How To Apply For A South Korea Tourist Visa

Because of my recent fascination about all things Korean, I decided to avail the Travel Factor BACKPACKING Korea package tour.

In a nutshell, this travel package consists of a walking tour of 1) Seoul, 2) Nami Island (the ad said that this is one of the locations for koreanovela shoots - I wouldn't know, I still haven't got around watching KDramas), and 3) the DMZ (this would be interesting, given the recent turn of events between the Koreas), among others.  Being a backpacking tour, the accommodations will be a bit on the frugal side (albeit decent - the Seoul Hostel looks good from the Net), which is okay for me since I don't mind travelling inexpensively.

What interested me most is that this is WINTER trip--scheduled on mid-February 2011.  I've never experienced snow before, so I'm really hoping that I can have at least one snow day during the trip. *please oh please oh please*

Astig 'no? Pati 'yung K9 na nagbabantay sa embassy kume-KPop hehe.

First things first; to be able to make this trip, I must obtain a South Korea Tourist Visa.  South Korea isn't an ASEAN member, thus a Philippine passport holder needs a visa to be able to travel in this country.  I am a first-time applicant, and I had no idea about the requirements and application process--only after reading through the Web was I able to gather enough information to know what to do. So far, my visa application was successful, so in turn I would like to share MY personal tips on how to apply for a tourist visa to South Korea.
Here we go.

THE REQUIREMENTS

Visa requirements are handed out upon visit to the South Korea Embassy.



The slip above was given to me on the day I applied for the visa.  I guess that these are standard requirements that people should have prior to applying for any kind of visa.
  1. Application form - this can be downloaded online (search for the website of the South Korea Embassy), but I've noticed that the application form they handed out had a different format than what was uploaded.
  2. 1 pc. Passport sized colored picture - White background, with collar.  I had my picture taken at Tronix, but they tend to edit out the blemishes.  I specifically requested that they give me an unedited copy, in case that the embassy is strict about "photoshopped" images.
  3. Passport Original 6 mos. valid
  4. Copy of Passport first page
  5. Original & Copy of U.S., New Zealand, Japan, Australia, Korea and Canada Visa (if there is) - this particularly useful in *expediting* your visa application.  Also, having these will raise the chances of visa application approval.  Expired visa is also accepted.
  6. Employment Certificate original - Important details are tenure, compensation, and landline number.
  7. Personal Bank Certificate original - I recommend requesting for a bank certificate a week before the day you plan to apply, to be picked up a day or so before the application day.  This way the balance written on the bank certificate is as fresh as it can be.  It should indicate the amount of money in the bank and the date it was opened.
  8. ITR (Income Tax Return) or form 2316 Copy - Your company's payroll department should be able to certify your 2316 copy.  All it needs is a signature from the payroll resource.
Upon releasing of visa application result, only the passport will be returned.  So if there are documents that you need to be returned, just submit a photocopy (certified true copy if possible) of those documents during application.

HOW TO GET THERE

View Larger Map 


Address: 122 Upper McKinley Road, McKinley Town Center,
Fort Bonifacio, Taguig city 1634, Philippines
Phone: (63-2) 856-9210 Fax: (63-2) 856-9008, 9019
Email: philippines@mofat.go.kr 


It's fairly easy to reach the South Korea Embassy by car.

If you're coming from the Pasig area, you can use C-5 southbound (i.e. going to SLEX).  Once you see the Petron gas station (after the down ramp from Market! Market!), position yourself at the outer lane.  The South Korea Embassy is just a bit after Petron.

If you're coming from Makati, either go through McKinley Road or Lawton Avenue (the road that goes through the barracks).  Enter McKinley Hill, through Upper McKinley Road.  The South Korea Embassy is just at the end of Upper McKinley road.

If you're going via public transportation, I recommend taking a taxi.  The drivers know how to go to the South Korea Embassy.  There are jeepneys and buses that come near the area, but generally, the site isn't really a commuter-friendly place.  Rather than wasting your effort on cut-rides, take a taxi instead.

TIPS AND TRICKS

Some notices posted in the embassy.  I'll share the important details. 


Visa application is strictly walk-in; there are no appointments.  9AM-12N is the window for applying.  The afternoon (2PM to 4PM) is for the releasing of visas.  The South Korea Embassy is closed during holidays, and the dates are more or less the same with our holidays.

The standard period for releasing visas is 3 days to less than a week.  You may request for early release of visa application result, but only if your reason for travel is a business/medical one.  They do not accept requests for early release of visa application result if you're only going there for leisure.

Contact number in Korea is very important, please don't forget to fill out the contact number of your guarantor or your hotel in Korea. This is the highlighted note in the image to the right.  For a "dummy" contact/place, just search for a place in the Net, such as the Seoul Hostel I mentioned earlier.

The validity of the visa is usually 3 months.  So make sure that your planned trip is within that period.

No visa processing fee is required for Filipino citizens.  Only foreigners that apply for a visa in the South Korea Embassy here in the Philippines will be charged a visa processing fee. Yay for us!

Proxy application?  I'm not too sure about that. I recommend applying personally, the process is simple enough to not course it through a travel agency.  Maybe you can have someone pick up the passport for you, all they need is the claiming stub.

Well, that's about it.  It's really easy and fast to apply for a South Korea Tourist Visa, as long as you have the complete and correct documents.  So with that, I wish you luck in your application, and hope that the results will be as positive as mine.

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