Fortunately, it’s not so hard for seafarers to apply for a Schengen Visa. Most of the paperwork will be handled by your manning agency. There are some forms that need to be completed which are all found in the office.
The only challenging part is to wake up early for your appearance in VFS Global Philippines which takes less than half a day.
When your company asks you to process your visa, all you have to do is report to them and fill up some forms which you can find below.
Present also your Philippine Passport and Seaman’s Book as these are included in the requirements. These documents will be taken care of by your shipping agency since they already have a checklist in hand.
Remember that we are Filipino seafarers and our visa application process is far more different (and simpler too) than others who want to go to any Schengen states for vacation.
- Visa Application Form – Completed and personally signed.
- Recent Photograph – Not older than 3 months. The photo size is 35×45 colored and white background. Can be obtained in VFS Global.
- Passport – validity of not less than 3 months with at least two blank pages.
- Previous Passport(if applicable)– especially if you have a valid Schengen Visa here.
- Valid Seaman’s Book
- Visa Fee– Php4,460.00 or EUR80.00
- Guarantee Letter – from your local manning agency
- Letter from Principal/ Shipping Agency
- Overseas Employment Contract (OEC)
After signing the necessary documents and double-checking all your requirements, your manning agency will give you specific instructions regarding your visa application process. You can ask him the address of VFS Global and how to get there.
At this moment, your appointment is also booked so you better take note of the date and time. Pay close attention and ask questions if you don’t understand something.
Your office will also give you the Application Fee together with all the requirements mentioned above inside a brown envelope.
You may notice that a passport-size photograph is required. But you really don’t need to bring one since you can have it for free during your Biometrics.
VFS Global Philippines is located on the Mezzanine Floor, Ecoplaza Bldg., Don Chino Roces Ave. Ext., Makati, Kalakhang Maynila, Philippines.
Going there by taxi or your own private vehicle is easy. For other commuters, here’s how to get there including the landmarks that you should be aware of.
The first is to get to Magallanes LRT Station. From there, walk to Chino Roces Avenue which is just in front of Southgate Mall.
Second, you should find vehicles lining up there and ask them to drop you off at the EcoPlaza Building.
Lastly, once you are at the Ecoplaza building, proceed to the second floor on the left near the entrance.
You have to be at least 15 minutes earlier than your appointed schedule. The guard will call all applicants ahead of time so you must always be attentive.
Don’t worry if you can’t have breakfast at home since there is a cafeteria on the ground floor where you can eat while waiting.
Once your schedule is called out, follow the guard’s instructions. They can be very strict at times so it’s very helpful if you just remain obedient to them.
In the Reception Area, your documents will be checked to ensure that you have all the necessary requirements. They used to be very strict with your ID picture.
However, it is no longer needed today since a camera is already provided and you don’t have to pay for your shots.
If you are going there alone without a chaperone, it would be helpful if you only bring the requirements inside a brown envelope and an extra pen in your pocket. Your backpack or other carry-on items will not be allowed inside You have to put it in a locker which costs Php75.00.
4. Schengen Visa Application Center
Here, you only need to wait for your number to flash on the monitor. In the meantime, take your seats and just relax. I remember we filled another short form but I don’t exactly know what it is.
Anyway, it would be very easy once you’re there. You will submit the requirements including the payment of your visa. Pass or fail, your fee will not be refunded.
An SMS tracking service will be offered for Php150.00. You will receive an automated feedback message at various stages of your visa process.
If you have an old or expired Passport containing a valid Schengen Visa, the application center will require you to submit this too together with your other requirements. For less hassle, always keep your old passport with you during the entire visa processing.
They will ask you if you want to personally collect your passport, have someone fetch it on your behalf, or opt for a delivery service which requires a fee of Php400.
In this case, our company usually decides to send someone to collect our Schengen Visa on our behalf. This too will also be highlighted during the Briefing Session.
There is another option called Premium Lounge where you will be in a different room. Applicants who opted for this is treated like a VIP. They will have their own assistant helping them with their application.
Only your office can book your application for the Premium Lounge experience. However, it costs more than the ordinary visa process.
By the end of your application, your assistant will give you a donut and a can of beverage.
Premium Lounge costs an additional Php3,401.00. Add this to your normal visa fee and you will pay a total of Php7,861.00.
After submitting your documents, you need to wait again for biometrics which is just in the same room. Proceed directly once your name is called. They will scan your fingerprints which will be stored in the EU’s database.
Using your mobile phone and taking pictures inside the facility is strictly prohibited. I managed to take some photos before they told me so.
And that’s basically it. Your visa application is done after your Biometrics.
6. Updating Your Office
During the entire period, it would also be very important to give an update to whoever is in charge of your visa application in the office.
This includes the time of your arrival at VFS Global and upon completion of your appointment.
If any problems arise, inform them immediately either through call or text.
Additionally, if you finish your application, you also need to report to the office and give them back some of the documents that VFS Global returned to you.
7. Tracking Your Application
Legal processing time is 15 calendar days. Sometimes, it could take more than 30 days. You can track your application through VFS’s website.
You only need to enter your reference number and last name to do this. Alternatively, an SMS will also be sent to you if you opted for it during your application.
8. Releasing and Collecting
This won’t be much of a problem since your company will take care of it once VFS Global sends you a message regarding the collection of your passport.
Once you receive a confirmation message, inform them that your Schengen visa is ready for pickup. That’s most about it. Your company will do the preparation and your task is for appearance only.
But do you know that your Schengen visa has some interesting facts most seamen are not aware of?
May the winds be in your favor.