South Korea has been a popular travel destination for Filipinos nowadays. Fans of Korean dramas flock there to visit the filming locations and try out the foods seen in dramas and there are some fans of K-pop who go there to watch concerts and music shows and go to places where they might see their oppas and unnies like in celebrity-owned cafes, restaurants or clubs. There are also some Filipinos who just want to try and experience the cold for a change since Philippines is a tropical country where it’s “summer” all-year round.
Unfortunately, Filipinos must have a Korean visa to be able to set foot on Korean soil. Over the years, the visa policy has been changed, making it easier for tourists to visit their country for travel. It is Korea’s strategy to attract more tourists and boost the country’s tourism. As long as you have all the required documents, the process is fast and easy.
As part of the prize I got from winning the Korean speech contest, I will be going to Korea for a week and attend a short course at Kyunghee University. My friends who have been to Korea told me to apply for my visa at least a month before your scheduled travel date. A couple of weeks ago, I started gathering the requirements. I sent an email to KCC requesting for the letter that I need to submit to the embassy. My mom and sister also prepared their own documents because they are going with me to Korea.
Having all the requirements prepared, we headed to the Korean embassy yesterday to submit our documents. I was really nervous so I checked the documents before leaving the house. I even thoroughly scanned the application forms a couple of times, making sure that everything has been filled up. I was worried on the way there because I was wearing a pair of sandals but I was relieved to see a woman standing outside the embassy wearing flip flops.
Upon entering the building, I was surprised to see that there were already a lot of people waiting for their numbers to be called and there was line to have your documents checked before submitting it to the consul. Using of phones and taking of pictures aren’t allowed so I don’t have pictures to show what it was like inside the building.
Before lining up, I made sure everything was arranged according to the order written on the list then we sat down after having our documents checked and waited for our number to be called. Seeing that there were a lot of people, I was worried that we might have to wait for a long time before our turn comes but it was surprisingly fast. Before I knew it, our number was called and we went to window 1. The lady scanned through our documents and returned the things that weren’t needed (it doesn’t hurt to be over prepared lol). She looked at my letter from KCC and asked if we were traveling as a family and I said yes then she gave us a piece of paper to be presented when we come back to claim our passports. The process was fast and we were out of the building in less than 30 minutes. To say that I was impressed is an understatement.
I wish it was that fast in BIR too. Ehem! Ehem! *grins*
We have to wait for at least 5 working days to claim our passports. I’m hoping and praying that my mom, sister and I will each get an approved Korean visa. *crosses fingers*
Anyway, here are some things that people might find useful.
Embassy of the Republic of Korea in the Republic of the Philippines
Address: 122 Upper McKinley Road, McKinley Town Center, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City 1634, Philippines
Tel: (63-2) 856-9210, Fax: (63-2) 856-9008 | Hours of Operation: 08:30 ~ 17:00 (Mon-Fri)
Visa Applications: 08:30 AM – 11:00 AM
Claiming of Passports: 01:30 PM – 4:00 PM
For first time applicants: 5 working days
For frequent travelers: 3-4 working days
LIST OF REQUIREMENTS
For the complete list of requirements, click on this link –> Korean Visa Requirements.
— You can download it from the website of the embassy.
— I’m not sure if it’s required but I saw “210mm×297mm [백상지 80g/㎡(재활용품)” written on the bottom right of the application form so I decided to use A4-sized 80 gsm or substance 24 paper just to be sure coz you never know.
— Fill it up and make sure there are no erasures. Put n/a instead of leaving a field blank.
— Make sure your passport is valid for more than 6 months. If not, better renew it first before applying for a passport.
— If you don’t have a passport yet, prepare the documents and go to the DFA office in your city.
— In some cities, the DFA office doesn’t accept walk-in applicants (unless you’re a senior citizen, below 1 year old, person with disability or an overseas Filipino worker). You have to call the DFA office to set an appointment first. Some offices get a lot of applicants that sometimes you have to wait a month or two just to be able to set an appointment.
— If you are in a rush and you can’t schedule an appointment because there is no open slot, go to a travel agency. You will have to pay more but it will be faster.
— Bring your old passport as well just in case they ask to see it. You never know.
— Photocopy the bio page. Make sure it’s clear and details can be read easily.
BANK CERTIFICATE AND STATEMENT OF ACCOUNT
— You can request these documents from your bank for a minimal fee. I got mine at BDO and I paid P100 each for the bank certificate and the bank statement.
— Make sure all the necessary details are on the certificate and statement and make sure they are correct. The certificate given to me had a lot of mistakes or lack a few details that were needed so I had it corrected and I didn’t leave the branch until I was sure that everything was fixed.
— There is no rule on how much money you should have in your bank account but just make sure that it is more than the budget you stated in the application form.
— Do not withdraw your money before your visa has been issued.
— I’m not sure if they have a dress code but please come in proper attire. No slippers, “pekpek” shorts, spaghetti strap tank tops etc. You are going to an office so wrap yourself up in decent clothing. A mentor told me that there are consuls who also observe and evaluate you based on your appearance and behavior as well.
— Make sure you have all the requirements and arrange them according to the order in the list. If you have other documents that you think is important and they might ask to see such as old passports, just bring it with you and prepare a photocopy of it.
— Check the official website for announcements.
— For BDO Gold and Elite, BPI Gold Master, SkyMiles Platinum Master, Amore Visa Platinum and Gold BPI Express Teller Debit cardholders, there is an ongoing promo that if you apply with your card, you will get a multiple entry visa for 3-5 years, depending on what card you have. Also, if you have any of the cards mentioned, you are exempted from submitting a bank certificate and ITR. *Eligible applicants are not automatically issued a multiple entry visa. Issuance of visa whether single or multiple entry is subject for approval of the consul in-charge.
Good luck in applying for a Korean visa. Just an additional note before I end this post. If you don’t have a Korean visa but still want to go to Korea, you can go to Jeju Island. It’s just as awesome as Seoul, probably even better if you’re the type of traveler who wants a vacation away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Thanks for reading and I hope you find it useful. If you have any questions, you can reach me through the Contact page or leave a comment below. Just a little reminder though, I do not work for the embassy so I may not have answers to all the questions. ^^;;