EU Is Changing Its Schengen Visa Policies, And Here's What You Should Know

New rules apply starting on February 1, 2020.

( The Schengen visa is your all-in-one pass for most countries in Europe, including Denmark, France, Germany, Iceland, and Italy to name a few. It's a very powerful document to have on your Philippine passport, but—as most worthwhile things that are hard to come by—getting one can be a bit taxing. More so now that the Council of the European Union is making some changes on its visa policy, including longer application period and higher fees, starting on February 1, 2020.

To get to Iceland and see the famous Northern Lights, you need a Schengen visa.
PHOTO BY Vinson Ilog Archives

Here's what you should know in case you plan on getting a Schengen visa soon:

  • Instead of a three-month leeway, you can start applying for a visa six months before your trip. If you're a seafarer, you can file nine months in advance. Just remember that you should get on it "no later than 15 calendar days before the start of the intended visit."
  • The changes are supposed to give applicants the chance to get a multiple-entry visa with a long period of validity. We can only hope!
  • There's a "moderate increase" on the visa fee: from 60 euros to 80 euros (approximately P4,500). This can go higher or lower every three years, depending on the decision of the European Commission.
  • Fees can go even higher since member states are now required to partner with external service providers, "who should be able to charge a service fee." So if the third-party provider decides to go for the maximum service fee, you can pay up to a total of 160 euros (approximately P9,000).
  • Another clause goes: “In exceptional circumstances where the amount [is] not sufficient to provide a full service, a higher service fee of up to a maximum of 120 euros may be charged.” With a bit of math, your total fee can go as high as 200 euros (approximately P11,200).
  • The European Commission also has the power to amend these policies—i.e. increase or decrease the fees, adjust the application period, and restrict visa validity—depending on the cooperation of certain third countries, such as the Philippines. Assessment is done once every three years.
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For more information, visit the European Commission’s website.

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