Sunday, November 27, 2016

#kolokoytravels - South Korea - Filling Up Your Visa Application Form

I've undergone the process of applying for a Korean Visa twice already. The first one was last November 2015 and I was given a single entry visa. The second one was last August 2016 and was given multiple entry for 3 years.

The funny thing here is that I was actually more nervous about my second visa application than my first one. Maybe its the adrenaline rush of last minute application as my intended flight was November 28, 2015 while I only applied November 17, 2015. Ten days. Haha! I would not forget it as it was the day before the APEC summit 2015 and therefore a long holiday. What I did at that time is to secure myself a visa first before purchasing a flight to Seoul. Since my bank account was quite impressive at that time, I didn't worry much of getting approved or declined since I do not have my flight tickets yet. I was approved November 25, 2015.

My second time is a different story. I was very nervous about this because the plane tickets for our "Seoul in September" had already been paid in full, and my bank account was not that impressive as it used to be. I was really worried about the possibility of my application getting rejected. Good thing I came across BPI's Imagine Your Korea promo, and secured myself one. See my story here.

Both application processes for these South Korea tourist visas are one of the smoothest and least painful that one would ever had to endure. My actual travel time of two hours is way longer than the visa application process itself which only took 20 minutes at most. I actually timed my second visa application. Haha! It was so organized that I must have spent no more than 45 minutes at the embassy on both times. It really had me wishing that someday this darned country learn or at least can implement such efficient way of acquiring national documents.

Here's my take on the steps to apply for a South Korea tourist visa. Please note that this is for "FOR EMPLOYEES" type.


Here are the documents that all applicants need to file.

1. A completed visa application form.
-You can download it here.
- It can be handwritten or typed. My first one was handwritten while I had it typewritten on my second application.
- It must be in A4 size paper.
- Do not leave anything blank. Put N/A if not applicable.
- National Identity No - put N/A as we Filipinos do not have one.
- DETAILS OF VISA ISSUANCE CONFIRMATION - This is only for those who possess confirmation of visa issuance issued by the Immigration Office of the Republic of Korea. Put N/A.
- Passport Type - Tick Regular unless you have otherwise.
Don’t leave anything blank. Just put N/A if not applicable.
- DETAILS OF SPONSOR - Unless you have someone over there to sponsor you, just put N/A. I personally believe applying without a sponsor is easier as it involves less documents and less interrogation from customs officials.
- Intended Period of Stay - For those whose bank account with Php50,000 or lower, setting 3-4 days on this section is a common practice since it means less expenses and therefore less explanation on your financial capabilities. You are guaranteed 15 days of entry once approved anyway.
- Intended Date of Entry - Single-entry tourists visa are good for 3 months from their date of issue, so I suggest applying 1-2 months before your trip.
- Address and Contact Numbers in Korea(including hotels) - You can do mock booking on sites like Agoda, Booking and Expedia, all of which offers free cancellation for worst case scenarios.
- Estimated travel costs(in US dollars) - I entered $1000 for a 6 day trip.
2. 3.5 cm x 4.5 cm colored passport photo with plain white background.
- Smile without teeth is ok. Haha!
3. Philippine passport.
- As with most countries, it should have at least 6 months remaining validity. Submit without jacket or cover.
4. Photocopy of passport bio page (page 2).
- I provided a colored photocopy.


1. Original certificate of employment to be printed on your company’s official letterhead. It must contain your position at the company, date hired, salary, office address, HR landline number (cell-phone number is not allowed), and HR e-mail address.
2. Photocopy of income tax return (ITR Form 2316).
- Frequent travelers who have traveled as tourists to OECD member countries within the last 5 years are exempt from submitting an ITR.
3. Original personal bank certificate. It must include account type, current balance, account opening date, and 6 months average balance (ADB).
- Whenever I explain to someone what 6 months ADB is, I always tell them that if you wish to travel to South Korea in July, you have to make sure you have at least Php50,000 on your bank way back from January.
4. Original or certified true copy of bank statements / passbook for the last three (3) months.
- #s 2,3, and 4 is not required when you have a BDO or BPI Gold or higher credit cards but I still brought one just in case.
5. Original and photocopy of valid visa(s) and arrival stamps to OECD member countries within the last 5 years.
-Valid visas to OECD member countries will greatly increase your chances of getting approved so be sure to submit these if you have them. The easiest one to acquire is Japan.
6. If invited by a Korean national, you must also provide an invitation letter and photocopy of your invitor’s passport or ID card.
7. If invited by a company in Korea, you must also provide an invitation letter and photocopy of the Korean company’s business permit.
8. Copy of PRC or IBP card (if applicable).


Once you’ve compiled all the requirements, you can proceed to the embassy (address at the bottom of this post). Scheduling an appointment is not necessary. According to their website, applicants may file their applications at the Consular Office from 8:30-11 am only. Please arrive before 10:30 am to allow time for processing. Mondays to Fridays. If you plan on staying in Korea for 59 days or less, then the application is FREE of charge (GRATIS). For stays of 60-90 days, the fee is PHP 1,800.

Frequent travelers and holders of valid OECD-member visas and those who have BDO or BPI Gold or higher credit cards will be directed to window 3 (even for first timers), while first-time travelers will be asked to proceed to windows 1 or 2. After they’ve called your number and reviewed your documents, they’ll give you a claim slip with a tentative release date for your passport.

As mentioned  above, the entire process — from the moment I logged at the entrance to receiving the claim stub — took no more than 20 minutes. Very efficient system they have here. Really. Just wow.


Once you’ve submitted your application, there’s little else to do but wait and pray for the best. The processing time for applicants with valid OECD-member visas and those with BPI and BDO Gold or higher credit cards is 3 business days, and 5 business days for those without. Releasing time is from 1:30-4 pm only.

When claiming your passport, be sure to write your name and contact number at the back of your claim slip. Depending on the strength of your application, you may be asked to provide additional documents and/or be subjected to an interview. Thankfully, I had none of that on both of my applications.

Or I would not be writing this post. Haha!

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)

Going southbound on C5, turn right soon as you pass SM Aura. You’ll see a Petron / Jollibee / Shakeys shortly after. The exit to Upper McKinley Road will come immediately after this, with the embassy almost at the start of the exit. I used Grab on both occasions so I'm not really sure about parking. I've read though that the nearest parking is around the Tuscany complex.

I’m not an expert on South Korea tourist visas. Like most every one else, I'm just a lowly traveler and this is my way of giving back to the community. I’ll try to help as much as I can but please understand that my knowledge is  limited to my personal  experience only. Please be sure to check the embassy’s website for updates.

Good luck and God bless on your applications!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

#kolokoytravels - South Korea - How To Get Multiple Entry Visa via BPI and BDO Credit Cards

Back in November 2015, I was able to get the chance to travel to Seoul, South Korea with a single entry visa. It was for 6 day trip at during the early winter season.

I don't know if it was the weather but I told myself that I would returning to this country and experience its multiple seasons. A way to do that, is to secure myself a multiple entry visa. I'm not really an expert in visa processing but various reads from online forums, one can conclude that having multiple entry visa factors in your financial capacity and travel experience the most. So if you have an impressive bank account and have traveled a lot of places prior to your application, chances of snatching one is quite easy. But what about us poor budgeted folks and first timers?

Thank God for BPI and BDO credit cards!

My Story:

I just learned early 2016, a few months after my first South Korea trip that BPI has an ongoing promotion for their card holders, and this, I believe was the real reason why I got pulled into the credit card world. I originally intended to only have a classic Blue Mastercard from BPI for my online purchases. While browsing BPI's current promos, I stumbled upon this banner:

Cardholders will be provided with multiple VISA with respective validity:

BPI Gold MasterCard - 3 Years
BPI Platinum  Credit Card - 3-5 years
Gold BPI Express Teller Debit Card - 3-5 years

And the rest is history. My BPI Blue credit card is only a secured credit card. What I did was to increase my hold out amount for it to be converted to Gold. At that time, you need to have a credit limit of Php 75,000 for your card to be converted.  It took one phone call and two weeks of processing including delivery, and I had my ticket to obtaining a multiple entry.

A friend's story:

What he had was a BDO Shopmore credit card. For a BDO card to be converted to Gold, we were told that a credit limit of Php 50,000 should be reached. Luckily, this was already his limit and all he had to do is to call BDO for his Shopmore be changed into a Gold one. In two weeks, he received his card. This was his first time in applying for a Korean visa and have only gone to HongKong once. He also received a multiple entry visa for three years. 

I know the promotion will end by December of this year, but guess what? It's extended until 2017!

I knew a lot of KPop and KDrama fanatics, and although I do not share their passion for such things, I really would love for them to experience it on South Korea itself. So for those who are wanting to finally go for that dream trip to South Korea and plans to visits multiple times in a year for three to five years, this is an excellent opportunity to increase the chances of getting a multiple Korean tourist visa by applying with BDO or BPI credit cards. Please note though that BDO and BPI does not guarantee a visa issuance, I've not heard of anyone getting denied yet. All of those I knew who tried were given multiple entry even for first timers.