I love K-Dramas. There’s just so much creativity, history, and ingenuity in every show. As such, I’ve long wanted to visit South Korea, but was put off by the requirements. South Korea requires 3-month bank statements on top of a bank certificate, unlike Japan which only require a bank certificate. That means you can’t just have a huge amount deposited in one go. Add that to the ridiculous amount of money people say you need to have in your bank account (₱100,000+ or $2,000+).
So when I found out about the BDO / BPI Credit Card Multiple-Entry Visa Promo, I was stoked!
How does it work? Basically, if you have an eligible credit card, you don’t have to submit an ITR /income documents, and bank certificate.
At that time, I only had a BPI Gold supplementary card (with my Mom as a principal cardholder), and when I emailed BPI about it, they said supplementary cardholders cannot avail of the promo. I was sad.
Good thing, the credit card promo was extended until December 31, 2019.
A note before we start: If you’re in the Philippines and you’re on PLDT wifi, you might notice the Korean embassy website is usually down. Same thing happened to me when I was preparing for my visa application last February 2018. Use another internet provider or use your mobile data. You can also change the DNS settings in your laptop/smartphone.
Which credit cards can I use to apply for South Korea visa?
Take note, not all BDO and BPI credit cards can be used for visa application.
For BDO Cardholders:
See full terms and conditions here, on the BDO website.
For BPI Cardholders:
You can read more about the promo here: http://www.bpicards.com/realthrills/details/7399.
Important Note for both BDO and BPI Cardholders:
NOTE: When photocopying your credit card, make sure to blot out the CVV code (which is the 3-digit number) at the back of your card. Or just photocopy the FRONT side only.
You’re probably wondering why the Korean Embassy is offering this promo..
All those credit cards listed above are either Gold or Elite (Titanium / Platinum) cards. To give you an idea, the income requirement to be able to apply for a BDO Gold Visa/MasterCard is ₱ 420,000 gross annual income. And the banks are quite strict about asking for an ITR, especially if it’s your first credit card.
So what if you don’t have any of those credit cards mentioned above? And you don’t have an ITR?
Read on to find out how.. 🙂
What about online freelancers / business owners who don’t have an ITR?
I always encourage Filipino freelancers to register with the BIR and pay taxes. But if you feel like you don’t earn consistently enough to register your freelance business, or for whatever other reason you may have, don’t fret.
There’s still a way.. Keep reading 😉
I don’t have a BDO / BPI Gold or Elite Card. Can I still get a multiple-entry visa?
Having to apply for a visa every time you visit a country is a pain, so I can totally understand if you want to get a multiple-entry visa.
Based on the Korean Embassy website, the following are eligible for a multiple-entry visa:
A Quick Note on ITR (Income Tax Return) / Income Documents
When I requested my accountant to process my 2017 Income Tax Return, she said that my declared annual income is way too low for a US Visa Application.. then she offered to “make” one for me for ₱6,000 ($115). I declined, of course
If you don’t have an ITR to provide, or you think your declared income is too low, you might be tempted to just hire an accountant / bookkeeper to “cook” an ITR for you.
The consequences of getting caught submitting forged/false documents is just too great. It’s a risk not worth taking. If you apply and get denied, you can always reapply. But when falsify documents, you might be blacklisted and it’ll be more difficult for you when you apply for visas in the future.
Recently, the Korean Embassy has required ALL SELF-EMPLOYED applicants applying in Window 1 & 2 to submit BIR form WITH the payment receipt from BIR authorised bank.
This means that if (1) you haven’t visited OECD countries as a TOURIST in the last 5 years, (2) you haven’t travelled to South Korea before, (3) or even if you did, you’ve ONLY been to South Korea ONCE before, and (4) you’re not applying under the BDO / BPI Credit Card promo, you’ll be applying in Window 1 & 2.
I believe this is because the Korean Embassy is now aware of such fake ITR schemes.
What are OECD Member Countries?
For more info, visit their website here. Or take a look at the List of OECD Member countries below:
What if you have a tourist visa to an OECD country but haven’t used it?
Only those who have actually travelled as a TOURIST to an OECD member country (like Japan & US) are exempted from submitting ITR and can apply at Window 3 (for frequent travellers). If you have an unused visa, you’re considered a ‘first time traveller’ and should apply in Window 1 or 2.
So for example, you have a US Tourist Visa but you haven’t travelled to the US yet, you’re considered a ‘first time traveller’ even if you’ve been to other Asian countries like Singapore, Hongkong/China, Thailand.
How to Get a South Korea Tourist Visa Without Submitting an ITR
- haven’t travelled to South Korea before,
- haven’t travelled as a tourist to any of the OECD countries in the past 5 years
- if you don’t have an ITR,
- don’t have a BDO / BPI Gold and Elite credit card
.. there’s still hope for you 😉
Assuming you have a consistent source of income, you can still apply for a South Korea Tourist visa even without an ITR or income documents.
I just found out about this recently from Liane Laroya. Apparently, you can get a “secured credit card”. A secured credit card is when you deposit money to the bank, and then they issue you a credit card that has a credit limit of 80% of the deposited amount. Say for example, you deposited ₱100,000, they will give you a credit card with ₱80,000 credit limit.
What’s the catch?
You can’t withdraw the money you deposited.
I’ve known about secured credit cards before, but I didn’t know that you can get a GOLD credit card with it. But Liane did. (You can read more about her experience here.) She was able to get a BDO Gold Visa card by depositing ₱65,000 (she got a credit limit of ₱52,000, which is 80%).
Yes, it requires money (I did assume you have consistent source of income 😉 ), but it’s not going anywhere. It’s still yours. Think of it as forced savings.
If you want to go this route, you can inquire at your BDO / BPI branch of account. Best of luck!
Basically, the requirements are the same with single-issue visas. The only difference is that you DO NOT have to submit an ITR / income documents, bank certificate (“show money”), bank statements, and the Company Alpha List (which is a new requirement as of March 26, 2018.)
In lieu of those exempted documents, you are required to submit (1) the latest and ORIGINAL credit card bill/ statement of account, (2) a photocopy of your credit card, and (3) to bring the actual card.
Additional Requirements for First Time Travellers
Requirements for Employees:
Requirements for Business Owners:
What are the requirements for self-employed / freelancers?
You’re in between an employed person and a business owner. Technically, the requirements are the same with both. The only difference is the income documents.
Just submit what you have. I don’t have a business permit/mayor’s permit (as I don’t have an office/physical storefront), and I don’t have SEC or DTI documents (I didn’t register a business name, I’m ‘self-employed’ operating under my own name.) Instead, I submitted a copy of my BIR Certificate of Registration.
How much does the visa costs?
For those availing of the credit card promo, you don’t have to pay anything; it’s free. 🙂
When applying for single-use visa, it’s also free unless you’re staying more than 59 days. Perfect for digital nomads who want to explore a country longer 🙂 The only thing is, South Korea is just much more expensive compared to most of Asia!
My multiple entry visa allows me to stay in South Korea for up to 30 days at a time. Still not bad 😉
Steps in Applying For South Korean Tourist Visa:
- Download the form here: from the Korean Embassy website. They will provide the forms inside the embassy, but it’s better to fill it up beforehand so you won’t miss anything.
- Paste a passport size picture on the application form. You can go to most ID picture shops and request for Korean Visa package, and they’ll know what to do.
- Compile all requirements listed above.
- Go to the Korean Embassy. They’re open from Monday to Friday. Visa application is only from 8:30-11am only. Be sure to arrive early (before 10am, if possible) to give time for the visa procedures.
- Wait for your visa. After you submit your application, you’ll be given a piece of paper which says when to come back to collect your passport. For those who availed of the credit card promo, you’ll get your passport in 3 days.
- Get your visa. 🙂 It is still up to the discretion of the consul whether to grant or deny you a visa, but assuming you complied with the requirements to the best of your ability, and are a ‘legitimate tourist’, you’ll most likely be approved.
I’ve travelled to Korea before, do I still need a visa?
Yes, but the requirements are less.
If you have travelled to Korea as a TOURIST at least once in the past 5 years, you’re exempt from submitting ITR. You still have to apply in Window 1 or 2 (first time travellers) but processing time is reduced to 3 days instead of 5.
For previous visits to Korea other than TOURISM, such as business, church visit, family visit, you are still required to submit an ITR, apply in Window 1 or 2, and visa processing time is 5 days.
Those who have visited Korea more than 2 times within the past 4 years are exempt from submitting ITR, and can apply at Window 3 (frequent travellers).
For Family Members Applying Together
If you’re applying together with a family member, take note of this:
Applying for a South Korean Visa through a Travel Agency
You’ve probably seen travel agencies advertising a South Korea tour package, with visa application included. Yes, it’s possible for them to offer that since you can have a representative file it on your behalf.
There are designated travel agencies authorized by the South Korea Embassy to process group visas. You can see the list here: Designated Travel Agencies for the Processing of Group Visa and E-Group Visa
Where to Apply for a South Korea visa?
Embassy of the Republic of Korea in the Republic of the Philippines
Address : 122 Upper McKinley Road, McKinley Town Center, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City
It’s along the road going from SM Aura to Venice Grand Canal at McKinley Hill.
You can also apply for a South Korea Visa in Cebu. But take note, they have a different visa procedure (opening times, processing takes longer, etc.). Visit the website of the Consulate of the Republic of Korea in Cebu for more up-to-date info.
Consulate of the Republic of Korea in Cebu
Address : 12th Floor Chinabank Corporate Center, Lot 2, Samar Loop Cor. Road 5, Cebu Business Park, Mabolo, Cebu City
How about you? Do you have other questions not discussed above?
Leave a comment below and I’ll my best to answer it. Please note, I’m only basing this on my own visa application experience. I’m not a tour agency, nor a visa expert.
You can also check out other Filipino bloggers who have posted about this:
- How to Get Multiple Entry Visa to Korea Without ITR and Bank Certificate by TheBackpackCouple
- Free Multiple-Entry South Korean Visa for Philippine Passport Holders by ChasingJayce
- How to get a multiple-entry visa to Korea with your BDO or BPI Credit Card by Erica
- How to Get a Multiple-Entry Visa to South Korea up to 5 years Without Submitting ITR and Bank Statements by Annyeong Oppa
- Korean Visa For Filipinos by Jan Is Cooking — *with lots of FAQs answered!
- How I Got My Multiple Entry Korean Tourist Visa in the Philippines by Kim
- How Filipinos Can Get A South Korea Tourist Visa With No Income Tax Return (ITR) by Charmaine