How to Apply for Taiwan Visa for Philippine Passport Holders

Taiwan is a place I’ve constantly raved about to friends since I visited the place last month. Initially, Taiwan was a something I didn’t think about seeing or visiting. I have a sick compulsion of booking random tickets to cure bouts of depression, and for that case I decided to book to Taipei, because why not? I’ve never been there…

Starting December 17, 2015, Cebu Pacific is now flying Cebu to Taipei (CEB-TPE) flights three times a week! Getting to Taiwan is now easier and I recommend everyone to visit Formosa. It is important to note that you need a Taiwan visa to enter Taiwan.

taiwan-tourist-visa

I. What is a Taiwan Tourist Visa?

Philippine passport holders need to apply for Taiwan visa with TECO (Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office) to gain entry. Taiwan tourist visas are good for single-entry only and allowed a maximum stay of 14 days. They’re valid for 90 days from date of issue so you can apply as early as three months before your trip.

There are some cases wherein you can travel to Taiwan without a visa. If you have a valid UK/US/Schengen/Japan/AUS/NZ visa, you can skip the whole visa application process and simply apply for a visa exemption certificate online. Think you qualify for the Taiwan visa exemption? Read this blog post for more information: How to Apply for Taiwan Visa Exemption.

II. Requirements

  • Valid Philippine Passport with at least six months validity.
  • Online Application form to be filled out here. Once you’ve filled out and printed the form, be sure to submit this with all other requirements within fifteen (15) days.
  • Two (2) Passport photos taken within the last six months. (1.5″ x 2″ inches). One is to be attached on the form. Most photo shops should already know the specifications needed for visa requirements-just tell them it’s for a Taiwan visa. I had ours taken in Ayala Center Cebu.
  • Trip Details including the following:
    • Roundtrip Airfare Ticket Reservations.
    • Planned Itinerary, what you intend to do and places you want to see when in Taiwan
    • Hotel Booking or Reservations
  • School / Employment Supporting Documents
    • Certificate of Employment
    • Photocopy of school or company ID
    • Business Registration Certificate (if self-employed)
  • Financial Supporting Documents – proof that you have enough funds to finance your Taiwan trip and not travel to Taiwan for purposes outside of tourism (e.g., become an illegal alien)
    • Recent bank certificate
    • Income Tax Return (ITR)
    • Pay slips (for the last 3-6 months)
  • Personal Supporting Documents – proof of your identification details & personal circumstances
    • NSO birth certificate issued within the last year.
    • If married, NSO marriage certificate

Complete submission of these documents will be helpful in obtaining that visa, but does not guarantee visa issuance; but missing or incomplete supporting documents may result in a visa refusal.

III. Submission

Upon collating all the requirements, you can then file your applications to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO). Visa applications are only entertained on weekdays Mon-Fri from 8:45-11:45am only. Their address is at 41F Tower 1, RCBC Plaza Tower, 6819 Ayala Avenue, Makati City.

Here are the visa fees:

taiwan visa fee

*As of writing, fees have been updated. Mainland China visa fee is PHP 1,400.00; for Taiwan, PHP 2,400.00 for single-entry visa and PHP 4,800 for multiple entry visa.  

It is best to arrive early so you can finish early. Arrive before 8:30am to sign up and get a priority number. Leave a valid government-issued ID at the reception area.

Once your number is called, present the original documents and a set of photocopies for the visa processor to go through. Once everything is in check, you will then wait for your name to be called for the payment of visa fee. The process is pretty quick and straightforward.

IV. Waiting Period

Upon submission of documents, it takes three (3) working days to process the visa. If you want an expedited release, pay the expedited fee of Php 1,200 so you can get your passport within the next day. Releasing times are Monday to Friday, from 1:45PM to 4:45PM.

Taipei Economic & Cultural Office in the Philippines

41F, Tower 1, RCBC Plaza, 6819 Ayala Avenue, Makati
Tel: (+632) 887-6688
Office Hours: Mon-Fri, 8:45AM-4:45PM
Applications: Mon-Fri, 8:45AM-11:45PM
Releasing: Mon-Fri, 1:45PM-4:45PM
Website: taiwanembassy.org
Email: phl@mofa.gov.tw

If you would like to know more about Taiwan, read my blog post on Taipei, Taiwan: What to Expect.

How to Apply for Visa Exemption to Taiwan

When Filipinos think of trips abroad, we usually think of Hong Kong, Singapore or Thailand first. We don’t normally think Taiwan for tourism, but let me tell you: it’s worth skipping the mainstream tourist destinations and try Taipei for a change.

how to apply taiwan visa free

Cebu Pacific is offering more Manila-Taipei flights and a Cebu-Taipei route starting this December 2015! No excuse to skip Taipei now, it’s a totally underrated and beautiful country. A foodie will die happy in Taiwan– the country is best known for its gluttony (I’ll get to this on a future blog post).

To get to Taiwan, Philippine Passport Holders need a Taiwan visa. I was able to bypass application for a Taiwan visa because I was eligible for visa exemption!

taiwan-visa-exemption-certificate-philippines

I. What is a Travel Exemption Certificate?

You can get a visa-free entry to Taiwan by availing of the ROC Travel Authorization certificate, which allows you to bypass the need for a Taiwan visa. The visa exemption allows travelers to stay in Taiwan for up to 30 days.

The certificate has to be printed out and presented by the foreign visitor upon immigration inspection, along with other requirements ready for immigration inspection. Failure to present the valid documents will not be admitted into Taiwan.

If you are not eligible for visa exemption, refer to my post on How to Apply for Taiwan Visa for Philippine Passport Holders.

II. Requirements

  • Valid Philippine Passport. Nationals of the Philippines, India, Thailand and Vietnam can apply for the visa exemption if they meet all said requirements
  • Valid visa or a permanent resident certificate to the following countries: US, UK, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Schengen countries.
  • Online Application form to be filled out here.

III. Waiting Period

What do you mean, waiting period? You immediately get your travel certificate after filling out the online form, in 5 seconds (or, depends on your internet connection)! It is then ready to print out and use for your travels.

IV. Other Important Reminders

  • Print out your visa exemption certificate, and in color.
  • Expiry of the visa exemption certificate is only valid for one month after application’s approval. Online application and approval is instant, so you can do it a few days before your trip. I applied mine a few months back only to realize during my packing that my exemption certificate has expired. I had to reapply for it a day before my trip–I instantly received it without any problems.
  • Make sure to bring your valid US/UK/Schengen visa to present to immigration. I normally only bring my most recent passport, but since my 10-year US tourist visa is in my old green passport, I brought that along as well.
  • A single entry visa becomes invalid once it’s already been used. However, it may be deemed acceptable to immigration inspection if: 1., visa holder arrives in Taiwan before the expiration date, and 2., if on the same continuing journey, the visa holder uses it on the issuing country before arriving Taiwan.

How to Apply for Schengen Visa via Norwegian Embassy

A few months ago, we received an invitation from my boyfriend’s childhood best friend to visit Iceland with him. My boyfriend hasn’t seen him in a decade, so it was an exciting proposition. Plus, we haven’t been to Iceland, nor do we know much about it. We wanted to see what Iceland has to offer, aside from, well, ice. We agreed.

The plan was to visit my boyfriend in London for three weeks, and make a 5-day side trip to Iceland. I have already accomplished my UK visa and would need a Schengen visa to enter Iceland.

Since there is no Iceland Embassy in Philippines, all Schengen visa applications for Norway, Iceland, Estonia, Sweden and Finland will be lodged via the Philippine Norwegian Embassy. Read on to know how I was able to get my Schengen visa. Since our intention was to visit Iceland, I will relate my experience and requirements I needed for Iceland specifically.

If you would like to know about applying for Schengen Visa via the French Embassy, read about my experience here.

What is a Schengen Visa?

As a Philippine passport holder, it is a given that we need a visa to get to anywhere outside ASEAN countries. A Schengen visa is the powerhouse visa that allows you to travel to all 25 countries in the EU area. It allows you access to the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. This makes organizing the grand Euro trip so much easier–you only need one visa to enter all aforementioned EU countries signed under the Schengen agreement.

Although the Schengen visa allows access to the aforementioned countries, you will need to apply your visa to the country where you’ll be visiting. This isn’t so hard if you’re only intending to visit one country, but if you’re planning to visit several Schengen countries, you should lodge your application to your main destination, either on your first point of entry or the country where you’ll be staying the longest.

On my case, I was approved the Schengen visa via Norway but was able to use it to see Netherlands and France. Both trips were unplanned and decided when I was already abroad, but was able to come in both countries without a problem.

I. Preparation

1. How Much?

Visa processing fee is 60 euros, or during my time, around Php 3,500. For children ages 0-6, it is free of charge whereas minors from ages 6-11 pay 35 euros or approximately Php 2,000. This is good news as when I applied for my baby’s UK visa, fee for both adults and children were the same! 

I used the Self-Service Norway Application Portal wherein you are required to pay the 60 EUR fee online through credit card. On the day of the appointment, I also paid another Php 1,233 to VFS Norway for the agency’s processing fee.

2. When to Apply?

Applications are accepted up to three months before your travel date. You should apply for your visa as soon as you’ve finalized your travel schedule (by the way, you don’t need to buy a ticket just yet, a booked reservation will do). I recommend to apply 6-8 weeks before your travel date for enough time allowance.

3. How to Apply?

Again, I used the Self-Service Norway Application Portal. The website is pretty easy to use and straightforward. Filling out of the application form, setting the appointment date and payment of processing fee are done online.

Once this is accomplished, you can then print out the application form, receipt and cover letter from the Royal Norwegian Embassy (this serves as a confirmation and will be sent to you via email). You can then book your appointment and simply show up with the duly fulfilled forms and required documents at VFS Norway

4. Where to Apply?

Manila

All visa applications are handled by an outsourcing agency, VFS Global Norway, to make things faster and easier for the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Manila. Here’s the address for VFS Norway in Manila:

Ground Floor, Ecoplaza Building
2305 Chino Roces Avenue Extension
Makati City, Philippines 1231

Cebu

Starting May 7, 2015, you can now apply for a Schengen visa at the Norway Visa Application Center in Cebu starting May 7, 2015. If I had known this earlier, I could’ve done it in Cebu instead of flying to Manila for my booked appointment was on May 6, 2015, just one day before! Here’s the Cebu Address:

Norway Visa Application Centre – Cebu
Unit 503, 5th Floor, Keppel Center
Samar Loop cor. Cardinal Rosales Ave.
Cebu Business Park, Cebu City 6000

Please be advised that visa applicants can walk in/go directly to the Centre in Cebu and submit their application after they have registered their application in the Application Portal. There is no need to book for an appointment before applicants can proceed.

5. Other Important Information

VFS Norway’s website has a tracking tool for visa applications, but when I tried to use them it doesn’t seem to be working.

VFS Norway has a hotline number (+63 2 790 4902), which was really helpful when I wanted to track my visa application You can call them Mon-Fri 7:00 AM to 4:00 PM. It takes them a while to answer, but Edelyn was really helpful. You can also email them at info.noph@vfshelpline.com.

If you wanted to contact the Royal Norwegian Embassy – Manila directly, you can call their Visa Section at +63 (0)2 317 2778, from Mon-Thurs, 9:30 AM to 11:30 AM only.

II. Application Requirements

Checklist of Documents to Bring on the day of your appointment:

  • Cover Letter. I did not need to write a cover letter for this application, as a cover letter is already provided for you and emailed after accomplishing the Online Application Form. You just need to affix your signature in the bottom of the page.
  • Printed, filled up and signed Schengen Visa Application Form or VAF (download here) with 1 photo affixed (bring 2 photos).
    • Photograph Requirements – Most photo shops would already know the specifications needed for visa requirements-just tell them it’s for a Schengen visa. I had ours taken in Ayala Center Cebu.
      • recent photo taken within six months
      • 45mm x 35mm
      • White or cream background
      • Taken with nothing covering the face, without sunglasses or tinted spectacles, or a head covering unless for religious or medical reasons. The subject should have their mouth closed (no grinning, frowning or raised eye brows). Applicant should be facing forwarding, looking straight ahead.
  • Confirmed Appointment Date and Time. You can choose to book an appointment or come anytime as a walk-in.
  • School / Employment Supporting Documents – provides proof of coming back to the Philippines.
    • Student – a letter from your school or education provider confirming your enrollment and leave of absence
    • Employee – tax returns, pay slips, letter from your employer confirming employment, and confirming leave of absence.
    • Business Owner – tax returns, business registration documents (stating your name as business owner)
  • Financial Supporting Documents – documents that prove you don’t need to work while you’re in France. This can include bank statements, pay slips, credit card statements, property titles; within the last six months or so
  • Trip Details must include the following:
    • Roundtrip Airfare Ticket Reservations.
    • Planned Itinerary, detailing what you intend to do and places you want to see during your stay in the EU areas.
    • Hotel Booking or Reservations. I suggest you book your accommodations at Booking.com where booking and cancellation is free. If you are intending to stay with a friend, provide your host’s passport, national identity card, residence permit and Certificate of Board and Lodging.
  • Personal Supporting Documents – proof of your identification details & personal circumstances
    • NSO Birth Certificate
    • Marriage Certificate, if married
    • Current Passport and Previous Passport, to see travel history
  • Travel Insurance covering the entire duration of your intended stay. Minimun coverage is 30,000 EUR. 

Complete submission of these documents will be helpful in obtaining that visa, but does not guarantee visa issuance; but missing or incomplete supporting documents may result in a Schengen visa refusal.

III. Appointment

I had to fly to Manila to get my visa done, as the Cebu option was still not available on my time of application.

I scheduled for 8:00AM and arrived 30 minutes before. I was asked to fill up a registration form of some sort by the guard before coming in. They checked my bag, and told me that I could come in with my phone as long as it is switched off. You are not allowed to use the phone or any electronic device while inside VFS.

Upon inside, I was given a priority number ’11’, but since the Norway window wasn’t so busy, they called me ahead to approach the window. I submitted all my requirements and when the officer saw that everything was well in order and complete, he proceeded to ask for the VFS fee of Php1,233. I also asked to have the passport couriered to me so that was another additional Php500. They gave me a receipt to which they told me I need to present when I redeem my passport. The officer told me I could get my passport within 2-5 working days. Not bad, I thought to myself. Afterwards, I waited until I was called by biometrics to have my picture and fingerprints taken.

I was very impressed with the whole proceeding. It only took 30 minutes, from the time I arrived inside their premises until I left.

IV. Waiting Period & Results

I was told that I will be informed via text and email that my passport is ready. And since I was promised I will get my Schengen visa within 2-5 working days, plus given the swift processing on my appointment, I was confident I could get it way before my UK trip. I had availed of the courier service, which would take another 2-3 working days. Alternatively, you can pick up the passport at VFS yourself or someone could pick it up for you, provided that they present a letter of authorization, the receipt, the authorized person’s ID and a photocopy of your identification (two valid IDs).

To my dismay, processing took longer than expected–after several follow-up calls and emails to both VFS Norway and Royal Norwegian Embassy from a paranoid like me, I was finally informed via email that my visa was ready with the email from the embassy:

Dear Ms ___________,

The Royal Norwegian Embassy has the pleasure of informing you that your application for a Schengen visa has been approved for repeated entries __ days stay in Schengen between the period ________ and _______.

The visa has been issued in accordance with the round trip flight ticket reservation and travel medical insurance submitted along with the application.  The visa cannot be issued for additional days.

Please pick up your passport at Norway Visa Application Center, VFS Global, Ecoplaza Bldg. Don Chino Roces Avenue, Makati City between 2pm and 4pm from the next working day.

Thank you.

Kind regards,
Royal Norwegian Embassy, Manila

I got my visa after 14 days, exactly the day before I am scheduled to leave for HK!

Moral of the story, apply way ahead especially during summer time!

Sample Travel Documents

I am probably aiding in driving travel agencies out of business–but I sincerely believe that applications should be done quick and easy so applicants can do on their own. I get asked a lot how I craft my written letters for travel document requirements, and to be honest I also just refer to my parent’s previous letters as well as sample letters online.

To make it easier for my readers, here are sample travel documents that you can craft and revise for your own applications. As long as you use the letters for personal applications and not for business purposes, you are free to use them. Don’t forget to thank me 🙂

1. Sample Letter of Introduction to the Embassy or Consulate

This is a requirement for Schengen visa applications for most embassies. It must state your travel dates, intention to travel, submitted documents and travel companions. Here is a Sample Cover Letter that can be applied on all EU embassies, and my Letter to the French Consulate to the French Embassy attached.

2. Sample Itinerary

A planned itinerary is a requirement for all tourist applications for whatever country. The itinerary is a supporting document that you are really traveling to the said country for tourism purposes. The following are sample itinerary you can revise to fit your own trip:

3. Letter of Authorization

Being based in Cebu, I often have to fly to Manila to acquire visas (US and most EU countries). I can’t afford to fly back to receive my passport, so I often have to ask someone else to collect it for me. You will need a Letter of Authorization, photocopy of your two valid IDs, two valid IDs of the authorized person, and sometimes the official receipt of your visa processing fee. Here is a sample of Letter of Authorization.

I’ll continue updating this page for more sample travel documents and requirements I will encounter in the future to help you with your applications. In the meantime, I hope my sample letters helped!