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 a guide on how to simplify the Schengen Visa application for parents with toddlers.
From my experience, getting a Schengen Visa was the most time consuming one because of the documents that I had to prepare. Not all documents were readily available. Some documents like those involving your “Financial Means to Travel” needed a few days to complete, in my case it took weeks because I was also busy with other stuff. So, 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 all the processing and waiting just to get everything ready.
First things, first… Why do you want to go to Europe?
The preparations start with a strong purpose to go to Europe, in our case Rome. Why? Because it’s going to be the sole reason why you would still choose to continue the application process no matter how overwhelming it becomes for you. I couldn’t tell how many times I have considered backing out and if it weren’t for my many reasons for flying here, I would postpone it until who knows when. You just have to have a strong reason to visit Europe because the application alone will require time and a lot of money if you’re holding a Philippine passport.
And of course, your reason going to Europe is your script during the visa application interview and should be indicated on your cover letter. In our case, I simply kept things straightforward, we are coming here to celebrate my mother’s 60th birthday at the same time it’s an opportunity to introduce my birthplace to my daughter, Kerrigan.
Do you have enough money to travel with your toddler?
The rule is quite simple. If you can prove that you can finance your way to Europe then getting a visa should be easy for you. The obvious way to prove that is by presenting your 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 to Philippines with all the walking with a stroller that we’ve experienced without proper lift or ascensore). I have to be honest with you, this part of the requirement was the hardest, especially when you’re bringing your toddler with you. I don’t own a real estate just yet, which kinda bad so I had to present the gift that my daughter and I received from her dad. I included a photocopy of my Yonzé in the documents.
So, with the toddler’s case, the dad could boost our application by providing his copy of financial documents and one original copy of an Affidavit of Support and Consent to Travel. But hear this, even you as a solo parent travelling with your toddler or kids, you must also provide the same Affidavit of Support and Consent to Travel. 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 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 exactly in the bank?
There is 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 here and there.
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 your latest business permit, BIR certificate/ registration, business name registration i.e. DTI, SEC. To serve as the cherry-on-top, 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 is your itinerary, a detailed overview of your activities. You can include the itinerary on the cover letter. What you need to decide on is if you’re fine with the idea of purchasing your flight tickets and booking your AirBnB accommodation for the trip during the Visa application stage. 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. We flew with Emirates and booked for an AirBnB 1km away from Manzoni Metro station. Emirates allowed to refund my brother’s airfare ticket, I guess for as long as it’s not on promo. Another document that you need to secure but also totally refundable is the travel insurance. We got ours from Mapfre. Oh! I just remembered I still have to pay my father for that.
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.
Bonus! How much was the cost of all these documents excluding gas?
- 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! Not so bad, right? This is why you really have to prepare because it is not cheap, not at all! If you’ve prepared enough the embassy will call you 5 days from the date of your document submission. Then 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.
Need help with your cover letter?Maybe I could give you some suggestions, email me: elle(dot)email@example.com
Here’s our photo to inspire you! Good Luck!