A Freelancer’s Guide for a Korean Visa without ITR 2019

A Freelancer’s Guide for a Korean Visa without ITR 2019

Are you a Filipino freelancer who’s planning to travel to South Korea real soon? Let me share with you some alternative ways and few tips on how to apply and have a greater chance of getting your tourist visa approved. And make your South Korea travel goal come to life!

Just recently, I traveled in South Korea with friends. We had the best time of our lives in our six days of discovering the beautiful city of Seoul. But before all came to pass, I faced few struggles with my visa application. Because I’m a freelancer, I had no Income Tax Return (ITR) or Form 2316 to present which is one of the required documents in applying for a visa.

Knowing that incomplete requirements would most likely be denied — I was a little anxious about it. But how did I get a visa approval from the Korean Consulate without an ITR? Here’s an easy guide on how to apply for a South Korean tourist visa and get a higher chance of approval.

How to Apply for a Tourist Korean Visa


Prepare the necessary documents

  • Application Form — you can download a copy of the form here.
  • 1 piece of Passport size colored picture
  • Original Passport (should be valid for more than 6 months)
  • Photocopy of Passport Bio-page (page 2)
  • Original & Photocopy of valid visa/s and arrival stamps to OECD member countries for the past 5 years (if applicable only)
  • Original Certificate of Employment[Must include applicant’s position, date hired, compensation, office address, HR landline number (cell-phone number is not allowed), HR e-mail address]
  • Original Personal Bank Certificate(Must include account type, current balance, account opening date, ADB)
  • Bank Statement(Original or certified true copy of the bank statements/passbook for the last 3 months)
  • Photocopy of ITR (Income Tax Return) or Form 2316
  • Copy of PRC Card or IBP Card (if applicable only)

Check out full details of the visa requirements for different categories here.


Submit your visa application

In submitting your visa application, you need to arrange your documents according to how the list of requirements is chronologically ordered.

There are two options on how to submit your visa application:

  • Through a travel agency. Travel agencies would require you to pay around PHP 1,000 – 2,000 for the processing fee. The same requirements should be complied. There are 35 accredited travel agencies you could choose from. You can check the full list here.
  • Personal Submission (applicable only to those applying in Cebu). You can personally submit your documents for the visa application at the Korean Consulate here in Cebu. You may refer to the address and contact number provided below. No payment needed and it’s fast and easy. The receptionist of the building at the ground floor will require you to present one valid ID before you could proceed to the 12th floor. When you reach the Korean Consulate’s office, a guard on duty will greet you. You will be asked for what’s your purpose of visiting and then a priority number will be given. Your phone’s camera will also be sealed while you’re inside the premise. It would take for about 15-20 minutes to process the submission of your documents.

Address of Consulate in Cebu12th Floor Chinabank Corporate Center, Lot 2, Samar Loop Cor. Road 5, Cebu Business Park, Mabolo Cebu City

Contact InformationTel: (63-32) 231-1516(9)Fax: (63-32) 231-2950E-Mail:

Starting April 1, 2019, visa processing period will be 7 working days due to increase in number of Korean visa applicants. Visa Fee for 59 days (or less) stay in Korea will be free of charge. For 60 to 90 days stay in Korea — visa fee is PHP 2,000.Note: Submission time for visa application is from 9:00AM to 11:00AM only (Mondays–Fridays) except holidays.

What to do when you don’t have an ITR?

I’ve been in the freelancing industry for quite some time and truth be told, most freelancers are not tax payers. I’m one of those who weren’t declaring income and filing appropriate taxes to the government. I had long been planning to register in BIR, but I always put it on hold. Not until early this year, I’ve felt the need to do so.

Knowing that I have a couple of international travels this year (wherein one of these was in South Korea), I’ve had to establish a good personal background. So, I registered myself as a professional tax payer just February of this year in BIR and started paying tax.

As freelancers, we’re enjoying lots of perks — decent pay, freedom to work anywhere and anytime as long as there is a good internet connection. We can easily travel as much as we want, whenever we want to. There’s no problem traveling within the Philippines. Of course, we’re on our comfort zone. You just bring one or two valid IDs and you’re set to explore the country.

But, traveling internationally is a different story. Especially to those countries which require a visa. There are certain rules to follow and requirements to comply. One of the most basic and important visa requirements is the Income Tax Return (ITR). So, what should you do when you don’t have an ITR for your visa application?


Write a cover letter

A cover letter is written when you’re lacking one of the requirements. This is to explain why you are not able to submit the said requirement. Your cover letter should contain, but not limited, to the following details:

  • Your purpose of writing a cover letter.
  • Reason why you are unable to present the said required document.
  • Describe the nature of your job as a freelancer.
  • You can mention your flight details , hotel/airbnb booking details, Klook vouchers. You can even mention who you are traveling with, if you’re traveling in a group.
  • Indicate all supporting documents you will provide.
  • Explain your desire of traveling to their country — why you have chosen to travel to South Korea.
  • Original Personal Bank Certificate(Must include account type, current balance, account opening date, ADB)
  • Be sincere in your letter that you are returning to the Philippines within the specific travel period.

Note: Keep your cover letter short and simple. You can contact me if you want me to make a cover letter for you @Php350 only. HAHA!

Disclaimer: My cover letter doesn’t really guarantee that your visa application will be approved. The approval of your visa application still depends on the Korean Embassy or Consul’s judgment.


Submit all supporting documents

It is not necessary, but I strongly suggest that you submit additional documents to somehow support and strengthen your visa application. Submit all the supporting documents you have mentioned in your cover letter. Here is the list of supporting documents I’ve submitted for my visa application:

  • Certificate of Earnings from Upwork (or any Freelance Marketplaces you belong to).
  • Certificate of Registration from BIR and BIR Payment Form No. 0605 (if available).
  • Flight details, Airbnb and Klook bookings (or any bookings you made in advance for your trip in S. Korea).

Friendly Tips for Traveling Freelancers


Register your freelancing job in BIR

If you are a freelancer with a heart of a traveler, I highly recommend you register as a professional tax payer in BIR just like what I did. If freelancing is your only source of income — you better register as early as possible if you are planning to go on a trip outside the country.

Why do I say so? Maybe, you’ll think it’s not really needed, you don’t want to undergo the tedious registration process, or you just don’t feel like paying taxes at all. Regardless of your reason, it is our responsibility as a Filipino citizen who’s earning an income to pay taxes to the government. BIR should give me commissions for this! HAHA

Also, there are few benefits of having an ITR — one of these is for the smooth processing of your international travels. Though I don’t have an ITR yet (since I only registered a couple of months ago), I have a strong feeling if it weren’t for the certificate of registration and the payment form from BIR that I’ve submitted for my visa application, I would possibly be denied.



Secure a certificate of employment / contract from your clients

Certificate of employment or a contract is another important document for your visa application. If possible, you may request from your client to get one.


Deposit sufficient funds on your savings bank account

Make sure that you have sufficient funds to convince the consulate or embassy that you can finance all the expenses for your travel. Mostly, they require you to provide a bank certificate and/or statement of account.

For the Korean visa application, they require you to submit a bank statement for the last 3 months and a bank certificate that shows the account type, current balance, account opening date, and average daily balance (ADB). The older your savings account with more deposit transactions; and no or less withdrawal — the better.

Just a little warning, don’t deposit big amount of funds (i.e. 50K PHP) on your account few days before you request to print your bank certificate or statement. It would only reveal that you intended to deposit this amount as show money. This might affect the approval of your visa application.

To wrap it up, all you must do is prepare and take proper actions. Remember, you can’t travel to South Korea without a visa. So, start applying one month before your travel date and give yourself ample time to comply if the consul will ask for additional requirements.

Just follow these simple steps:

(1) prepare and submit all the required documents;

(2) write a cover letter if you lack a requirement and submit all other supporting documents; 

(3) make sure to provide an impressive financial overview;

(4) justify your intention of traveling to their country and that you’re returning to the Philippines; and lastly,

(5) add faith and LOTS of prayer! Ask your Priest or Pastor! Kidding! But would be good as well, right?This simple guide doesn’t really guarantee that your visa application will be approved. The approval of your visa application still depends on the Korean Embassy or Consul’s judgment. I hope you found this post helpful. God bless on your visa application! 

Our 7D6N ‘ish Itinerary and Budget in Seoul 


I am a Christian Freelance Website designer & developer based in the Philippines. Also, one of the “Top Rated” Web designers on Upwork that you can hire. I’m trying to live a digital nomad lifestyle, traveling while doing freelance jobs in between.

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