Before I start, I just want to say that seriously, I think getting the UK visa is the most nerve wracking visa experience I’ve ever had just because I never got the chance to speak to a person in the British embassy in the duration of the whole application process because it goes through a separate agency called VFS Global Services. So yep, they’re not hands on and frankly their process was the longest compared to other countries for me. I got my visa 13 business days after showing up in their office but in reality it’s 15 budiness days if you count the online application process. FYI, I already have Schengen, Japan, Korea, and China visas when I applied for UK visa so my situation could be different from yours. Here I’ll try to give a simple and comprehensive guide on how to get a UK visa.
How To Get a UK Tourist Visa From The Philippines (With a Philippine passport)
1. Make Sure You That a SHORT TERM Tourist Visa is the proper visa for you
Are you going to London, Edinburgh, Dublin to roam around the cities and have fun or are you seriously looking for a job? You have to keep your needs in check and make sure to apply the correct visa. Do not lie on the application and for that matter, never put false information on an application form. The web of lies that you will weave is not worth it.
Here are the reasons that qualify for a tourist visa or as they call it, a Standard Visitor Visa
- apply at the earliest 3 months before intended travel date
- for leisure, eg on holiday or to see your family and friends
- for business, or to take part in sports or creative events
- show that you’ll leave the UK at the end of your visit
- show that you’re able to support yourself and any dependents for the duration of your trip
- show that you’re able to pay for your return or onward journey and any other costs relating to your visit
- show that you have proof of any business or other activities you want to do in the UK, as allowed by the Visitor Rules
More information in this link regarding eligibility, documents, etc.
2. Prepare These Must have documents
- Passport that is valid for more than 6 months upon travel (if travel date is January 1, 2016, passport should still be valid until June 1, 2016).
- Latest Photo measuring 45mm x 35mm (contact Photo agency, they’ll know the size) with you wearing collared shirt or blazer
- Photocopy of passport first page
- 6-month bank statement
- Original Bank Certificate (show money should be enough to cover your stay)
- For those who have support/sponsor, Affidavit of Support plus COE & Bank Statement of Sponsor
- For the employed: Original Certificate of Employment and ITR Form 2316
- For business owners/self-employed: Photocopy of Business Registration forms & ITR
- Itinerary of Stay detailing where you’ll be touring and staying
- Proof of accommodation (Booking.com lets you reserve hotels with FREE cancellation. Used this and printed confirmation out)
- Original NSO Certified Birth Certificate (not really required but I added for good measure)
- Marriage Certificate (optional)
For further reading, you check out the PDF file of supporting documents to really confirm what documents to bring but these are what I brought as an employed citizen above 18 years old. First 2 are the DEFINITE MUST HAVE requirements.
3. APPLY EARLY & Fill out the online application form
Filling out the UK visa application is quite tedious because of the length (it is definitely LONG) but it’s also very convenient because hey, no writing it down by hand! But if you don’t have a Desktop, I suggest you borrow someone’s laptop or desktop now because you would need to print the whole thing. It may seem quite long but you have to be very detailed in each answer. Let me walk you through the process.
a. Go to this link and start your registration using the latest Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. Register by creating a password. You will receive an email with a link to confirm registration then use that to log-in.
b. Fill out the Standard tourist visa type CORRECTLY. Cannot stress this enough.
You will then see a dashboard with all the steps that you need to go through. Follow it and once all the steps have turned green (which means you’ve completed them), you can now print your application form and bring it on the submission date at the agency. But first, let’s click Go To Application
c. Complete online application
These are the sections of the application that you must fill out. Prepare your old passports with visas because you will need to input all old passport details + previous visas. Prepare your hotel details, ITR tax details (yes they will let you input EVERYTHING. See second screenshot).
Yes, ALL DETAILS
In the additional information field, you may want to specify if you need a multiple entry visa or if you have a sponsor. Offer any details that will show that you can support yourself and that you will not be returning to the Philippines.
d. Book an appointment date and time
You will be able to choose a date. I had a hard time booking though on Google Chrome so you may want to use Mozilla Firefox or another browser if you encountered the same thing.
e. Pay 132USD Online
You will need a credit card to pay your visa processing fee. Unfortunately it is quite expensive but it’s the cheapest option. You will need to wait for 15 business days for it so PLEASE APPLY EARLY to save you from stress. I didn’t apply early so I was a wreck.
After paying, you will be receiving 3 e-mails. Please print them
- Appointment confirmation email with reference number (VERY IMPORTANT)
- Payment confirmation
- Application confirmation
4. GO TO VFS GLOBAL AGENCY 15-30 MINUTES EARLY
You want to be earlier than your indicated appointment but you don’t want to be too early because there isn’t any room for waiting. They will not let you in the office if it’s not 15 minutes before your time. There are A LOT OF PEOPLE no matter what time your appointment is and you’ll be among a lot of very early applicants if you go any earlier. The building houses VFS Global agencies for A LOT OF EMBASSIES. You have Australia,Canada, New Zealand, Spanish, Croatia, French etc to name a few so yes, go there 15-30 minutes early. Nothing more or less.
Their office is located at
VFS Manila Visa Application Centre
Mezzanine Floor, Unit M01 Ecoplaza Building
2305 Chino Roces Ave. Extension
Makati City 1231
What the building looks like. Head up the escalators since UK visa is on the 2nd floor.
Where you will line up.
TAKE NOTE: DO NOT BRING A LADIES’ BAG OR BACKPACK if you have no chaperone or a friend with you because you will not be allowed to bring ANYTHING inside other than your envelope with documents, wallet, mobile phone on silent mode and a book. I had to get a locker (PHP80-150 if I’m not mistaken, such a waste) which really irked me because I didn’t read about it in any of the guides I’ve seen online.
4. FILL OUT FORM + get biometrics taken (PONDER THE BROCHURES INSIDE THE OFFICE + BRING A BOOK)
What I like about their office is that everything is very efficient. The whole process took only 45 minutes (my commute was even longer. OH PHILIPPINES!). Once you go to the counter, they’ll hand you a form to fill out and then guide you to the proper entry for the UK visa which was on the right. There’s a separate office where there’s a waiting area. There are British embassy volunteers who will help you explain the form and on how to arrange your documents. They will offer add-on stuff that you can purchase like the London Oyster card but upon checking, it’s more expensive at the embassy. You guys may not be as lucky if there are a lot of applicants so bring a book inside to read. Makes the time go faster I swear.
You will get a number from the first counter and once it’s called upon, you will talk to a guy who will go through all your documents. He did say separate the originals and photocopies so make sure you do that. He will ask you additional questions if there are clarifications needed but since I placed everything in the proper order and had no missing documents, we finished talking in around 3-5 minutes. You can also avail additional services such as SMS Text service and Courier service by 2GO which is an additional 150PHP and 500PHP which I availed respectively.
I actually will rant about the SMS Service in the next section. OMG.
Then I had to wait until I was called for biometrics. It’ll be in a small room with a person who will be getting your photo and fingerprints. You will be given a pickup slip which you can use if you will pick your passport up once it’s ready.
Then it’s all done! All you have to do now is the worst part – WAIT.
4. WAIT FOR 13-15 BUSINESS DAYS
I am a self-confessed impatient person and a worry wart so this was the most nerve-wracking part for me. I availed the SMS Service because I thought that I’d be able to get real time updates (which they promised!) like “Your application has been sent to the British embassy” etc etc but NO. You DO NOT GET THAT. You will only get 1 SMS service that say
“The processed visa application for REFERENCE NUMBER was received on June 3, 2016.”
And that’s about it. They will only text this to you a DAY BEFORE you receive your passport without telling you that they’ll be sending your passport so when I didn’t write an authorization letter for my house help to receive the passport the next day when I went out, I couldn’t receive it and only got it on Monday. You need an ID by the way if you want to receive it from your home. I am just so bummed out that I paid 150php for a single text message. It’s crazy. So my advice, DO NOT GET THE SMS SERVICE. Just wait for an e-mail confirmation that your application is ready which is basically the same thing but free.
Okay rant over. haha! Sorry guys.
So I initially thought that I’d be able to get the UK visa earlier because my friends who had Schengen visa raved about how quick the processing was. She applied around 2014 and only got hers in 5 days so I was confident as well. Unfortunately the case didn’t apply to me. I had to wait 13 business days after the appointment to get mine in the mail. But do not worry though because the British just like the Japanese, do things on time. You can e-mail them for any inquiries regarding your application but in my experience, they will just send a generic message that says that every case is different and duration may differ. But do not worry, they will definitely process it in 15 business days. I am just setting your expectations.
If you do want to get it earlier, you can but with a fee. They have different User Pay Services in this link. They have the PRIORITY PASS which is PHP10,800 if you want to get your visa in 3-5 days for this kind of visa. Only get this when there is an emergency or if you are in a rush. It is quite pricey because it will be on top of the 132USD that you already paid for. You can pay this 10k online or in person when you submit the documents.
5. GET YOUR APPROVAL. GET READY TO FLY!
Now of course last step is getting your passport! The sweetest thing that can happen in your morning is receiving the passport with the UK visa stamped on it. I was so nervous even though I submitted a complete application but there it was! <3
The most important thing I’ve learned is to not panic and get all your documents in order. If you are able to prove all your documents, applying for a UK visa is a piece of cake. Just set the correct expectations of waiting times and the UK services, you’re all set. Remember, the British are always on time so HAVE NO FEAR. You will be able to get your visa on time if you time it well.
I hope that I’ve helped you in some way. It was my first time to apply for a UK visa and I want your first experience to be better than mine. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to leave a comment. 🙂