London is an amazing city that’s full of history, offering visitors thousands of things to do. Here, you’ll find some of the world’s best architecture, galleries and museums. It’s the land of Harry Potter, the Beatles, James Bond and Sherlock Holmes!

To help you plan for the perfect trip to London, I’ve put together a step-by-step guide on how to go about the visa application process.

But before we get started, please note that a UK visa is not a Schengen visa and only covers England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. If you already have a Schengen visa, traveling to the UK will require a separate visa.

Read more: LONDON: Awesome 4-Day DIY Itinerary!

1. WHEN TO APPLY FOR A UK VISA

The rule of thumb is to apply 3 months before your intended date of departure to give allowance to iron out details, gather additional documents and, worst-case scenario, apply for another visa should you get rejected but still have time to apply a second time.


2. WHERE TO APPLY FOR A UK VISA 

After determining the type of visa you need, you can now apply and create an account on the Visa4UK website that can be found here.

For this UK Visa guide, we’ll be tackling the Short Term Standard Visitor Visa.

After verifying your email, you may start inputting all necessary information under the “Apply For Myself” page.

In applying for a Standard Visit Visa, you need to select the following under “Select Visa Type:”

Reason for Visit: Visit
Visa Type: Tourism
Visa Sub Type: Visa – Tourism – 6 months

If you aren’t sure about a certain portion of the application, you are given the option to save your progress. Note that once you submit your application, there’s no way to re-do this. I made a mistake in my application and had to do the whole long process from scratch again. 🙁

That said, make sure all information is valid before submission.

Tip: If you have questions or doubts, you can apply with the help of your preferred travel agency. (Thanks Baron Travel for answering my questions, double-checking my documents and assisting me on interview day.)

For the last part, you choose a date for your VFS appointment and pay via credit card to finalize the transaction. It costs around $126 (6,715.95).

Once you’ve successfully accomplished the online application form, you will be asked to choose an appointment date at the nearest visa application center. You can drop by either one of these VFS Global centers:

Manila
VFS Global Services Philippines Private Inc.,
Mezzanine Floor Unit MO1, Ecoplaza Building,
2305 Chino Roces Avenue Extension, 
Makati City,
Metro Manila 1231

Cebu
VFS Global Services Philippines Private Inc.,
9th Floor, Keppel Center, Unit 905, Samar Loop
 cor.
Cardinal Rosales Avenue,
 Cebu Business Park,
Cebu City 6000F


3. PREPARE THE REQUIRED DOCUMENTS

Documents to be submitted to VFS Global need to be original copies. In addition, you will also need to present one set of photocopies.
Here are the required documents you need—for printing on A4 size bond paper—to present for your application:

(The hard part comes after creating an account and logging in because accomplishing the visa application form is painstakingly long. I suggest you gather the following information before you start typing the details.)

* Passports and other Travel Documents
Current passport (Must be valid 6 months from intended travel date)
Current passport must have at least two pages for the arrival and departure stamps
Previous passports (if any)
Photocopies of: Front and back of current and previous visas, bio page of current visa and valid and expired visas
Travel history (visas, countries you’ve visited, arrival and departure dates and reasons for visiting)

* Proof of Income & Financial Capacity
Certificate of Employment
Original Income Tax Return
Bank Certificate
Original bank statement for 6 months
If self-employed: Original and photocopy of Business Name, Mayor’s Permit and DTI Permit
International credit card (if any)

* Sample Itinerary
Trip expenses (plane tickets, accommodations and daily expenses) and detailed day-to-day itinerary

* Flight Ticket Reservation
Better book a flight but not necessarily buy the ticket.

* Hotel Reservation
Book accommodations for your trip. You can also pre-book some of your accommodations via agoda.com. Just find an accommodation that offers free cancellation and temporarily book it to present as part of your application as we did.

* Leave Letter
This will help prove that you are currently employed and have reason to return to the Philippines.

* VFS Global Appointment Letter
After confirming your appointment, you will be sent a confirmation email. Print this out and include this in your application.

*(If Applicable:)
Invitation letter from Sponsor.
For minor, bring a sponsorship letter, parent’s bank certificate and original bank statement for 6 months.

*Just to be sure, I included these supporting documents in my application (not necessary):
PSA (former NSO) Birth Certificate (original & photocopy)
Parent’s passport and approved UK visas
Travel Insurance
Other investments

*I didn’t use:
-Educational Evidence
-Tuberculosis Certificate


4. ORGANIZE THE DOCUMENTS USING THE BARCODE SEPARATORS

The UK Embassy has this new procedure that will no longer require them to hold on to your documents (original AND photocopy). Instead, scan it in an organized way with the use of these Barcode Separators. It’s your responsibility to separate the documents before your turn at the counter.
Print the Application Form & Application Confirmation from the UK website. (A4)
All documents must be A4 size. Do not staple them together. (Download HERE)

5. WHAT TO EXPECT ON THE DAY OF YOUR VFS APPOINTMENT AT VFS Global

*Important reminders on the day of your appointment:
Make sure to arrive 15 minutes before your appointment time. Entry is strict; best to be early.
Have the original documents and one set of photocopies ready to submit during the day of your VFS Global appointment.
• Avail of the ₱150 SMS Service to know the status of your application.
Wait for your turn at the biometrics section (fingerprints and photo to be taken).
Bring Cash! Upon entrance, you may need to leave your personal belongings including your phone in a locker (locker rental starts at ₱75). All you need is your application form and yourself.

*Hacks:
-Because this was my second time at VSF, I was smart enough not to bring a bag anymore—just a folder and myself. I was allowed to bring my phone; so maybe ask the guard beforehand if you can bring it in. It can get boring while waiting for your turn.


6. WHEN TO COLLECT

Once you’re done, you will be given a receipt that you should keep for documents collection later. You can choose to collect the documents in person at the visa application center or have them delivered by courier. I picked the delivery option, an extra cost of 575 because I didn’t want the hassle of going back.

Visa processing usually takes 5 to 15 business days. However, you can also opt to avail of the Priority Visa Service that costs 10,000 for your visa to be processed within 3-5 business days.

The wait is always daunting! But, thankfully it took only 5 business days for our visas to arrive!

If you get your visa, congratulations!


To help you plan for that perfect London trip you might want to check out our  LONDON: Awesome 4-Day DIY Itinerary!

Live an Awesome Life,


ABI of Team Our Awesome Planet

Disclosure: We paid for our own visa fees. I wrote this article with my biases, opinions and insights.

P.S. If you are traveling in between or applying for another visa, avail of the option ‘Keep My Passport When Applying‘ service after the Biometrics section.