Nationals of the Philippines are now able to enter South Korea visa-free thanks to a new scheme introduced in 2020.
Filipino travelers had previously required a visa to visit the country, regardless of the purpose of the trip or the length of time they planned to spend in South Korea.
On December 12, 2019, the Ministry of Strategy and Finance and the Ministry of Justice made the announcement that Philippine passport holders would be able to travel to major South Korean cities without obtaining a visa, in line with the country’s “Plan for Promoting Foreign Tours”.
However, not all visits are permitted without a visa. Read on to discover when Filipino travelers need authorization to travel to South Korea and when they are exempt from these requirements.
Do Filipinos Need a Visa for Korea?
Until recently, Filipino nationals have required a visa to enter South Korea (except Jeju Island) under any circumstances. However, due to the introduction of a new KR visa policy for visitors from the Philippines, Indonesia, and Vietnam, this is no longer the case.
According to the Korea visa-free program 2020, Filipino travelers can now enter the country without obtaining a South Korean visa. However, they must meet certain conditions in order to be exempt from visa requirements.
If the visit is not for tourism and does not meet these conditions, Filipinos must instead apply for a visa for South Korea.
Is Jeju Island visa-free for Filipinos?
Jeju Island is an exception. Filipinos are already able to travel directly to the self-governing island province visa-free for up to 30 days.
Before the new announcement, they could not travel to any other part of South Korea without a visa.
What Are the Conditions for Korean Visa-Free Entry for Filipinos?
The “Plan for Promoting Foreign Tours” involves granting entrance to South Korea without a visa to travelers from the Philippines in 2020.
This visa exemption only extends to short visits to certain parts of the country.
In order to enjoy visa-free entry to South Korea, Filipino visitors must be making a trip that meets all of the following criteria:
Citizens of the Philippines continue to be exempt from visa requirements for Jeju Island itself for a maximum period of 30 days.
Visa Exemption for Filipinos in Transit
Filipinos may also enter South Korea without a Korean visa for a very short period if they are transiting through the country on their way to or from a number of possible destinations.
However, it should be noted that the traveler must either have a visa or be a permanent resident of the third country in order to travel to and from it via S. Korea.
A Philippine passport holder can travel to or from the following countries in order to have a visa-free stopover in South Korea:
- New Zealand
- The United States of America
- Slovakia, Slovenia,
- United Kingdom
Filipino travelers who are members of the Transit Tourism Program can also pass through immigration without a Korean visa at Incheon Airport.
General transfer passengers can spend a maximum of 72 hours in the Seoul Capital Area.
How to Get a Korean Visa from the Philippines
Travelers from the Philippines do not need a visa for trips that meet the requirements for visa exemption as described above.
However, there will be an additional entry requirement starting from 2021.
All visa-exempt travelers will have to register their details online to obtain the Electronic Travel Authorization for South Korea, or ETA.
This involves filling out a simple online application form for the Korean ETA, which is far quicker and easier than going to an embassy, as with a visa application.
The ETA for South Korea is being introduced both to facilitate entry to the country and to improve security for all travelers and citizens.
For trips that require a visa, Filipinos must apply at a KR embassy or consulate.
Can Other Nationalities Enter South Korea Visa-Free?
In addition to visitors from the Philippines, Indonesian and Vietnamese travelers can also enter South Korea under the same conditions announced in the Ministry of Strategy and Finance and the Ministry of Justice’s “Plan for Promoting Foreign Tours”.
Nationals of a number of other countries may currently visit any part of the South Korea without a visa for between 30 and 90 days, depending on the nationality of the visitor.
Check the South Korean ETA requirements to find out which nationalities will need to apply when the scheme is launched and what they will need to complete the online form and receive their travel authorization.