Since I’m moving to Seoul for my year abroad in less than a month (can you believe it?!), I thought I’d share my experience on how to get a working holiday visa for South Korea, which things I’ve had to organize and the reasons why I wanted to do it in the first place.
PS: please note that this info is all based on my own experience.
Update: Once you arrive in Korea, there is more you have to do to be able to stay there as a foreign resident. Just getting the Visa itself is not enough! You can check out my blogpost on that here.
Edit: This all was done before Corona, I’m not sure if they give out new visas currently in the first place. If they do, you have to find an accommodation for your 2-weeks-quarantine, take several corona tests and find someone who brings you food during that time, cause you won’t be able to order without a korean phone number or a korean bank account. Please check the embassy website though, this is all just based on my own knowing and not an official information post!
#making the decision
Not gonna lie, I’ve made this decision already in summer last year and since then I’m planning my stay in Seoul step by step. It all started with me not being as happy as I thought I’d be with my full-time job – and figuring out that there’s more than working 9-5 every day.
Another outstanding point to me was, that I’ve never been abroad in any way – neither during school nor during my time at university. So that was definitely an experience I wanted to make before it’s too late!
Also, I’ve been to Seoul twice before but always just for 2 weeks. But it wasn’t enough for me – I always felt super sad leaving Korea and wanted to come back immediately.
#how to get a visa
After I made the decision that I want to stay a year there, I’ve made my researchs. How do I get a visa? What do I need? Of course everything I’m pointing out is especially for Germany – so if you’re living in another country, you have to check the requirements according to that.
If you’re a german citizen, you can stay up to one year with the working holiday visa. You have to be younger (including) than 30 years old and never have done working holiday in Korea before.
#what you need
It was quite a lot of paper work, just for the visa alone! So I try to break it down for you!
You have to book your flight, housing and health insurance beforehand, because you need most of the receipts for getting the visa.
Also you have to visit the Korean embassy personally – sending the paper in via postal service isn’t enough! So check where your nearest embassy is: luckily for me it was in Bonn, which isn’t that far away. The next one would have been in Frankfurt or Berlin.
Here are the most important points:
- There’s a visa application form that you can find on the official website of the Korean Embassy – you can find it here. You need to fill it out as best as you can and bring it with you to the embassy. Also you need a passport photo that isn’t older than 3 months.
- A valid passport! It must be valid during your whole stay.
- Receipt of your flight to Korea (need to book this before even trying to get the visa).
- Receipt of your housing (also an address where you’re going to stay – this can be a hostel, hotel, an air bnb etc.).
- Proof that you have a valid liability insurance during your stay in Korea.
- Get an overseas health insurance (and showing them the receipt).
- Enough money in your bank account! Sounds harsh, but the embassy wants to be sure that you can afford living in Korea and also get back home without problems. I think you need at least 2.300€ (but the more, the better!). You need to bring account statements from the last 3 months for that.
- They also want to see your latest/highest educational certificate, so bring a copy of that as well.
- The visa costs around 70€ – you were only able to pay cash in my embassy, so better have it with you!
You have to apply for the visa at the earliest of 3 months before your flight would be! Don’t make the same mistake as me – I’ve went to the embassy last year in October already, just to be turned away and being told to come back earliest in December (my flight is in March).
After you gave them all your documents, they will keep your passport and send it back to you via postal service (you need to pay extra for that) and your visa is stamped inside your passport. As soon as you enter Korea, your visa is going to be valid for one year.
- If you’re having a job, you need to quit of course. Same if you’re having an apartment.
- To me it’s also important to get mentally prepared. I wanted to learn a bit of Korean before going there, so I’m learning Hangul and some vocabulary since October already. Apps that helped me a lot for that are “Drops” and “LingoDeer”. Textbooks are also a nice way to achieve this!
- Meet all your friends and your family before leaving for a year! You won’t see them for a while.
- Make doctor’s appointments and get some check-ups (also fresh up vaccination if necessary). Better safe than sorry!
- Try to save as much money as possible. I’m selling stuff and clothes that I don’t need anymore for this.
Websites, that helped me a lot during my research and preparations:
I hope that this was helpful and informative for some of you! I can’t wait to explore Korea together with you❤