As much as I love being Filipino, holding a Philippine passport is a hindrance to spontaneity for sure!

POSTED BY JENNIE

So let’s say you wake up one morning and you’re inspired to go to…let’s say Paris. If your Schengen visa is still valid then by all means go. If not, well you’ll need to go through the whole application process and that’s not so inspiring but that’s just how it is.

I recently applied for a Schengen Visa and no matter how many times I’ve applied for one, it’s never stress free.

So here’s my latest visa application experience at the France Visa Application Center at Eco Plaza along Chino Roces Extension.

Ecoplaza_map-close_up
I find it far more convenient to apply here at VFS than in the individual consulates.
Last year I discovered that you can actually renew your Schengen Visa. You’ll just need to apply before your visa expires. How did I know this, I don’t think anyone at VFS is going to point it out to you. However when I applied last year bringing with me all the usual documents needed, to my surprise my documents were not taken. What were taken were the following 1. Schengen application form; 2. bank statement; 3. business papers; 4. xerox copy of my passport; 5. my passport and 6. Travel Insurance. So this came as a surprise. That’s when I found out that there is such a thing a renewing your visa.

vfs_france_inauguration-3
No phones allowed. Bring a book or magazine. It’s also really cold, so dress appropriately.
When I applied this year, I made it a point to call VFS to clarify that I was indeed just renewing. The person on the phone told me to check if I had the annotation Court Sejour Circulation on my latest visa. When I said yes, she gave me a checklist of what to bring, which confirms what I mentioned above. So no more plane, train, boat tickets. No more hotel and apartment bookings. No more copies of previous visas.

Annotation
Take note of the annotation Court Sejour Circulation
Fast forward to the day of our appointment. Together with my 2 teens, we arrived 15 minutes before our appointment. It was smooth sailing until I submitted our application forms which I spent the better part of the previous Sunday filling up. Apparently there is a distinction between Schengen forms that you can download online. Mine apparently was wrong, it was for the Netherlands. Of course I argued that the content was exactly the same, which she admitted was true. Anyway, I believe I ended up with a bad back and possible carpal tunnel syndrome after filling up 3 forms in record time.

Form
Application forms returned to me. Apparently not all downloadable forms are the correct ones.
But it wasn’t over yet. Even if you are not required to bring your hotel bookings, you should be able to provide the address and telephone number of where you will be staying. What?? I was not prepared for this. You are also not allowed to use your phone inside. Desperate I googled any hotel in Paris and gave the lady the address and telephone number while trying to keep my cool.

Last but not the least another round of biometrics. I brought last year’s biometrics with me so I could tell the person in charge that they already had ours on record. I’m glad I did because he looked it up and it was indeed on file.

Biometrics
If you’ve already had your biometrics done, inform the person. Chances are you won’t have to go through the process again.
So after  paying a hefty visa and courier fee, we were free to go!

Some notes…

There is a VFS Premium Lounge. For a fee of P2,000/ person,  you get to sit in a separate room. You are served a Krispy Kreme doughnut and a can of pineapple juice. Faster submission is promised and if you need to photocopy a document, they will do it for you.

This is on top of the visa fee, courier fee and travel insurance. All that expense and you haven’t even left!

So, for this Traveling Tita, no thanks, I’ll buy my own doughnut.

doughnut
Krsipy Kreme at the VFS Premium Lounge
P.S. This is my personal experience at the France Visa Application Center. Your experience may differ from mine. But feel free to share!

P.P.S. After having nightmares about being denied because of giving the VFS girl attitude, the passports arrive within 3 days with a 2 year Schengen visa validity.