In December 2017, the French Embassy implemented a new Schengen visa application process. The visa guide below still applies if you want to do it this way, but the new process is much simpler and has fewer requirements.

A more updated visa guide can be found here: France Visa

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On my last day in Paris, I wanted the moments to last longer, I moved so slowly. It took me 30 minutes to walk from the hotel to the train station to have “one last look”, which became a dozen last looks. Silly, I know, but yeah yeah. I’m childish like that.

That Paris trip was a realization of a life-long dream. Growing up, I was a fan of French Cinema. At Film school, I worshipped Francois Truffaut. I adore French food. I even learned the French language in college. It was as though life had been preparing me for that week-long affair with Paris, one of the most unforgettable journeys I have ever taken.

And none of it would ever be possible if I didn’t have a Schengen Visa. Of all the visa applications I have done, it is definitely one of the most demanding. Yet, it wasn’t as difficult as I expected it to be because I already had most of the required documents.

This post will help guide you breeze through the visa process if you’re going to France (and other Schengen countries) as a tourist (short stay). Updated 2017.


This post is for applications via French Embassy. If you’re applying via German Embassy, read this instead: How to Apply for a Schengen Visa via German Embassy


What is a Schengen Visa?

First, a brief intro. The Schengen Visa allows the holder to visit any of the 26 countries within the Schengen area including France. It’s sort of your one-for-all pass, allowing you to enter many of the countries in Europe without having to apply for a visa for each individual country. You can apply at any embassy of a member state. These are the countries who are part of the Schengen Zone:

Austria
Belgium
Czech Republic
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
France
Germany
Greece
Hungary
Iceland
Italy
Latvia
Liechtenstein
Lithuania
Luxembourg
Malta
Netherlands
Norway
Poland
Portugal
Slovakia
Slovenia
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland

Note, however, that you can’t apply just anywhere. You need to apply at the right embassy, which will depend on the purpose of your trip or your overall European itinerary.

Hold on, should you be applying at the French Embassy, in the first place?

Apply at the French Embassy only if ANY of the following is true:

  • You’re going to France only and will not visit any other country.
  • You will visit multiple Schengen countries but you will stay the longest in France.
  • You will visit multiple Schengen countries but the main purpose of your journey is in France. (Example: you will attend a conference in France but you plan on going out to other Schengen countries while you’re there.)
  • You will stay in multiple Schengen countries for exactly the same number of days, but France is your point of entry (first in your itinerary).

There are many pros of applying at the French embassy. Obviously, not all embassies work the same way. Some are stricter than others. Some are faster. In the travel circles (or at least in my travel circle), the French Embassy (along with the Dutch and German embassies) is known to be more considerate to potential tourists, while the Italian and Spanish embassies are regarded more stringent. Many of my friends who initially wanted spending the same amount of time in two or more countries would deliberately change their travel plans to stay longer in France just so the French Embassy would accept their application.

When to apply at the French Embassy

You can apply up to 90 days (3 months) in advance. While the French Embassy works relatively fast, it is wise to give some time allowance just in case something doesn’t go as planned (e.g. they ask for additional documents). I consider “a month before” too tight. Two months should give you enough time to secure a copy of all required documents and fix a problem should it arise.

How to apply for a Schengen visa via French Embassy

The French Embassy has entrusted the receiving, processing, and issuing of most visa applications to VFS Global, which has streamlined the processes. Here’s how.

1. Book an appointment online.

I always recommend getting an appointment before anything else because you’ll never know when the earliest schedule will be. You can always book a much later date if you’re still working on some requirements (which I will discuss later).

To get a schedule, you will need to sign up first. Go to this Appointment System page and click on NEW USER.

If you already have an account, simply log in using your access details.

Once you have an appointment, print out the Appointment Confirmation Letter, which you need to bring to the VFS Global Visa Application Center.

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2. Complete the requirements.

While waiting for your appointment day, gather all the required documents. You need to prepare two copies of each: one original and one photocopy.

To speed up the submission process and for your sanity, arrange them in the order specified in the checklist given to you. As of September 2016, here’s the complete list in the right order.

  1. Accomplished application form with passport-size photo (35 x 45mm, white background). You can download it here.
  2. Valid passport. Must be valid for at least 3 months (6 months, to be safe) from the end of intended stay and must have at least 2 empty pages. Photocopy the bio page and all pages with stamps and other visas. If you have visas not on the passport (printed out visas like Australian visa), photocopy them too.
  3. Cover Letter and Daily Itinerary. Be as specific and detailed as possible. Explain the purpose of your trip and why you’re applying at the French Embassy. Here’s a sample cover letter and sample day-to-day itinerary. Page 1 is the letter. Page 2 is the itinerary. (Buttons below to flip to page 2.) schengen-visa-france-letter
    schengen-visa-france-itinerary

    Make sure you address the letter to:

    THE HONORABLE CONSUL
    EMBASSY OF FRANCE
    16F Pacific Star Building
    Makati Avenue corner Gil Puyat Avenue
    Makati City

  4. Hotel Reservations. You DON’T need to pay for your hotel this early. You can simply reserve rooms via Agoda. Or if you want a travel agency to do it for you, you can get one here: Get Hotel Reservation
  5. Flight reservation. Again, just reservation. DO NOT PAY for flights until your visa is approved. Find a travel agency that can reserve flights for you. You can get one online here: Get Flight Reservations Here
  6. International travel insurance (for medical expenses and repatriation) that covers the entire duration of the trip and valid for all Schengen countries. Coverage must be AT LEAST EUR 30,000. I got mine from Blue Cross. Get Travel Insurance Here
  7. Certificate of Employment (if employee). The monthly salary and leave of absence approval must be indicated.
  8. Leave of absence letter (if employee). Proof that your leave has been approved by your employer. You may get this from your HR or immediate superior.
  9. Business registration documents (if self-employed). This includes DTI permit and SEC documents.
  10. Latest personal ITR (Income tax return)
  11. Bank certificate. Must be issued within at most 30 days before the application.
  12. Bank statement. Must show records of the past 3 months.
  13. If you’re a minor, you must provide: (a) proof of economic means, (b) passport, and (c) affidavit or support and consent of parents or legal guardian.
  14. If you’re a student, provide: (a) proof of enrolment, (b) leave of absence certificate if traveling during school days
  15. If single, birth certificate.
  16. If married, marriage certificate and birth certificate.
  17. If minor traveling with someone other than the parents, copy of DSWD permit.
  18. Visa fee. EUR 60 (or its equivalent in peso that day). Note that you will also be paying the VFS Service Fee, EUR 26.


Where to get flight and hotel reservations and travel insurance?
You can get them online. The one we trust is Gazelle Travel and Tours, a DOT-accredited, DTI-registered travel agency. They offer Flight Reservations + Hotel Reservations + Travel Insurance at a friendly rate! SEE RATES HERE

Get Flight Reservations Here

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3. Submit the requirements at the VFS Visa Application Center.

The applicants themselves must show up on the day of appointment. For children below 12, either parent can submit. The exact address is:

VFS Global Office Address:
France Visa Application Centre,
Mezzanine Floor, Ecoplaza Bldg.,
Don Chino Roces Ave. Extension, Makati City

Again, make sure you bring the Visa Appointment Letter I mentioned at Step 1. You will need it to get in. You’ll go through a security check, and will be waiting for your turn. Once they accept your documents, they will get your biometrics.

You will also be given a choice on how you want to receive your passport (with a visa, hopefully): pick up or by courier. If you choose the latter, expect to pay an additional PhP 330. Finally, settle the visa fee. Make sure you have the exact amount.

That’s it. All you need to do now is wait.

The processing usually takes 5-7 days. However, there have been cases when they got theirs in 3 days. Some unlucky ones got theirs a lot longer. Some will be asked for an interview at the embassy. It really depends on many factors, which probably depend on how strong your case is and how much work load they have. Regardless, it’s out of your hands. Just hope for the best.

According to an ABS-CBN report, starting November 1, 2017, the processing time will be shortened to only 48 hours (2 days)! So that’s good development.

Read it Here: Schengen Visa FAQs

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Yoshke Dimen

Yoshke Dimen

Storyteller at Yoshke.com
Yoshke is a part-time digital marketing consultant, part-time travel blogger, and full-time dreamer. He has three passions in life: social media, travel, and --- wait for it --- world peace. Yoshke has won 3 PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS and received 9 nominations. Learn more about his personal journeys at Yoshke.com.
Yoshke Dimen

Comments

  1. Agnes May Bantigue says:

    Another tip I got from online forums is to make flight reservations directly with airline offices. Cathay Pacific holds reservations for 2 weeks I think, free of charge.

  2. AV says:

    I’m a former airline employee. Here’s a tip: DO NOT purchase a ticket before applying for a visa. Not being negative, but what if you purchased a very restricted ticket (promo fare, non rebookable, non refundable) then your visa application was denied? That’s why it’s best to CONTACT THE AIRLINE DIRECTLY, make a booking, put it on hold, and request to have the itinerary emailed to you. Sometimes the booking can be held for 2 days, sometimes 5 days, it depends on the type of fare. If it’s very restricted, the ticketing time limit is short (max 2 days). If it’s a regular fare or flexi fare, the deadline is longer. Hope this helps.

  3. AV says:

    PS: Booking on hold meaning you don’t have to pay for it immediately. You are given a deadline to finalize the payment.

  4. Jean says:

    Hello,

    You mentioned that the french embassy wasn’t as stringent in providing visas as compared to other embassies, would that still hold true today after many terror attacks in EU/France? I’d imagine it would have some effect, but to what extent do you think?

    Thanks!

  5. MIrang says:

    HI,

    I just want to ask if intercity tickets (train or plane) will also be submitted during visa application? Is it required?

  6. melanie says:

    Hi there, would the bank statement and certificate affect your visa application for france? If for example there’s not a lot in the bank.

  7. Isai says:

    Hi thepoortraveller. We just came back from our Japan trip, thank you very much for your superp insights, your itineraries were a huge help! Anyway, I wanted to ask, if I’m travelling to France together with a friend, do we need to apply for a schengen visa separately of could we send one cover letter for both of us? Many thanks!!!

    • Yoshke Dimen says:

      Hi Isai, I’m not sure if friends are allowed to apply together (because I haven’t tried that), but what Vins and I did was apply separately (with separate cover letters), but we mentioned that we would be traveling with a friend. Not sure if this helps, haha

  8. Amerizza says:

    hi thepoortraveler. Do you have idea as to how much money you need in your account to have visa approval? i am planning to apply and just visit france for 10 days only. Thank you for your response.

  9. Kath says:

    hi! I just wanna ask if they return Time Deposit certificates? Our Time Dep certs are single original copies provided by the bank and we need them back in time for maturity.

    Thanks!

  10. she says:

    Thepoortraveler, good day! I have a question, i dont have enough in my account, but my boyfriend is willing to pay for everything (flight, hotel, all expenses), he is American and US citizen and working in US but willing to write letter of invitation for me. what are the documents needed from him as my sponsor for the trip? so i can send it also as a support for my visa application. Thank you in advance for your response.

  11. rowena jalosjos says:

    hi there! your guide is so useful and self explanatory that i was actually doing the application while reading it….i just want to ask one question which might be vital to my application…the reason why i opted to apply for france visa is that i was previously denied from Greece application last May 15, 2018…i applied together with my friend…unluckily we didnt make it so i decided to go through french visa…but there is this question being asked in the application about the biometrics….i clicked there yes since my fingerprints were previously taken but there is that question about the biometrics number which i dont know where i will get…should i really tick the box yes to be honest or i can tick no since i was denied. please advise

  12. Sylvia says:

    Hi
    So I did a French interview on Thursday last week in uganda and they retained ma passport n gave me a receipt showing I come back on Tuesday the next week so today I went n they told me ma passport is not yet ready they will call me does that mean ma visa will be approved
    Thanks

  13. Ivy says:

    Hi. Is transit train tickets within schengen area required to submit along with the plane ticket? Thanks!

    • Yoshke Dimen says:

      Hi Ivy, if you accomplish the form online, after submitting the form, you will be given a list of requirements. If you print out that list when you apply sa VFS, yun ang list na masusunod. Wala sa list usually ang train tickets/transfers. Pero check mo dun sa list.

      If you fail to print and bring that list, you will be given the OLD list and yun ang mag-aapply. Sa old list na yun, andun ang train tickets, so doon, kailangan talaga.

      However, it is always better to provide as many supporting docs as you can. So if kaya mo naman magreserve ng train transfers, whether or not nasa list sya, isama mo na.

  14. Xtian says:

    hello.. ask ko lang regarding sa leave of absence., isasama ba ang travel period or date of arrival nalang sa leave of absence? example. dec. 15 ang travel period going to france then arrival is dec 16, dapat kasi dba match sya.. or date of arrival and exit nalang sa leave of absence.

    Thanks :)

    • Yoshke Dimen says:

      Hi Christian, always choose kung ano yung totoo. In this case, if naka-leave ka rin sa day na nasa transit ka (kasi pumatak sya na work day), then dapat yun ung nasa leave. If pumatak na weekend or holiday yung transit day, oks lang na wag sya isama.

      • Xtian says:

        pahabol : or bali gawin ko nalang na kung ano nalang yung may pasok ako.. ill be arriving in paris by 16 but leave of absence ko is start ng 17 kasi monday yun, 16 is a sunday :) example : Dec. 17-28 ang leave of absence although return ko is Jan. 1 na holiday naman kasi dec 31 and jan. 1 .. right sir?

  15. Xtian says:

    actually dec. 15 is saturday no work sya and dec 31 is holiday naman sa atin sa pinas ( rizal day ) isama ko nalang sa leave of absence ? para wala na prob? kaya Christmas holiday kinuha ko para marami holidays hehehe. isama ko nalang bali leave of absence ko is dec. 15 – 31? although january arrival ko sa pinas.. dko na isasama kasi obviously holiday naman sya hehehe

    • Yoshke Dimen says:

      Ikaw ba gagawa nung Leave of Absence tapos papapirmahan mo lang? Or may standard template yung company nyo?

      If ikaw gagawa, pwede mo iexplain yun clearly. You can write you’ll be traveling to France and that your travel dates are from Dec 15-January 1. Then, write something like, in line with this, you’re applying for a leave on (specific dates) since the other dates are public holidays.

      This way, it’s clearer. :)

  16. Xtian says:

    may template kasi sa company… pwede cguro if sa cover letter ko i explain nalang ?

  17. Xtian says:

    BY THE WAY, OKAY LANG NAMAN MAG ADDITIONAL NG REQUIRMENTS AS LONG AS RELATED AND AS PROOF NA BABALIK KA DIBA? LIKE FOR EXAMPLE, IM TRAVELLING WITH MY FRIEND, WE’VE BEEN TRAVELLING TOGETHER FOR YEARS IN AND OUT OF THE COUNTRY MOSTLY ASIAN. I INCLUDED PICTURES OF US TRAVELLING TOGETHER AND I INDICATED SA COVER LETTER NA IM TRAVELLING WITH MY TRAVEL BUDDY. PARA PROOF NILA NA MAKITA NA WE’RE TRAVELLING TOGETHER TLAGA

  18. mon says:

    kailangan ba malaki ang salary mo ? like 40,000 a month para ma aprove ang visa or ok lang naman na 20k Plus a month ang salary ? and example po, sa ITR what if new ka sa work started Sept. then basis of your ITR is sept – dec. ok lang naman ? as long as may itr ka naman ?

    • Yoshke Dimen says:

      Hi Mon, approval or denial is based on combination of a lot of factors. If mababa ang sweldo pero malakas naman ang proof of rootedness (matagal na sa work, may properties, etc), may chance pa rin maaapprove. Pero if mababa ang sweldo tapos questionable yung ITR and rootedness, malabo maapprove.

      • mon says:

        pano po questionable ang itr ?? ang salary ko kasi is around 22k pero ang ipon ko naman sa bank since 2009 is nasa 600k nman.. pasa din ako ng contract of employment then bukod don, certicate of employment.. as in complete requirment naman ako.. un lang kasi im new sa work pero may ipon naman na ako from my previous job.. salary ko is arounf 22k 1 yr mahigit na ako sa work…

        • Yoshke Dimen says:

          by questionable, i mean not yung usual ITR na covered yung buong taon. What you can do is write a letter explaining that you recently moved to another company and send both ITRs from your current and previous companies.

  19. mon says:

    nag note naman ako sa cover letter tungkol sa itr, then naka explain naman sa contract of employemnt ko about my work,,, malaking help din dba kung may tatak passports dba?

  20. mon says:

    sa travel insurance po, kung 15 days lang ang stay mo sa france, ok lang na 24 days ang avail na insurance instead of 30 days ?

  21. mon says:

    kailangan ba ilagay o explain sa cover letter yung previous job mo ? kasi 1 year pa lang ako sa new job ko now… complete requirments na ako.. isama ko ba ung certification sa previous work ko ?

  22. Xtian says:

    i have submitted my requirements sa VFS last Friday, and now, im just waiting for my passsport :) Hopefully with a visa ! Wala rin binalik na requirements sakin kahit sobra, I submitted extra docs like certificate of organization and officership / Cert of Stocks / Pictures of me and My friend as proof travelling together etc… There’s a family of four na decline agad sa emabsy kasi mali ang itinerary nila, sabi sa embassy, hindi dapat dun mag apply kasi mas matagal ang number of days nila sa Italy kaya hindi sila nakapag apply.. back to zero sila lalo sa iti.

      • Raymond Christian says:

        i gotm my visa for 5 days ! approved :) sa sobrang excitement and curiosity ko, ako na kumuha sa 2GO cant wait for the postman to deliver it door to door. they gave me 25 days Multiple entry since i was just requesting a 16 days … i am relieved !!! nakaka torture mag intay hehehe.

          • Raymond Christian says:

            im on my itinerary making.. what can u suggest on transportation? worth it ba eurail pass?

          • Yoshke Dimen says:

            Hmmm, depende sya sa itinerary eh. Pero generally, okay lang kahit wala nun.

          • Raymond Christian says:

            di na rin ako nila pinag report back sa embassy pag balik ko ng pinas :)

          • Raymond Christian says:

            question uli :) what if okay lang ba na mas matagal kami sa italy kasi baguhin ko iti ko eh.. since sa french kmi nag apply. do they check hotel bookings sa immigration ? chinecheck ba nila kung gaano katagal ung iti each places?

          • Yoshke Dimen says:

            Hi Raymond, Immigration may choose to check your hotel bookings or itinerary upon entry sa Schengen area. It happened to me once.

            What some people do when they have sudden change in their itinerary is they keep their hotel bookings in the country that gave them the visa.

          • xtn says:

            hello, its me again, do they check hotel booking records online? for example, sa agoda account mo? will they check it? ksi I changed my itinerary eh… tsaka sa ibang place d na ako nag book, spontaneous trip ako sa germany, amsterdam, belgium kaya i idint book it, cant tell how many days ako dun, although pwede ko pakita bookings ko dun n pinasa ko sa embassy? kaso cancelled na sya eh

          • Yoshke Dimen says:

            They can and they might. That’s why what we do is book hotels na may free cancellation para in case we change our minds, madali icancel.

            You can cancel your booking once you arrive in Europe, after passing through immigration.

          • xtn says:

            thanks.. yun nga balak ko :) hehehe salamat.. free cacnellation… just in case mabago .. salamat.. you’ve been a great help ! :D

  23. Shela Mae Bahian says:

    Hi Yoshke,
    If kasama ko 6-year-old daughter ko, isang cover letter nlang gagawin for both of us? And do I still need to submit those documents you’ve mentioned for minor? Do you have any inputs ano process if my batang kasama?

    • Yoshke Dimen says:

      Hi Shela, I haven’t tried applying for a Schengen visa na may kasamang minors. But yes, you will have to submit the documents na indicated for minors.

      You can have 1 cover letter but submit 2 copies of it, one for each of you.

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