How we applied for our Schengen Visa [updated]

A Millennial Mom’s Guide to Applying for a Schengen Visa with a Toddler

Now that we are halfway through our 3-week trip here in Italy, and while we are taking a day off from touring around the city, I’m sharing my guide on how to simplify the Schengen Visa application for parents with toddlers.

Getting a Schengen Visa could become time consuming when you are not prepared and organised to begin with. The best way to tackle the visa application is to make sure you’re 100% ready to get the application started without unnecessary delays or distractions, otherwise, you’ll feel worn-out from the entire process.

Tip: Unlike our US Visa application, getting the Schengen Visa requires you to set an appointment at Via.ph when you have all your documents ready.

First things, first… Why do you want to go to Europe?

The preparations start with a strong purpose to go to Italy. It’s going to be the sole reason why you would still choose to continue the application process no matter how overwhelming it becomes. I couldn’t tell how many times I have considered backing out and if it weren’t for my many reasons to flying here, I would postpone it until who knows when. You just have to have a strong reason because the application alone will require time and a lot of money if you’re holding a Philippine passport.

And of course, your reason for going will serve as your script during the visa application interview. Just don’t forget to include the same narrative on your Schengen Visa Cover Letter. In our case, I simply kept things straightforward, we went here to celebrate my mother’s 60th birthday at the same time it’s my opportunity to introduce my birthplace to my daughter, Kerrigan.

Tip: Be consistent on your reason to visiting any European country.

Do you have enough money to travel with your toddler?

The rule is quite simple. If you can prove that you can finance your entire travel, then getting a visa should be easy for you. The obvious way to prove that is by presenting your financial documents.

Like:

  • Bank Statement with the last six months of transaction 
  • and a Certification from the bank that you are keeping several accounts
  • To strengthen your financial standing, you may also present the original and photocopy of your real estate properties and other properties that have significant value

I included the OR of my car, and it made me realise that having a car is a strong reason to return with all the walking with a heavy stroller without a proper lift or ascensore. Too tiring for a worn-out mom like me!

I have to be honest with you, this part of the requirement was the hardest, especially when you’re bringing your toddler with you. So, with the toddler’s case, the dad could boost the visa application by providing:

  • A copy of his financial documents
  • and one original copy of Affidavit of Support and Consent to Travel from the non-traveling parent

BUT remember this, even a solo parent travelling with a toddler or kids has to provide the same Affidavit of Support and Consent to Travel coming from the parent traveling with the kid/s.

Why you asked?

The agency’s manager asked for it even though I pointed out that my daughter and I will travel together. Along with the ASCT, you must also include extra copies of your bank statement and ITR because it’s better to be sure than prolong the agony of submitting additional forms. But since this extra info is not on the website, the manager gave us a slot to submit the additional forms the following day.

Which now bring us to the next important question…

How much money do you need in the bank, exactly?

There was a computation of daily cost I found somewhere online and I won’t tell you how many times I computed for that amount and compared it to what I actually have in the bank. The total score was sad, to say the least, so you’ll need a lot of confidence to really pursue the application. That’s what I had! But now that we are here in Rome, I could give you a ballpark of what I’m spending daily then I guess you will have to triple or multiply that to how many kids you’re bringing with you.

  • Accommodation for 19 days costs about PHP 62,000.00
  • Transportation using a card with unlimited access valid for a month costs 35 Euro or roughly PHP 2,205
  • Food and other essentials should be around PhP 3,780 max per day more or less

Add a few more in the bank or load up your debit card for a little bit of shopping in the city or an Uber ride.

Are you rooted enough?

Get this, if you’re an employee then you must be prepared to ask the company you’re working for a couple of documents i.e. 

  • Certification of Employment 
  • and your Letter of Absence (LOA form) indicating that the company is allowing you to travel within a specific date

On the other hand, if you’re self-employed, then you must prepare the following:

  • latest business permit,
  • BIR certificate/ registration,
  • business name registration i.e. DTI, SEC.
  • Present your latest ITR or Income Tax Return.

Ready to YOLO? Skip the unpaid reservations and go straight to checkout.

Part of the documents that you need to submit is your itinerary, a detailed overview of your activities including your accommodation. Just remember this, the activities in your itinerary should match your declared travel budget. If you feel confident enough, you can purchase your flight tickets and book your accommodation. It’s a bit risky but if you’ve decided on going anyway why wait ’til you get the visa, right? Just get everything sorted out at least 6 months before your target travel date, so you’ll have enough time to appeal a failed application or refund a canceled trip.

My daughter and I flew with Emirates and booked an AirBnB near Manzoni Metro station. Unfortunately, the rest of my family got denied so they had to refund the airfare and travel insurance the moment they received the news from the agency.

Now, for the easiest part…

Fill up the online application form from Via.ph and avoid using the old forms so you won’t end up signing forms at the agency. It’ll save you time! Include 2 passport size photos on white background, original and photocopies of your latest passport valid for at least six months and NSO certificate with a photocopy of your child’s birth certificate. Photocopy everything to be sure, including the pages of your passports that has the immigration stamps from your previous trips including any Visa from other countries.

How many days will it take to get a call from the Italian Embassy in Manila?

The embassy will call you 5 days from the date of your document submission for any questions. And if you’re lucky, your visa will be delivered via 2GO a few days before your scheduled flight. While waiting do yourself a favour by working on other stuff otherwise you’ll get nuts from waiting.

Bonus! How much was the cost of all these travel documents excluding gas?

Let see…

  • Via.ph processing fee for myself and my two-year-old daughter, including the actual visa fee was PHP 6,500.00 more or less (August 2018)
  • NSO birth certificate was PHP 180 a peace so make it PhP 260.00 for me and my daughter.
  • Two sets of Affidavit of Support and Consent to travel was PHP 600.00 total plus the parking fee of Php 40.00 (because we returned the following day)
  • Travel Insurance was a whopping Php 4,500 more or less
  • Bank Statements and Bank Certification were probably PHP 200.00 or more because I asked for mine and Kerrigan’s dad.
  • Passport Photos were PHP 700.00 We got ours from Great Image great cost too. Get a cheaper one, does the same thing, anyway!
  • Finally, airfare and accommodation cost totalled PHP 117,000.00 My brother and I shared the AirBnB so I only paid for the half.

For a grand total of PHP 129,760.00! Ugh!

This is why you really have to prepare because it is not cheap!

For inspiration, here are the series of vlogs from our trip:

Our travel vlog during our long-haul flight to Rome, Italy!
Our travel vlog on our second day in Rome, Italy

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