Yup! I was bitten by the KDrama bug and the obvious offshoot … a nagging feeling to go to South Korea. I did go last February!
Here are 5 useful tips when getting a tourist visa for South Korea.
TIP 1: YOUR NEW BESTIE: THE TRAVEL AGENCY
The visa application is free if you go directly to the Korean Embassy. You just need to submit the requirements to their office in McKinley, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City and pick up your passport (hopefully with visa) on the date they say so.
But, if you are an employee like me, you might want to consider getting the assistance of a travel agency. Just submit the documents to them and they’ll do the legwork for you. At a PhP1,000 per head, my husband and I realized the big savings in tapping a travel agency than taking a leave of absence from work for 2 days (1 day to submit, 1 day to pick up).
Check this link for the various types of visas available for South Korea and the corresponding requirements.
If you’ll have a travel agency assisting you, get the list of requirements from them.
- Check the reasonableness of your travel agency’s requirements. The initial agency I contacted required a birth certificate, which the Korean Embassy does not require for the kind of visa I was applying for. In the age of identity theft, be careful about giving out personal data or documents. So I contacted another agency, which thankfully have consistent requirements with the embassy.
TIP 2: THE APPLICATION FORM THAT YOU NEED TO FILL OUT NEEDS TO BE PRINTED ON A4 PAPER SIZE (210mm x 297mm) and NO ERASURES PLEASE. I repeat, A4 paper size and no erasures. I repeat, A4 paper size and no erasures.
TIP 3: YOU NEED BANK CERTIFICATES AND BANK STATEMENTS FOR 3 MONTHS. No surprise there. However, a good rule of thumb, is to have P10,000 for each day that you will be in South Korea — in your bank account. Of course, the more the better.
- Call your bank and ask what you need to get the certificates and statements, the charges for them and the turnaround time.
TIP 4: VISAS ARE EFFECTIVE FOR 3 MONTHS, USUALLY. So make sure you don’t get overexcited and apply so early that your visa expires before your planned travel dates — Visa processing turnaround time is about 7 working days, 5 working days in some cases where you have valid visas and arrival stamps to OECD countries for the past 5 years.
- The 34 OECD member countries are: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
TIP 5: DO NOT BOOK A FLIGHT BEFORE YOU GET A SURE VISA. Well, actually, this depends on your risk appetite. I am a risk taker so I booked a flight before I even got into preparing my visa requirements. Cebu Pacific had a promo that saved me PhP8,000 in fare. But I prayed hard to get a visa and it paid off.
Anyway, this is just the 1st part of a series about South Korea. I’ll post tips or insights in the next ones. 🙂