[UPDATED as of January 2019] – Please be reminded that from July 1, 2018, all temporary visitors’ visa application will be processed through designated travel agencies.
Along with Japan, the Republic of Korea or South Korea has been one of the sought-after destinations by Pinoy tourists and even budget travelers like us and for good reason. For one, Korea has, in recent years, relaxed the Visa requirements for Filipino tourists to increase tourist arrival in their country. Also, given the stiff competition with other countries, visiting Korea has become affordable as ever. But first, you have to secure an approved tourist Visa (save for Jeju Island) to be able to set-foot in this amazing country.
I. WHAT TYPE OF VISA SHOULD I APPLY FOR?
Temporary Visitor’s Visa (Tourism/Business)
- This is the Visa type you should apply for if you would like to visit as an individual tourist or as part of a tour group. This also applies to visitors for business purposes.
- Temporary Visitor’s Visa may be granted a regular period of stay for 59 days, and if requested, maximum period of stay for 90 days.
WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS?
Requirements vary depending on your purpose of visit and present occupation. For this post, we will share the requirements for employed individuals intending to visit Korea as tourists. For those applying as students, businessmen, housewives/househusbands and other occupation, please refer to this page.
1. Application Form
- Visa Application Form is available for download here. Use A4 bond paper.
2. One (1) piece of passport size colored picture to be attached to the application form
- IMPORTANT: Please attach on the application form using paste or glue. Do do not use stapler or scotch tape.
- Maintain a neutral expression. For the ladies, show your ears. Wearing any jewelry or accessories (earrings, eyeglasses, colored contact lenses, etc.) is not allowed.
- Many of the photography shops, particularly in malls, are familiar with the specs. Just tell them that you are applying for a Korean VISA.
3. Original Passport (should be valid for more than 6 months)
4. Photocopy of Passport Bio-page (page 2)
5. Original & Photocopy of valid visa/s and arrival stamps to OECD member countries for the past 5 years (if applicable).
6. Original Certificate of Employment (COE)
- Must include Applicant’s Position, Date Hired, Compensation or Salary, Office Address, HR landline number (mobile number is not allowed), HR E-mail address)
7. Original Personal Bank Certificate
- Must include account type, current balance, account opening date, ADB (Average Daily Balance)
- For OFWs/Filipino Expats: Make sure you maintain an individual or joint bank account preferably in a Philippine-based depository banks to facilitate request and verification of available funds. Major banks such as PNB, Metrobank, BPI and Landbank have overseas branches or offices. Do visit their individual websites.
8. Bank Statement
- Original or certified true copy of bank statements/passbook for the last 3 months
9. Income Tax Return (ITR) or Form 2316 Copy
- For voluntary tax payers (self-employed, service contractor, professionals, etc.), you can present the duly stamped BIR Form 1701A or Form 1700.
- For OFWs/Filipino Expats: Since overseas workers are exempted from Income Tax, make sure to submit your Certificate of Employment (see No.6) indicating your monthly salary and other benefits and a copy of your Residence Card (if applicable) to prove your status.
- ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENT for First Time Travelers: Staring March 26, 2018, all applicants of Windows 1 & 2 (first time travellers who have not travelled as tourist to OECD member countries within the last 5 years) should submit 2316 form if employed with corresponding COMPANY ALPHALIST (Form 1604 CF with BIR received stamp).
Exemption to ITR requirement: Frequent travelers who have traveled as tourists to OECD member countries within the last 5 years are exempted from submitting ITR. OECD countries include Japan, USA, UK, Canada, and EU member countries.
10.Copy of PRC Card or IBP Card (if applicable)
*If personally invited by a Korean citizen:
- Invitation Letter
- Photocopy of invitor’s Passport or Identification Card (authentication not required)
*If invited by a Company in Korea:
- Invitation Letter
- Photocopy of Korean Company Business Permit (authentication not required)
II. HOW AND WHERE TO APPLY FOR KOREAN VISA?
- Starting July 01, 2018: Visa application will be processed through designated travel agencies. The embassy has designated 35 travel agencies to process temporary visitor’s visa application. Download the list of designated travel agencies in this link. We recommend lodging your application at Reli Tours which has branches in selected malls in Metro Manila.
- Walk-In Applicants at Korean Embassy: The embassy will allow walk-in applicants only for spouses and children of Koreans, holders of visa issuance number, government employees with official business trip, and for those with humanitarian reason to travel to Korea urgently. Please arrive before 10:30 am to allow enough time for processing. Applicants who arrive after 10:30 am may not be accommodated. There is no appointment policy, hence, it is on a first come, first serve basis. Once application is complete, wait for your claim stub where the date of release is indicated. Note that the releasing time is from 01:30-4:00 pm only.
- For family applications, documents for proof of relationship is a must. (e.g. Marriage Contact, Birth Certificate). Family applications should be filed together at the same window, at the same time. Representative may file the visa applications of all family members.
- A representative may file the application as long as the documents are complete.
- Frequent travelers who have previous tourist visits within 5 years to OECD member countries, those who have at least 2 tourist visits to Korea, and seafarers who plan to transit to Korea should apply at Window 3. Those who have no previous tourists visits within 5 years to OECD member countries, and holders of confirmation of visa issuance number must present their documents at Windows 1 or 2. *For convenience, please inquire ahead with your preferred travel agency on their required process/documents prior to application. Other details will be updated ASAP.
Korean Embassy in the Philippines
- The Korean Embassy is located at the corner of Upper Mckinley Rd. and C5 Rd, right beside the British Embassy.
- From Guadalupe MRT Station or Market-Market, take the FTI-C5 jeepney. It will take 20 minutes from Guadalupe MRT Station and 7 minutes from Market-Market.
- From the Venice Piazza at Mckinley Hill, there is a free shuttle bus that will take you to Upper McKinely Rd. The ride will take about 10 minutes. The Embassy is within walking distance from the last Bust Stop at Mckinley Rd.
- When you take a cab/taxi, ask the driver to drop you off at the Korean Embassy at Mckinley Hill along C5 road, beside the British Embassy.
III. HOW LONG DOES THE APPLICATION PROCESS TAKES?
- Two (2) working days (excluding day of application) for Express Visa processing with Php 1,000 fee.
- Three (3) working days for those who have been to OECD member countries within 5 years as tourist
- Five (5) working days for those who have not been to OECD member countries within 5 year. The actual timeline of release however differs among travel agencies.
IV. HOW MUCH DOES THE APPLICATION COST?
In light of the recent changes in the visa process, certain handling fee is being collected by designated travel agencies.
For Philippine Passport Holders:
- Fifty-nine (59) days or less stay in Korea – Gratis (Free)
- Sixty (60) to Ninety (90) days stay in Korea – PHP 1,800
For American Passport holders: PHP 2,025
Foreign nationals in the Philippines applying for a tourist visa: PHP 1,800
*Fees may differ for some nationalites
V. HOW WOULD I KNOW IF MY APPLICATION IS SUCCESSFUL OR NOT?
You will only know the outcome upon pickup at your designated travel agency. They usually notify you by SMS or call that your passport is ready for pickup. Upon pickup, if the passport has a Visa pasted on it, then you’re good to go to Korea! However, if there is no Visa pasted on your passport, that means that your application is not successful. Usually a piece of white paper containing a list of possible reasons for denial is inserted in the passport.
VI.WHEN CAN I APPLY AGAIN?
In case your application has been denied, you will have to wait for another six months before you are allowed to file another application.
VII. ARE MULTIPLE VISA AND VISA-FREE ENTRY TO KOREA POSSIBLE?
Yes, multiple entry Visas are given to tourists upon the determination of the Consul. This means that they are allowed entry to Korea several times over a specific time period without the hassle of applying for individual tourist Visa every time you travel. This is usually extended to frequent visitors, particularly those who have made visits to Korea more than 4 times within the recent 2 years at the time of application or have visited Korea more than 10 times in total (at least one of the visits must be within recent 2 years). The frequency also includes Visa-free entry (entry to Jeju or transit pass) or re-entry records.
The Embassy also offers a Visa promo for BDO and BPI credit card holders to avail of multiple-entry Visa and exemption of submission of financial requirements. Please refer to the links on this page if you are eligible.
Visiting Korea without Visa is possible only when you land in or visit Jeju Island. By virtue of it being a top tourist destination in Korea, the government declared it as Visa-free for various countries, including the Philippines. However, at present, there are no direct flights coming from Philippines to Jeju. You still need to transit via Incheon and Busan in Korea (which still requires transit Visa) or other countries such as Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, and Singapore which means additional cost. [TBC]
VIII. DOES THE EMBASSY ALLOW EXPRESS VISA PROCESSING?
Yes, effective November 12, 2018, express visa processing will be implemented for temporary visitor’s visa. This is not applicable for spouse visa, working visa, study abroad, etc.). Express visa processing fee (non-refundable) is $20 (PHP 1,000) and processing takes two days, excluding day of application. Applicant should indicate during application at designated travel agencies that you are availing of express processing.
IX. SHOULD THEY DECLINE MY VISA APPLICATION, CAN I STILL VISIT KOREA ANYTIME SOON?
YES, don’t be disheartened! While waiting for the 6 months period before your new application, you have the option to check out Jeju Island. Visiting this southern Korean province does not require a Tourist Visa. Note however that there is no direct flights from the Philippines to Jeju Island but you can take connecting flights via Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Taiwan, which are all visa-free.
Korean tourism authorities also announced recently that they will offer Visa-Free access to mainland Korea if part of an authorized travel group with confirmed flights to/from Jeju Island via Incheon or Busan.
X. IMPORTANT TIPS
From our experience and from research, we believe that there are no shortcuts to becoming successful in your Visa application. The best way is still to comply with and follow the requirements of the Embassy. However, the least that we can advise to fellow travelers is that it is very critical that you can prove that you are able to finance your visit or tour in Korea and that you will return to your home country after the trip.
It is a must that your available money could cover all your expenses (accommodation, food, fares, entrance fees, souvenirs, etc.) in the duration of your stay and prove your employment/business relations in the Philippines. Preparing these documents beforehand also needs wise and careful planning to achieve your #travelgoals. Please consider the following in your planning:
- Set a lead time before your date of travel. One year to six months would be a safe period to allow you to save up and secure budget plane tickets to Korea. The rule is to apply for a Visa prior to purchasing your airline tickets since Visa issuance is subject for approval of the consul in charge. In our case, we usually purchase our tickets way ahead, even a year or more before our travel dates, so we are really compelled to prepare our bank accounts.
- There are no minimum fund requirements cited by the Embassy, but it is a given that traveling to Korea is relatively costlier than touring other countries in Asia. By our estimate, a 3-5 days trip including airfare would cost you a minimum of Php 30,000 to Php 50,000 per person depending on your planned spending. For budget travelers like us, they can make this a little bit lower say ~ Php 20,000 in actual terms. But please note that you have to prove in your documents.
- Please take note that having a bank account with an unreasonable amount of money does not guarantee issuance of Visa. The Embassy conducts strict verification processes especially with reference to your employment and sources of income.
- It is vital to consider your destination and length of stay. Since Korea has become a favorite destination for Pinoy tourists, this provides some advantage to ordinary and daily-wage earners and tourists like us, since it is now easy to plan and prepare itineraries and set our budget for travel in these areas. For first-timers, it is recommended to visit attractions within and around Seoul as your first destination of choice in Korea.
- Familiarize these routes by doing online research and inquire with travel blogs, Facebook travel groups or consult travel agencies. Some blogs have prepared customized and ready-made itineraries which may be suitable to your preference. You can refer to our 4-days Seoul travel guide.
- Start to prepare your itinerary and compare with others online, especially with the tour and budget items. Make sure to indicate the expected budget that would cover the accommodation, tour/entrance fees, transport and food costs. From here, you would now have an idea or estimate of your total budget. As a practice, we usually add an additional amount for contingencies/incidentals, which is 20% of the total budget.
- Itinerary: Unlike the Visa application for Japan, a separate day-to-day itinerary is not required as an attachment. However, the Application Form still requires information on length of stay, date of entry and address/contact information of your hotel/accommodation in Korea. We therefore suggest to still prepare a simple itinerary indicating your intended accommodation and activities for the duration of your visit. This is particularly important during releasing of Visa as the Consul may ask for your itinerary.
- Accommodations: Nowadays, it’s more practical to book your accommodation online through Agoda.com. Unfamiliar to many, Agoda actually offers accommodations whose payment is upon check-in or at a later date. Make sure to look for these offers in their website and book an indicative date to be reflected in your Visa Application. This is very practical if you’re not sure with your travel dates and if in case your Visa is not approved.
GOOD LUCK (잘 해!)