UPDATE 2021: As of June 9, travel to France has finally resumed. Given that the Philippines is classified as an “orange” or “amber” country, vaccinated persons can apply for a France Schengen Visa regardless of their purpose of stay. However, unvaccinated persons must have compelling reasons to visit and are subject to a 7-day self-isolation upon entry to France. (For more info, see here).
If someone thinks of Europe, it’s quite common to have France’s Paris as their top-of-mind destination — most especially if they are first-time travelers to the continent. However, it helps to note that there is more to the country apart from this famed metropolis!
For instance, there is the Bordeaux region for wine-lovers, the French Riviera for a taste of the Mediterranean coast, the Loire Valley for its stunning array of chateaux castles, the Provence region for its vibrant lavender fields, and so much more.
What to Do in France…?
Check out this list of the top things to do in France which features the best activities and tours to do in places like Paris, Lyon, Nice, and more!
So if you are looking to visit France and explore its wonders, it is a must to undergo a French visa application; and thankfully enough, the process is easy and streamlined especially now that it is coursed through VFS France. In fact, for my first application through the French Embassy, they have granted me a 1-year multiple-entry visa!
If you’re curious to find out how, do continue reading through this article — but first, let me discuss with you the important disclaimers as well as what a ‘Schengen Visa’ is.
- NO ONE can give you the guarantee of your France 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.
- There are different types of Schengen Visas (for work, study, etc.) but my main focus for this article will be a France Visa for tourism purposes only. To see a list of requirements for other types of visas for countries covered by the French Embassy, go here.
Table of Contents
- 1 Schengen Area
- 2 Application Process for France Schengen Visa
- 2.1 Step 1: Determine the type of France Schengen visa you need to apply for
- 2.2 Step 2: Register with ‘France-Visas’ and accomplish the online form
- 2.3 Step 3: Schedule your appointment online with VFS Global
- 2.4 Step 4: Prepare the required documents for your application
- 2.5 Step 5: Submit your application at VFS on your appointment date and pay the visa fee
- 2.6 Step 6: Wait for the results of your France Schengen Visa application
- 3 Booking Essentials
- 4 FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
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. You can check this list for more details and updates.
» 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.
» Where 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.
So as an example, you must apply at the French Embassy in Manila only if according to your Europe itinerary, you will be staying the longest in France.
» 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, like Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, Finland, and Estonia
- 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, Slovenia, and Hungary
- Danish Embassy: 15 days
- Italian Embassy: 15 days
It can surely take longer if they need more documents or details from you.
• • •
Application Process for France Schengen Visa
Step 1: Determine the type of France Schengen visa you need to apply for
There are, of course, various types of France Schengen Visas out there that you can apply for: a visa for residence, a visa for family visits, a visa for studying, a visa for work, a visa for being a spouse, etc.
For this particular guide though, I will only be discussing the requirements for a short stay (less than 90 days) tourist visa — both single and multiple-entry — since it’s an experience that I’ve gone through myself.
So if you have a different situation or purpose of visit, it’s best that you head over to this page for more information.
Before we proceed, it helps to mention that VFS Global has since been offering a ‘France-Visas Assistance’ service program for an extra cost of Php 1,865. It’s a service that will help assist you with registration on ‘France-Visas’, provide a list of documents you need to submit, and book your VFS appointment (of course, this VFS France-Visas assistance service does NOT come with the guarantee that your application will be approved.)
You can sign up for this by going to this link — however, if you ask me, it’s an UNNECESSARY expense because the services they’ll provide can already be easily accomplished by you (especially since my free France Schengen Visa guide here will already encompass the extra service they’ll be providing). In hindsight though, this service can be helpful if you’re in a rush; but honestly, the overall application process won’t take too much of your time.
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Step 2: Register with ‘France-Visas’ and accomplish the online form
The French Embassy has their visa applications processed by their external service provider, VFS Global — but before you can set an appointment with them, you must first register through the France-Visas website.
This platform basically determines the requirements you need to fulfill. After which, it will proceed to ask for your information in order to automatically generate the France visa application form.
To do this, simply follow the instructions in the section below which you can expand by clicking the ‘+‘ icon.
How to register and accomplish the online form on France-Visas website
- Go to France-Visas Visa Wizard and fill out the form page’s fields with your personal and travel information.
- TIP: When it asks for ‘Nationality’, search for ‘Filipino’ in case you don’t find the word ‘Philippines’.
- To proceed to the next page, you just need to click the blue button at the bottom that says ‘Search‘ — you might have to do this twice until you reach the last page that has the blue button at the bottom with the text: ‘Submit online application‘. Click this to proceed to the next step.
- In the next page, you need to register a new account on the website. Fill out the fields accordingly.
- Once done, a verification link and code will be sent to your email — click that link and enter the code, after which you’ll need to set up a new password.
- In case you don’t receive an email, check your spam folders.
- On your dashboard, click the button that says: ‘Create a new application or a new group of applications‘, and then on the next page click ‘Access the visa application‘. This will lead you to the form below wherein you will need to enter your detailed personal and travel details.
- As you can see, this process has 5 sections and the summary of this information will be used to fill out your Schengen application form. Accomplish all of these until the last page.
- Your plans
- Your information
- Your last visa
- Your stay
- Your contacts
- Once you have created your first application, you can add other applications to it to form a group application in which it must contain no more than 6 people or 6 trips. (You will be called for a group appointment if you submit a group application.)
- You can save your information at each page in case you don’t have some of the details yet that the site needs.
- On the last page called ‘Recap‘, ensure that all of the information that you entered is accurate. If it is, submit your application.
- Take note of your France-Visas Registration Number which is a 17-character word with ‘FRA’ at the start.
- You will be given a completed Schengen application form and registration receipt in a single .PDF file. You MUST print this since it will be needed along with your other supporting documents when you go to your appointment at France VFS.
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Step 3: Schedule your appointment online with VFS Global
To book your France Schengen Visa appointment with VFS, simply follow the steps below:
- Go to France VFS appointment page and click ‘I don’t have an account‘ to register your details. If you already have an account, just sign in.
- As a new user, an activation link will be sent to your email. In case you don’t receive it, check your spam folder.
- As a new user, an activation link will be sent to your email. In case you don’t receive it, check your spam folder.
- Once logged in, click the orange button that says ‘Start New Booking‘. The next page will show you the following sections:
- Application Details: Choose ‘Tourist’ from the dropdown menu and click ‘Continue’.
- Your Details: Enter your France-Visas registration number and other details. Click ‘Save’.
- Book Appointment: Pick a date and time slot and click ‘Continue’.
- Services: Additional services of ‘Premium Lounge’, ‘Photobooth’, and ‘SMS’. The SMS service is helpful if you also want to be notified through phone (apart from their free email update).
- Review and Pay: A service fee of Php 2,218 is applicable to book an appointment with France VFS — which is still separate from your visa fee that will be collected during your appointment. Current payment options are by debit/credit card, Gcash and GrabPay.
- After payment is confirmed, you will be given an Appointment Confirmation document which you need to print and bringe on your France Schengen Visa application date.
NOTE: There have been cases wherein users encounter an error that says ‘You have already blocked an appointment’ — when in fact, you haven’t yet. This usually happens if you mistakenly refresh the page or if your payment did not process properly. So when you try to re-do the scheduling process, you can’t proceed anymore.
Don’t worry though! This is just a temporary bug on the website which should go away after you clear your browser’s cache and cookies. If that doesn’t work, wait for 5 to 24 hours before you try booking through the website again.
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Step 4: Prepare the required documents for your application
Once again, I am only going to tackle the requirements for a tourist visa. If you have other reasons for tourism such as visiting other people etc., check the corresponding requirements here.
NOTE: From what I’ve noticed, Schengen Visa requirements are almost similar, but with only a few tweaks or changes; so, you must ensure that you follow and provide everything that the France Embassy requires as detailed below.
- Don’t forget to bring your Appointment Confirmation letter from France VFS.
- Print documents in A4 paper.
- Bring all your original documents for checking.
- Photocopies must be clear and readable. Remove staple wires and paper clips from your documents.
- Feel free to add supporting documents to help strengthen the purpose of your application.
- Application Form and Registration Receipt. As I’ve already mentioned previously, these are the documents you’ll get after you accomplish the instructions in ‘Step 2’ section above.
- Philippine passport, original and photocopy. Make sure that your passport is valid for at least three (3) months after the end of the planned stay in a Schengen Member State, and that it has at least 2 blank pages to affix the visa sticker.
- You must photocopy the first page containing your personal information, as well as ALL the additional pages which contains visas and stamps that are both valid and expired — in COLOR.
- NOT a citizen in the Philippines? Bring proof that you are a legal resident in the country (e.g. residence permit, etc.)
- 1 Passport-sized Photo. This must have a white background, must not also be older than 6 months and must be sized at 35 x 45 mm. Take note that edited photos are NOT accepted.
- You must paste (do NOT staple) this photo on your Application Form.
- Bring extras just in case.
ARE YOU A MINOR TRAVELING TO FRANCE? If so, the following additional documents must be provided:
– Photocopy of PSA birth certificate
– Notarized affidavit of support and consent of parents or legal guardian
– Photocopy of DSWD travel clearance
– Photocopy of parents’ or legal guardian’s passport or government issued ID
- Day-to-day Travel Itinerary & Cover Letter. If you did not book an organized tour, you must provide a document describing your itinerary in detail.
- For this, it’s also good practice to include a personal cover letter so that you can properly explain the purpose of your trip — this becomes essentially helpful especially when you want to apply for a multiple-entry Schengen Visa. To see a sample cover letter and travel itinerary, you can view and download my file here.
- BOOKED a tour trip instead? If you have arranged an organized trip, simply provide a document showing booking/reservation confirmation.
- Roundtrip Flight Ticket Reservation. Do NOT buy flight tickets before the visa is issued because the French Embassy would NOT take any responsibility for the costs you’ll incur if your France Schengen Visa gets denied or if your departure times get changed. So — just simply supply a confirmed reservation only. You can get a reservation typically from the airline itself or through any travel agency (for a small fee).
- In case you’re wondering where to look for the best flight deals, my go-to platform is Skyscanner.
- Proof of Accommodation, copy(ies). These are confirmed hotel reservation(s) for the entire duration of your stay in the Schengen countries and they must contain the name and contact details of the hotel(s) you’ve chosen.
- If you will be staying in other countries during your stay, you must also provide hotel booking confirmation for those.
- I usually reserve my hotel stays via Booking.com and/or Agoda.com. With them, you can reserve a hotel with NO pre-payment and you can even cancel the booking a day before your arrival with NO cancellation charges at all. So yes, you can make reservations without any payment, you can change the reservation anytime, AND you can cancel them at no cost as well if in case your visa is not approved.
- STAYING with a local instead? You must get a ‘Proof of Accommodation’ (Cerfa form/Attestation d’accueil) which is a French document that your host must get from their local town hall in France. You must arrange this in advance because the embassy wants the ORIGINAL document for this, given that it must be stamped by the consulate and later on presented upon your entry in France.
- Proof of sufficient funds. If you are under the age of 18, the following documents can be from their parents or legal guardian.
- Original bank certificate/transcripts for the last 6 months and issued within the past 30 days
- Credit card statements for the last 3 months (if applicable)
- Last 3 pay slips (if applicable)
- Travelers cheques (if applicable)
- Pension statements (if applicable)
NOTE: Is your trip sponsored by someone else? If so, apart from any of the documents already listed above, you must also provide a notarized ‘Affidavit of Support’, proof of relationship (e.g. birth certificate, etc.), and a photocopy of an ID with signature (e.g. passport).
- Proof of socio-professional situation.
- Student? School attendance certificate or certificate of enrollment, photocopy of School ID, and certificate of leave of absence.
- Employed? Certificate of Employment and letter indicating approved leave of absence.
- Self-Employed? Business registration documents and ITR.
- Retired? Proof of pension.
- Other proof of rootedness. If you own any land, cars, properties, land titles, etc. bring the original documents as well as their photocopies. Copies of your marriage certificate may also help.
- International Travel Insurance, copy or original. This can be purchased locally, internationally, or in France. You just have to ensure that it has a coverage of at least 30,000 EUR / 50,000 USD / PHP 2.5M to cover expenses for personal accidents, urgent medical treatment, urgent admission in a hospital, or urgent repatriation on medical grounds; with coverage including ALL Schengen member states. The validity period of the insurance coverage must be for the ENTIRE duration of the intended stay including entry and exit day of the Schengen area. The Embassy of France only accepts the insurance policies of the following Philippine Insurance companies.
- Chubb (formerly known as ACE Secure)
- Chartis Insurance / AIG (formerly known as Philam Insurance/AIU Insurance)
- Pacific Cross (formerly known as Blue Cross)
- BPI-MS Insurance Corporation
- FPG Insurance Co. (formerly Federal Phoenix Assurance Co)
- Fortune General Ins. Corp.
- MAA Insurance Malayan Insurance
- MAPFRE Insular Insurance
- Paramount Life and General Insurance Co.
- Malayan Insurance Company, Inc.
- PNB General Insurers Standard Insurance Co.
- UCPB General Insurance Co. Inc.
- Worldwide Travel Insurance Plans
- Charter Ping An Insurance Corporation
- QBE Seaboard Insurance Philippines, Inc.
- Liberty Insurance Corporation
- Pioneer Insurance Company
- Philippines First Insurance Company
- Oriental Assurance Corporation
UPDATE: The Embassy now requires travel insurance to have COVID coverage. From the list above, Malayan Insurance provides COVID coverage.
TIP: I purchased travel insurance with COVID coverage from HeyMondo (click this link to get 5% off) and the France Embassy accepted it.
- Proof of vaccination. Vaccines that are recognized are only those that are registered by the European Medicines Agency (EMA): Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson.
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Step 5: Submit your application at VFS on your appointment date and pay the visa fee
It helps to arrive early for your France Schengen Visa appointment. VFS’ address for Manila is:
VFS France Visa Application Centre
30th Floor, The World Centre
Sen Gil Puyat Ave
Makati City, Metro Manila
Phone Number: +63 2 790 4903
BUSINESS HOURS: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday (9AM to 2PM, by appointment only)
PASSPORT COLLECTION: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday (2PM to 4PM)
After the security check, you will be queued and when it’s your turn, they will check your documents. Once they see that your documents suffice, VFS will get your biometrics and this will be followed by visa payment (sometimes, biometrics will be done first in which they basically take your photo and fingerprints).
NOTE: VFS will not express their opinion on the quality of your files, BUT they will check if everything is complete. They will not have any influence either on how fast the Embassy will process your application because they are basically just acting as the middleman.
VISA FEE: €80 euro or its equivalent in peso that day (about Php 4,780). This fee is non-refundable and preferred to be at an exact amount.
There used to be an option to choose between pick-up or courier delivery once you get your visa application results, but because of the pandemic, your travel documents will be sent by courier service instead (the fee for this is already included in the VFS service fee that you have paid online back in Step 3).
Afterward, you will be issued a receipt and a tracking or reference number (take note of this especially if you want to follow up on your application).
The French Embassy still reserves the right to ask you to appear for a personal interview after checking your France Schengen Visa application.
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Step 6: Wait for the results of your France Schengen Visa application
Once the France Embassy is done assessing your application, they will send back your passport and your other original documents to VFS.
Consecutively, VFS will send you an email or text message once your application is done, and LBC will deliver your passport and visa results. Once they’re at your address, make sure to present the receipt that you received from VFS.
- Please do NOT inquire with VFS directly if your application has been approved OR denied because they also do NOT know the result themselves. They are simply functioning as a middleman between you and the French Embassy. However, what you can do is track the status of your application by going to this site. Simply input the reference number indicated on the receipt issued by VFS along with your last name.
Applications accepted at VFS are usually submitted the next working day to the France Embassy and the time required to process France visa applications is up to 2 to 7 working days however as per Schengen Codex, it can take up to 15 working days and some might even be called for an interview at the French Embassy.
As an example, my first experience with the French Embassy took only 5 working days and I was granted a multiple-entry tourist visa application.
- February 26, 2020: VFS appointment
- March 3, 2020: Visa results and pick-up
My second application was in September 2021 (with the new steps/requirements mentioned above) and it also took 5 working days for my visa to be given to me.
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WAS YOUR APPLICATION DENIED? I’m very sorry to hear this! Every application is up to the embassy’s scrutiny no matter if you have accomplished all the requirements mentioned above.
So when your application is refused, it is said that they may or may not indicate the reason, and you may lodge an appeal against this decision to the Minister of the Interior within 2 months of being informed. Your request must be signed, written in French, and sent by regular mail to the following address (you can also get the help of a lawyer for this).
Secrétariat général de la CRRV
Commission de Recours contre les Décisions de Refus de Visa d’entrée en France
BP 83609 – 44036 Nantes CEDEX 01, France
Make sure to include
– Your personal information (last name, first name, date of birth)
– The name and location of the Embassy that refused your application
This procedure is mandatory before it is sent for an appeal to an administrative judge. If they reject your appeal, they will do so in writing or by implicitly not replying to you within 2 months.
It’s clearly a long process… but if you don’t want to go to the trouble of appealing, you can re-apply at any time — but… that won’t essentially solve the issue at all. Some people have tried reapplying with another Embassy but your record of refusal will still be on their system. Nevertheless, most of those who were successful in getting a visa even after a refusal were able to do so when they applied for a different visa type.
• • •
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!
• • •
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
If it can support your application even further, then sure! The Embassy encourages that, especially if you have a sponsor that will fund your trip, or if you have other documents that can help provide proof of your economical or social ties within the Philippines. Another example is that if your main purpose for visiting Europe is to attend a concert, then you should provide proof of your booked concert tickets. Attending a wedding of a friend? Provide a copy of your wedding invitation, etc. etc.
All in all, going by my personal experiences with visa applications, overdelivering is better than underdelivering!
It’s not required, but it’s good practice to provide one. You can check out my example here.
Most of the Schengen member countries would need you to show that you have at least EUR 50 (Php 2,500+) per day of your stay — but with the French Embassy, they require you to show that you have at least EUR 120 per day of your stay.
There is no border control within the Schengen Zone, so yes — you can deviate from your original plans BUT only for as long as they’re within the Schengen member countries (unless, of course, you have a multiple-entry France Schengen visa) and within the allowable dates stated on your visa.
It’s not stated in the list of requirements, but as an example, when I applied for a multiple-entry visa, I asked the tour company to come up with a flight reservation that also showed my planned domestic flights. I have also heard of other people providing proof of reserved train tickets, so you can also submit these.
Interviews are done by embassies since they usually want more information about your situation, if not verify. I have never been interviewed by the Norway Embassy but from my experience from other Schengen embassies, the questions will often be simple as it covers the following aspect.
– Your background: proof of strong ties with the Philippines, your job, your financial capacity, etc.
– Details & purpose of your trip: to where are you going to, why you’re going, how long, where you’re staying, etc.
– Your relationship with your sponsor: only if you’re applying with a guarantor/sponsor
– Your travel history: if you’ve been to the Schengen area before, if you have relatives/family there, etc.
Of course, the questions may vary depending on your circumstance but generally, there really are no difficult questions since they only want to know more about you and your trip. So just be honest and concise.
It could be because of a number of things, some of the most common reasons being that…
– They cannot properly determine the purpose of your trip: your reasons for traveling might be insinuating a different purpose (e.g. you’re applying for tourism purposes when you’re actually seemingly intending to study in France)
– They cannot see your strong ties to the Philippines: you’re probably newly resigned, you failed to provide information of your employment, etc. etc.
– They deem you as having insufficient funds for your trip: if you’re not in good financial standing, it usually helps to take on a sponsor.
Apart from your France Schengen visa, proof of accommodation, roundtrip ticket, and RT-PCR, check out the entry documents here that are needed for entry into France. Meanwhile, it is also important that you apply for a ‘Health Pass’ in order to enter cafes, restaurants, shops, etc. while in France.
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Overall, I hope this guide for France Schengen Visa applications will prove to be helpful for you.
Feel free to share some tips below to help other people out. Good luck!