travel dates.
» When should I apply for a Schengen Visa?
For Schengen Visas that have the main purpose of visiting a friend/family/national or reuniting with a fiancé/husband/etc. in a Schengen state, naturally, you should apply in the corresponding Embassy of the country where that person comes from.
Meanwhile, if you are planning to visit several Schengen Countries for your trip, your application must be made at the embassy of the main destination country — meaning, the country where you will be staying the longest. If the length of stay is almost the same, it’s best to apply for the country that you will first fly or enter in.
For my case, I determined that I had to apply at the Switzerland Embassy because I will not only be staying in their country the longest, but my first point of entry will also be in their territory.
» Which Schengen embassy will I have a better chance of getting a Visa?
There’s no such thing as an embassy that would easily give away Schengen Visas. But, if it is a question of time — like which Embassy can you get application results the quickest — then that would be an easier query for me to answer, which then leads us to the question…
» How long does it take for Schengen Visa results to be released?
To the best of my knowledge, the following Embassies usually release visas earliest in an average of:
- Switzerland Embassy: 5 days
- French Embassy: 5 days
- Norwegian Embassy: 5 days
– the Norwegian Embassy also handles Visa processing for Schengen countries that have no Embassies here in Manila such as Iceland
- German Embassy: 7 days
- Belgian and Netherlands (Dutch) Embassy: 15 days
– the Belgian Embassy also handles Visa processing for Schengen countries that have no Embassies here in Manila, like Luxembourg and Slovenia
- Danish Embassy: 15 days
- Italian Embassy: 15 days
It can surely take longer if they need more documents or details from you.
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Application Process for Belgium Schengen Visa
Step 1: Determine the type of Belgium Schengen visa you need to apply for
There are, of course, various types of Belgium Schengen Visas out there that you can apply for: a visa for residence, a visa for studying, a visa for work, a visa for transit, a visa for being a fiancé, etc.
For this particular guide though, I will only be discussing the requirements for a short stay (less than 90 days) tourist visa which is also similar to a visa for a family visit or private invitation since they are experiences that I’ve gone through.
So if you have a different situation or purpose of visit, it’s best that you head over to this page for more information.
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Step 2: Schedule your appointment online with VFS Global
Starting the 16th of January 2017, all applicants should place an appointment through VFS.
The steps you should take would be:
- First, create a new electronic visa application form and complete it correctly. You can do this by going to this link. Create an account as a new user by clicking ‘Not registered yet‘, and once your account is set up, you will be led to the electronic visa application form. There are mandatory fields indicated by an asterisk (*) in this form and they all have to be filled in correctly before you can submit your application.
- Once the application has been submitted electronically, you will receive a confirmation e-mail with the application form in PDF format in the attachment. You must print and sign this form, and then join it with the rest of your documents in support of your application. (For family members or a group, an application form must be submitted for each person.)
- By this point, you should make an appointment with VFS by going to this link. Once an appointment is booked, the system will generate an appointment letter, and you should bring this when you visit the Belgium Schengen Visa Application Centre of VFS in Makati.
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Step 3: Double-check your documents
Apart from the printed electronic visa application form mentioned above that you filled out in this link, you should also submit the following additional requirements to VFS on your appointment date, as applicable to you.
Make sure that you submit 1 original copy of all the below applicable documents and 1 complete set of their photocopy.
- Visa application form
This is the document you completed above in ‘Step 2’
- Valid passport with no less than 3 months validity from the date of intended travel
Note: Provide a photocopy of your valid passport, a photocopy of former visas, if any, and a photocopy of entry/exit stamps of countries you’ve previously visited.
- Two (2) recent 2 x 2 colored passport-size photos with WHITE background
Note: Taken with nothing covering the face, without sunglasses or contact lenses, or a head covering unless worn for religious or medical reasons. The subject should have their mouth closed (no grinning, frowning, or raised eyebrows). Paste your photo on each of the electronic visa form that you completed online (1 original and 1 photocopy of the form).
For the Sponsor (If Applicable)
- Original Affidavit of Support called “Bijlage 3bis/Verbintenis Tot Tenlasteneming / Prise en charge/Annexe 3Bis”, legalized by the sponsor’s municipality in Belgium
Note: Make sure it is the original, so they should ship this document to you.
- Photocopy of the sponsor’s resident or Belgian ID card (front and back)
- Photocopy of the sponsor’s birth certificate or marriage certificate
- Original copy of the Family Composition of the sponsor called “Composition de Ménage/Samenstelling Van Het Gezin” to be obtained from the sponsor’s municipality as well
- Recent proof of the financial capacity of the sponsor
- For employees: Proof of employment and salary slips in the last three (3) months and last income tax assessment paper from the Finance Department in Belgium
- For private businessmen: An extract of the company from the Chamber of Commerce (business registration), bank statements of private bank and their company’s bank account in the last three (3) months.
- Invitation letter explaining the reason for their invitation, the duration of your stay, where you will stay, their email, address, and contact number, and an assurance that you will not overstay there.
For the Applicant
- Cover letter with itinerary, and explain why you are going to Belgium and explanation/details of relationship with the sponsor.
- Here is the cover letter I used: [ sample guide ]
- Here is the cover letter I used: [ sample guide ]
- Proof of relationship with the sponsor (if applicable)
Note: I provided travel history and photos
- Authenticated birth certificate from NSO.
If you’re married, bring also a photocopy of your marriage contract, as well as the birth certificates of your children (if applicable).
- Recent proof of financial capacity. If you have a sponsor, they usually don’t need to see your proof of financial solvency; but still, they tend to ask for this, so it’s best to provide it just so you’re prepared:
- For employees: Proof of employment of the applicant such as a certificate of employment (COE) stating position, years of service, monthly salary, and approved leave of absence (this will help justify that you will NOT overstay). If you are going away for a long time, the Belgian Embassy might ask for a certified leave of absence (LOA) from your employer. Also: provide 3 most recent payslips and ITR (Income Tax Return) for the past year.
- For self-employed: A copy of Official Business Registration/ Business Permit, ITR, and bank statement of the company for the last 3 months
- For unemployed persons: It could work if you could show them a job offer, or if applicable, documents showing any of your real estate property here in the Philippines. For proof of financial credibility, you can provide copies of credit cards, bank certificates, or bank statements in the last six (6) months.
- For minors: Parental consent legalized by DFA 6 or a DSWD Travel, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) clearance, copy of the passport of parents or legal guardian clearance, and birth certificate of the minor issued on National Statistics Office (NSO) security paper.
- For students: School enrollment certificate and approved leave of absence.
Are you self-employed? Start filing your local taxes as early as NOW — after all, a lot of embassies (not only Belgium) require an ITR. So if you’re looking for a hassle-free experience on Philippines tax compliance, I suggest registering with Taxumo because they can take care of literally everything for you: tax forms, payments, and submissions. I’ve been using them for years now and it has been such a time-saver. Come sign up with my code AILEEN and you can get a 10% discount on all their subscription plans!
- Travel Insurance. With coverage of 30,000 Euros, should be valid for all Schengen countries, and should be valid for the entire duration of the stay.
- Travel insurance company HeyMondo is a great choice for this given that they are accepted by Schengen embassies. Plus, if you click this link, you get 5% off!
- IF you’re going to purchase locally, the Belgian Embassy only accepts the insurance policies of the following Philippine Insurance companies. (Just visit their website by clicking the links below, and then email them to start your inquiry.)
- 1CISP Life and General Insurance
- ACE Insurance Philippines
- BPI – MS Insurance Corporation
- Charter Ping An Ins. Corp.
- Etiqa Life and General Assurance Philippines Inc.
- Fortune General Ins. Corp.
- FPG Insurance Co., Inc.
- Liberty Insurance Corporation
- MAA Insurance
- Malayan Insurance Company, Inc.
- MAPFRE Insular Insurance Corporation
- Oriental Assurance Corporation
- Pacific Cross Insurance
- Paramount Life and General Insurance Co.
- PNB General Insurers Co., Inc.
- Philippine British Assurance Co., Inc.
- Philippines First Insurance Company
- Pioneer Insurance and Surety Company
- Prudential Guarantee and Assurance Inc.
- PGA Sompo Insurance Corporation
- QBE Seaboard Insurance Philippines, Inc.
- Reliance Surety & Insurance Co. Inc.
- Standard Insurance Co.
- Starr International Insurance Philippines
- The Mercantile Insurance Co., Inc.
- UCPB General Insurance Co. Inc.
- Hotel bookings. If you are not gonna reside/stay in your sponsor’s house of residence for the whole trip (i.e. you are planning to travel to other countries too), then, do also provide details of your trip as applicable:
- Example: Proof of confirmed hotel reservations for the whole travel period, including all other countries that you are going to visit.
- TIP: If you want to make hotel reservations, I suggest doing it through Booking.com! Why do I suggest them? You can book or reserve a hotel WITHOUT paying for it yet (so NO downpayment or pre-payment) which is useful for giving as proof to the Embassy of Belgium. Also, cancellations can even be done 24 hours prior to your booked date (just read through the hotel policies to be sure that they’re under this scheme).
- Proof of travel flight tickets. Copy of the roundtrip airline ticket reservation ONLY with passenger name & registration number (or reservation number). You can easily get a flight reservation online with OneWayFly for a small fee of only Php 1,000~. I highly recommend them because they are fast, easy, and legitimate; plus, I have been using them for years for all of my Schengen visa applications! (Read here for more info).
- Later on, when you want to book your final plane tickets, my go-to platform is Skyscanner because they show you the best flight deals worldwide.
- Family documents (as applicable). If traveling with your spouse/children, please also provide:
- Marriage contract issued on National Statistics Office (NSO) security paper
- Birth certificates of children issued on the National Statistics Office (NSO) security paper
- Document checklist. Download this document, print it, and then sign.
*NOTE: Further documents may be needed from you at the discretion of VFS or the Belgian Embassy.
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Step 4: Submit your application at VFS on your appointment date
On the date of your scheduled appointment, you should submit all the necessary documents in support of your visa application in person to VFS in Makati.
Your biometric data (digital fingerprints and photo) will be captured and you will be asked to pay the non-refundable visa fee (except in case of gratuity) and a service fee by VFS for the deposit of your visa application Once you submit your visa application, you can choose to receive your passport via courier or you can collect it at the VFS counter.
*ADDRESS OF VFS BELGIUM SCHENGEN VISA APPLICATION CENTER:
The ground floor of Ecoplaza Building in Don Chino Roces Avenue, Makati.
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TIP: It’s a good idea to crosscheck your World Nomads‘ total travel insurance price with that of SafetyWing because the latter is often priced cheaper (especially when it involves travel that spans for several weeks or months — and even years!).
However, take note that SafetyWing’s affordability typically means lesser coverage than World Nomads. So please always ensure that you read the fine print in order to decipher which travel insurance company is the right fit for you and your trip! On that note, HeyMondo is also a good alternative (click this link to get 5% off).
Looking for more travel tips for Belgium?
Check out my other detailed Belgium travel guides!
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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
The visa-processing fee is EUR 60 (it is approximately Php 3,500 – depending on the day’s official Belgian Embassy exchange rate). This fee is non-refundable even if the application is unsuccessful. Payments are made at VFS during the submission of your application, and it is best that you have the exact amount on hand. (For a complete list of visa fees imposed by the Belgian Embassy, see here. Meanwhile, for the additional fee of VFS, it’s at Php 1,100.)
Even if visa applications are now simply submitted to VFS, there is still a chance that the Embassy might ask that you visit them for an interview. If they do, there’s no need to come in wearing formal or business wear — casual wear is the best to have as long as you appear respectable and clean. In my case before, I just came to the Belgian Embassy wearing a dress. (Don’t go in a revealing dress, of course.) The guys who were there were usually wearing pants and polo. So basically, wear something that makes you feel confident, presentable, and comfortable. The address of the Belgian Embassy in the Philippines is at Multinational Bancorporation Center, 9th floor, Ayala Avenue at Makati (somewhere near PLDT’s business center).
It helps to note that my interview experience happened before the implementation of VFS services, so it’s possible that the interview process in the Embassy has changed. Nevertheless, I will just continue to share my past experience as it might already help you. From what I can remember, the questions that were asked of me were about:
— The purpose and length of stay in Belgium
— My financial status and my employment
— Where will I be staying and my planned itinerary
Generally: the questions will vary depending on your situation, but going by what others were asked of as well, these were usually the ‘main’ topics that the Visa Officer wanted to ask about. So just be honest and consistent, and all will work fine.
You can track your visa application on the Belgian website of VFS here. Rest assured, you will be immediately informed once a decision has been taken regarding your visa application.
If in case the Embassy submits your visa application to the Immigration Office of the Federal Public Service Home Affairs in Belgium for further decision, your file number will be communicated to you upon the submission of your file to the Immigration Office. From this stage onwards, the Immigration Office is the only authority to contact if you wish to know the status of your application.
With the file number, you can inquire about the status of your application by…
Telephone: + 32 2 793 80 00
Email: [email protected] (link sends e-mail)
By fax: + 32 2 274 66 91
For one of my Belgium Schengen visa applications that involved staying at my sponsor’s residence/house in Belgium, I was required to report to their town hall within the first 8 days to request an official paper stating my registration of stay. I was to submit this paper to the Embassy of Belgium in Makati as soon as I am back to Manila as proof that I have traveled, that I am back, and that I did NOT overstay.
I haven’t gone through this, so I am unsure how you can proceed if this happened to you. But from what I’ve heard, the Belgian Embassy will usually provide you the reason for their refusal (oftentimes, it’s usually because of the Embassy’s uncertainty that you will return back here to the Philippines so it is best that you really give them the reason/assurance that you WILL go back.)
Anyhow, I believe you can appeal to them and the steps on how will usually be enclosed in their letter to you. I am not sure what the other details are since I couldn’t seem to find any info on the Embassy of Belgium’s website, so if ever this does happen to you, feel free to contact the Belgian Embassy for more information on how you can appeal on your application. Otherwise, just try applying again! There’s no limit to reapplications; but of course, try to learn from your past mistakes and ensure that you have every needed document. Good luck!