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October 31, 2008

How to Apply Schengen Visa in Doha, Qatar

A lot of people are asking us how to apply for a Schengen visa, what are the requirements, etc. In our previous trips, we applied for a Schengen visa at the Embassy of France; thus, most of the info I will share here are based on submitting the visa application at the Embassy of France. I hope that you'll find the following information useful.

Do you need a visa?
If you are holding a Philippine passport like me or you are a third world citizen, you definitely need a visa.

Where to apply?
If you intend to visit only one Schengen Member State, you must apply at the Embassy or Consulate of this Member State. If you intend to visit several Schengen countries, you must apply for a visa at the Embassy or Consulate of the country which is your main destination. If you intend to visit several Schengen countries but do not have a main destination, you should apply for a visa at the Embassy or Consulate of the country which is your first point of entry.

In our previous trips, we applied for at the Embassy of France because Paris is our main destination and happens to be our point of entry also.


What are the requirements:
The general requirements for Schengen visa is the same whether you are applying in the Philippines, here in Qatar or other countries. But sometimes the embassy may have specific requirements in your country of residence. In Qatar, the French Embassy requires the following:

  • filled-in and signed visa application form (must include address in country of main destination)
  • 2 pcs. applicant’s recent passport size photos (format 35*45 with white background)
  • 1 copy of the passport and previous visas bank statement (showing transfer of salary for at least the last 6 months)

  • 1 copy of the original airplane ticket

  • 1 copy of the proof of accomodation (e.g. hotel reservation)

  • 1 copy of the travel insurance covering medical expenses, hospitalization and repatriation in the countries to be visited

In addition to these documents, for non-Qataris :

  • 1 copy of the residence permit (must be valid at least 6 months) sponsor letter (must include informations on salary, position and stating how long you have been employed) + ID copy of the person who signed the sponsor letter

Note that :

  • You have to show your passport when applying. From experience, if you are travelling with your family (husband, wife or children), only one family member may show-up at the Embassy, usually the father or the mother.
  • The applicant can not be out of Qatar

  • Administrative process for deliverance of visit visas needs a minimum of 15 days
  • Separate application must be done for children even if they are on their parents’ passport.
As of the 1st of January 2007, the visa administrative fees will be 60€ (transit, airport transit, short stay), which must be paid in Qatari riyal only. The fee is accorded to the exchange rate of the Qatari riyal against the Euro, so varies around 340 QR. The visa application is free of charge to Spouses and Children of European Union citizens, and to the holders of diplomatic, service and official passports. Please note that no fees will be refunded whatever the outcome of the visa application.

Contacts :
Mr Michel PIEFFET, Head of visas section Mrs Imen HACHEMI
Phone : +974 483 06 50
Fax : +974 483 55 34
Opening hours to the public :
8h30 - 10h30, from Sunday to Thursday

Procedure:
You can submit the completed application form (you can download from the French Embassy site) with the required documents to the French Embassy between 8:30 AM to 10:30 AM.

Tip: Be there preferably before 8:30 AM. Sometimes, the Embassy stops receiving applications even before 10:30 AM. I heard (not sure if true) that during summer, The French Embassy sets a daily quota due to the huge volume of applications received.

Processing time?
Normally two weeks after submission of application.

Tip: Allow sufficient time for processing and provide some allowance.

Notes:
The requirements may change over time. Double check the requirements, processing time, procedure from the Embassy where you are submitting your application. More info about Schengen visa here and here.

October 18, 2008

New Domain Name

Yap, this blog has a new domain name.
Please update your links.
Thank you!

October 17, 2008

PREVIEW: Europe Vacation 2008

We’re back since last Saturday. Walter and I had a great time in France and Italy with my college friend/classmate, Sheila and her mom. We were tired from miles and miles of walking but we enjoyed every moment of our trip. When we were planning the trip, Sheila chose a country where I haven’t been to – Italy. But I told her, she shouldn’t miss Paris and I wanted to go back anyway so the itinerary became Italy and Paris. I love France. I love the romantic city Paris popularly called the city of lights. I will never get tired of going to Paris again and again. In fact, I dream of living in Paris even for just a few months. In Italy, we went to six major destination cities/towns including Florence, Siena, Pisa, Assisi, Rome and Vatican.

We accumulated almost 8GB of photos (average of 3-5 MB per photo) excluding those taken from Sheila’s personal camera. I am done downloading the photos to my computer but I haven’t really sorted them. I also have some video footage though I was not able to cover the entire trip. It’s difficult to read guide books/maps, enjoy the sights, be cautious with your belongings and take videos at the same time - not to mention the herds of tourists around and maybe some pick-pockets. To enjoy our trip, I decided to just concentrate in sightseeing though I felt a little bit of regret not being able to take more videos like I did in 2oo6 and my own photos. I relied on my husband to take the photos because he is the better photographer between us and he has a better camera (Nikon D300 with different lenses, wide and zoom) but I felt I should have taken my own photos for blogging purposes. You know how other blogger share every detail of their trip including a photo of the bus stop or the ticket booth? I am afraid my blog entries will lack those details but definitely I will post many beautiful photos taken by my husband and I will share as much information as I could. Right now, I’m still quite overwhelmed with the loads of photos and information I’d like to share with you so for now, let me first give a preview of the cities/places we visited.



Paris

Paris, France
Above is a night shot of Eiffel Tower, one of the famous sights in France. We were surprised that it has blue lighting now (it used to be gold) and it has the European Union's circle of gold stars. Walter and I went to the sights we haven't been to before. We also revisited some sights with Sheila and her mom.

Florence

Florence (Tuscany, Italy)
This is the Duomo (Santa Maria del Fiore) - Florence's Cathedral. Florence (Italian: Firenze, Old Italian: Fiorenza, Latin: Florentia), is the capital of Tuscany Region of Italy. It is the cultural capital of the world, home of renaissance and the birthplace of modern world. In Florence, we visited great museums, churches and monuments.

Siena (Tuscany)

Siena (Tuscany, Italy)

Above is the Palazzo Pubblico located, in a square called Il Campo. Siena is a town in the Tuscany region. The color of the square and its buildings is a color known to Crayola users as "burnt siena."

Assisi (Umbria)

Assisi (Umbria, Italy)

This is the St. Francis Basilica. Assisi is a town in Umbria Region of Italy. It is the birthplace of St. Francis and St. Clare (founder of Poor Clare).

Pisa (Tuscany)

Pisa (Tuscany, Italy)
Above is the Leaning Tower, one of the known sights in Italy and the Duomo (Cathedral). The leaning tower is actually the bell tower of the cathedral.

Rome

Rome (Lazio, Italy)

This is the Colosseo (real name: Flavian Amphitheater) ruins in Rome where gladiator contests are held. Aside from Colosseo, we also went to other interesting sites and museums.

Vatican City

Vatican City

Above is the St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. I guess it is every Catholic's dream to visit Vatican. We also visited the Vatican museum and Sistine Chapel and attended the papal audience.

Which of the places above would you like to visit?