Disclaimer before I tell you how to apply for a Korean visa without an ITR and COE (Certificate of Employment). I actually had an ITR (Income Tax Return) for almost 3 years now. I use Taxumo to help me register and file in BIR. They’re godsent for freelancers like me. (You can use my code C2Q0I to get a discount.) If I had known them before I wouldn’t have applied for a Japan visa without an ITR back then.
Now you may be wondering if my advice here will work when I already have an ITR and got my Korean Visa approved. Well, I don’t have a COE because I’m a freelancer, while my friend who traveled with me in Korea last October doesn’t have an ITR and she’s also a freelancer like me. But please take note that approval still depends on the Korean Embassy consul.
Step by Step Guide How to Apply For a Korean Visa
Step 1: Get an appointment or get a travel agency to help you.
UPDATE: Starting August 29, 2023, in line with the official operation of the Korea Visa Application Center (KVAC), all Korean visa applicants must submit their visa applications at KVAC (you can schedule an appointment online). While applying through accredited travel agencies is back again. But if you submit through them make sure to do it at least a month before your desired travel date.
Must include account type, current balance, account opening date, and ADB (Average Daily Balance).
If you have a guarantor, you must submit their original copy.
An original or certified true copy of bank statements/passbook
Must cover at least 3 months.
Again, if you have a guarantor you must submit theirs.
Income Tax Return (ITR)
Ideally with a BIR stamp.
But if you file online like me, your ITR isn’t stamped. If you use Taxumo you can actually email them to request a stamped ITR but it takes at least 15 days or more. Alternatively, you can write a cover letter explaining why your ITR is not stamped. (I actually opted to write a cover letter because I only have 3 days to gather my requirements because my Korea was planned last minute. I put my sample cover letter below.)
Certificate of Employment or Proof of Revenue
Copy of PRC Card or IBP Card (If applicable only).
FOR EMPLOYED: Certificate of Employment (COE). Must be original; and must have the address of the employer, the landline number and email address of the employer’s HR department, the applicant’s position, the date hired, and compensation. Mobile number is not allowed.
FOR SELF-EMPLOYED: Photocopy of the Business registration form from DTI or SEC. SEC Registration must include pages with the names of stockholders. And Photocopy of the Business permit or Mayor’s permit. And BIR Form with Corresponding Payment Receipt from a BIR-authorized bank.
FOR FREELANCERS: The latest contracts from your clients and/or proof of revenue like a written letter (I have a sample below) that has your client’s name, company name (if they have one), landline number, email address, date hired or collaboration, and compensation. Mobile number is not also allowed here. If you’re registered to BIR, submit the forms mentioned in “self-employed” above.
FOR HOUSEWIVES/ HOUSEHUSBANDS: Photocopy of NSO Marriage Certificate and your spouse’s documents mentioned above including ITR.
FOR STUDENTS: Original School Certificate, Photocopy of a School ID, Photocopy of NSO Birth Certificate of the applicant, Parent’s NSO Marriage Certificate (if applicable), and parent’s documents mentioned above including ITR.
IF YOU HAVE A GUARANTOR: You must submit theirs.
Not required but if you don’t have an ITR or COE, or your ITR isn’t stamped or you have a missing required document, you need to write a cover letter. (My sample cover letter is posted below.)
If you have a guarantor, this is where you explain your relationship with that person and why they’re shouldering your trip.
This is not required either but I still provided one. I put this at the bottom of my application and they accepted it when I submitted my application. (My sample itinerary is posted below.)
NOTE: For family applications, you must provide documents that can serve as proof of your relationship. Birth certificates and marriage contracts are accepted. A representative can file for the whole family.
STEP 4: Submit the documents and wait
If you’re going to submit it yourself, make sure to put them in an envelope and don’t fold the documents. Do not staple it either, use a paper clip instead for documents that have more than one page.
If you’re going to submit through a travel agency, they will check the documents before you leave.
While for travel agencies, it’s around 15 days, it also depends on your travel agency’s backlog. For the months of October and November make sure to submit at least a month before your desired travel month because a lot of people apply during those months for the Chuseok holiday and autumn season.
SAMPLE COVER LETTER FOR KOREA VISA APPLICATION
If you could notice, in the second paragraph I mentioned my purpose of entry and also low-key implied that I’m going back to my country. I don’t guarantee it’ll 100% convince the consul but so far it worked on me both in Korean and Japanese tourist visa applications.
SAMPLE OF PROOF OF REVENUE FOR FREELANCERS
Don’t forget to ask your client to put their logo and company name on top of the “Proof of Revenue” and don’t forget to ask them to sign it too. A digital signature is accepted because some freelancers have clients based abroad.
SAMPLE KOREA TRAVEL ITINERARY
This is the actual travel itinerary that I submitted to the Korean Embassy and the same one I showed to the Immigration Officer in NAIA Terminal 1. The decoration is not necessary, I just want to express my excitement. I made this using Canva.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: Should I book plane tickets before applying for a visa?
A: No, it is not necessary. The Korean Embassy actually discourages applicants from booking plane tickets before applying for a visa. There’s even a post about it taped outside their office.
Q: How much money should I show in my bank certificate?
A: People suggest your bank account should have at least Php10,000 per person per day during your intended stay. So if you’re planning to stay for 5 days, you should at least have Php50,000 in your bank account. But just to be sure, you should aim for a higher amount than settle for the minimum amount required especially now that they’re super strict on approving tourist visas due to an increasing amount of people illegally staying to work in their country.
Q: Can I submit more than one bank certificate?
A: Yes, you can. I actually submitted 2 bank certificates. The important thing is your statement of account. They look at how your money comes in and out. I’ve heard of people getting rejected because of a sudden huge deposit in their accounts. So to be safe, I just submitted all my bank accounts instead of doing a huge transfer.
Q: Should my bank account be 6 months old upon application?
This is actually on a case-to-case basis. I’ve heard people with bank accounts that are only 1-3 months old getting approved. It really depends on your supporting documents.
What Should You Book in Klook For Your Korea Trip?
My friends and I actually did a BTS Trip (which I will blog later), since we went there for the concert. But here are the things we booked in Klook that were very helpful going around Korea. (Don’t forget to use my Klook code “ALYRECOMMEND” to get 5% off.):
SIM CARD – I highly recommend sim cards over rental WiFi device (if your phone is not locked by a network) because you don’t need a credit card deposit, if you get separated from your companions you have a way to contact them, and you don’t have to return it back.
AREX Incheon Express – This is a train station inside the Incheon Airport that will bring you straight to Seoul Station. No need to worry about catching a bus or booking a taxi.
T-Money Card – This is like a beep card. You can use this in trains, buses, and taxis. You can actually buy this in convenience stores especially those limited editions with kpop groups. But if you want one before leaving the airport, you can buy one in Klook too.
N Seoul Tower Ticket – If you’re a Kdrama fan, then this is a must-see place. This is the famous spot where lovers leave love locks.
Hanbok Rental – Live your period kdrama fantasies, be a main character with a beautiful hanbok rental, and take photos in Changdeok Palace.
You can search for more activities in Korea through Klook below: