Layover in Korea with Philippine Passport

Someone sent me a message last week asking if it’s possible for them to go out of the airport during their layover in Korea or if they still need to get a visa?

My nephew, who is a US green card holder but a Filipino citizen, has traveled to downtown Seoul during his longish layovers in April and May. During his layover in April, I just instructed him how to get to our apartment and he was able to make it. In May, he didn’t even tell me that he was spending a few hours in Seoul. He just sent me a message saying he was in Dongdaemun ~ shopping for socks!

Shopping for socks in Dongdaemun while on a layover in Korea
Shopping for socks in Dongdaemun while on a layover in Korea

A Philippine passport holder is allowed to stay in Korea, outside the airport, in the following conditions:

Transit tourists bound for another country
Eligible countries
Applicable to all countries (save for Cuba, and Macedonia) that are not granted visa-free entry into Korea.
Applicable to…
*Those with a visa or a re-entry permit for U.S., Japan, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand (5 countries) and traveling to any one of those countries through Korea.
*Those traveling from any one of the five countries mentioned above, whose final destination is not Korea.
Requirements
Must have a confirmed onward flight ticket for departure within 30 days after entering Korea, in addition to having no record of criminal offense in the five countries mentioned above.

A visa is not necessary. When my nephew had his layover, he traveled from Manila to Incheon. He went straight to the immigration and got his passport stamped for a stay up to 30 days. Then the immigration official wrote the words ν•„ -> λ―Έ which means that he’s travelling from the Philippines to the United States.

Based on the information above, a Filipino can stay in South Korea for 30 days without a visa if he or she is traveling to or from US, Japan, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. HOWEVER, the immigration has dropped Japan from its list since March 2016. So if you’re coming from or going to Japan, you will not be allowed a visa-free entry.

REMEMBER! Only transit tourists going to or coming from the UNITED STATES, CANADA, AUSTRALIA and NEW ZEALAND are allowed visa-free entry to South Korea for up to 30 days!

Keep in mind though that the visa-free entry depends on the immigration official. If the transit time is just two or three hours, the immigration official may not allow the passenger to stay on a short stopover in Korea.

Is a tourist visa necessary if a US green card holder and Filipino resident is visiting Korea coming from the United States?

I called 1345 in Korea to ask about this and the counselor said ~

~ If the US resident is coming from the United States and travelling back to the US, a tourist visa is not necessary.
~ If the US resident is coming from the Philippines and travelling back to the Philippines, a tourist visa is necessary.

I didn’t ask anymore about the difference but based on my sister’s experience, we just applied for her visa when she visited us last April. She is a US green card holder but a Filipino citizen. She applied for her visa and was granted a single entry visa.

103 comments

  1. Hi, I’m planning to visit Philippines in December and am trying to get the JFK – ICN – HK and MNL – ICN – JFK flights. Also, I’m considering the 15-hour layover in Incheon, so does this mean that I can go outside the airport and roam around Seoul in that matter? I am also a US green card holder but have a Philippine passport πŸ™‚ Thank you!

    1. Yes you could spend the 15hr layover in Seoul. Another nephew had a layover last July and I took him to N Seoul Tower and Myeongdong.

  2. Hi, I’m a Filipino and I have a PH passport and a US Visa. I have a 25 hr lay over in Korea. Do I still need a Korean Visa? I asked some travel agencies here and they said that I still need to. Is it true?

    1. You don’t need a Korean visa if your final destination is the US or if you have a US resident visa. You can even stay up to 30 days.

      1. I am not a US resident visa holder. Just a J1(exchange student) visa. Is it still possible? I heard from a friend that it’s possible to stay up to 72 hours as long as you have an outbound flight within 72hrs. *I hope it’s true for getting a visa Korean visa this late is a little bit impossible*

        1. It’s 30 days ~ the information here is from the immigration website. And when I looked at my nephew’s passport, he was given a 30-day no visa entry.

          1. Will this also apply to an Indonesian passport and US green card? We have a 24 hour layover both from US to Indonesia then coming back home from Indonesia to USA.

  3. So if my final destination is Australia and I plan to book my flight from Philippines to Korea to Australia, I can stay for up to 30 days right? What would the Immigration require then so I can prepare pls πŸ™‚

  4. Hi I am a filipino passport holder and I have Chinese Resident & Work visa. And I will be flying through Incheon Airport in S. Korea. Unfortunately I will have 7.5 hour layover. And since my brother was staytioned in Gunsansi at the US AirForce base. Anyways, to make a long story short. Would I need a visa to go outside the airport and visit my brother for a couple hours?

  5. Hello, I have a Philippines passport and traveling from Canada. when I come back here in Canada, I have a layover in Incheon, South Korea for 12 hours. Do I need to apply for South Korean visa? Thanks

    1. HI Ferdy! No need to apply for South Korean visa. You just tell the immigration that you want to spend your layover outside the airport. My sister was here last month on a layover from the US, she was given 1 month to stay.

  6. Hi my wife is a filipino passport holder and with canada visitor visa her flight have 6 hours layover to Incheon. Do we need to get Korea transit visa?

  7. Hello,

    Good day. Thanks for the information.

    I would like to confirm again tho. I will be traveling to USA using K1 Visa 2nd week of January and I’m planning to stay in Korea for 2 days to visit a friend.
    Do I still need a visit visa or is it alright to use my K1 US visa?

    I appreciate your answer.

    Thanks!
    Phem

    1. Hi! I just want to know if you were granted for entry visa in Korea for your layover? I’ll be also travelling to US under CR1 Visa this June and I have layover in Korea.

      Thanks

      1. hi Phem and Karen, were you both able to spend your layovers in Korea outside the airport? If yes, were there any problem in your POE in US when you landed there? i hope to hear from you soon, as i am planning to have a seoul city tour there during my layover.

        thanks.

  8. Hello. I have a Philippine passport and a working visa. I am bound to Saipan. Layover is 22hours. Do I need a transit visa? Thanks in advance for your response.

        1. I think it will be better to call the immigration about this, since they don’t usually deviate from what’s written in the rules.

  9. Hi! I just wanted to asked, I’m a US greencard holder but holding a Philippine passport do I need to have a visa going to Korea? It’s not a layover but I wanted to visit Korea and stay there for a week would that be possible for me? I’ve been searching for the last two months if I really need a visa going there and I still don’t have a clear answer to it. I hope you could help me thank you so much

    1. Hi Angelie! When my sister (a green card holder) visited last April, she was told to get a Korean visa and so she did. She went to the US in May and she traveled back to the Philippines last November with a layover in Korea and she was given a 30-day permit (stamp) to stay in Korea.

      1. so the stamp was for the layover if you want to stay in kore right? and I will need a visa if i go there from the US? Am I correct? i kind of get it a little thank you

  10. Hi there, So I’m living in Canada (permanent resident) but holding a PH Passport. After my vacation in Philippines I’m planning to visit S.Korea for 5-7 days then fly to back to Canada. In my case, do I still need to apply for Korean Tourist Visa?

    TIA!

  11. Hi, I have a flight Cebu, Philippines to Korea (for layover of 9hours) I just wonder if its enough to see the city and how does it work to get like a day access? My connecting flight going to Canada will have a layover in Korea. Im holding a Filipino passport, and Visitors Visa then Work Permit for Canada. Thank you

  12. Hi, I’m a Philippine passport holder but I will not go to the five countries stated above. I will be having long layovers in Incheon bound to and coming from Rome. Should I apply for a visa to Korea as well?

    1. Transit visa is not necessary for long layovers as long as you stay inside the secured perimeter of the airport. If you have less than a day-long layover, you could join the transit tours being offered by Incheon Airport and you won’t need a visa.

  13. Hi again, Ms. Betchay! I just got a little confused here; so before I actually book another flight, I wanted to make sure of this:

    So I have this confirmed return flight from Manila to the US on February 5 – Manila to Seoul (with 6 hour layover) to NY. I am aware that I do not need a visa to go around South Korea during my layover, and that I am allowed to stay there for 30 days. But I was thinking of not boarding my flight from Seoul to NY on the same day, but get an outbound ticket a which departs a couple days later – Seoul to Beijing to NY.

    My concern is, if my Seoul to Beijing to NY flight is a valid requirement for them to let me board the flight when I leave Seoul. I mean, will they consider the original flight which is Manila to Seoul to NY in allowing me to enter South Korea? I am worried about the Seoul to Beijing to NY flight if it would cause me any problem during my stay and departure in/from Seoul.

    Hoping for your response!

    1. HI! I’m sorry but I cannot answer you with a definite yes or no. I think it would be best to call the Immigration Office at 1345. All my relatives who’ve had a layover in Korea were given 30-days on their way to/from the US. One thing I know is that rules in Korea are not flexible.

      1. Ms. Betchay, so if I arrive in Korea on the 5th, purchase another ticket that leaves Korea on the 20th that flies to Dallas, will that be okay for the 30-day Visa-free entry? πŸ™‚

  14. Hi! So I have residence permit from Uk my husband and daughter is British citizen and I have Pilipino passport we were planning to stop over in korea for 48hrs before we go back to uk,do I need to get a visa?thanks

  15. Hi,

    I am a Filipino living in the Cayman Islands and have a valid Canadian Tourist visa. I am travelling home via Toronto to Incheon to Manila this February. I am planning to a few stay days in Seoul. I am ready to book my tickets but I am a little hesitant as I am not sure if I will be allowed to stay. My final destination is Manila. Would this be an issue?

  16. Hi! I just want to clarify this statement: Only transit tourists going to or coming from the UNITED STATES, CANADA, AUSTRALIA and NEW ZEALAND are allowed visa-free entry to South Korea for up to 30 days!

    Is it also applicable when going back from US to PH? I have 17hrs layover in Incheon before I go back to the PH.

    1. Hi Min! Yes, my sister was given a 30-day stay when she had a layover here last November on her way to the Philippines from the US. I met her at the airport to get some stuff πŸ™‚

  17. My parents granted with a super visa in canada, i just want to ask if they still need to apply for a transit visa in korea because there flight is manila- inch- toronto

  18. Hi,
    I live in Canada and have my Permanent Residence yet a Philippines passport holder still. My question is, Do I need to get a visa to visit/tour in Seoul or S. korea for 1 week. and What are the other requirements needed to apply if ever.

    Thank you.

    1. Hi Maria! If you are traveling to or from Canada then you don’t need to get a visa. If you will just visit South Korea, you need to get a visa. My sister is a US green card holder, when she visited Korea last year from the Philippines she had to get a tourist visa. But when she was here in Korea for a layover from the USA, she was given a 30-day stamp on her passport.

  19. Hello Betchay! Thanks for your blog. It’s really informative and helpful. 😊

    I just have questions tho regarding with transit visa application to korea since we are planning to have jeju backpacking next year with my friends. We are planning just to take a flight from Ceb to Incheon since it’s pretty expensive if we’ll do a connecting flight in Japan or China. Then suddenly I realized that we need to take a ride from incheon to gimpo to take a flight to jeju. 😒😒

    Anyway, my questions are: On # 9 that says “details of visit” then “Others”, do I still need to specify that my purpose in visiting korea is to have a connecting flight to jeju? Or what is the best desription that I can write to that field that most likely my visa would be approved? Also, with the number of days I’ll stay in Korea, do I still have to include our stay in Jeju? I badly need this. Huhu! Thank you so much. 😊😊

    1. Just be as honest as you can with your application. If your purpose is to take the connecting flight from Gimpo, then write as it is.

  20. Hi!!! I was just issued a permanent residence visa in Canada, me and my Canadian husband and kids are planning to transit in incheon going to Toronto but were on standby ticket…and since I hold a Philippine passport do I need to get a transit visa…if ever HOW???

    1. Hi Amy! You don’t need to get a transit visa if you’re layover is Incheon and your final destination is Canada. If you have a short layover, just follow the way to the “Transfer” area. If you have a long layover (9 hours for example) and you want to visit Seoul, you could go straight to the Immigration.

    1. Hi Loradel! Unfortunately, tinanggal nila ang Japan sa listahan ng destination na pwedeng mag-stay sa Korea up to 30 days ng visa-free. Mas mainam kumuha ng visa sa embassy.

  21. Hi Bechay!😊 I’m traveling with family from US, A2 visa with Int’l. Travel Order and Philippine passport. We intend to buy a ticket in going home, Montgomery, AL to Philippines as final destination but has a lay over of 7 hours in Incheon. Do you think we’d be allowed to go out of the airport without Korean Visa? thank you 😊

    1. Hi Marj! Yes, if your final destination is the US you should go directly to the Immigration (not the Transfer area) and you could tell them you wanna go shopping or whatever suits your purpose. Just don’t go directly to the Transfer area once you embark ~

  22. Hi,

    I am a J1 visa holder here in US but it will expire soon and so I am going back home to Philippines (I am a Filipino citizen and PH passport holder). I have called and asked Asiana Airlines (I bought my plane ticket home though them) if I am allowed to go out to the airport and explore Seoul on my own (My flight is LAX-INCHEON (16 hrs layover) -CEBU. They said yes, though I am a little worried because they had asked me if I have a US green card (which I don’t have). At the end of our conversation, they just said that yes I am allowed to go out. I just want to ask if you think I am really allowed to go out (with my Philippine passport and expired J1 visa then as my only documents that I can present)?

    Thank you! πŸ™‚

  23. Hi betchay! I am a Philippine passport holder and my final destination is in japan with japan spousal visa .. I will have 16hours layover in incheon and planning to meet my sister since she is staying in seoul with her us army husband is it ok if I dont have korean visa so i meet or to stay with my sister’s apartment before My flight to japan?

  24. Hello Betchay , I am Filipino working here in Africa I will be travelling to Paris then Paris to Incheon Korea with long lay over of 3 days before going to manila , do I need to secure a korean visa so that I can go out ? what should I do to enter in Incheon korea ? are they offering a free transit visa .?

        1. Hi John! Unfortunately they only give visa on arrival if you’re traveling to/from the four countries mentioned. You might have to apply for your visa at the consulate/embassy.

  25. Hi Ms Betchay. I read some of the questions and your answers already. Though my case is kinda the same i just want to be sure. I have a us visa and philippines passport holder living and working in american samoa which is a us territory. I will be going to US in june and will go to Philippines after in July. My flight will be from ny-incheon-mla however going back to american samoa will be a different route. it will be via mla-sg. are they still going to give me visa to stay in korea since i plan to extend my layover for at least 2 -3 days before going to philippines? thank you

    1. Hi! I just called the immigration office about two weeks ago about the visa-free layover and the lady on the phone was very specific. Only travels to/from the four countries mentioned are allowed to be given 30-day visa free. On your NY-ICN-MNL you will be allowed to stay for 30 days in Korea.

  26. Hi! I am going to Jeju Island in June and from cebu to jeju i have 12-13 hrs layover at incheon airport. Do I need a visa to go to dongdaemun or myeondong? Thanks!

    1. HI Ravie! The immigration office earlier said that they might allow visa-free layovers if traveling to Jeju from Incheon. The announcement is expected in May. Let’s wait for it.

  27. Hello Ms. Betchay!
    I am a Filipino working here in Hong Kong. Im bound to Canada with a working visa. I will travel from HK to Korea and have a 4 hr lay over. I don’t intend to step out in the airport because someone will meet me there.Do I still need to apply for a visa? Thanks!

    1. If you’re meeting outside the immigration area, you need to pass by them ~ since you’re traveling to Canada you don’t need to get a separate visa. The immigration office will stamp your passport with a 30-day visa on arrival.

  28. Hi..ms betchay..ask ko lng po kung pd ako magjoin sa free transit…galing po ako ng dammam k.s.a. going to stanbul..din korea din phils..meron po ako re entry visa to k.s.a..bale bkasyon lng po ako..iallowed po kaya nila ako to join the free transit?thankyou po…

  29. Hi! I’m going to Canada this May, however the flight tickets are really expensive already so I have decided to book 2 tickets, first is mnl-icn and icn-mnl and the other one is icn-yyz and yyz-icn. I am just wondering if I could go out of the airport with my situation? I have two separate tickets and so I’m kind of nervous if they’ll allow me to leave, or even check in to my next flight.

    Thank you!

  30. Hi,

    I hope you can reply to my question if you know about it!😊 I am a J1 visa holder here in US but it will expire soon and so I am going back home to Philippines (I am a Filipino citizen and PH passport holder). I have called and asked Asiana Airlines (I bought my plane ticket home though them) if I am allowed to go out to the airport and explore Seoul on my own (My flight is LAX-INCHEON (16 hrs layover) -CEBU. They said yes, though I am a little worried because they had asked me if I have a US green card (which I don’t have). At the end of our conversation, they just said that yes I am allowed to go out. I just want to ask if you think I am really allowed to go out (with my Philippine passport and expired J1 visa then as my only documents that I can present)?

    Thank you! πŸ™‚

  31. Hi! I would just to ensure if korean visa will NOT really be required for a 3-5 hours stop to Korea (from Mla. Phils.) going to LAX USA? I would just like to ensure because my daughter (19 yrs.old) will be travelling alone; I do not want her to get in trouble.

  32. Hi, Ms Betchay! Quick question, I am traveling from NY to MNL via a layover in Korea for 15 hours but the route will be JFK-YYZ-ICN-MNL and the same on my way back to NY but I’ll stay for a week more. The thing is that I have a US Permanent Residence status and I know I’ll need an eTA when I transit through Canada, so my concern is that since I don’t have a Canadian Visa and will be coming from and going to CANADA prior and after KOREA, respectively, will I still be allowed to enter Korea visa-free?

    1. HI! As long as you’re coming from/travelling to the US or Canada, you could get the 30-day visa on arrival.

  33. Hi, Ms Betchay!

    I am a Canadian permanent resident, but a Filipino citizen. I am planning to go to Korea on July 17th to July 21st. My arrival is on the 18th of July in Korea (ICN) at night, and I leave in the morning of the 20th to fly to Manila.

    My plan is to:
    -Fly from Canada (YVR) to Korea (ICN) & stay and tour for 2 days, 3 nights with hotel accommodation
    -Fly to MNL from Korea (ICN) & stay there for a couple of months
    -Then fly back to Canada from MNL.

    Do I still need a visa to tour around Korea, considering I will arrive from Canada? (These multiple flights are all in one plane ticket/ itinerary I will, presumably, buy on Flighthub.)

    Also, I’m planning to visit Korea for a week in September before I go back to Canada. Do I also still need a visa?

    1. Hi Kaye! When you arrive in Korea, just go directly to the immigration gates and tell them you’d like to stay for a few days. Be prepared to show them your outbound ticket and hotel accommodation (although they don’t often ask, just have them ready anyway).

      The maximum that they will give is 30 days ~ without the visa. On your return trip to Canada, it should be the same. You should be able to get a 30-day no-visa stay as long as you have an outbound ticket.

  34. Hi ms. Betchay..i came from turkey going to phils..i have 18 hours layover in icn..it is possible to me to join the transit even i dont have visa?thankyou…

  35. Hi Ms Betchay,

    Good day!

    Me and my sister are planning to go to the United States on the 23rd of May. However, before going to LA, we’re planning to stay in Korea on May 21-23. Would it be okay to enter Korea without a visa?

    If yes, what are we supposed to bring and show to the immigrations? We already bought our tickets via cheapoair and was provided with an e-ticket via email. Should we just print the itinerary emailed to us as proof that we already have an onward flight going to the United States?

    Thank you so much!

  36. Hi ms. Betchay!😊

    Ask ko lang po sana. Im holding a philippine passport. Nasa new zealand ako now and im holding visitor visa for 9 mos.. mageexpired na ang visa ko sa dec. 4 2017… so last week of november po balik na ako ng pilipinas. Plan kopo sana mag layover sa korea ng 4 days 3 nights. So auckland-incheon-manila po and route ko. Tanong kopo is kung kailangan kopo ba kumuha ng transit visa? Thanks po

  37. Hi ms. Betchay!😊

    Ask ko lang po sana. Im holding a philippine passport. Nasa new zealand ako now and im holding visitor visa for 9 mos.. mageexpired na ang visa ko sa dec. 4 2017… so last week of november po balik na ako ng pilipinas. Plan kopo sana mag layover sa korea ng 4 days 3 nights. So auckland-incheon-manila po and route ko. Tanong kopo is kung kailangan kopo ba kumuha ng transit visa? Thanks po

  38. Hi! Thank u soooo much for all the info and for taking your time answering questions.
    I am a green card holder with a filipino passport expiring on april 5 2018. I will be going back to the us last day of october but we decided on stopping by korea for almost a week starting oct 26. Is my expiring passport ok to enter south korea? Thank u πŸ™‚

  39. Hello, I am going to Canada but before going there I would like to stay in Korea for at least 7 Days and I’m holding a Philippine Passport. So instead of flying straight to Canada (MNL – YYC), I would like to stopover at Korea (MNL – ICN – YYC). Also, it’s my first time going to Canada. Will there be any issue? Do I still need to apply for Korean Visa? Thank you πŸ™‚

    1. Hi! It’s okay. You don’t need to apply for a visa. Just tell the immigration officer that you are just going to have a long stop over in Korea. Make sure you have the address of the place you’ll be staying at and also your outbound ticket.

  40. I am Pakistani citizen living and philippines and i am flying from Manila to NewZeland i have valid NZ tourist visa and i wanna stop over Korea for visit am i eligible to get a entry in Korea for 30 days by showing my NZ visa ?

  41. Hi Ms Bethchay,

    Good day!

    I am a Philippine Passport holder And has a valid Tourist visa For UK.

    I Will have a 15hours layover in Incheon before flying to The UK (MNL – KOR – UK), And I plan to Go outside And explore Seoul during my long layover.

    Do I need to secure a transit visa or will they allow me to go outside as long as I have a connecting flight bound to UK from Incheon?

    Thanks in advance! And I would be grateful to hear from you 😊

  42. PH passport holder here , I’m flying from Cebu – ICN ( lay over 10 hrs ) – Japan . . Can I join the free transit tour or do I need to get a korean visa? Thanks πŸ™‚

  43. Hi! I have a philippine passport and mexican visa, im going to mexico but i need to stay in korea for 1 day. Do i need to get visa for korea.thnx

  44. Hi Bechay.. I really found your blog helpful but I have some question to ask, i have a layover for about 11hours at ICN KR Airport, I’m coming from Philippines bound to Dubai and I’m holding a 90 days tourist visa for dubai. Do i still need a visa for korea to tour or just meet a friend to spend my 11hpours layover?

    1. Yes, as UAE is not one of those countries in the list above. BUT you could also go out of the immigration control if you sign up for a transit tour.

  45. Hi po! We have a layover sa korea going to US but it’s only for 2hrs & 45mns, so we decided that we wouldn’t go out of the airport.

    But, going home from LAX-MNL, we have a 13hr layover. Im wondering if we could still go outside the airport

  46. Hi! i have PH passport and US Non-immigrant visa, i have 3 hours lay over in Korea. Do I need to have a Korean Transit Visa?

  47. Hi Betchay.

    Thank you for taking time to read the comments here. My question is this: I will be flying back to UK(work visa) after my holidays in the philippines. I am still a Philippine passport holder. My mom is travelling with me on a tourist visa to UK as well. We have a 9 hour layover in korea. As what I have read, we don’t need to secure a visa if we’re not going out of the airport. I know UK is not included in the visa free countries listed by them. I was just a bit unsure on the statement that if my layover is less than a day, we can still go out if we join the transit tours even without korean visas? Please enlighten me. Thank you very much.

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