South Korea Travel Restrictions: What to Know Before Visiting

South Korea Travel Restrictions: What to Know Before Visiting

One step closer to saying "annyeonghaseyo" again!

Having enforced strict travel restrictions since the start of the pandemic, South Korea is finally ready to open up! From 1 Apr 2022, fully vaccinated travellers from all countries will be able to travel to South Korea without having to quarantine! 

If you’re planning to travel to South Korea, here’s what you should know.

Pre-arrival required documents for travel to South Korea

travel to south korea

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Before you travel to South Korea, here are the documents you must secure.

1. Korea Electronic Travel Authorization (K-ETA) or Korean visa

If you’re a visa-free foreign traveller, you’re required to obtain an approved Korea Electronic Travel Authorization (K-ETA) before you travel to South Korea. The K-ETA is valid for two years from the date of approval. Each application costs 10,000 KRW (US$8.42) and is non-refundable even when declined. You may see the current list of countries eligible to apply for K-ETA here

Foreigners who are not covered by K-ETA may apply for a Korean visa instead. ​Tourism visas will be issued in single-entry and are valid for three months. 

2. Digitally certifiable vaccination certificate

Bring a digitally certifiable vaccination certificate to present prior to your departure. South Korea recognises any vaccine in the WHO EUL.

As of 3 Jan 2022, the vaccination certificate issued to an individual who has received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine is considered valid for six months from the date of administration of the second dose. The traveller must obtain a vaccination certificate with proof of a booster shot for the certificate to remain valid after that (i.e. it won’t have an expiry date).

Travellers can upload their vaccine records to Q-Code and use the QR code to enter the country.

3. Negative COVID-19 RT-PCR test results

All travellers regardless of nationality will be required to present a negative RT-PCR test result issued within 48 hours of departure. Only children under six years old, airline crew, and Korean nationals with quarantine exemption certificates are exempt from this. You must also bring along a booking confirmation for your on-arrival PCR test (more info below). 

4. Booking confirmation of on-arrival RT-PCR test

Despite being a quarantine-free trip, all fully vaccinated travellers will be required to take an RT-PCR test at the Incheon Airport upon arrival. You must pre-book a test via the Safe2GO pass website and bring your booking confirmation with you to Korea. 

5. Travel insurance

All travellers to South Korea will be required to purchase travel insurance with a minimum coverage of 30,000,000 KRW (US$25,284.47). The policy must cover COVID-19 related medical expenses. Bring along a physical copy of said insurance. 

Singapore – South Korea VTL

Singapore currently maintains a Vaccinated Travel Lane with South Korea (Changi to Incheon), which allows quarantine-free travel between the two countries. There are no special South korea travel requirements for VTL travellers from Singapore.

However, you will have to take note of the requirements for VTL travellers going to Singapore. Click here to see which other countries have current or upcoming VTLs.

Arrival

south korea travel

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All arriving passengers can expect to undergo health screening tests, including temperature scanning, questionnaires, and COVID-19 tests. Travellers may also be required to download a Self-Check Mobile App, which would serve as their daily health status record for 14 days. 

After taking the RT-PCR test, you may take a taxi cab or a private vehicle going to your accommodation. Wait for your results via the Self-Check Mobile App. Once you’ve received the negative result, you may start travelling around South Korea.

If you’re going to remain in South Korea for eight days or more, you will need to take a self-administered Antigen Rapid Test (ART) on the sixth or seventh day of arrival. (As of 10 Mar 2022 onwards, this rule replaces the previous requirement of an RT-PCR test at a medical institution). 

Travellers must also prepare their vaccine pass before going around Korea. But first, passengers have to obtain their English-Korean information sheets inside their arrival airport. This instructs local business owners on how to scan a tourist’s vaccine pass QR code before a tourist enters any establishment. Read more about the vaccine pass here.

During the stay

south korea open for tourism

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As of writing, there are no restrictions on domestic travel in South Korea. Once you’re in the country, you’ll find most places in South Korea open for tourism.

South Korea requires everyone to wear face masks in public spaces, enclosed environments, and public transportation. Those who fail to properly wear a face mask to cover both nose and mouth will be fined up to 100,000 KRW (US$84.28). Social distancing is also expected.

Restaurants, bars, and other entertainment facilities in South Korea are open with restrictions. These establishments make use of QR code-based access for contact tracing. South Korea has no curfew during the pandemic.

Those who are suspected of having COVID-19 and refuse to get tested will be fined up to 10 million KRW (US$8,428.16) or one year of prison. If you need to get tested for COVID-19 during your stay in Korea, refer to this list of medical institutions.

Also read: UK Travel Restrictions: All You Need to Know Before Visiting

Return travel

Planning to finally make that much-awaited trip to South Korea? Click here for more travel inspiration. Also, take the time to check out the travel requirements for other countries, too!

 With travel restrictions always changing, we advise you to stay informed by keeping up-to-date on official sources!


Featured image credit: SeanPavonePhoto via Canva Pro

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Danielle Uy
Danielle Uy

If Disney were creative enough to let Mulan and Melody (The Little Mermaid 2) have a baby, Danielle is convinced that that baby would be her spirit animal. From an early age, Danielle’s ultimate goal has been to become a bad-ass female hero and a mermaid. While she hasn't held a sword in her lifetime, she feels powerful enough with her pen. Her creative energy is fueled by many things: the quiet right before the rest of the world wakes up, the orange sky as the sun rises during an uncrowded morning surf, the beautiful bitter taste of black coffee, and the threatening reminder of a pending deadline.

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Cassandra Nerva
Cassandra Nerva

Cassandra seeks comfort in warm blankets, period dramas, and all things hazelnut. If she's not getting carried away with a wartime novel or decorating her house with plants & fairy lights, she's uncovering hidden gems around her as she continues to embrace her keen sense of adventure.

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