How to apply for a South Korean tourist visa in Manila & Cebu

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I was so elated last Tuesday when I saw my South Korean tourist visa attached to my new passport. Although I wasn’t totally worried that I will be denied, that feeling of uncertainty really lingered on that day and right up to the releasing section when I queued and one by one, the priority numbers were called out and the passports returned. Ah, South Korea. I didn’t expect to visit this country this year as I had other plans but an invitation to exhibit my photography work, The New Cathedrals, made me change my plans. Is getting a South Korean tourist visa easy for Filipinos?

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First thing that you have to know, there are two offices where you can apply for a tourist visa: 1) at the Embassy of the Republic of South Korea in Taguig City (along C5 w/c is beside the British Embassy) and if your based in the Visayas, 2) The Consulate of the Republic of South Korea at the Cebu Business Park near Ayala Center Cebu. Second to note, I have a sponsor for this visa application so that is also the main difference to regular tourist visa applications. Now, the process:

Korea invite form
If you have a sponsor, the letter of invitation should be in this format. It’s not available online.

Check out the latest requirements at the official site which you can find HERE. Note that there are certain requirements if you’re an employee. In my case, as I’m a freelancer and have a business, I fall under the Businessman category. For the latter, the requirements are below:

1. Application Form – you have to download this from their site. The link is readily available. You can also get the form at the embassy or consulate and fill it out there. Please strictly follow instructions. They also provide paste and staplers and pens but better bring your own pen.

2. 1 piece of Passport size colored picture – the size is very specific: 3.5cm x 4.5cm. Most photo studios who offer passport ID photos know this and just tell them for what visa you are applying

3. Original Passport – should be valid for more than 6 months

4. Photocopy of Passport Bio-page (page 2)

5. Original & Photocopy of valid visa/s and arrival stamps to OECD member countries for the past 5 years (If applicable only) – I have traveled to Schengen countries and twice in Japan so I included photocopies as well as my old passport where the visas have been pasted

6. Photocopy of Business Registration from SEC or DTI

7. Photocopy of Business Permit or Mayor’s Permit

8. Original Personal Bank Certificate – must include account type, current balance, account opening date, ADB. Tell the bank what you need and they will generate the certification. In BPI, they charge P100 for this.

9. Bank Statement – original or certified true copy of bank statements/passbook for the last 3 months

10. Photocopy of ITR (Income Tax Return) or Form 2316 – no need if you’re a frequent traveler or one who has traveled to OECD countries before

11. Copy of PRC Card or IBP Card (If applicable only)

12. If personally invited by Korean

  • Invitation Letter – this is important. The letter must be in a specific form which they only gave me when I was already at the embassy
  • Photocopy of invitor’s Passport or Identification Card (authentication not required)

13. If invited by Company in Korea

  • Invitation Letter
  • Photocopy of Korean Company Business Permit (authentication not required)

Processing Time

  • 3 working days (for those who have been to OECD member countries within 5 years as tourist
  • 5 working days (for those who have not been to OECD member countries within 5 years)

Visa Fee

  • 59 days (or less) stay in Korea — GRATIS (free)
  • 60 to 90 days stay in Korea — PHP1,800.00

Some important notes:

  • Visa applications are done in the morning starting at 0830H and passport releasing during afternoon, at 1330H for both locations
  • Although I was pleased I can just apply in Cebu where I am from, the one who accepts the application told me they don’t have a 3 day processing for frequent travelers unlike at the embassy where this is possible
  • As I have a sponsor, I got to know of the invitation form when I submitted in Cebu. I had to ask my sponsor again to make a letter of invitation in the form the consulate gave me. Check above.
  • As long as you have all the requirements, you don’t have to worry. As for those that you lack, do make a letter of explanation why you don’t have that particular requirement
  • On bank accounts. This is contentious and the embassy or the consulate really doesn’t tell you how much you should have. A simple guide: know at least the average daily budget if your traveling to South Korea and multiply that to the number of days you are there. That should be your minimum amount at the bank.
  • Submission and release is very straightforward and quick. I was told, however, that at the embassy, be early. Even before it opens, people already list up so that they can go in and finish early. It opens at 0830H and I was there as early as 0630H. I was fourth in line already.
  • If you don’t want to queue, apply at an agency and they will just tell you to go at the embassy at a specific time as they will line up for you
  • For a list of OECD member countries, check it HERE
Stan Cabigas is freelance photographer, blogger and writer based in Makati City, the Philippines. A true blue Cebuano, he makes stunning images and meaningful photo stories. His work has been published in local and international publications including National Geographic Magazine, Geo (Germany), Sunday Times Magazine (London). His personal Photography work has been exhibited in Asia and Europe including Paris, Seoul and around the ASEAN regional capitals. He is also a peripatetic traveler and has been to all 81 Philippines provinces.

Open for work, collaboration and inquiry for site features. Check out his portfolio.

22 thoughts on “How to apply for a South Korean tourist visa in Manila & Cebu

  1. Hello, so those who have traveled to OECD countries do not need to submit a copy of ITR or Form 2316 at the consulate in Cebu? Just wish to confirm as I’ve read conflicting information on other sites that the Cebu consulate requires the ITR or Form 2316 copy to be authenticated and stamped by the BIR. It would be nice to not have to line up at the RDO just for this. Thanks in advance for your response 🙂

  2. Y,

    Yes, no need if you’re considered a frequent traveler, esp, to OECD countries.

  3. Hello, I have seen the invitation letter format you posted above. Is it the same format for applicants personally invited by a Korean? Thank you.

  4. good dau. can i view the invitation form letter thatbyou have with u.thanks

  5. Hello Mary, yes, I think so.

  6. Im from Davao City can I apply in Cebu instead?

  7. Is it easier for them to grant the visa if you have a sponsor? Thanks^^

  8. Yes, as long as documents are complete

  9. Hi! How long was the passport claimed on the claimig date? Did it take a while?
    My claiming date is actually on the day my flight is scheduled. Korean consulate in Cebu changed 5 days to 7 days visa processing.

  10. If you’ve been denied in Manila. Can you still apply in Cebu?

  11. If you’re denied at either, I think there’s a minimum number of months before you can apply. But just please check.

  12. Rusheila Pajarito says:

    Can one person process the visa for 5 person?

  13. Hi @estan you mentioned in your post that there is a specific form of invitation letter that we need to follow, where can we look for that form of invitation letter? does the embassy provide that form? is it downloadable? thanks

  14. Myra, please check the post, its there. It was just given to me and was told to follow the format.

  15. Hello Sir..
    I have something to ask if what are the requirements needed for korean tourist visa.?because My employer is korean and wants me to go on vacation with her for 1or 2 mons.. But i don’t a bank account and itr ..how can i make visa in this situation sir?

  16. Johnson S Demanwu says:

    Hello i saw the application form
    Can i only get that form through a Korea citizen!?

  17. The forms are available online and at the embassy

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