For those that know us, you are aware that we are a Dutch/Filipino couple aka “Hollapinos” 😀
And while that nickname is cute and funny (thanks Russell Peters) our legal hurdles (particularity mine) are not so funny.
This series of blog posts will be about how I got and applied for my Schengen, US, Argentine & Chilean Visas all while my 5 year Filipino passport is aging closer and closer to it’s expiry date.
I hope the “process” I’m going to share will be a help to some of you. And if it’s not applicable to your situation, I hope it’s an entertaining/informative read.
My Schengen Visa:
Actually this was the easiest visa to apply for. I had gotten 2 Schengen visas for previous visits to Europe.
The first Schengen visa was valid for a single entry of 30 days. The second one was a multiple entry visa valid for 1 year with 90 days stay duration within a 6 month (180 days) period.
The third, and my current visa, is valid for 4 years with the same restrictions–90 days stay in the Schengen zone within a 6 month (180 days) period.
All my Schengen visas were applied for and received while we were living in Thailand.
Please note that I didn’t pay more, or apply for, the different lengths of validity of my Schengen visas. They just seemed to give me longer validity each time I applied.
I got my first Schengen visa when we were still dating and not legally married if that’s a comfort for unmarried couples. I did apply in the family and friends category, if you aren’t visiting family or friends then you can apply for a regular tourist visa.
The second Schengen visa I got was when we were already married but I had not changed my surname. I again applied in the family and friends category.
When I applied for my last one they barely looked at my papers, and when they noticed I visited Europe pretty much every year, the visa officer asked if I’d like a longer validity for my visa. I said “Sure, the longer the better, as that would save me the trouble of applying every year or so.” She then decided to give me a Schengen visa valid till my current passport expired.
Needless to say that was a pleasant surprise, and this has definitely been a help during the European leg of our Ride around the World.
But having a Schengen visa does have it’s limitations. We intended to travel through Europe over the span of 6 months. We had thought there was some way to “extend” my 90 days allowance in the Schengen zone, but we discovered this was not possible.
Because we had less than 90 days (we stayed a couple of weeks with Stefan’s family before we left) our journey through the Schengen countries was rather rushed and I had to quickly exit out of the Schengen area into Croatia a couple of days before my 90 days allowance were finished to make absolutely sure I didn’t overstay.
Fortunately, I had a multiple entry Schengen visa. And IF you don’t overstay your Schengen visa you automatically get visa free entrance into Albania, Macedonia, Serbia and Bosnia & Herzegovina.
The main difference was that there were border checks (some were a bit stressful and confusing with little bribes here and there) and I had to make sure I got stamped in and out of each country.
Having to be out of the Schengen zone wasn’t a total loss, I did miss out on visiting Greece, the UK and Ireland, but I got to hang around the cheap Balkan states for 90 days and when I could enter the Schengen zone again, we completed the other Schengen countries we weren’t able to ride through on our first round.
So that’s the long and short of how I was able to tour Europe for over 6 months on a multiple entry Schengen visa. In hindsight, we probably should have found a way to apply for my Dutch residency, being that I am married to a Dutchman, and perhaps our Europe trip would have been that much less rushed and stressful. But because we were eager to start our journey, we skipped that step, and I suppose we are living and learning from that decision.
FYI: Being a Philippine passport holder means I need a visa for pretty much every other country outside of the SEA. And if I hadn’t had a multiple entry Schengen visa I would have also had to apply for visas for each of the Balkan states which would have meant a lot of wasted time and extra visa fees. Thankfully I did have a multiple entry Schengen visa which was valid for several years so I didn’t need to apply for individual visas in the Balkan area.
Here are the links to the visa application process in Thailand and the required documents.
Online visa application: http://www.vfsglobal.com/netherlands/thailand/
Info about visa for visiting family or friends in the Netherlands: http://www.vfsglobal.com/netherlands/thailand/visiting_friends.html
Documents needed if visiting family or friends in the Netherlands: http://www.vfsglobal.com/netherlands/thailand/pdf/Schengen-Visa-Application-visiting-friends.pdf
Info about getting a tourist visa for the Netherlands: http://www.vfsglobal.com/netherlands/thailand/tourist.html
Documents needed if visiting as a tourist to the Netherlands: http://www.vfsglobal.com/netherlands/thailand/pdf/Checklist-for-a-visa-application-tourism.pdf
I used Bupa Travel Insurance: