Iceland has been in my travel bucketlist for a few years now but because it’s such an expensive place to visit, I always end up going to another country that’s way cheaper. This year, I finally convinced my boyfriend that Iceland is worth the cost. We were also able to grab cheap tickets to Dubai so we’re just going to Europe after that trip since we’re already halfway there.
I still can’t believe that we are actually going to Iceland but before I got my hopes up, I had to make sure that my boyfriend gets his Schengen visa. I was a little nervous with the application this time because it was super important to me that he gets approved or else Iceland will just be in my bucketlist forever. lol
The Schengen Visa
A Schengen Visa is required to those entering Iceland and all the other Schengen states. Filipino citizens need this visa in order to enter these 26 European states – 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 and Switzerland.
Where to Apply
One of the reasons why an applicant gets denied is that he applied to the wrong embassy. Even though the Schengen visa is applicable to the 26 European states, there are rules as to which embassy you should apply if you’re visiting multiple countries. Here are the basic rules:
- If the traveller will visit just one Schengen country, he must apply at the embassy of the country that he will be visiting.
- If the traveller will visit two or more Schengen countries, he must apply at the embassy of the country wherein he will stay the longest during the trip.
- If the traveller will stay equal days in each Schengen country, he must apply at the embassy of the country which he will first enter.
Since there is no Iceland embassy in the Philippines, applicants can lodge their application at the Norwegian Embassy. Applicants from Cebu may submit their application at the:
VFS Office 503 Keppel Center Samar Loop Cebu Business Park Cebu City
The 5th floor VFS office accepts visa applications for Norway (including Iceland), Denmark, Malta, Czech Republic and Austria. There’s also another VFS office on the 9th floor of Keppel Center and from what I can remember, they accept applications for UK and Canada.
How To Apply
1. PREPARE THE REQUIRED DOCUMENTS.
a. Checklist and Questionnaire
b. Cover Letter – to be printed from the application portal after you complete filling up your online form and your online payment. This serves as your proof of payment and make sure to sign this one.
c. Photo – passport sized, white background, and should be taken within 6 months. Paste this on your checklist, do not staple.
d. Original Passport – should have at least 2 unused pages, and should be valid for at least 3 months after planned departure from Schengen area.
e. Photocopy of Original Passport
f. Proof of Accommodation – we just booked refundable hotels from http://www.hotels.com
g. Detailed Itinerary
h. Proof of Sufficient Funds of Applicant (or parent/legal guardian if applicant is under 18) – we submitted a Bank Certificate and Credit Card statements in the last 6 months.
i. Proof of properties in the Philippines (if applicable)
j. Proof of family ties – photocopies of Marriage Certificate and/or Birth Certificates of children (if applicable)
k. If Currently Employed – Original Certificate of Employment or photocopy of Work Contract stating position, length of service, salary and duration of approved leave of absence.
l. If Self Employed – photocopy of DTI Business Registration or SEC Registration and latest Income Tax statement.
m. If Currently a Student – Original Certificate of Enrollment from school. If traveling during summer break, certification that you are enrolled for the next school year or semester. If traveling within the school year, a certificate of leave of absence from the school.
n. Photocopy of Roundtrip Airline Ticket Reservation – we paid Php 300 to get a ticket reservation from a local travel agency (Golden JC Holiday Travel in Ayala Center Cebu)
o. Photocopy of Travel Medical Insurance – You may buy this from an accredited insurance company. We got ours from Pacific Cross for Php 4,252.72 and it’s good for 36 days because the embassy requires the applicant to be insured during the whole trip plus 15 days after the planned departure from the Schengen area. The price of the insurance varies depending on the company that you get it from, the number of days that you need to be insured, and the current EURO to PHP exchange rate.
These were not in the Document Checklist (and are not compulsory) but we still submitted the following to support the application: a. Photocopy of Visas and Stamps from our Old Passport b. Bank Statements – for the last 3 months c. Business Permit – For Self-Employed. You may also submit payslips or a photocopy of your company ID if you’re an employee.
2. FILL UP THE ONLINE VISA APPLICATION FORM
a. Create an account at the Norway Application Portal.
b. Once you have activated your account, you may now start filling up the form. You will be asked some details about the following plus your Travel Expenses. It got cut when I took a screen shot of the page.
3. PAY THE VISA FEE.
After submitting your online application form, you will then be asked to pay for the Visa Fee. The fee is the same for single and multiple entry visas. You may pay through your Visa or Mastercard:
60 EUROS – 12 yrs old and above 35 EUROS – 6 to 11 yrs old FREE – below 6 yrs old
There are some applicants who are exempted from paying the visa fee. You may check here to find out if you’re exempted.
4. SUBMIT YOUR DOCUMENTS.
Once you’re done paying for your visa fee, you may now submit your documents to the VFS Office at the 5th Floor of Keppel Center in Cebu Business Park. You don’t need to book an appointment with them. You may hand in your application from from Monday to Friday (except holidays) from 7am-2pm. For Manila applicants, you will need to Book an Appointment.
When submitting your application through VFS, you will need to pay for VFS’ Service Fee. The service fee was PHP 1,580 and we paid another PHP 370 for the courier because we wanted the passport to be mailed instead of picking it up at their passport.
Please also note that you will need to leave your bag at the reception. You will only be allowed to bring your cellphone and wallet inside but you’re not allowed to take photos. Please also dress accordingly. Your documents will be checked by VFS and once it’s complete, they will then take your biometrics.
Here are the other services that VFS provides:
SMS Updates – PHP 120 (We didn’t avail of this because they also update us through email for free.) PHOTO – PHP 170 for 4 pieces PHOTOCOPY – PHP 5 per page
5. WAIT FOR THE VERDICT.
I was super anxious while waiting for the decision because my plan to visit Iceland was already concrete and I felt like my world will just come rumbling down if my boyfriend got denied. LOL OA, sorry.
The VFS staff said that the normal processing time is around 7-15 working days but after 3 business days, we got an email saying that the VISA WAS APPROVED!! We submitted the documents on Friday, September 7th and got the email on Wednesday, September 12th. We had the passport mailed to us and I felt like we made the wrong decision because it took a week (from Sept 12) for the passport to arrive. We received the passport on September 19th.
It would’ve only taken 2 days for the passport to arrive if we picked it up at VFS Cebu. If you arranged for your passport to be picked up at VFS, you may pick it up Mon-Fri from 2pm-4pm.
I guess that’s about it. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to comment down below. I’ll make sure to answer you with the best of my knowledge.
P.S. Please pray that I don’t get frozen in Iceland!! LOL