South Korea: Visa Application

If you’ve booked a flight bound for South Korea, prepared your itinerary and booked your accommodation, then you’re almost good to go. Now, there’s one important thing that you still have to take care of. Unlike visiting our ASEAN neighbors, traveling to SK requires Visa entry… sigh….

But, don’t worry, my experience in applying Korean Tourist Visa (Single Entry) was quite easy and fast.


How to apply (list of documentary requirements)

The documentary requirements for Visa application are listed in the website of the Korean Embassy, and there, you will see the list of requirements based on the case of your application: Visa Requirements for South Korea

If you are a regular tourist, you can select item 19: “for Employees” and you will see the following list of requirements (as of 12 December 2016):

Tourist/Business Visa Requirements for Employees

1. Application Form
2. 1 piece of Passport size colored picture (Please attach on the application form)
3. Original Passport (should be valid for more than 6months)
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 only)
6. Original Certificate of Employment
(must include applicant’s position, date hired, compensation, office address, HR landline number(cell-phone number is not allowed), HR e-mail address)
7. Original Personal Bank Certificate
(must include account type, current balance, account opening date, ADB)
8. Bank Statement
(original or certified true copy of bank statements/passbook for the last 3 months)
9. ITR (Income Tax Return) or Form 2316 Copy
10. Copy of PRC Card or IBP Card (If applicable only)

* Frequent travellers who have travelled as tourist to OECD member countries within 5 years are exempted from submitting ITR.

Note that Items 7 (Original Personal Bank Certificate) and 8 (Bank Statement) are specific requirements to prove that you can financially support yourself during your stay in SK, so make sure you have enough money in the bank (several websites and travel blogs have suggested having at least PhP50K for about a week’s worth of travel, just to be on the safe side).

  • Be sure to arrange your documents properly, by order prescribed above. You only need to submit the above listed requirements, so plane tickets/flight itineraries, hotel bookings, etc. are not necessary.
  • The GMA website has uploaded an Infographic, which I found useful in knowing more about the documentary requirements for Visa and on how to fill up the Visa Application Form. Check the GMA link: INFOGRAPHIC: How to apply for a Korean Visa

When to apply (timing of application)

Take note that the Korean Embassy would look into the validity of your documents, requiring the latest issued papers based on your travel period. My strategy was to submit my documents for Visa application about one month before my travel/departure date, so I prepared everything just about a week before my planned date of submission. Just make sure your Passport is still valid for more than 6 months, otherwise, you need to prepare way ahead to renew your passport.


Application process

  1. The Korean Embassy is located at the corner of Upper Mckinley Rd. and C5 Rd. Visa application is from 8:30 -11:00 AM. No need for appointment, submission is on a first come, first served basis.
  2. Upon arrival, you will see a glass window (still outside the Office) where you need to sign in the log book to be given a gate pass. You will then proceed to enter the Office area.
  3. Upon entering the main Office, line up towards the reception table and present your papers and sign in the log book. The Officer will initially inspect your documents and staple them together, then hand them back to you and give you a number slip indicating the Window # where you will finally submit these documents (again, be sure that your documents have been arranged properly; don’t forget your signature and paste your picture in your Application Form).
  4. Be seated and wait for your number and proceed to the indicated Window # to present your documents. The Officer will then inspect your documents and if deemed complete, will give you a claiming slip indicating the date and time when you can retrieve your passport. Of course, this does not guarantee yet that your Visa application has already been approved. The Visa application is free if you will stay in SK for 59 days or less (or pay PhP1,800.00 if you will stay for 60 to 90 days).
  5. Processing takes about 5 working days (or just 3 working days for those who have been to OECD member countries within 5 years as tourist); and releasing time is from 1:30 – 4:00PM.
  6. Don’t forget to bring your claiming slip when you return to the Embassy, and write your name at the back of the slip before giving the slip to the Officer. In our experience, claiming is also on a first come, first served basis, so my advice is to be there before 1:30PM.

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