South Korea Entry and Travel Requirements

South Korea Entry Requirements determine the rules that a foreign national must follow to travel to South Korea issues-free. These requirements specify the documentation to obtain prior to the intended trip as well as the covid-related restrictions implemented temporarily due to the ongoing pandemic.

According to the South Korean entry regulations, all travelers must hold a passport valid for at least 6 months from the date of planned arrival in the country. The passport needs to have at least one blank page. Moreover, arrivals to South Korea may also need to prove that they have enough funds for their entire stay.

The visa policy of South Korea defines which nationalities may travel with a regular visa, electronic visa, or enter the country visa-free. The Government of South Korea enables travelers from around 50 different countries to visit the country visa-free if they register for the Electronic Travel Authorization (K-ETA). Traveling with K-ETA covers tourism or business-related short-term trips. The allowed length of visa-exempt stay depends on the traveler's nationality and varies from 1 to 3 months.

Travelers whose nationality is not listed among the eligible for K-ETA will need to obtain a regular visa at the nearest embassy of South Korea. They should remember to book an embassy appointment well in advance of their travel plans to ensure sufficient time for their visa approval.

Currently, nationals only of a few countries and territories may travel to South Korea visa-free. These countries include Federated States of Micronesia, Tonga, Taiwan, Solomon Islands, Samoa, Macau, Japan, and Kiribati.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the South Korean authorities introduced some additional restrictions, including testing, vaccination, and quarantine requirements. As for now, there is no on-arrival quarantine anymore, no matter the vaccination status of the arrivals. Moreover, tourists entering South Korea are not required to provide their vaccination details to the Q-Code system. 

Important! The Covid-19 regulations are subject to rapid changes. Please follow the latest update to the South Korean entry requirements to ensure a seamless trip and stay in South Korea. The latest change has affected the removal of Covid-19 tests. Since 4th September 2022, travelers no longer need to present a negative test result to enter South Korea. 

Who can enter South Korea?

South Korea welcomes all international travelers, including vaccinated and non-vaccinated arrivals. Regardless of their vaccination status, the Covid-19 entry restrictions are the same.

Documents check-list for entering South Korea

  • valid passport
  • valid visa for South Korea
  • negative Covid-19 test report (as of 4th Sep. 2022 not required)
  • travel insurance (optional)

Testing, vaccination, and quarantine requirements

Testing Requirements

Pre-departure testing

Despite loosening some entry requirements, South Korea still requires all incoming travelers to provide a pre-departure Covid-19 test. Among the accepted ones are rapid antigen tests performed within 24 hours before departure or any of the following types performed within 48 hours prior to the scheduled departure:

  • PCR
  • RT-PCR
  • NAAT
  • NEAR
  • LAMP
  • TMA
  • SDA

The negative test report must be issued in English or Korean, or in any other language accompanied by a certified translation into either English or Korean.

All the persons arriving in South Korea are encouraged to provide the test information via the Q-Code system before the intended travel. Paper-based test results are also accepted but may extend border control.

Post-arrival testing

All travelers must also take a PCR test within 72 hours after arriving in South Korea. The test appointment can be booked upon arrival at Incheon Airport. Tests can also be taken at a medical institution located near the traveler's accommodation in South Korea.

Foreign travelers coming to South Korea for a short term must cover the test costs on their own, while Korean citizens and long-term visa holders may visit a local public health center and perform Covid-19 tests for free. There is no quarantine requirement when awaiting the test result.

Testing requirements for Covid-19 recovered patients

Those travelers who have recently recovered from coronavirus still must meet the pre-departure testing requirements applicable to all travelers arriving in South Korea. They should also bring an official doctor-issued note including the details of when they tested positive, what treatment they received as well as details on their isolation. Korean officials are the deciding body in case of a positive or inconclusive test result on arrival.

Otherwise, there are no separate rules for individuals who tested positive and recovered in the past year. They fall under the same procedures as all travelers.

Until recently, the vaccination certificate enabled one to avoid quarantine upon arrival in South Korea. Since the quarantine has been lifted, the entry requirements are currently the same, both for vaccinated and non-vaccinated arrivals.

South Korea recognizes all Covid-19 vaccines approved by the WHO, including:

  • Moderna
  • Pfizer
  • Sinovac
  • Janssen
  • Sinopharm
  • Covishield

Quarantine Requirements

Quarantine upon arrival in South Korea is no longer compulsory for unvaccinated travelers. It means that all quarantine requirements were scrapped in the country. Before June 8, 2022, foreign arrivals who have not received the full Covid-19 vaccination regimen had to undergo a 7-day quarantine. Fully vaccinated travelers were exempt from quarantine requirements if they registered their vaccination details via the country's Q-Code system.

Please note that a 7-day quarantine is still applicable if your post-arrival Covid-19 test comes positive, regardless of your vaccination status.

Make sure to have a mobile telephone with the roaming function as well as an emergency contact (your friend or relative) who can update the authorities on your health state if necessary.

Traveling from South Korea

The South Korean Government does not specify particular exit requirements to meet in order to leave South Korea. All travelers exiting the country should familiarize themselves with the entry requirements applicable in the country of their next destination.

Some countries may still allow only fully vaccinated travelers who may also need to provide negative test reports, complete health declarations, or meet some other requirements, including getting a relevant visa.

Traveling to South Korea

Traveling to South Korea requires obtaining certain documents and following entry restrictions implemented in the country. All travelers should ensure that their passports will not expire for at least 6 months from the planned entry to South Korea. The majority of foreign nationals also need to obtain a visa prior to intended travel. Depending on the traveler's nationality, travel purpose, and planned length of stay in the country, different visas may be necessary.

Currently, all travelers planning to travel to South Korea must still provide a negative result of the Covid-19 test, either PCR taken 48 hours before travel or a supervised Rapid Antigen Test taken 24 hours prior to departure. South Korea no longer executes mandatory quarantine, but all arrivals need to take another Covid-19 test on arrival. All travelers are recommended to register their test results via the Korean Q-code registration to receive a Q-code that will ensure fast entry to the country.

Upon arriving in South Korea, it is highly recommended to follow all the travel advice of local authorities. The Covid-19 restrictions may change at short notice, so it is necessary to monitor any updates.

Entry Rules for Children

Exemptions from pre-departure testing

Children aged 5 and under

Children aged 5 and younger do not need to take a pre-departure Covid-19 test and provide a negative report upon arrival in South Korea. Nevertheless, they still do need to perform a post-arrival test within 72 hours of entering the country.

CHILDREN AGED 17 AND UNDER

Children aged 17 and younger should follow the entry rules applicable to all travelers entering South Korea.

South Korean visas

Underage travelers should be added to the application form of their parents or legal guardians. In the case of K-ETA, it is an entirely online application. The person who submits the visa application is responsible for ensuring that all the data provided is correct and up-to-date.

Transit through South Korea

Most foreign travelers may transit visa-free through South Korea as long as the transit time takes less than 24 hours and if they remain within the transit area at the airport.

All passengers in transit should be prepared for temperature checking upon arrival in South Korea. The symptomatic travelers will need to take the Covid-19 test. Only if tested negative will they be able to continue their journey.

Transit passengers using the Seoul Incheon Airport will need to present a ticket/boarding pass confirming their onward travel to their final destination. They should also confirm with their airline that their luggage has been checked through to the final destination. Passengers in transit cannot collect and re-check luggage on arrival at Incheon Airport.

All those travelers who have a long gap between connecting flights can enter South Korea, but they must meet the regular entry requirements introduced in the country. They may also require a visa to leave the transit zone.

South Korean visa requirements

South Korea ETA

South Korea introduced the Electronic Travel Authorization called K-ETA, allowing holders of certain passports to visit South Korea visa-free. Travelers from around 50 different countries around the world do not need to obtain a visa for South Korea, but they need to register via the K-ETA system.

The system has been operating since May 2021 and allows eligible travelers to enter the country for tourism or business purposes. K-ETA is issued for 2 years, and its holder can use it for numerous entries within its validity period.

Travelers need to provide some personal, passport, and travel details, fill out the short online form, cover the handling fee, and the approved K-ETA will be delivered directly to the applicant's email address.

The application should be submitted at least 3 business days in advance of the planned journey since 72 business hours is the standard processing time for a K-ETA application.

Upon arrival, border officials will check the printed copy of the approved South Korea ETA visa.

Regular Visa

The South Korean visa policy states that nationals of over 130 countries must have a visa to enter South Korea regardless of their travel reasons or desired length of stay in the country. Travelers who are eligible for an ETA but need to stay in South Korea for a longer period of time or/and for other purposes like work or study will also need to apply for a regular visa.

A regular visa for South Korea must be obtained from a diplomatic post well in advance of the planned trip. Making an embassy appointment will be inevitable. The processing time may take up even several weeks.

Travelers applying for a regular embassy visa may need to submit some supporting documents, including proof of funds ad round-trip flights. The documentation may vary according to the requested visa type, e.g., business visa, transit visa, or resident visa. Contact the nearest embassy for more detailed information.

Visa-exemption

South Korea allows visa-free travel only with a K-ETA. Nevertheless, due to the ongoing pandemic, not all visa-exempt countries can apply for electronic authorization. Once the service for all eligible countries is restored, they will need to have a valid K-ETA to enter South Korea.

Moreover, nationals of a few countries do not need a visa to enter South Korea. The list includes the following countries:

  • Federated States of Micronesia
  • Japan
  • Kiribati
  • Liberia
  • Macau
  • Samoa
  • Solomon Islands
  • Taiwan
  • Tonga

Travel Insurance

When planning a trip to South Korea, you may be wondering if you need to buy travel insurance. While it is no longer mandatory to have insurance in order to enter the country, it is still a good idea to purchase a policy that covers you in case of illness or injury.

We recommend buying a policy that includes coverage for coronavirus-related medical expenses. Be sure to bring a physical copy of your insurance policy with you when you travel, as you may be asked to present it at immigration. Taking these precautions can help ensure that your trip to South Korea is safe and enjoyable.

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