(UPDATED) How to: Apply for a Tourist Visa to South Korea for Philippine Passport Holders

IMPORTANT UPDATE: The Korean Embassy announced a new visa application system last May 29, 2018 via their official website. In the said statement, effective July 1, 2018, all visa requirements should be submitted to an accredited travel agency. Also, walk-in applicants won't be allowed anymore at the embassy, so it's best to head to any of the following 35 accredited travel agencies:

Cebu
·  Grand Hope Travel, Inc.
·  Hankookceb Corp.

Mandaluyong
·  Aboex Travel and Tours
Manila
·  Budget Travel and Tours Inc.
·  Getaway Tours International Inc.
·  Horizon Travel & Tours Inc.
·  International Journeys Inc.
·  Las Palmas Tours and Travel Agency, Inc.
·  Pan Pacific Travel Corporation
·  Uni-orient Travel Inc.
Makati
·  Adventure International
·  Ark Travel Express Inc.
·  Blue Horizons Travel and Tours Inc.
·  Casto Travel Philippines Inc.
·  City Travel & Tours Corporation
·  Constellation Travels Inc.
·  First United Travel Inc.
·  Las Palmas Tours and Travel Agency Inc.
·  Marsman Drysdale Travel Inc.
·  North Star International Travel, Inc.
·  Rajah Travel Corporation
·  Rakso Air Travel and Tours Inc.
·  Reli Tours and Travel Company
·  Sharp Travel Service (Phils.) Inc.
·  Swire Travel Phils, Inc.
·  The Baron Travel Corporation
·  Travelservices Inc.
Pasay
·  Come On Phils. Golf & Travel Agency Inc.
·  Hana Tour Manila Inc.
Island Resort Club Tour Services Inc.
Pasig
·  KP Joeun Consultancy Inc.
·  MNK Travel & Tours Corp.


The processing fee / service fee varies depending on the travel agency. When I called a few ones listed above (especially those based in Makati), the fee ranges PHP 1,000-PHP 2,000 per person. For more information, you may contact your preferred travel agency. The address and contact numbers are here.


Unlike before, requirements used to be submitted straight to the embassy. The change was in response to the growing number of applicants that go to the embassy. Per announcement: "This increase in number of visa applicants caused the applicants to stand in hot weather outside the embassy for hours to wait in line for their turn to apply for respective visas." 

Either way, the requirements are the still the same. Here's a guide on how to get and prepare the requirements:

WHAT TO SUBMIT TO THE TRAVEL AGENCY?

1. Philippine passport
Make sure it's valid for 6 months until the intended travel date to Korea. Also, make sure there's at least 2 blank pages.

2. Application form (Download it here.)
The form should be handwritten, so make sure to write legibly and avoid erasures. Fill up everything, and so in case an item is not applicable to you, put "Not applicable" or "N/A."

In the field to put the address in Korea (as seen in the image below), put your accommodation's address. If you haven't decided where to stay at, I suggest you just search via booking.com, a booking site that allows online reservation only. Also, the website provides the liberty to pay at the reception in cash or credit card, depending on the accommodation's payment options. I've done booking.com a million times before and it's reliable. 
During my Korea trip, for example, I booked Kimchee Guesthouse (Downtown) Seoul online and  only paid upon check in.

When putting the estimated travel cost in US dollars (as seen in the image below), the amount depends but make sure it's REALISTIC in the sense that your travel cost must be backed by whatever your bank account contains.












For example, if you'll only present one bank account with PHP 30,000 in it, do not say you'll spend USD 2,000 (equivalent to around PHP 100,000) in Korea. They key is that do not set a budget that's beyond your actual financial capacity.

In the field to put the travel history for the past 5 years (as seen in the image below), you may simply write your last 3 travels abroad, or N/A if none yet. Although it says to use a separate paper if the space isn't enough, I didn't do this anymore. Anyway I submitted my original passport containing all the stamps to state my travel history.
3. One (1) passport size ID
Make sure it's printed colored with white background and taken in the last 6 months. The actual dimension of a passport-size photo is 3.5 cm x 4.5 cm (in centimeters), 1.37 x 1.77 (in inches), 35 mm x 45 mm (in millimeters). If you'll get your picture taken, just tell that it will be for Korean tourist visa purposes. Paste the photo on the first page of the application form.

4. Copy of the passport’s bio page
The bio page is the page 2 of a Philippine passport, which contains relevant information including your photo, full name, passport's place of issue, issuing date, expiration date, and others. When you submit a copy, you may print it in black and white on a letter size / A4 size paper. 

5. Original and photocopy of valid visa/s and arrival stamps to OECD member countries for the past 5 years.
To know the OECD member countries, click here. This is an optional requirement. With my experience, I photocopied my tourist visa to Japan as one of the OECD member countries.

6. Certificate of employment (COE) for employed applicants or business documents for self-employed
When you request COE from your company's HR, I suggest you tell it's for tourist visa so that they can put complete details in the COE, which includes the job position or description, hiring date, annual salary, office address, HR’s landline number (cellphone number not allowed), and HR’s email address.

7. Bank certificate
A bank certificate is a proof that you have an account in a bank and is requested at the branch where you opened the account. It shows the current balance and other important details about the account owner.

When you request one, make sure the following are included: account type, current balance, account opening date, and annual daily budget (ADB). If you have other bank accounts aside from your payroll account, prefer to do so. The key is to present an account that you seldom withdraw from. This strengthens your financial stability, proving that you have other source of funds aside from your payroll account.

With my experience at BDO, a bank certificate costed me PHP 100 and was issued on the business next day.

8. Bank statement
A bank statement shows the cash flow (debit and credit) in the bank account. Issuance of this document varies per bank. BPI, for example, allows issuing bank statement in whichever branch.

When you request one, make sure it's a statement for the past 3 months. It would be great if your bank statement and bank certificate come from the same bank account.

It also costed me PHP 100 with BDO and issued on the next business day.

9. Income Tax Return (ITR) or Form 2316
ITRs are usually released in April. With this, applying in January-March will give you the ITR from last year and applying in April-December will give you the ITR of the current year. I suggest to print it in A4 paper. Also, do not forget your signature and date signed in the ITR.

Other requirements (but were not applicable to me):
  • Copy of PRC card or IBP card
  • Invitation letter (if invited by a resident or a Korean company)
  • Copy of the business permit of the inviting Korean company

The requirements mentioned above are for a short-term tourist visa. For the list of requirements for other visa types, visit the Korean embassy's website.

WHEN TO APPLY FOR A TOURIST VISA?

Philippine passport holders may be granted with at least 59 days of stay in Korea as tourist, which has a validity of 90 days. The visa itself has no charge. However, as mentioned above, the processing / service fees apply depending on the travel agency. Meanwhile, if you wish to stay longer (60-90 days) in Korea, there's a visa fee of PHP 2,000.

Regarding processing time, the embassy can issue the visa within 3 working days for applicants who have been to the OECD countries in the last 5 years as a tourist and 5 working days if not. However, with the new system, it may take longer now since the travel agency has their own processing time too. It's possible to take 2 more days depending on the travel agency.

Tip: Submit and apply the visa early! I usually apply 1-2 months before the date of travel so that in case the travel agency / embassy asks for additional requirements, there's enough time to submit them. Also, applying early will give you ample time to plan the trip. I mean, South Korea is so beautiful you have to plan it carefully and make the trip worth it!

Good luck on your visa application! Enjoy South Korea!

KOREAN EMBASSY

Contact number: (63-2) 856-9210 ; visa local no. 270 or 500
Email: ph04@mofa.gov.kr  (for Visa and Consular Affairs)
Website: https://overseas.mofa.go.kr/ph-en/index.do



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