South Korea Drops COVID-19 Testing Requirement for Inbound Travelers

Travelers coming to South Korea will no longer need to provide a negative Covid-19 test report. The new change in South Korean entry requirements will be effective from Saturday (4th Sep.).

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South Korea announced the removal of pre-departure Covid test requirements to boost the travel industry in the country. The South Korean entry rules for incoming travelers are currently the same regardless of their vaccination status. 

The recently-announced change is the result of a government advisory committee's recommendation to end the mandatory PCR testing for inbound travelers arriving in South Korea.  

Current requirements to enter South Korea

The country has dropped all of the covid-related entry requirements. Providing a negative test report was the last restriction in the country, but as of 4th September 2022, Covid-19 tests will no longer be mandatory. 

Although travelers arriving in South Korea do not need to provide any covid documents, they may still need to obtain a visa. Travelers from visa-exempt countries can enter South Korea visa-free, but they still need to obtain the Electronic Travel Authorization. Check if you are eligible for K-ETA and apply online at least 3 business days prior to your planned departure.

Covid-related restrictions in other Asian countries

South Korea is among the last economies in the region to maintain strict border controls. Although China, with its very strict zero COVID strategy, Japan and Taiwan continue to keep even more stringent entry rules allowing very-limited travelers. 

Other Asian countries, including the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia, have removed long-held requirements in recent months and now welcome travelers back. 

South Korean travel restrictions versus Covid situation in the country

In April, the country's authorities dropped quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated travelers, while since July, non-vaccinated arrivals are not subject to on-arrival quarantine restrictions either. 

Travelers have been slowly returning to South Korea. However, the passenger traffic is far from the pre-covid times. In July, the country reached one-quarter of pre-pandemic arrivals at the main gateway Incheon Airport.

Despite relatively high vaccination rates and mask requirements, South Korea has recorded some of the highest numbers of coronavirus cases worldwide in recent weeks. The vast majority of Covid-19 infections have been mild, though. 

The daily number of cases has remained at around 100,000 since reaching 180,000 in mid-August due to the spread of highly infectious Omicron sub-variants. 

Katarzyna Żyła

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