South Korea, on top of many K-Pop Filipinos' bucket lists, has reopened to tourists after two years of tight border controls and one crucial requirement that needs to be secured before planning an itinerary is a visa.
Travel in the new normal just isn’t the same as it was, but don’t let those plans gather dust in the back of your mind. Below, we list down everything you need to know to apply for a tourist visa in South Korea.
Here’s how to apply for a tourist or C-3-9 visa for South Korea:
Visa applications are processed from Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Applicants can line up as early as 6:30 a.m. An ID must be surrendered to get the queue number from the embassy entrance.
Once inside the embassy, you will be assigned a booth and a new queue number for that specific booth. Wait for your turn and present the documents.
List of requirements
- Visa application form with photo
- Photocopy of biodata page of passport
- Photocopy of Visas to OECD countries and stamps
- Certificate of employment with start date, role, and compensation
- Bank certificate with average daily balance
- Bank statements covering the past 3 months
- Income Tax Return (BIR Form 2316)
The embassy representative will check the requirements in this exact order so stack them accordingly.
Photos used must be 35 x 45 mm and have a white background. It’s best to show up to your photo appointment wearing formal attire, but some studios offer to edit over your clothes so you only have to worry about your smile. Ask your studio if they offer such services.
When taking the photograph, all hair must be at the back, with both ears shown, with no earrings, piercings, or accessories. If you’ve got a good photo from 2010, you can’t use it anymore as the photo presented must be taken within 6 months of the application.
Paste it on the first page of the application form. Paste is available at the embassy in case you forget to stick it on, but best glue it ahead of time for a hassle-free application.
The form must be printed on A4 size paper. One-sided printing only. The form is available for download online and can be filled out on a device then printed. Sign it after it’s been printed.
Forms are also available at the embassy’s receiving area which you can manually fill out with a pen.
Photocopy of passport and visas
Photocopy the first page of your signed valid passport. If you have visas for other countries or you previously traveled to South Korea, photocopy those too along with the immigration stamps on your passport. There are no specifics for paper size, but it’s best to use A4 to match the application form size.
If these visas and stamps are inside an expired passport, bring both your current and expired passport during the application. Both passports will be taken in.
Certificate of employment and ITR
Your certificate of employment must contain the day you started working for the company, what your current role is, and how much you currently make. Your ITR will match this data. Both documents may be retrieved from your company’s HR department.
For your bank certificate, it must indicate the day the account was opened, how much the current balance is, along with the average daily balance. Certificates may take a day to process as managers have to sign the document. Check with your bank to prevent delays in your application.
Bank statements must cover transactions for the last three months. Depending on your bank, you may be charged for extra pages if you transact a lot using the account.
On the day of your application
South Korean visa applications have no interviews. All you have to do is present all the requirements plus your passport, which they will take. You will also be given a claim stub.
Processing takes five working days. During this time, your passport will be with the embassy and cannot be retrieved before the claiming date.
If you went on a Monday, you’ll get your passport next Monday. If you went on Wednesday, you’ll get it next Wednesday.
Take note that the embassy reserves the right to grant or reject an application.
Claiming your passport
Issuance of passports is done Mondays to Fridays, 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Bring your claim stub and a valid ID.
Surrender your ID to the embassy entrance and get a number. Once inside, get a separate queue number for passport claiming. Write your full name and phone number on the back of the claim stub and wait for your turn.
Present your stub to the booth and check your passports and visa. Double-check the information on the printed visa before leaving the premises as the embassy will no longer entertain any corrections once you’ve left.
Keep in mind that the embassy reserves the right to grant or reject a visa. There is no sure way to get a visa, or even be provided a multiple entry visa. Validity of visa will also depend on the embassy.
The visa issued will be a formal document stapled to your passport, unlike during pre-pandemic times when a sticker is placed on a page of your passport. Keep your passport in a dry, safe place to maintain the paper’s best condition.
Families may apply for visas together, provided that you list the names of all travelers in the application form. One person can bring all the requirements on behalf of all travelers.
While a single representative can bring the documents to the embassy, there may be times when information, signatures, or other documents are missing. If your party is planning to apply through one person, ensure that all documents are complete to avoid hassle.
Missing or incorrect documents means having to return to the embassy to submit the application.