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

(UPDATED) 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 and starting this 2018, the Korean Embassy is coursing applications through travel agencies (much like how the Japan Embassy does). 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, photocopy of eligibile BDO or BPI 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 (and/or 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 (or Form 2316) AND Company Alphalist (or Form 1604 CF with BIR-received stamp — make sure to highlight your name on the list.)
        • If you can’t submit a Company Alphalist, you must submit an explanation letter — better if it’s issued by your company.
      • 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 (or Form 2316) with corresponding payment receipt from BIR-authorized bank 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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TIP: If your sponsor is your brother/sister, you must also submit their birth certificate to the embassy.

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 a travel agency
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Starting 2018, the Embassy of South Korea in the Philippines will NO longer accept direct applications (unless you are a spouse or child of a Korean national, a government employee on a business trip, an application with urgent humanitarian reasons, or a visa issuance number holder from Korea). So what you need to do instead is go to an accredited travel agency — submit your documents to them and they will process your application for you!

A South Korea Visa is FREE of charge as long as you are only going to stay 59 days or less; however, these travel agencies charge for the service that they offer of processing/sending your application and it can range from Php 500 to Php 2,000. (Meanwhile, for stays spanning from 60 to 90 days, the embassy charges a fee of about Php 1,800.)

To date, below are the accredited travel agencies, as listed below:

◘◘ Which is the best travel agency to go to if I want to increase my chances of approval?
There really is NO best travel agency out there when it comes to visa approval because they have NO control whatsoever over that matter. Again, these accredited travel agencies simply ensure that the documents you are going to give are complete. After which, they just pass it to the embassy who makes the analyzation and final decision.

Take note that the consulate in Cebu still accepts direct applications, and for your information only, below are the address details of Korea’s embassies in the Philippinesy:

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)

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Step 4: Claim your South Korea visa results
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Typically, the processing time for visas by the South Korea Embassy are as follows. But now that a travel agency will be sending your application, you might have to add about one to two days extra to take into account the fact that they will be sending and picking up your passport.

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

Should your application be approved (yay!), make sure that your South Korea visa has your correct name, passport number, etc.

Wanna track the status of your application online? Go to this page!

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Seoul itinerary ideas?

Come and check out my ‘DIY Seoul Itinerary Travel Guide’ post which features a detailed day-by-day activities that you could do, no matter the length of your stay.

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Booking Essentials

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Where to Stay in Seoul?

Come and check out my list of the ‘Best Hotels in Seoul’ which features the top recommended choices for cheap to luxurious accommodation choices.

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F.A.Q. (Frequently Asked Questions)

TIP: Wanna grab a spot in South Korea’s best and cheapest tours? Check here!

◘◘ 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.

◘◘ How can I track or follow up on the status of my South Korea visa application?
You can go to this page.

◘◘ 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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206 comments

  1. Hi Ms. Aileen, thank you for this informative blog. I just want to ask though regarding my COE, our company doesn't have landline only e-mail address. I asked our HR why we don't have landline and they said that it's part of the company's policy. Would that still be fine even my COE doesn't have landline on it? What should I do? I'm looking forward to hear back from you. Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Hey Rach, can you ask your HR to probably write a separate letter confirming that they don't publish their landline? It's for just in case the embassy looks for it. Better to be safe than sorry. :)

      Reply
  2. Is it still possible to apply for this visa even if I am not a BDO or BPI credit cardholder?

    Reply
    1. Of course, as stated above, presenting your BDO or BPI card is just a perk to avoid submitting ITR and other documents if you don't have those. Simply put, it's just a substitute.

      Reply
  3. Hi Ma'am just want to ask po, What if the the visa granted to me didn't use, I cancelled my flight 3rd week of Sept. for some emergency in my family. My visa granted last July and expired last week of Sept. I'm planning to apply again next year, much better the multiple entry, It is possible to grant me again? What are the consequence. By the way I've credit card BPI Gold. Thank you pls. advice,

    Reply
    1. I believe that they might charge you a fee since you didn't use the visa. I'm not sure but I've heard of people who have undergone that. Other than that, you can apply again. Results will still and always depend on the documents you submit and under the discretion fo the embassy. No one can absolutely say 100% if you'll be approved or not. But just make sure to submit everything. Good luck!

      Reply

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