Monday, April 9, 2012

Applying for a Korean Visa in the Philippines

This is it!

All our bags are packed and in less than 10 hours, we are ready to go! Frannywanny is taking a week-long break in Korea! I'm so excited to enjoy the cold weather wrapped in my winter outfits and to see lots of cherry blossoms too! Our itinerary is set and together with some members of The Food Club, we are taking Korea by storm through our tummies! We're ready to eat, eat and to eat some more!
bag tag

While we were lucky to be able to grab a good seat sale deal thanks to Cebu Pacific, we all know that preparing for our trip doesn't end there. Entry to Korea requires a travel visa and luckily, the process was pretty simple. Actually the simplest that I've had compared to preparing for my US or China visas.

korean visa 1
Follow these simple step to apply for a Korean tourist visa for all Philippine passport holders:
1) Download the visa application form and fill all spaces up.  Refer to the second page of the file for a step-by-step guide on how to fill the form up properly.
2) Attached your photo on the form with a glue. Please don't tape or staple your photo as the embassy won't accept this.
3) Gather the following documents:
- Passport (with at least 6 months validity and enough pages to them to stick the visa on)
- Photocopy of the front page of your passport
- Photocopy of all visas from any of the OECD countries. See list here. (Note: this also includes expired OECD visas less than 5 years)

- For employees: prepare your employment certificate (original), personal bank certificate (original), latest ITR (photocopy)

- For entrepreneurs: prepare your personal bank certificate (original), business registration from the SEC or registration from the DTI and Mayor’s Permit (photocopy), and ITR (photocopy)

- Other documents you might also want to have on hand:
- marriage certificate : especially when your passport still has your maiden name
- business permit (photocopy)

4) As soon as you have all documents ready, head to the Consular Office of the Korean Embassy anytime between 9AM to 11AM from Mondays to Fridays. Note that the gates are open as early as 8AM and since parking is pretty limited, I highly recommend that you go early.

5) As you get to the Korean Embassy, you will be asked to log in their visitor's monitoring form at the entrance. Leave an ID to get your gate pass. Head inside and follow the path towards the visa office, get a number from the front desk nearest to the door. Specify if you have an existing/previous visa from any of the OECD countries as you need to go to a separate window.

There are three windows for visa application, Windows 1 and 2 are for those who are first-time traveler (those without a visa from any of the OECD countries) and Window 3 is dedicated for all those with visas issued by any of the OECD countries.

Since Paul and I have been issued a US Visa before, we lined up for window 3. The wait was short, perhaps it's also because we got their early and I made sure to have all documents needed ready. While waiting, I always make it a habit to double triple check my documents and this includes going through the form again making sure I didn't leave any blanks.

6) As soon as your number flashes on the screen above the window, head over and hand all documents to the embassy staff. He/she will check if you got everything complete and you will be handed a white claim card that contains the date of your passport's release.

Passports with OECD visas (Window 3) takes 3 working days processing
Passports without visas (Windows 1 and 2) takes 5 working days processing

Note that this is not a guarantee that your visa has been approved. You'll know come releasing day.  

7) Releasing: On the day stated in the card, go back to the Consular Office of the Korean Embassy from 2 to 4PM. Once again, better to go as early as 1PM. Paul got there at exactly 1 and he got our passports in 30 minutes! It was that quick!

The process is simple: head back to the office, show your claim card. You will be given a number coupon and a stub where you have to write the names of the passports that you will be claiming. Wait for your number and as soon as this flashes on the screen head to the designated window. There, you'll get your passports in minutes!

Note: I was told that there are some instances that your documents still needs some verification (eg: they can't recognize your TIN or questions on your legal papers), better to claim your passports yourself or ask someone close to you to do so just to be able to answer any questions the embassy may have.

Visa Fee:
59 days (or less) stay in Korea -- GRATIS
60 to 90 days stay in Korea -- PHP1,350.00

More than 90 days stay in Korea (not applicable for tourist visa)
- Single Entry -- PHP2,250.00
- Multiple Entry -- PHP3,600.00

There you go! Get your Korean Visa in 7 easy steps! :)

Some might wonder why go through all the hassle when you can just employ a travel agent to do this for you. Well you could... but given how OC (obsessive compulsive) I am when it comes to my travel documents, I chose to do it on my own and pay nothing. Travel agencies will charge you a fee ranging from P400 to P1000 per head to process your travel visa for you and this once again does not guarantee that you'll instantly be granted one. I'd rather do it on my own, handle all possible inquiries and enjoy additional pocket money in the end! 

For more information on other forms of Korean visas and exemptions, visit this site

Embassy of the Republic of Korea
122 Upper McKinley Road, McKinley Town Center,
Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City 1634

Tel : (63-2) 856-9210 Fax : (63-2) 856-9008
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