South Korea to Exempt 22 Nations from K-ETA Requirement
South Korea has announced the temporary exemption for travelers from 22 visa-waiver countries from obligatory online Electronic Travel Authorization and transit visa requirements in order to encourage more foreigners to travel to the country.
The relaxation of entry rules is supposed to attract 10 million foreign travelers this year. The South Korean government believes that it could help spur private spending as well as boost economic growth.
In 2019, the number of foreign visitors to South Korea hit a record high of 17.5 million, which generated tourism revenue of $20.7 billion (according to the Korea Tourism Organization's data).
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, caused a significant drop in the number of visitors - 2.5 million in 2020 and 967,000 in 2021.
The year 2022 observed an increase to 3.19 million visitors.
Nations exempt from K-ETA from April 2023
South Korea announced that 22 nations will not need to register for the K-ETA online. These nationals will be able to visit South Korea without the need to get a pre-travel online entry permit.
The exemption will start on April 1, 2023, and will end by the end of 2024.
The complete list of K-ETA-exempt countries includes the following:
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
- the UK
- the USA (including Guam)
Note: Despite the fact that 22 nations will now be exempt from K-ETA, the other 90 eligible countries still need to remember to apply for K-ETA before arriving in South Korea.
Other changes in South Korean visa policy
The country also plans to resume transit visa exemptions for passengers in transit from 34 countries, including the European countries and the US, who will be able to stay in South Korea for up to 30 days.
The South Korean government also plans to ease group visa conditions for travelers from the Philippines, Vietnam, and Indonesia by introducing new visa programs targeted at young people and high-income foreigners.
Additionally, the country plans to increase the number of international flights to the pre-COVID level.
The number of flights from China is to be 954 per week by September 2023 (currently, it is 63 flights), and flights from Japan will be over 1000 per week (currently, it is 863 flights).