Korea Imposes Temporary Suspension on Tourist Visas & Visa-Free Entry

Korea Imposes Temporary Suspension on Short Term-Visas & Visa-Free Entry

This is to prevent further spread of COVID-19.

On 8 Apr 2020, the Republic of Korea announced that in order to prevent further spread of COVID-19, the government would be implementing a temporary suspension on short-term visas. At the same time, visa-free entry and visa waiver programs for countries implementing entry bans on Koreans are also suspended until further notice. All of this was made effective starting 13 April.

Temporary suspension of short-term visas

According to the Korean Ministry of Foreign affairs, the terms of temporary suspension of short-term visas starting 13 Apr are as follows:

  • Both single-entry and multiple-entry short-term visas of type C-1 (for temporary news coverage) or C-3 (general tourists, group tourists, medical tourists, business visitors) issued on or before 5 Apr 2020 will be invalidated.
  • Applicants with visas issued on or before 5 Apr will be required to reapply at no cost.
  • Temporary suspension is not applicable to holders of long-term visas (A, D, E, F, G, H) or short-term employment (C-4) types of Korean visas.
  • Foreigners who have already entered Korea before 13 Apr may stay until their short-term visas expire.

Temporary suspension of visa-free entry and visa waiver programs

Until further notice, nationals from countries that currently have entry bans on Koreans will not be granted entry to Korea regardless of visa-free entry agreements and visa waiver programs. Korea currently has visa-free entry programs with 34 countries and visa waiver treaties with 54 nations.

Asia-Pacific countries with suspended visa waiver programs

  • Malaysia
  • Singapore
  • Thailand
  • New Zealand

Asia-Pacific countries and regions with suspended visa-free entry

  • Brunei
  • Hong Kong
  • Macao
  • Taiwan
  • Australia
  • Fiji
  • Kiribati
  • Marshall Is.
  • Micronesia
  • Nauru
  • Samoa
  • Solomon Is.
  • Tonga
  • Tuvalu

As per the Ministry of Korean Affairs, this temporary suspension will not be applicable to holders of diplomatic (service) passports, inbound flight and ship crew members, and ABTC (APEC Business Travel Card) holders.

What if I have to travel to Korea amid these suspensions?

In the event that you must travel to Korea during this time, you will have to apply for a visa that is appropriate for the purpose of your visit. 

Strengthening of screening for visa applications

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, all of the Republic of Korea’s diplomatic missions will be enhancing the screening process for visa applications.

New visa application requirements include the following:

  • A medical certificate issued within the last 48 hours
  • A ‘Consent of Quarantine’ form*
  • A ‘Health Condition Report’ form*

*These forms can be found at the official website of your local Korean Embassy.

Mandatory 14-day quarantine for inbound passengers

Inbound passengers will be required to undergo quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Korea. Other important details with regard to the mandatory quarantine are as follows:

  • Passengers exhibiting symptoms will have to undergo mandatory testing for COVID-19 upon arrival. 
  • Short-term travellers will have to quarantine at their own expense at a government-mandated facility.
  • Long-term visitors and residents must self-quarantine at their respective residences.
  • Those travelling for diplomatic, business, humanitarian, or academic reasons may be exempted from quarantine requirements. However, they must first acquire a pre-approved waiver from a Korean Embassy or Consulate.
  • Quarantine measures will not apply to passengers transiting through Incheon International Airport, though they will be required to go through temperature screening and will have to fill out health questionnaires.

Also read: Japan Cancels Tourist Visas for PH & 10 Other Countries Due to COVID-19

If this temporary suspension has forced you to cancel your trip to Korea, we feel for you. For now, we advise you to keep safe and adhere to these travel suspensions to help flatten the curve — but this doesn’t mean you have to stop planning your trip. Check out our South Korea itineraries and lists of things to buy to feed your wanderlust for the time being!

About Author

Gabriella Salud
Gabriella Salud

With the intention of pursuing a career in medicine, Gaby got her bachelor of science degree in psychology—and proceeded to follow her passion for writing instead. A former editorial assistant at Metro Society magazine, she loves to hear people's stories and tell them through her writing.


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