After my successful South Korea trip last autumn, I felt the need to share my experience, from the day we planned our trip to the last day of the trip. On this part of the series, I have collated some frequently asked questions for South Korea visa for Filipino applicants. Here are some FAQs and answers based on both personal experience and experiences of other travelers. I hope this FAQ can guide you on your South Korea visa application.

The early morning mist shrouds Nami Island, a popular tourist destination for travelers.

 1. How do I apply for a South Korean tourist visa?

I have dedicated a separate post for this, South Korea Visa Application, Requirements and Tips.

 2. What are the requirements for Korean visa application?

I have dedicated a separate post for this, South Korea Visa Application, Requirements and Tips.

 3. Do I need a travel agency to apply?

There is no need to avail the services of a travel agency. Applying for a Korean visa is not complicated and you can do it yourself.

(Important Update) Due to the influx of applicants for tourist/visitor’s visa, the South Korean embassy has now barred walk-in applicants. Applicants must now employ the services of the travel agencies which the embassy have approved.

(Important Update – May 29, 2018) In May 29, 2018, the embassy has officially announced that it will cease transacting with walk-in applicants starting July 1, 2018. For the list of travel agencies accredited by the Korean embassy, please click here.

 4. Is flight ticket required on submission of visa application requirements?

No, flight ticket is not a requirement for visa application. Some travelers booked their flight only after receiving approval of their tourist visa. This way, their money won’t be wasted in case their visa is denied. However, if based on your self-assessment, you are confident that your visa application will be approved, then you can book your flights prior to your visa application.

 5. Is itinerary required upon visa application?

Itinerary is not required during visa application.

 6. Is hotel booking required for visa application?

Hotel booking is not required for visa application. However, it is advisable to have an idea of your accommodation because it is a required field on the application form. Contact details and address of the place where you’re going to stay are required. If you’re not sure which hotel you are going to stay, just place any hotel you find online. Some applicants placed details of accommodations without actually booking them while some booked before visa application and then cancelled it upon visa approval.

 7. When should I apply for Korean visa?

Apply within three months of your actual travel date. A regular Korean tourist visa allows the holder to enter South Korea within three months from the issue date. A visa approved on September 26 can enter South Korea until December 26, 2017.

 8. I had a difficult time collating the requirements and was only able to submit the requirements a week before my intended travel date. Will it be fine?

Keep in mind that it takes at least five WORKING days to process visa. It is always a good practice to allot an allowance between actual travel date and visa application. 

Don’t be like our friend. She submitted her requirements two Fridays before her scheduled travel. This gave her six working days before her travel. Unfortunately, Monday is a Korean holiday, hence, she would only know her fate the day before her actual travel date, i.e. her visa was to be released on Friday afternoon while her flight is the following day. Thankfully, her application was approved.

P.S. There is a very important update on this; please refer to question # 21.

 9. I have neither certificate of employment nor ITR. What can I do?

Visa application assessors are quite keen on the applicant’s financial capabilities. However, there were some whose applications were approved in spite the lack of certificate of employment or ITR/2316. Instead of ITR and 2316, they submitted a cover letter explaining why they have neither of these two documents. The more believable and dramatic the letter, the better.

For freelancers, they can submit certifications from their clients proving that the visa applicant work for them. It is to the applicant’s advantage if the certification contains what the applicant do for them, the date the applicant was hired, the amount of they pay the applicant and other details the applicant may deem necessary to prove that he can support his travel to South Korea.

This symbolical monument can be found in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) along the border of South and North Korea.

 10. Is there a required minimum average daily balance (ADB)?

As far as I know, there is no required minimum average daily balance but as the adage goes, the higher the ADB the better the chances for approval although it is not always the case. There were some whose ADBs were substantially high but were still rejected.

 11. How much money should I have on my bank account for my visa application to be approved?

I am not aware of any minimum amount. Although the embassy doesn’t explicitly say it, I am pretty sure that they have a gauge on how to measure your financial capacity. I have applied with about PHP 70,000 bank balance for a 13-day stay and still got approved.

I guess the key take away here is that you have sufficient money to support your length of stay. Moreover, it is important for the assessors to see that you have a constant stream of money flowing into your account. It is a prima facie evidence that you have a stable job and income. Please note that a substantial bank account balance doesn’t guarantee approval. There were some who had substantial amounts in their bank accounts but still their visa got denied.

 12. What is OECD and what does it stand for?

OECD stands for Organisaton for Economic Co-operation and Development. Established on December 14, 1960 with 20 original members, it aims to stimulate economic progress and world trade. Since then, 15 more countries have joined the organization.

 13. What countries comprise the OECD?

Below is the list of the member-countries of the OECD:

Australia Hungary Poland
Austria Iceland Portugal
Belgium Ireland Slovakia
Canada Israel Slovenia
Chile Italy South Korea
Czech Republic Japan Spain
Denmark Latvia Sweden
Estonia Luxembourg Switzerland
Finland Mexico Turkey
France Netherlands United Kingdom
Germany New Zealand United States
Greece Norway

 14. I’ve been to an OECD member country. What advantage do I have over those who haven’t been to one?

Applicants with OECD visas issued within five years of Korean visa application are not required to submit annual income tax return.

 15. Does having an OECD tourist visa guarantee my visa approval?

Having an OECD member country tourist visa is not a guarantee of visa approval.

 16. I was invited by a Korean national/company. What should I do? Is it a guarantee that my visa application will be approved?

If you were personally invited by a Korean national, you must attach the invitation letter and a photocopy of the invitor’s passport or identification card to your visa application.

If you were personally invited by a Korean company, you must attach the invitation letter and a photocopy of the company’s Korean business permit.

Please note that an invitation letter in itself is not a guarantee for visa approval. It will still all depend on all the documents you have submitted.

 17. Where do I submit the requirements?

Important note: Due to changes, the embassy and the consulate are no longer accepting walk-in applicants. Everyone who wants to apply for a Korean Visa must hire one of the embassy’s accredited travel agencies. You may refer to question number 3.

You can submit the documents to either of the following:

122 Upper McKinley Road, McKinley Town Center, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig city 1634, Philippines
Email Address:
Contact No.: (63-2) 856-9210 visa local no. 270, 500

12th Floor Chinabank Corporate Center, Lot 2, Samar Loop Cor. Road 5, Cebu Business Park, Mabolo, Cebu City
Email Address:
Contact No.: (63-32) 231-1516(-9)

 18. Is my presence required on submission?

No. Visa processing is through travel agencies.

 19. I placed a cover letter to explain something. Will the Embassy accept?

From what I’ve read from other bloggers, the Embassy will accept it.

 20. Is there a visa fee?

For those staying for less than 60 days, visa application is in gratis (free). For those staying for 60 to 90 days, visa fee is PHP 1,800.00.

(Important Update) Applicants for express visa, as cited in question # 21, are required to pay PHP 1,000.00. 

Ulsan Bawi, a famed rock ridge located in Sokcho, Gangwon, is a sight to behold.

 21. How long does it take for my my visa to be processed?

Waiting time is three working days for those with OECD visas while five working for those without.

(Very Important Update) Due perhaps to the influx of visa applicants, the number of working days to process South Korea C-3 (temporary visitor’s) visas has exponentially increased. From five working days, it started increasing, from 10 days to 18 and now, to a maximum of 30 to 35 days. Please take this into consideration when planning your South Korea trip. There were travelers who had to cancel their trips at the last minute because of this abrupt and unfavorable development. Visa release dates are being announced every Monday through the embassy’s visa announcements.

However, there are exemptions from above. C-3 visa applicants can apply for express visa under the following circumstances:

1. The applicant was invited by Korean government and public agency;
2. The applicant was invited by a Korean company, school and organization;
3. The family members of Korean (parents, spouse, children, family of spouse, etc.);
4. The direct family members of foreigner who stay in Korea with registered alien card;
5. The applicant needs urgent medical treatment, with accidents and with humanitarian reason;
6. The applicant has official request from Philippine government office; or
7. The applicant who doesn’t belong to #1-6 but recognized urgent matter for better diplomacy relationship.

 25. My visa application was approved. How long can I stay in Korea?

For regular applicants whose applications were approved, approved length of stay is usually 59 days. My friend who had a multiple visa entry approved, her length of stay is only 30 days.

 26. Is it possible to apply for a multiple-entry visa?

If you’re qualified, yes, you can apply for multiple-entry visa. Until December 31, 2019, holders of any of the following credit cards can apply for a multiple-entry visa and are EXEMPTED from providing bank certificates and ITR:

BDO Gold Cardholders: 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: multiple-entry visa valid for 3-5years
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: multiple-entry visa valid for 3 years
BPI SkyMiles Platinum Master Card

BPI SkyMiles Platinum Master Card and BPI Amore Visa Platinum cardholders: multiple-entry visa valid for 3-5 years.

Gold BPI Express Teller Debit Cardholders: multiple-entry visa valid for 3-5 years.

My friend is a BPI Gold Master Cardholder and had a multiple-entry visa effective for three years approved even though she didn’t apply for her.

  27. My application was denied. Can I appeal with the Embassy? 

Some had tried. Some got their denial reversed but most of the time, their visa denials were upheld.

 28. My visa application was denied. Can I apply again?

Yes, but only after six months has lapsed from the date of denial. An alternative is to reapply through the Cebu Consulate. According to fellow travelers, the consulate don’t follow the six-month rule that is being observed in the Manila office.

The famed Blue House, South Korea’s seat of power. It is the official residence of the country’s president.