UPDATE: As of 1 July 2018, all Korean visa applications are processed through designated travel agencies. Read more details here.
So here it is! After writing my South Korea Tourist Visa Guide for Filipinos, I received a couple of enquiries about how I got approved without an Income Tax Return (ITR). If you’re someone who gets income from online sources like me, mind you, it’s really daunting and tedious to file for your own taxes here in the Philippines. Not that I have no plans of filing but a crazy idea came to my mind.
What if I try my luck in applying for a South Korea Tourist Visa even though I don’t have an ITR just yet? What are my chances of getting approved? I challenged myself to do it last Oct 2016 and I’m so glad I did. I’m sure you’re already curious about it. So here, let me share with you some tips.
[UPDATE]: The Consulate of the Republic of Korea in Cebu does not grant exemption of ITR for those who have travelled to OECD countries. You are only exempted if you have travelled as a tourist to Korea at least once within 5 years. Please read full details of the update here.
Disclaimer: Although I was granted a single-entry tourist visa without ITR, this doesn’t mean that I’m encouraging you to do the same. It is still best that you complete the requirements set by the Korean Embassy or Korean Consulate in Cebu to increase your chances of approval. After all, it’s still a case-to-case basis.
Tip #1: Write your letter of explanation
If you don’t have an ITR yet (like my case) when you apply for a visa, the very first thing to do is to compose a letter of explanation stating your intent to travel to Korea and why you lack an ITR. Sorry to disappoint but I won’t show you the exact copy of my letter as the details are too personal. Instead, I made a template below to guide you in writing your own letter.
October 28, 2016
Embassy of the Republic of Korea in the Republic of the Philippines 122 Upper McKinley Road, McKinley Town Center, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig city 1634, Philippines
Dear Sir / Madam:
I am personally writing this letter to explain why I failed to present an Income Tax Return (ITR) as part of my requirements to obtain a Tourist Visa to South Korea.
1st paragraph: State your reason/s why you don’t have an ITR yet and the target date you are planning to file for it. If you’re fairly new to the job, explain when you were hired and how long you’ve been working with your present company.
2nd paragraph: If you’ve travelled to other countries before, state your trip details including the destinations, the dates, reasons for travel and who you were with.
3rd paragraph: Explain why you’re interested in travelling to Korea. If you have a travel blog or if have contributions to online travel media platforms, put the URLs or links to your posts or contributions to show proof that you’re someone who loves to travel and share stories to others.
Tip #3: Make a checklist and set a target date to complete all your documents
This is pretty self-explanatory. If you plan to travel to Korea during winter (like I did) say December, then by October, you should have completed all the needed documents. I suggest that you apply for a visa at least two months prior to your travel date to give yourself enough time to plan for your trip.