Asia, South Korea, Travel Tips

Step by step visa application for South Korea

the South Korean Embassy – Manila (from the embassy’s FB page)

After a successful and memorable Busan and Seoul trip last March, I posted a step-by-step South Korean tourist visa application in my other blog. Following the trip, many of my friends have sent me text messages or even asked me personally about getting a tourist visa for South Korea. I am reposting my experience as well as the tips that worked best for me so that other people might use it as they start planning for their own Seoul Searching trip.

First, my trip was completely, right off the bat, unexpected. Only my sister was supposed to go but her travel buddy had an unexpected family tragedy. Prior to the trip, I have been researching her Korea trip for the last four months, realizing that it won’t cost me anything to apply for a 59D visa (single entry). After finding that I have enough in my bank account to risk getting a bank certificate, I decided that I won’t lose anything should I take a chance an apply for a 59D.

First, allow me to address a misconception. No one knows how much money you should have in your bank in order to get approved. To be honest with you, I have less than PHP50,000 in the bank (more on the lower five figures). There are other factors that the consul consider other than your bank account. It can either be your tenure at your current job, your stability or connection in the Philippines or maybe even the money in your bank account. So for those with less money in the bank but is willing to risk it…I say go for it. Applying for a visa is free. No one really knows if you’ll get approved or not.

“Winging it” and “risking it” turned out positive for me. Valentine’s Day 2011 was made extra memorable not because of any undying declarations of love, but because I realized that I am indeed going to Seoul in three weeks time.

As my way of giving back to the unnamed faces whose post in the internet who helped me get through the visa application process, I am sharing what I knew based from my experience and the many researches that I did early this year.

Process explained below is for TOURIST VISA (59D), SINGLE ENTRY.

Here’s the step-by-step process:

1. Make sure all your documents are complete. This includes the following:
– Application form (downloaded file from the South Korean embassy) which you print using A4 paper. On the application form, attach your most recent passport-sized photo (white background). Please have your photo taken on a really good photography shop.

– Photocopy of the first page (the information page) of your passport.

– Certificate of employment from your current employer indicating your tenure in the company, salary and position. It’s important that in your company letterhead, the company’s complete address and telephone number is indicated. For the love of God, do not even ATTEMPT to submit a fake employment certificate. I heard that someone from the embassy really calls our employers to verify. Please do not do anything stupid which will affect the reputation of other Filipino travelers.

– Bank certificate. The certificate usually indicates how much you have in the bank as of date of request. This is easy to request. In BPI for example, you can get your bank certificate for as less than an hour. You will just have to pay PHP100 (USD2) to facilitate your request. For BDO account holders, my friend told me that you will get your bank certificate the next day.

– Income Tax Return (ITR) Form 2306 – this is a non-negotiable requirement. If you don’t have your current ITR, try submitting your old ITR either from the year before. In fact, I used an ITR issued to me by my former company. I stayed for less than six months in that company hence my contribution rate was minuscule. I was most worried about this document, but apparently the one I submitted qualified.

2. As soon as you have all your documents in order, you are ready to take the next step! Go directly to the South Korean Embassy located in McKinley Hill in Taguig. If you are based in Manila and can spare a few hours of your time, you do not need to have your applications coursed through a travel agency. Coursing your visa application through a travel agency will just cost you money. If you don’t have anything else to do, do it yourself. The application process is easy and very fool-proof. The embassy accepts visa applications from 9AM to 12NN from Monday to Friday. Please bring valid ID so that you can go past the kind guards manning the gate.

3. Submit all your documents. As soon as you enter the Visa Application area, you will see a receptionist stationed near the door. She will ask you if you have a visa in any of the OECD countries (like Japan, USA, Australia, Shengen, etc) — she will ask you this in order to identify which window will accept your application. If you are a first time traveler or don’t have visa from any of the countries indicated in the list, you will be referred to Window 1. She will give you a stub indicating your number.

My sister and I was assigned to Window 1 — while waiting for our number to be called, we arranged our documents and made sure they are neat and presentable. We also arranged them based on the order indicated in the embassy website. Make sure that your documents are neat and presentable. It never hurts to give a good impression to the consul.

When your number is called, approach the assigned window and give your papers to the Consul. He may or he may not ask you questions about your trip. Don’t get nervous and answer him as truthfully as possible. Tell him you are going to Seoul so that you can make Lee MinHo realize that he is meant to be your better half. Or that you are there on a mission to stalk Super Junior. RULE OF THUMB: Please do not lie.

4. After submitting your documents, the consul will hand you a piece of paper which will indicate when you can pick-up your passport. Whatever happens, do not lose that paper. Guard it with your life.

Indicated is the date and time when you can come back to get your passport. Do not lose the paper since that is the only requirement in getting your passport.

After you have the paper, you can now go home and hyperventilate in the safety of your room. You have done your share, let the universe (and fate) take over.

PICKING UP THE PASSPORT
First, a word of caution –just because you submitted the documents does not mean that you are automatically granted a visa. No one knows what will get you approved or denied, except the Consul. You can pick-up your passport on the date indicated on the piece of paper (2PM to 4PM ONLY).

Leave your ID at the guard, pass by the receptionist and get a number and wait for your number to be called. The consul will hand you your passport, and you may check if you have been granted a visa before leaving the embassy grounds.

If your passport does not contain anything but a stamp indicating “APPLICATION RECEIVED” and you are handed a piece of paper with procedures for reapplication printed, it means your application was denied. You will have to wait another six months before you can plot your KPOP staking campaign once again.

REMEMBER — These are based on my personal experience only, and should not be taken as hard facts. For a more comprehensive process, go to the embassy website.

So what did I learn?
1.It pays to do your research.
2. Always be nice to people. You will never know when you will be left wanting for their help and assistance.
3. Do not lie. Be honest always.
4. If in doubt, do not be afraid to ask for directions.

getting a SK tourist visa

Our 59D Visa last March 2012

I hope this post will be of help to you. It may look daunting at first, but I am the perfect example that it is not impossible.

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33 thoughts on “Step by step visa application for South Korea

  1. Pingback: The Great Seoul Searching Trip (Days 1 and 2) | The Adventures of Kamikazee Girl

  2. Pingback: The Great Seoul Searching Trip (Days 1 and 2) «

  3. jaenne says:

    i have no bank account since i’m not working. my brother who works in singapore will sponsor the trip? what are the requiremnts should i bring if i dont have any bank certificate at all? hoping for a reply from you. thanks….

    • lanilakwatsera says:

      Hi! You must present your brother’s bank account and a certification that he will shoulder the expenses of your travel. Are you travelling together? If yes, suggest you apply your visa at the same time.

      One thing you can also do is open a bank account (with BPI, you can open one for as low as P500) and borrow a certain amount from your brother as show money.

      To be sure on the process, you can call the SK Embassy. If you think that processing your visa will be too hard and need professional assistance, this is where I’ll suggest that you get a travel agency who can professionally advice you on what to do.

  4. lourdes ravelo says:

    Hi, I appreciate very much your blogs on south korea. Just want to confirm that the sk embassy requires that one books his flight and hotel and bring these travel docs to the embassy? We are also travelling as a family. Do we all need to apply personally at the embassy? Lastly, it is only me who has a valid US Visa. Will i be taken to a different window at the embassy? Tks and hope to hear from you.

    • lanilakwatsera says:

      Hi Lourdes! Thank you for dropping by “The Places You Will Go”.
      From experience, you do not need to bring your confirmed flight and hotel booking when you apply for a visa. In fact, when I applied for a visa, I didn’t have a booked flight yet — since, I was just taking my chances. However, if you already have this, better bring it to be safe. Though, during our time, the consul removed the print out of my sister’s confirmed flight booking.
      As mentioned, the SK embassy is very efficient and visa application is fast and relatively painless. If you have the time, why don’t you do it on your own?
      All applicants with valid visa to the US, Schengen, Japan and Australia is refered to a different window.

      Good luck on your application and Enjoy South Korea!

    • lanilakwatsera says:

      Hi Anne! Sorry for the late response. The interview went well, basically as soon as they saw that you have a visa, a return ticket and complete itinerary — they will no longer bug you about details of the trip. Of course, they will ask the usual: if you are employed, what do you do for a living, what are you going to do in SK, how long will you be staying. Nothing extraordinary, really 🙂

    • lanilakwatsera says:

      Hi! You have to have a valid visa in order to qualify for Window 1. Expired visas doesn’t count, sorry. 😦

  5. Ella says:

    hello, I already spent 59 days in Korea this year and planning to go back before the year ends. Problem is, I have resigned from my previous employer. Obviously, I do not have a COE to present to the embassy. I am currently working in our family business. Do you have any idea what documents I need to present?

    • lanilakwatsera says:

      Hi Ella. Sorry for the late response. Based from my research, the COE, ITR and BankCert are really, really important documents to get a tourist visa in Korea.

      May I recommend you get in touch with the Korean embassy. They might be able to help you more than I did 😦

      Anyway, good luck and I hope it works out for you.

  6. AJ says:

    Hi! Quoting this one: ” I used an ITR issued to me by my former company. I stayed for less than six months in that company hence my contribution rate was minuscule. I was most worried about this document, but apparently the one I submitted qualified.”

    ^^I worked for my previous company for about 5 months starting Jan. this year (2013) and they gave me a copy of my 2316 so I can use it for my application on a diff company. Is this similar to your situation? If so, then you just probably kicked my confidence a notch higher! xD

    I worked as a volunteer nurse last year and my 2316 for this year is my only option. Hope you can help and answer this question.

    Thanks.

    • lanilakwatsera says:

      Hi AJ! Thanks for dropping by.

      Well, if we are going to base it from my experience — I say that we almost have the same situation. You may use it. However, please note that the ITR alone is not the sole basis for a visa approval. As mentioned in my post and based from my experience — the combination of a COE, a bank certificate and the ITR really does the trick. This is because the consul is trying to establish if we have close ties to the Philippines to ensure that we will come back after the trip.

      Using my only ITR available then worked for me, I hope it will also work for you. Good luck! 🙂

  7. minji says:

    Hi I bought a ticket going to korea this march31 to april4 Im still workng n my company already 2 yrs and months? Before I failed my visa coz I maybe had incomplete requiremnts and I said ill stay 3 months and I use business for visa coz I had my shop that time.anyway I went to bankok last oct.and my company allowed that I went der alone though I really had a crazy experience frm manila immigration .especially I’m bisaya so I tried ti speak tagalog and english.and my korean bf supported my trip too.this time ill go to korea with him but ill stay for 6days and he will stay 2 weeks before he will go back to cebu again for his studies here in cebu university so I thknk I can provide all documents esp.employment and bank certi if possible I can also show our tickets together going to.korea and some.hotel itinerary and oh I have to renew my passport coz it will.expire june2014 so its 2 months after my trip. So ill process my visa around late january coz my flight is still on march 31 is it ok?just I’m so worried coz I failed 2011 maybe they still have my record and this time.il go with my korean bf who also a student in cebu but maybe I will fail again a bit worried about this.what do u think I should do? Need more papers for him?thanks for the time.sorry ang taas ng commentㅜㅜ sana u will reply po

  8. Ken Wee says:

    Hi, thanks for sharing with us great info on S.Korean Visa application.
    Is it required that I claim my passport on the indicated date on the piece of paper handed after application? I might be out of metro manila for more than a week after my application date and I might not be able to get my passport on the said date.

  9. Ana says:

    Hi, my company is sponsoring our trip to korea on December. I’m skeptical kasi in the ITR that was issued to me. I didnt sign the Form 2316 and someone did it for me for the sake of submitting it to the BIR. The signature in the “fake ITR” is different form the rest of my documents. I didnt notice this before hand because it was just scanned. I raised this issue to the management but there was no more time to change it so I submitted my “fake ITR”. My question is, will the embassy be able to notice the difference? Will they be keen in checking the signatures appearing in submitted documents. Thank you.

    • lanilakwatsera says:

      HI Ana,

      I hope things go well for your SK trip. However, based from my experience, the Korean embassy is very particular when it comes to the BIR/TIn numbers. As in they really do check.
      I am currently preparing for my second trip to Seoul (end of this month) and when we passed our visa requirements end of October, my companion’s BIR form was flagged due to irregularities. She had to wait 4 more days and have her documents verified by BIR before she can be given a visa. I hope you can sort it out prior to applying at the embassy so you won’t encounter any delays.
      Thanks and good luck

  10. Ted says:

    hi, question, can i use an ITR 4 years ago? i’ve been working with my current company 3 years now but they only legalized it up until now because of growing overhead expenses. thanks! 😀

    • lanilakwatsera says:

      Hi Ted! I recommend you check personally with the SK embassy. They are very strict when it comes to the ITR and I’ve known people whose application has been delayed due to it. Good luck!

  11. Hello..! Good day… I just need to ask something po. In filling up of a Visa application form, for those not applicable details, Do I have to leave it blank or am I gonna write “not applicable”? . Simple questions but really a big help. Thank you and more power..! 🙂

    • lanilakwatsera says:

      Hi Zharahjane! Many posters in various forums recommend that you put “N/A” or “not applicable” where it applies. Good luck 🙂

  12. Pingback: South Korean Embassy announces new Tourist Visa requirements |

  13. Lilly says:

    Hello!
    I just read your post, it is straight to the point on process. I just a have a few worries, and much more questions to be answered. I want to travel to South Korea as a tourist, and I do have a Korean bf who would help. But in my part, I am not a university student anymore, and I am unemployed. What should I do? I have a bank, but my money is below 10K, and I am trying to save up before the year ends. How much money do I need in my bank account, I have USD dollar account but I only got 300$ saved there. I get income from the house my parents use for rent, so I am handling the business here. but even then, my real concern is I cannot show any employment certificate. I quit my last job during 2013. Help me, I AM really confused.

    Thanks
    Lilly here.

    • lanilakwatsera says:

      Hi Lilly! Thanks for visiting and am sorry for the late response. Part of the important requirements is a bank certificate and now, a bank statement showing the input (and output) of funds. Will your Korean BF sponsor your trip? If yes, you have to inform them that you have a guarantor. There is a step-by-step process and list of requirements indicated at the Korean Embassy website.

  14. Hi! I was wondering what if I’m a fresh graduate (therefore, I don’t belong to the student category anymore 😢) and I’m planning to go to Korea this year. My parents are the ones who will pay for my trip. How do I say that? I’m already an employee, but the financial statements will still come from my parents. Please help me. Thanks so much 🙂

    • lanilakwatsera says:

      Hi Pau! From what I read from other blogs and threads, you must be able to show proof that your parents will pay for the trip. Are they coming with you?

  15. Hi! This year, I booked a flight from Manila to Incheon on January 2016 before getting employed recently by a Japanese company who sent me to Tokyo for work. I then realized it would be such a waste if I couldn’t use that ticket. But good news is the company would shoulder a Tokyo-Manila-Tokyo vacation anytime after my sixth month. And so, I thought maybe having a visa from an economically elite country would help in entering South Korea. I read from another blog (http://www.thelostboylloyd.com/2014/09/taiwan-korea-japan-trip-one-visa.html) that a tourist bearing a valid Japanese Visa or Re-Entry Permit may enter South Korea and be exempted from its visa given that he/she has a confirmed departure ticket after entering. Is it possible that you can confirm that? Thanks in advance!

    • lanilakwatsera says:

      Hi Choi, I am very sorry for the late reply — I have been very busy these past few weeks. Yes, as long as the Japanese visa is valid. I believe you still need a SK visa, unless you will not exit immigration. What makes it sweeter for you is having a valid Japanese visa allows you “automatic” approval for the SK visa.

  16. Joy says:

    Hi! Just want to ask about very small amount in itr, it’s like 379 pesos. Will it affect the whole application? As the money in the bank account is 100k. I hope to hear from you very soon.
    God bless us all!

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