How to Apply for Single / Multiple Entry South Korea Visa for Filipino Tourists or Visitors

How to Apply for Single / Multiple Entry South Korea Visa for Filipino Tourists or Visitors

I’m sure that a majority of us Filipinos have encountered Korean influences at some point in our lives, may it be through K-pop, K-dramas (Koreanovelas), cosmetic products, or food (among many others). Due to these things as well as other factors, South Korea has remained to be a dream destination for many — but for those who want to make it a reality, there is the question of how our weak Philippine third world passports can fare when it comes to entry or visa matters. Don’t fret though because applying for a South Korea visa is not only easy but also FREE!

The application process is SO simple that you can even do it all by yourself (there’s really NO need for hiring a travel agency). As such, with the help of this guide, let us make your South Korea travel dreams come true!

…But first, a disclaimer:

NO ONE can give you a guarantee on your South Korea visa’s approval: not even a lawyer, a consultant, a travel agent, or an embassy employee. Anyone who says otherwise is most likely going to be a scammer. That being said, what I can offer you here is a comprehensive guide with helpful tips to increase your chances of getting that South Korean tourist visa.

Top photo of Pink Leaves Nami Island from Shutterstock.com.

How to Apply for a South Korea Visa for Tourists

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Step 1: Determine the type of South Korea visa that you need to apply for
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There are, of course, various types of South Korea visas out there that you can apply for: a visa for studying, a visa for business, a visa for joining family, etc.

For this particular guide though, I will only be discussing the requirements for a tourist visa since it’s an experience that I’ve gone through myself.

If, however, you have a different situation or purpose of visit, it’s best that you contact the South Korea Embassy for more information and for the complete requirements. You can do this via telephone ([02] 856-9210, local no. 270 or 500) or via email: [email protected]

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Step 2: Prepare the required documents for your application
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Depending on your circumstance, click the symbol ‘+‘ below to view the corresponding requirements for each section. Make sure that you have authentic, original, and complete documents at all times!

(A) South Korea Tourist Visa WITHOUT Any Guarantor/Sponsor

  1. Philippine Passport. Make sure that your passport is valid for more than 6 months prior to your intended travel date, it has your signature, and has at least two (2) blank pages.
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  2. Photocopy of Philippine Passport bio page. This is found on page 2 (the part where your passport photo and other info are shown).
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  3. If applicable, original and photocopy of all your OECD visas for the past 5 years. If you have been to any of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development or OECD countries in the past 5 years as a tourist, make sure to submit the original and photocopy(ies) of the relevant visas and arrival stamps.
    • Doing this will help expedite the processing time of your visa (from the usual 5 working days to only 3 working days).
    • When I said ‘original’, this will mean that you will have to submit the passport(s) that contains the OECD visas and arrival stamps (no matter if they are your old or current passport[s]).
    • Only used visas are counted.
    • It is said that frequent travelers to OECD member countries in the past 5 years are even exempted from submitting an ITR (however, there were no specific details from the South Korea Embassy as to what a ‘frequent traveler’ entails).
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  4. A duly accomplished South Korea Visa Application Form.
    • Download the application form here.
    • Properly fill the form by hand with your information in CAPITAL LETTERS (even your email address).
      • Erasures are NOT allowed and you should also NOT write outside the boxes.
      • Put “N/A” in all spaces that are not applicable to you. Do NOT leave anything blank.
    • There are sections here that ask for your address/hotel in South Korea as well as your intended date of entry and period of stay…

      This does NOT mean that you are required to book your airline and hotels beforehand because the embassy does NOT require applicants to book it before approval — nor do they require you to submit booking documents related to them.

      That being said, once your South Korea visa is approved, check out MomondoKayak, or Skyscanner to look for the best flight deals. As for hotel bookings, it’s best to do it with Booking.com or Agoda.com. With them, you can reserve a hotel with NO pre-payment and you can even cancel the booking a day before your arrival with NO cancellation charges at all.

  5. 1 Passport-sized photo. This should be around 35mm x 45mm, colored, and against a white background. Paste this on your South Korea visa application form.
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  6. Optional: cover letter and itinerary. These are NOT required, but it’s always good practice to prepare them.
    • However, if you are a freelancer or if you have missing documents that you can’t submit such as an ITR, a Certificate of Employment, etc. — it is therefore a MUST that you submit a cover letter to the embassy to explain your situation.
    • As for the itinerary, there have been some cases wherein some applicants were asked to submit a rough draft of their South Korea itinerary; so it’s best to prepare this just in case.
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  7. If applicable, an eligibile BDO or BPI credit card, photocopy of said credit card, and latest original credit card account statement. The South Korean Embassy is currently holding a promo wherein eligible BDO and BPI credit cardholders can acquire multiple-entry visas — and they will also be exempted from submitting some required financial documents. As of January 2017, the embassy announced that this promo will last until December 31, 2019. Thanks to this promo, I got a 5-year multiple-entry visa (I submitted my BDO Platinum credit card).
    • These are the cards that are qualified:
      • BDO Gold Cardholders will get multiple-entry visa valid for 3 years: Gold Visa Credit Card, Gold MasterCard Credit Card, Gold UnionPay Credit Card, Gold JCB Credit Card
      • BDO Elite Cardholders will get multiple-entry visa valid for 3 to 5 years: Platinum Visa Credit Card, Titanium/Platinum and World Elite MasterCard Credit Card, Gold/Platinum/Cathay Pacific and American Express Charge Cards issued by BDO, Diamond UnionPay Credit Card, Diners Club Premiere
      • BPI Gold Master Cardholders will get multiple-entry visa valid for 3 years
      • BPI SkyMiles Platinum Master Card and BPI Amore Visa Platinum cardholders will get multiple-entry visa valid for 3 to 5 years.
      • Gold BPI Express Teller Debit Cardholders will get multiple-entry visa to Korea valid for 3 to 5 years
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    • The following financial documents are NO longer required for submission, as long as you have at least one of the credit cards above:
      • Original personal bank certificate.
      • Photocopy of your ITR (Form 2316).
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  8. Proof of income or financial stability. The requirements for this differ depending on your occupation. But if in case you are a student, a minor, or a person who has no income, refer to section (B).
    • For employed persons.
      • Original personal bank certificate: this must indicate your account type, current balance, account opening date and 6 months average balance (ADB).
        • You are exempt from submitting this if you hold eligible BDO or BPI cards as mentioned in #6 above.
      • Original or certified true copy of bank statements/passbook for the last 3 months.
      • Original Certificate of Employment: this must be printed on your company’s official letterhead and must contain details of your officer or employer’s address, HR landline number, HR email address, your position, your hiring date, and your salary.
      • Photocopy of your ITR (Form 2316).
      • If you do NOT have an ITR or any of the other requirements above, write a simple letter explaining why you’re unable to submit them (examples: you’re newly employed so you don’t have an ITR, etc.).
        • The only time you are exempt from submitting an ITR is if you are a frequent traveler to OECD countries in the past 5 years or if you hold eligible BDO or BPI cards as mentioned in #6 above.
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    • For self-employed / business persons.
      • Original personal bank certificate: this must indicate your account type, current balance, account opening date and 6 months average balance (ADB).
        • You are exempt from submitting this if you hold eligible BDO or BPI cards as mentioned in #6 above.
      • If you own a business, submit photocopies of your Business Registration issued by DTI / SEC, the company ITR, and Business Permit or Mayor’s Permit.
      • If you’re a freelancer, provide latest photocopy of your ITR (Form 2316) and proof of work (examples: screenshots of your work, letter from clients, proof of payments for your work, etc.).
      • If you do NOT have an ITR, write a simple letter explaining why you’re unable to submit it (examples: if you are a new business, a new self-employed person, you are being taxed in another country, etc.)
        • The only time you are exempt from submitting an ITR is if you are a frequent traveler to OECD countries in the past 5 years or if you hold eligible BDO or BPI cards as mentioned in #6 above.
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    • For retirees.
      • Original personal bank certificate: this must indicate your account type, current balance, account opening date and 6 months average balance (ADB).
        • You are exempt from submitting this if you hold eligible BDO or BPI cards as mentioned in #6 above.
      • Original or certified true copy of bank statements/passbook for the last 3 months.
      • Photocopy of your senior citizen ID.
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    • For unemployed persons.
      • Given the way the Embassy of South Korea presents its requirements for visa applicants, it’s best that you acquire a guarantor/sponsor who can provide an ITR. Refer to section (B) below for this.
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    • For students, minors, housewives, ‘househusbands’, etc.
      • Refer to section (B) below.
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      TIP: Don’t have an ITR? It’s best that you start filing and paying your taxes as early as NOW — after all, a lot of embassies (not only South Korea) require an ITR. So if you’re looking for a hassle-free experience for all your tax-related matters (no matter if you’re newly-registered to BIR or not), you should sign up with Taxumo who will take care of everything for you. (Sign up with my code PHTAX and you can get a discount on their plans as well as a FREE 1-month trial!)

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(B) South Korea Tourist Visa WITH Guarantor/Sponsor

This kind of application is applicable for studentsminorsunemployed persons, husband/wife (if one of you will be supporting the other), self-employed persons/freelancers (who can’t provide an ITR and have no strong reason why they can’t submit it) or just about any person who will take on a sponsor. This also applies to anyone who would have a company/agency to sponsor the trip.

For submitting the necessary requirements, simply submit the requirements listed in section (A), numbers #1 to #6. And when it comes to (#8) Proof of income or financial stability, you should ask these documents from your guarantor/sponsor as dependent on their profession or occupation — this could be your mom, dad, brother, sister, friend, boyfriend, girlfriend, relative, etc.

In addition, you should also submit…

  1. Sponsor/Guarantee letter. This is a simple letter written by your sponsor indicating how he/she will cover the costs of your South Korea trip.
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  2. Photocopy of sponsor/guarantor’s passport. Provide a photocopy of the bio page only; if not, it can be a photocopy of any government-issued ID.
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ADDITIONAL NOTES:

  • If you are personally invited by a South Korean…
    • …resident, you must submit an invitation letter and a photocopy of his/her passport or authentication ID
    • …national, you must submit an invitation letter and photocopy of his/her passport or ID card.
    • …company, you must submit an invitation letter and a photocopy of the Korean company’s business permit.
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  • If you are married, submit a photocopy of your NSO Marriage Certificate.
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  • If you are a student, submit the following:
    • Original school certificate.
    • Photocopy of your school ID.
    • Photocopy of your NSO-issued birth certificate.
    • Your parents’ or your sponsor’s supporting financial documents (depending on their occupation refer to the list in section (A) under #8.)
      • If your parents are your sponsor, provide photocopy of NSO-issued marriage certificate.
      • If your sponsor is other than your parents, explain your relationship with that person through a cover letter.

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(C) South Korea Multiple Entry Tourist Visa

The South Korean Embassy only issues multiple-entry visas under certain conditions. Currently, there are 2 ways to avail this….

FIRST, by being a frequent South Korea traveler. Basically, it is said that if you have visited South Korea for more than 4 times in the past 2 years OR if you have visited South Korea for more than 10 times in total (with at least 1 of the visits done within the past 2 years), then you are suitable for a multiple-entry application. (For more details, see here).

SECOND, via the BDO/BPI promo. Basically the embassy has implemented a promotion wherein eligible BDO and BPI credit cardholders can acquire multiple-entry visas when they apply for a South Korea visa (along with this, they will also be exempted from submitting a bank certificate and ITR).

As of January 2017, the embassy announced that this promo will last until December 31, 2019. Thanks to this promo, I got a 5-year multiple-entry visa (I submitted my BDO Platinum credit card).

The eligible cards are:

  • BDO Gold Cardholders will get multiple-entry visa valid for 3 years: Gold Visa Credit Card, Gold MasterCard Credit Card, Gold UnionPay Credit Card, Gold JCB Credit Card
  • BDO Elite Cardholders will get multiple-entry visa valid for 3 to 5 years: Platinum Visa Credit Card, Titanium/Platinum and World Elite MasterCard Credit Card, Gold/Platinum/Cathay Pacific and American Express Charge Cards issued by BDO, Diamond UnionPay Credit Card, Diners Club Premiere
  • BPI Gold Master Cardholders will get multiple-entry visa valid for 3 years
  • BPI SkyMiles Platinum Master Card and BPI Amore Visa Platinum cardholders will get multiple-entry visa valid for 3 to 5 years.
  • Gold BPI Express Teller Debit Cardholders will get multiple-entry visa to Korea valid for 3 to 5 years.

Therefore, to avail this promo you just need to submit the standard requirements in either section (A) or (B) (as dependent on your situation) plus these: the qualified BDO or BPI credit card, photocopy of said credit card, and latest original credit card account statement.

NOTE: If in case you are a Philippine national living or residing in a foreign country and you wish to avail a South Korea tourist visa, kindly inquire with the appropriate South Korean Embassy in the country that you’re living in.

Do you need to purchase travel insurance?
It’s always good practice to get travel insurance for your trip. To avail, I would highly recommend World Nomads since they offer the best price and coverage.

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Step 3: Process your South Korea visa at the South Korean Embassy
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Thankfully, you can just walk in to the South Korean Embassy from Mondays to Fridays at 8:30AM to 11:00AM in order to submit your visa application. (Yup, there’s NO need for appointments. It functions in a first come, first served basis and if I may share a tip, it’s best to arrive by 10:00AM latest — any later and you might not be accommodated for the day.)

The embassy has 2 locations, namely:

KOREAN EMBASSY IN MANILA
122 Upper McKinley Road, McKinley Town Center, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig
Email Address: [email protected]
Telephone: (63-2) 856-9210, local no. 270, 500

KOREAN CONSULATE IN CEBU
12th Floor Chinabank Corporate Center, Lot 2, Samar Loop Cor. Road 5, Cebu Business Park, Cebu
Email Address: [email protected]
Contact No.: (63-32) 231-1516(-9)

I have applied at the embassy in Taguig and the process basically goes like this:

  1. The guard by the gate will ask you to write down your name and to leave an ID.
  2. Before you are admitted inside, a staff person by the door will check all your documents. If he is satisfied with your files, he/she will provide you with a queue number. Wait for your number to be called (take note that there are separate windows for 1st time applicants and for those with OECD visas/stamps).
  3. When your number is called, approach your designated window. The staff inside will collect your documents and double check them. He/she may ask you simple questions to verify your info or your documents. (Interviews are typically NOT done, but depending on your situation, they might conduct one — or they might just ask for additional documents before giving you the date for your visa application result).
  4. Once that’s done with, he/she will give you a paper slip indicating the release date of your visa application result.

NOTE: The South Korea visa application is FREE of charge as long as you are only going to stay 59 days or less. For stays spanning from 60 to 90 days, there is a fee of about Php 1,800.

Also, an authorized representative can file your visa application on your behalf.

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Step 4: Claim your South Korea visa results
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Releasing of visa results are customarily done from Mondays to Fridays at 1:30PM to 4:00PM.

PROCESSING TIME:
3 working days = Manila applications with OECD visas within the past 5 years
5 working days = Manila applications without OECD visas
7 working days = Cebu applications with or without OECD visas

If you’re a first-time applicant, it is recommended that you personally claim your passport. And as always, should your application be approved (yay!), make sure that your South Korea visa has your correct name, passport number, etc. before leaving the embassy’s premises.
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F.A.Q. (Frequently Asked Questions)

◘◘ Do I need to purchase travel insurance?
I highly advise that you get travel insurance for your trip to protect yourself from any unwanted hassles such as travel delay, lost baggage, accidents, etc. To avail, I would highly recommend World Nomads since they offer the best price and coverage.

◘◘ When is the earliest time that I can apply for a South Korea visa?
You can apply as early as three (3) months or 90 days before your planned trip date departure.

◘◘ How long is the duration of a single-entry tourist South Korea visa?
All tourist visa holders of a single-entry visa are permitted to stay in South Korea for a maximum period of 59 days.

◘◘ If I have a multiple entry tourist visa, how long till I can re-enter South Korea again after a trip?
There seems to be NO existing rule for a “break period” when you want to enter South Korea again — however, take note that if you enter the country again too soon, that will raise questions and the immigration might not let you in. Also, take note that you should NOT spend more than 180 days total in a year in South Korea as a tourist.

◘◘ Do I need to book accommodation and plane tickets by the time I send in my application?
The embassy does NOT require applicants to book nor submit roundtrip flight tickets and hotel(s) before applying for a visa. Don’t bother submitting these because the staff will just give the documents back to you.

◘◘ How much money should I show in my bank account?
The South Korean Embassy did NOT mention any minimum balance requirement, but some people have been saying that you need to have at least Php 10,000 per day of your stay — you can use this as a standard but of course it’s always best if you have more. The way I see it, there’s no amount that will guarantee approval. Just ensure that you have complete documents and have enough pocket money to support yourself during your trip.

◘◘ My South Korea Visa application was denied. Is there anything I can do?
Sorry to hear that. Either way, you can reapply again after 6 months.

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Overall

Korea Visa

As you can see, applying for a South Korea Tourist Visa is fast and easy — you can do it all by yourself (NO need to hire a travel agency to incur expenses; after all, applying for the visa itself is already free.) All in all, I hope the process becomes absolutely hassle-free for you with the help of this visa guide.

Let me know how it goes… good luck!

How about you?

  • Do you have any other info or tips to add?
  • If you’ve already applied for a South Korea visa before, how was your experience?
  • Were you approved or denied? Please feel free to share your story!

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54 comments

  1. Hi Ms. Aileen. Thank you for this helpful information regarding Korean Visa. Just wanna ask,if ever the visa application is denied. Do we really need to wait 6months for the re-application or we can right away re-apply like after 1-2 months perhaps?

    Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Unfortunately, you would really have to wait for 6 months before reapplying for a tourist visa.

      Reply
  2. Hi there Aileen! Your blog is very informative and useful! I have a question, what if the company name written on my ITR is different from the current one? I just resigned in my previous job last January 31 and they already filed for my latest ITR. Would this be a problem in my visa application? I can ask for the coe from the new employer but the company name in the ITR and COE will be different should I also bring the coe issued from my previous company?

    Reply
    1. Hey Raine, I don't think it's an issue. I think the embassy will see anyway that you've transferred to a new job given the COE you'll be submitting. :) If it gives you some peace of mind, feel free to explain this in your cover letter. Good luck!

      Reply
  3. Thanks, Aileen! You’re an inspo! I’ve been following you on Instagram! Also, I will be travelling with my sister and niece. Her fiancee will be sponsoring us just like our travels abroad for the past five years around Asia (Sg, Msia, HK) We have a letter of support already and his bank statements. That’s what we used when we applied for Japan Visa and it got approved. Yun lang din ba kailangan this time for Korea? Thank you. :)

    Reply
    1. Hey Quinnie, I think the requirements are quite similar with Japan. :) Just to be on the safe side, make sure that you review the requirements I listed above to ensure that you've got everything. Good luck!

      Reply
  4. Hello po! :) Tanong ko lang po, may BDO gold credit card po ako para po dun sa promo sa multiple entry visa, may babayaran pa po bang visa processing fee? Or wala na po ba kasi nga promo? Hehehe

    Salamat po! :D

    Reply
    1. Hey Girlie, as stated above, the credit card's promo is only on the ITR requirements. Anyhow, rest assured, South Korea visa applications are FREE of charge as long as you are only going to stay 59 days or less. For stays spanning from 60 to 90 days, there is a fee of about Php 1,800.

      Reply
  5. Hi Ms. Aileen. Can I claim my passport already on the tentative release date or should I come on a later date just to make sure? Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Hey Abby, I believe you can already come on the date stated. Good luck!

      Reply
  6. Hi Ms. Aileen. Many thanks for the blog! I would like to surprise my fiancee with our Korean Visa on our wedding day and it's good news that I could file on her behalf without her knowing, however, I just realized (though unsure) that after the wedding we have to file again for an update of status and name on her passport. Any thoughts on this?

    Reply
    1. No problem, you can just keep the old passport with the visa on it and bring it for the trip. :) Congratulations by the way.

      Reply
  7. Hello, Ms. Aileen. Thank you for this very helpful blog. I would like ask something though, we are planning to visit on May/June, I’m currently unemployed but my sister who is an OFW will be sponsoring the whole trip for me and her 2 daughters, my nieces (a student and a 2 year old). My sister will be also flying to korea with us (if we will be granted a visa) - she’ll apply for her visa in the korea consulate office in the country where she is working right now.

    Does my sister needs to send multiple copies of Bank statements, bank certificates, COE and etc. for our application? I will be the one who’s going to prepare and submit requirments for me and my nieces.

    Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Hey Alexa, I guess if you're going to submit all documents as a family, just 1 copy for all of you should be fine. Otherwise, if in doubt, you can always call the consulate to confirm. Good luck!

      Reply

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