How to apply for a Schengen Visa. Step by Step Procedure, Documents required, and Tips on how to successfully obtain a Schengen Visa.

If you are a holder of a third-world nation passport, I'm pretty sure you know that applying for a visa can be one of the most tedious tasks to do, especially with visas for first-nation countries. Aside from the inch-thick documents that we need to collect & submit plus the time it takes for it to be processed, there is also an amount we need to pay and above all these, there is still no guarantee that our application will be approved.

Golden sunset reflections in one of Amsterdam's canals.
Amsterdam, Netherlands

Anyway, in this article, I’ll discuss mainly the different procedures and documents required to obtain a Schengen Visa. First, what is a Schengen Visa? Well basically, a Schengen visa is a short stay visa allowing its holder to circulate in the Schengen area. The Schengen area covers 26 countries (“Schengen States”) without border controls between them.

Below are the Schengen States:

Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherland, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland

Aside from the Schengen States, you can also use your Schengen visa to visit other countries like:

Albania, Andorra, Bosnia, and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Georgia, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Turkey

Long exposure shot of the Roman Colosseum in Rome, Italy.
Rome, Italy

Documents Required:

Fully Completed and Signed Visa Application Form

Cover Letter Stating the purpose of the visit. (On my latest application, a cover letter wasn't required when applying through 'The Netherlands'.)

Original Passport and passport Info Page Copy

Residence Visa Copy (if you are based abroad)

Sole Professional License(if self-employed)

ID Photos (Bring at least 2 copies, though they only needed one when I was at the Visa Application Center)

Roundtrip Flight Ticket Reservation

Travel Insurance

Proof of Accommodation(hotel bookings, rental agreement, or title deed of sponsor)

Proof of Financial Means (latest 6-months bank statement)

Employment Certificate/ No Objection Certificate if Employed (should contain your salary details)

Day-to-day Itinerary (This wasn't required on my latest application)

Invitation Letter if you’re invited by Someone from the EU

Affidavit of Support if someone else is paying for your expenses

Enrollment Certificate if you’re a student.

A step-by-step guide to getting a Schengen Visa

Basically, the first step in getting a Schengen Visa is to choose your main country of travel or the country in which you’ll be spending the most time if you’re planning to travel to several Schengen States, as this will determine which Visa Application Center you will need to apply to.

For Schengen Visa Applications, it is mostly handled by VFS Global, although there are some countries where the Visa application is handled by the country’s embassy itself, there are also those which are handled by a different agency. So it is important to make sure to decide which country is your main country so you can go to that specific Visa Application Center.

Book an Appointment Online through VFS Global after choosing the country. As mentioned in the first step, you should book an appointment based on your main country. In my case, I applied for a Schengen Visa in the Netherlands. VFS Global handles visa applications for the Netherlands.

Horse chariot for rent in Brussels, Belgium.
Brussels, Belgium

I highly suggest that applicants should plan and apply for at least 60-90 days before their intended travel dates to have ample time to fix any problems if there will be any.

On your appointment day at the Visa Application Center, representatives will collect and scan your documents, they will also assess what else may be lacking from all the documents you have submitted. After this, once everything is ok, you will then be called for biometrics collection (fingerprints and photo). Once everything is finished, you will be given a receipt to claim your passport once your application is ready. A tracking number is also written on the receipt for you to be able to track the progress of your application online. You can also opt for an SMS message update with an additional fee.

Processing time takes up to 45 days as of the moment, so I advise that you only contact the Visa Application Center if you haven’t received any results yet after this timeframe. In my case, I received my passport with a Schengen Visa after 8 days.

Schengen Visa Fees vary in each country of Application, Since I applied for The Netherlands through VFS GLOBAL in the UAE, then here is the breakdown of all the fees that I paid in the local currency:

I hope you find this article helpful. For questions, feel free to ask them in the comments below and I will try to answer as soon as I’ll be able to read them.

Denied on your previous application or don’t have any idea where to start with your Visa application/s? Let me help you! Email me your inquiries at:

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‘Travel’ ah, when was the last time I heard that sweet word, right, that was a few years back. After being dormant from traveling for the last two years because of the Pandemic. It just makes me happy that we can get a sense of normalcy back. So when Kach Umandap of Two Monkeys Travel Group invites me for an epic 15-day journey across the Balkans, I just couldn’t say no. Though it's gonna be my second time visiting the Balkans, you know what they say, it’s sweeter the second time around.


Montenegro was the first stop of our Balkan Trip. Budva, was our meeting point and it’s also here where I meet the other travelers on the trip; people from ages 20-to 82 from different walks of life but have the same thirst and passion for traveling. Some of them have traveled to more than 120 countries and counting.

The first time I was in Montenegro was in 2019, just a few months before the lockdown. This country has a lot to offer, from its snow-capped lush mountains to its pristine beaches, it is a great destination all year round, only depends on what you are looking for really. Did I also mention that it is also rich in stunning architecture and history? Also, they use Euro as their currency.


Albania was the second stop, we visited Skhoder and Tirana while here. It s my first time here and is quite impressed with the coffee and food culture. Most people here also speak Italian. I can say that they have adopted a lot of values and culture from the Italians.


North Macedonia was our third stop. Here, we visited Ohrid and Skopje. Same as with Montenegro, It’s my second time visiting North Macedonia. I think it’s in North Macedonia where I saw the most sculptures ‘slash’ statues of all cities I have visited. So if you are a huge fan of art and sculptures, then you’ll love North Macedonia. Special mention to Ohrid though, it’s one of the most gorgeous places I have ever been to, peaceful and serene. It's just a shame that it’s so underrated.

The Church of Saint John the Theologian as seen from Ohrid Lake.

While in North Macedonia, we did a day trip to Kosovo. If you know history, then you know that it’s one of the youngest nations, but still, up to this day, not everyone recognizes it as a country due to political reasons it has with its neighboring countries. While here, we visited Pristina and Prizren, Pristina is the current capital while Prizren used to be the capital. If you are more of an old-town vibe kinda person, then I suggest you visit Prizren. Same as with Montenegro and North Macedonia, It’s my second time in this country. Did I also mention that they have the best tasting shawarma here?

Our fourth stop was in Serbia. Here we spent a few days in the capital Belgrade. Belgrade for me is like the love child of London and Paris, their architectures are to die for. And If you are a party animal, you’ll surely love Belgrade’s nightlife.

One of the many stunning courtyards in Belgrade's City Center.

Our final country is Bosnia and Herzegovina. Here, I felt the most emotional of all the countries I have visited. Learning about its history and how most people I’ve seen walking down the streets limping because they have been shot during the war made me instantly emotional. Listening to their stories made me value my existence and cherish life even more. Sometimes, I complain so much about life, and these people are very thankful that they have survived the war. It’s true, history indeed is a journey to discovery and it has helped me put things into perspective.

Sarajevo's Poricanin bakery making 'Somuni Breads'.

Our last day was spent traveling back to Montenegro from Bosnia and Hercegovina. Along the way, we stopped by the old town of the Republic of Srpska. A beautiful small town, perfect to stop by for some lunch and coffee. We also had a quick stop at Pocitelj Monastery, I say, if you have more time, then spend the night here.

Traditional houses on hills surrounding Pocitelj Monastery.

There are just a lot of uncertainties in life, I say, ‘go travel’, go and pursue what your heart is telling you. Cause we never know when this precious life will be taken away from us. Let us cherish it a little bit more.

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Ever thought of taking a trip to a destination where you can disconnect from the modern world to reconnect with yourself? Or simply just want to have a life-changing experience on a budget? Then worry no more, the best destination for you is ‘Buscalan’!

Buscalan is a small village situated on the mountains of Tinglayan in the Province of Kalinga in the Northern part of the Philippines. It is famous for being a ‘tattoo haven’ as well as being the home of the legendary tattooist

I remember the first time I visited Buscalan, I was 16 and went there alone! I don’t know what’s gotten into me but it surely is the start of my wanderlust story. And since then, I haven’t kept track as to how many times I’ve been there already. Well, basically, I’ve been captivated by its breathtaking landscapes and its rich culture resulting in my many countless returns. Definitely a place that would surely make you wanna’ come-back for more.

Top Things to do in Buscalan

-Interact with the locals, go around the village and discover their way of life.

-Go and work your way towards the rice terraces early in the morning to watch the sunrise, or in the afternoon to catch the sunset.

-Go and have a dip at their waterfall situated at the base of the mountain just below the village.

-Try their local coffee, this is a must whenever you visit the village!

-Try their local food, a must if you wanna have an unforgettable experience in Buscalan!

-Get inked by the legendary traditional tattooists of the village!

In this post, I will be sharing some helpful DIY travel tips on how to get there.

The most frequently asked question by every first time traveler is of course, how to get there. Well, there are actually a few ways on how to get there, purely depends on where you will be coming from.

Below are the most commonly taken route:

Manila->Tabuk City->Bugnay, Tinglayan

For this route, take the Victory Liner bus which departs from Victory Sampaloc Terminal in Manila. Buses to Tabuk usually departs during the evening, around 7:00 pm till 9:45pm. The journey roughly takes around 12-14 hours, depends on the traffic. For complete bus schedules and fare, click here.

Then from Tabuk City, take the mini buses or jeeps going to Bugnay or Bontoc which usually departs from Tabuk City between 4:00am- 9:00am, they usually park in front of the opposite side of Damagen Gasoline Station in Barangay Bulanao. The journey takes around 3-3.5 hours from Tabuk City to Tinglayan. If you’ve taken the , tell the driver or the conductor to drop you off at ‘Mar-u’ in Bugnay, Tinglayan. Then from ‘Mar-u’, you can ask the locals where the starting point is going to Buscalan and you can then work your way towards the village. The walk usually takes around 1.5-2 hours, depends on how fast you are. Or you can hire a motorcycle for $3 to drive you all the way to the last vehicle-accessible point in Buscalan then you can work your way towards the village which would only take around 45 to 60-minutes walk.

Tip: When you ride the jeep/bus going to Bontoc or Bugnay from Tabuk, make sure to ride on top of the jeepney/bus to enjoy an unforgettable experience and a spectacular view!

There is also another way if you want to skip the long bus-ride. You can take a plane from Manila going to Tuguegarao City and from Tuguegarao City, you can ride a van going to Tabuk City which will take around an hour journey. You can then follow the same route as above. But for this option, you need to spend a night in Tabuk City and catch the bus to Bontoc in the morning on the following day.

Manila ->Bontoc Mt. Province->Buscalan

For this route, take the Coda Bus lines which depart from Quezon City, Manila en-route to Sagada, Mountain Province. Just don’t forget to tell the driver or the conductor to drop you off at Bontoc. Journey takes around 9 hours to Bontoc from Manila.

For Coda Bus Line Schedules and fares, click here.

Then from Bontoc, you can then ride the Jeep going to the last vehicle-accessible point in Buscalan and you can then work your way towards the village which would take around 45 to 60-minute walk, depends on how fast you are.

Manila->Baguio City->Bontoc, Mt. Province->Buscalan

This route is the best option if you need or want to have a stop-over at the Summer Capital of the Philippines. I suggest that if you take this route, then spend at least one night in Baguio then take the buses going to Bontoc either via D’Rising Sun or GL Trans in the morning on the following day.

Buses from Manila to Baguio departs every hour 24/7 via Victory Liner, Genesis, etc. Either from Pasay Bus Terminal, Cubao Bus Terminal or Sampaloc Bus Terminal. Journey from Baguio to Manila takes around 5-6 hours.

From Baguio City to Bontoc, you can take any of the following below:

DRising Sun Buses departs every hour from 5am till 1pm every day from Slaughter House Compound in Magsaysay Avenue, Baguio City.

GL Lizardo Buses, departs 8AM, 10am and 2:30pm from Dangwa Bus Station at the back of Center Mall in Baguio city.

Journey from Baguio city to Bontoc takes around 6-hours and fares differ from $5-$6 depends on the couch you availed. Then from Bontoc, you can follow the same steps as above.

If you’re arriving from Banaue in Ifugao. You can take a jeepney ride from Banaue to Bontoc which would take around an hour journey, then from Bontoc, you can follow the same steps as above.

If you have questions or clarifications, feel free to drop a comment below.