After publishing my freelancer BIR registration guide where I briefly mentioned that I got my Korean visa in Cebu approved as a self-employed professional, I’ve been receiving inquiries about the Korean visa requirements for self-employed individuals. Even my freelancer friends personally asked me how I did it.
Did I submit an Income Tax Return (ITR)? This is a common concern for freelancers and digital nomads who haven’t registered their profession or freelancing gigs at the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) yet.
Although I was granted a Korean visa without ITR before, I made sure to have all my documents complete this time around. I got my BIR Certificate of Registration (COR) as well as my ITR (BIR Form 1701A) and submitted them for my Korean visa application in Cebu.
Now, let me guide you through the process if you would like to apply for a Korean visa as a self-employed individual.
Steps for Korean visa application for self-employed individuals
Step 1: Gather your Korean visa requirements for self-employed
For self-employed professionals and freelancers, you may refer to the list of Korean visa requirements for Employed Individuals.
For those who have a business, you may refer to the list of Korean visa requirements for Businessmen.
You might be wondering why there are different types of Korean visa requirements for self-employed individuals. Actually, if you check both lists, the requirements are pretty much the same except that you need to provide a Certificate of Employment (COE) for employees and SEC / DTI Business Registration and Business Permit or Mayor’s Permit for businessmen.
If you registered at BIR as a self-employed professional like me, you won’t have any of those documents. Instead, you may submit a photocopy of your BIR Certificate of Registration (COR) together with a cover letter explaining your situation.
Here are the Korean visa documents I submitted as a self-employed professional:
1. Accomplished Korean Visa Application Form
2. Passport size colored photo to be pasted on the form
3. Philippine Passport
4. Photocopy of the bio-page of my Philippine Passport
5. Original and photocopy of valid visas and arrival stamps to OECD countries I visited for the past 5 years (I submitted my previous Australia visa and Japan visa)
6. Photocopy of BIR Certificate of Registration (COR) and proof of payment
7. Original Personal Bank Certificate (Average Daily Balance or ADB for 6 months)
8. Bank Statement (Last 3 months)
9. Photocopy of Annual Income Tax Return (ITR) or BIR Form No. 1701A (This form is specific for individuals earning solely from profession or business)
10. Cover letter explaining my situation as a self-employed professional
Step 2: Accomplish the Korean visa application form for self-employed
Download the new Korean visa application form and print in an A4 size bond paper.
Tips in accomplishing your Korean visa form
- Write or type your information or data carefully.
- Use BLOCK LETTERS or ALL CAPS when filling out the fields.
- Put N/A for all fields that are not applicable to you.
- To avoid erasures and errors, I suggest that you download the editable .doc format of the Korean visa application form where you can just type your information, edit if you need to, and print the pages after.
Take note of the following fields:
1.7 국가신분증번호 National Identity No.
Put N/A if you don’t have your National ID yet.
2.2 체류자격 Status of Stay
Put C-3-9 TOURIST if you are applying for a Korean tourist visa.
8.9. 동반입국 가족 유무 기재 Are you traveling with any family member?
Family members only mean your spouse, parents, children, and siblings. Your romantic partners and friends are not included, so don’t write their names down even if you are traveling with them.
10.2 경비지불자 Who will pay for your travel expenses?
a) 성명/회사(단체)명 Name of Person/Company(Institute)
Put the name of the entity who will fund your Korea trip. If you are funding yourself, then put your name.
b) 관계 Relationship to you
Put your relationship to the entity who will fund you. Put SELF if you will fund your trip.
c) 지원내용 Type of Support
Put the type of support you are getting or you will shoulder such as FINANCIAL SUPPORT, HOTELS, FLIGHTS, or TOURS.
Sample Korean visa application form for self-employed individuals completely filled out for your reference
- Under 7.2 Employment Details
- a) Name of Company: Write your registered company name on your BIR COR. For self-employed professionals, it’s just your complete name. (E.g. JUAN DE LA CRUZ)
- b) Position: Write the profession or occupation you declared in your BIR COR. (E.g. FREELANCE WRITER, WEB DEVELOPER, GRAPHIC ARTIST)
- Under the 8.4 Address in Korea, you can temporarily use any hotel’s address and contact information. Browse some hotels on Klook or Agoda that offer free cancellation for a certain period of time. For my application, I placed Lotte Hotel Seoul:
- 8.4 Address in Korea: LOTTE HOTEL SEOUL – 30 EULJI-RO, JUNG-GU, SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA
- 8.5 Contact No. in Korea: +82 2-771-1000
Step 3: Schedule your appointment and submit your documents
Arrange your Korean visa documents according to the listed requirements so you can easily check if they are all in order. Then, proceed to submit them.
If you are based in Manila and other parts of the Philippines, you can walk-in and submit your Korean visa documents at the Korea Visa Application Center (KVAC) in Manila. KVAC charges a service fee of ₱900. You may refer to our Korean visa guide for Filipinos for more details.
If you are based in Cebu, you need to schedule an online appointment before you can submit your documents to the Korean Consulate in Cebu. Please refer to our Korean visa online appointment guide for the steps. It’s free and you don’t need to pay for any service fees. Read our Korean visa in Cebu guide if you are applying in Cebu.
Alternatively, you may submit your documents to any designated travel agencies and additional travel agencies accredited to process your Korean visa. Their handling fees vary, but for your reference, RELI Tours & Travel costs ₱1,000 to process your Korean visa.
South Korea visa fees 2023
- FREE if you only stay for 59 days or less
- ₱2,000 if you stay for 60 to 90 days
Step 4: Wait for your Korean visa
Once you submit your Korean visa requirements, it’s just waiting time.
South Korea visa processing time 2023
According to the Korean Embassy’s announcement, the Korean visa processing time is extended to 10 working days due to the increased number of Korean visa applicants.
For your reference, I actually got my Korean visa in Cebu after 10 working days.
Step 5: Claim your passport and Korean visa
For those who applied via KVAC or travel agencies, you will receive a text message once your passport is ready for pick up regardless of the outcome.
Cebu-based applicants will get a slip where the tentative release date and time is indicated. You can proceed to the Korean Consulate in Cebu on the specified schedule.
You may also check your Korean visa status online via this KOREA VISA PORTAL.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
I’ve compiled some questions from our readers so you can also learn from them.
1. Can I apply for a Korean visa without ITR?
This is the most common question, especially since most freelancers and digital nomads don’t have an Income Tax Return (ITR) yet. But yes, you may apply like I did where I created a cover letter explaining my situation. You may refer to my Korean visa without ITR guide, but I do not guarantee the same outcome for you. So, apply at your own risk.
To avoid complications, I suggest that you register your freelancing gig or online job at BIR so you’ll get your Certificate of Registration (COR) and ITR (BIR Form 1701A) as proof of your ties to the Philippines, and that you have a source of income to finance your Korea trip. You may read my freelancer BIR registration guide if you’re interested.
2. Can I book my flights ahead and submit them as supporting documents?
I understand how seat sales and promo fares get tempting at times. However, the Korean Embassy does not encourage you to book your flights ahead since visa approval is still not guaranteed. Having a confirmed flight ticket is not a sufficient supporting document and does not guarantee your Korean visa approval.
3. What other supporting documents can I submit?
Really, there’s no need to submit supporting documents if you have completed all your Korean visa requirements. That should be enough.
But if you really want, you can consider submitting your credit card statements and proof of owned properties in the Philippines. You also need to write a cover letter explaining your current situation, especially when you lack some required documents like the ITR or COE.
4. How do I write a Korean visa cover letter?
You can check my Korean visa without ITR guide where I added a sample Korean visa cover letter. Feel free to tweak it based on your situation and what requirements you lack.
For my recent Korean visa application, I still submitted a cover letter explaining my current status as a self-employed professional.
5. Should all documents be in A4 size bond paper?
Yes, all documents including photocopies should all be in A4 size. But if your bank does not print your bank certificate and bank statements in A4, it’s fine. Just make sure the rest of your documents are in A4 size.
6. If I completed all my Korean visa requirements, will it guarantee my visa approval?
There’s still no guarantee that your Korean visa will be approved even if you submitted all the requirements. In fact, I overheard one applicant asking why she got denied when she submitted all required documents. She didn’t get a specific answer and could not do anything about it. It’s still a case-by-case basis and up to the Korean Embassy’s decision.
7. How do I increase my chances of visa approval?
I understand how applying for a visa is nerve-wracking, time-consuming, and costly, so you’d want to increase your chances of visa approval as much as possible.
While there’s really no definite formula, I suggest that you start off by traveling to visa-free countries to build up your travel history, and of course, save enough funds to finance your trip. You may read my tips to increase your chances of visa approval.
8. My visa got denied when I applied in Manila. Can I re-apply in Cebu?
Unfortunately, you cannot apply or re-apply in Cebu if you are based in Manila or other parts of the Philippines. Only those who are based in Cebu can apply at the Korean Consulate in Cebu. Meaning, you must work or live in Cebu to apply for a Korean visa in Cebu.
9. If my Korean visa gets denied, can I make an appeal?
Unfortunately, the Korean Embassy does not accept appeals for visa denial.
10. If my Korean visa gets denied, when can I reapply?
You can only reapply after three months from your visa denial.
Do you have other Korean visa questions or concerns not tackled here? Feel free to let us know on our social media channels: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube and we’ll try our best to respond to you.
All the best in your Korean visa application!
Excited to plan your Korea trip? You might want to read our Korea guides and itineraries:
- Korea Tourist Card Guide
- Discover Seoul Pass Guide
- T-Money Card Guide
- SIM Card or Pocket WiFi Guide
- Nami Island Guide
- N Seoul Tower Guide
- Lotte World Seoul Guide
- 5-Day Korea Winter Itinerary
- 5-Day Korea Spring Itinerary
Disclaimer: I do not claim to be a Korean visa expert. While I was granted a single-entry Korean tourist visa as a self-employed professional, I do not guarantee the same outcome for you. Visit the Korean Embassy or Korean Consulate in Cebu for more information.