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Published: February 6th 2018
My dream is to visit all seven continents of the world. I've already explored most of East Asia, and I've also been to Australia and North America, so the next logical step is to go to the notoriously expensive Europe.
I was hesitant to apply because I do not have much money in the bank but I want to travel for at least four weeks.
Then one day while working I got a notification on my mobile that Scoot, the Singapore based budget airline was on sale.
I checked and the return tickets cost just a little over $500! I'm an impulse buyer and that was a temptation I could not resist.
After buying the tickets I thought "Oh no! I can't afford to go to Europe!"
I asked around if $2,000 was enough to travel around Europe for a month and the answer was an almost unanimous NO.
So I got even more nervous and discouraged.
But since I already bought non-refundable plane tickets I had no choice to but to push through with the plan.
I know that a complete itinerary was required so I started planning and booking more plane tickets plus all the accomodations.
Good thing Ryan Air is super cheap! Europeans are so lucky to be able to travel that cheap. Athens to Rome cost me less than $40!
VIA http://via.ph/italy/ , the processing center for applying for visa at the Italian embassy publishes a list of requirements on their website. Just check the list of the requirements in the website to get the more updated list. But these are the documents that I submitted.
1. Bank Certificate with six months bank statement.
2. Credit Card statements
3. Copy of plane tickets and proof of booked accommodations.
4. Employment certificate with approved leave
5. Day to day itinerary - I just put which city I'll be exploring and which hotel I'll be staying for each day, and flights if there are any.
6. Passport. Including the old passport with photocopies of all the visas and stamps.
7. Travel insurance- Italy requires additional 15 days beyond travel period. I paid 6,000 PHP for my insurance at BPI.
8. Filled out application form which you can get from the website of VIA
9. One passport sized photo
10. NSO issued birth certificate
It took me about two weeks to complete all the requirements then I went to the office of VIA in Makati.
Their office is located at the 3rd floor of Allegro Center along Chino Roces in Makati.
I went there at 8AM and was second in line. I was in and out of there real quick. I was told it was low season. The introduction letter was not in the list of requirements but they made me write one there. I basically just had to explain my purpose for going to Italy.
Seven days after I submitted my application I received a letter from the embassy. It said go to the Italian embassy immediately for clarifications and bring additional financial documents. I got more nervous. I only submitted one bank account and it only had about $3,500. I thought that was enough but they wanted to see more. Perhaps because of the length of my stay.
So I got a bank certificate from my other bank plus a certificate for my stocks but it was still less than $6,000. I hoped that was enough.
I went to the Italian Embassy in Makati. Apparently it was it the same building as my gym! It's at 191 Salcedo street in Makati.
It's an old ugly building. I was surprised the embassy was there. Embassies of third world countries were in better buildings.
There was a line outside the building. It may have been for the embassy but I just walked past the guard and went straight for the elevators for the embassy.
There I was asked to fill out more forms. Forms that asked about all the members of my family and where they live. Their birthdays, etc. I wasn't sure about everyone's birthday and I had to leave my mobile phone at their front desk so I had no way of asking so I just put whatever.
They made me write a letter explaining why I'm going to Italy, why I chose Italy. I had to indicate that I'm traveling alone. I was asked some questions about what I did in the States and Canada. Why I have so little money given the salary that I'm getting. I thought that question was a bit rude.
The following week they called me and asked me to send them an authorisation letter so they can verify my employment certificate with my employer. I was a bit worried that they will not grant me a visa.
Three days later I got my passport with the visa in the mail. I have to report back to the office upon my return to Manila. They gave me back my birth certificate which was a nice surprise because I can use that for other purposes.
Seriously I don't think I can afford Europe yet, but I'm going anyway.
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