Some years ago, I had the privilege of visiting Europe and some of its countries. With much attention to detail, to the point of being obsessive compulsive, I was able to process my application with ease. I applied at the Embassy of Switzerland in the Philippines because Switzerland was my point of entry and it was where I spent majority of my two-month trip. These are two things you should consider in choosing which embassy you want to apply in.
The subject of this article is, and the purpose of my application was “visit of family and friends.” If you are applying for a tourist visa or for any other purpose, you may refer to the corresponding checklists here.
Successfully having a Schengen Visa allows you to travel to 26 countries without border restrictions. You only need one visa to go to 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.
If you are staying within these countries from the start until the end of your trip, you only need to apply for a single-entry visa. Unless you plan to go out of the area, say you are in France and you want to go to UK then go back to France, you will have to apply for a multiple-entry visa.
Switzerland Visa Requirements
Following the checklist is may be the key to a visa approval. Miss one and you might have to start over the whole application process. To clarify, I applied for “visit of family and friends” and the following checklist was the one I prepared for.
- Application Form. You may download the PDF here.
- Additional Questionnaire. This will be given at the embassy on the day of the application.
- Passport-sized photo with white background.
- Valid Passport. At the time of application, passports must be valid at least three months from the end date of your trip. My trip lasted until August 2 so I had to make sure that my passport was valid until November 2.
- Photocopy of valid passport. The embassy will be looking for the copies of your passport’s information page (where your picture is on) and the “important reminders” page (where your signature was signed).
- Photocopy of OLD passport/s if you have any.
- Photocopy of valid visa/s. I submitted a photocopy of my US visa.
- Photocopy of expired visa/s. I am not sure if it is true, but having visited Southeast Asian countries and others in the past years may have helped in establishing my love for travel.
- Invitation letter from the host in Switzerland.
- Photocopy of the host’s passport.
- Photocopy of the host’s visa when he visited in the Philippines.
- Host’s bank statements. This is to show that the host was capable of supporting me during my stay in the country.
- Original copy of Financial Statements. I applied for a Bank Certificate and Statement of Account at BPI. This can be done in one day and for a minimal price.
- Original copy of Credit Card Statement/s in the last three months.
- Photocopy of items #13 (bank certificate) and #14 (credit card statements)
- Certificate of Employment. I requested for this through my company’s HR and had it personalized to include my position, the number of people reporting to me, the breakdown of my compensation, and the purpose for which I applied for the document.
- Leave application letter. This was a formal letter I wrote to my direct superiors. It included the duration and purpose of my trip.
- Leave of Absence form. I also had to fill-out the official Leave Form from the office.
- Photocopy of my payslips in the last three months.
- Photocopy of my Income Tax Return.
- Round trip air travel reservation. The embassy encourages applicants to NOT purchase the tickets until the visa has been issued. The embassy will NOT reimburse purchased tickets should the visa application is denied.
- International Travel Insurance. I purchased my insurance online through BlueCross. Make sure to check if the travel insurance provider you will be buying from is recognized by the embassy.
Setting Up a Visa Appointment
I made sure to have all the requirements before calling the Swiss Customer Service number for appointment. I was not able to get the date I wanted and was instead scheduled to appear 15 days before my intended date of travel. I wrote an email to the embassy saying that I am scared that they won’t have enough time to process my application. But I was assured by the vice-consul that they only need five days to process the request if the purpose of travel is to visit family and friends or tourism.
On the day of my interview, I took a break from the office and proceeded to the embassy 45 minutes before my schedule. This gave me enough time to register at the building and embassy security post. I was given the additional questionnaire which I filled out while waiting for the consul to call me.
As of this writing, the visa fee for Switzerland is 3,500 PHP. Collecting this was the first thing the consul did when I got called. After that, he asked for my requirements and sifted through each with optimum precision. After a few questions regarding my job, reason for visiting Switzerland, and the identity of my sponsor, he asked me to take a seat. A couple of minutes after, I was called back and was informed that my papers seem to be in order. I wasn’t even asked for any supporting documents! I was done in under an hour.
Three days after the interview, My passport, together with the visa, was delivered to our office.
My family is not rich and I am not rich. I was earning enough to be able to save up for this trip, though. It took a lot of self-restraint in walking away from unnecessary purchases and Starbucks coffee. But in the end, I was able to have one of the most memorable trips I’ve ever had in my life.
So… my budget was 50 Euros a day and I planned my trip for 58 days. That means I had to have at least 2900 Euros or at least 150,000 PHP. Although my trip was sponsored, I made sure to have enough money to be able to go around and buy whatever I want. Sadly, I didn’t have enough for a Louis Vuitton bag…
Visa Application Procedure Update
All appointments for the submission of application files must be booked with the embassy’s external service provider TLScontact, Mondays – Fridays, from 8.00 am – 5.00 pm (except during public holidays).
Application files have to be submitted to TLScontact on the day of the appointment at the following address:
TLS Contact Center
Unit 7B New Solid Building,
357 Sen. Gil J Puyat Avenue,
Makati City, Metro Manila
Embassy of Switzerland in the Philippines
24/F BDO Equitable Tower
8751 Paseo de Roxas
1226 Makati, Metro Manila
Tel: +63 2 845 45 45
Fax: +63 2 845 45 38 | +63 2 845 45 39