Learn about entry requirements and stay conditions in South Korea for your business trips.
It goes without saying that the Coronavirus has negatively affected travel and tourism in all countries of the world. South Korea is no exception. In autumn 2022, as the number of new reported cases decreased, the Republic readjusted its international travel policy. Most of the travel restrictions and requirements have been lifted or relaxed.
This article provides an overview of anti-Covid provisions сurrently in effect in South Korea. In particular, it covers entry and transit requirements, quarantine regulation, and Covid-related sanitary regulations inside the country.
Table of Contents
- South Korea entry and transit requirements
- Quarantine Requirements
- Staying in South Korea
- Contact our Experts
1. South Korea Entry and Transit Requirements
Today, entering in South Korea is subject to standard immigration procedures. In other words, to be eligible to enter the country, one must have a valid travel document, a valid visa or K-ETA, or the Alien Registration Card. From 1st of April 2023 to 31st of December 2024, some countries (including Italy) are exempt from the K-ETA obligation.
As far as airport transit is concerned, it is allowed as long as it takes no more than 24 hours. The boarding pass for the onward flight is required. Before departure, transit passengers should confirm with the airline(s) that their bags have been checked through to their final destination. This must be done because transit passengers will not be able to collect and re-check in baggage on arrival in Incheon Airport.
In addition, all travelers entering or transiting Korea are subject to various screening and control procedures. The following control procedures or their combination apply: temperature screening, health questionnaires, testing for Coronavirus, and self-isolation (in presence of symptoms and positive test result).
1.1. Do I need Covid-19 Certification?
In autumn 2022, South Korea abolished the requirement to present a negative test result for Covid-19 upon arrival into the country, as well as the requirement to undergo a PCR test within 24 hours of entering the state.
Testing for health reasons is still available at airports (for short-term visitors) as well as at local healthcare facilities (an option for Korean residents).
However, it is recommended to bring documented proof of recovering from Covid-19 (if applicable). The record should contain as much information about the past illness as possible. If a person is tested positive or inconclusive while in Korea, such documentation may be taken into consideration by the Korean authorities in deciding whether self-isolation is to be applied.
1.2. Pre-Entry Fulfillments
To make the procedure for entering the Republic more convenient and quicker, the Korean authorities encourage travellers to register their health information and travel details on the dedicated website Q-code. Once the form is filled in, a QR code is issued. This code is to be presented upon arrival in the airport.
Furthermore, any traveler should ensure that his or her phone is enabled to receive calls in Korea. This will be checked before a traveler leaves the airport. This measure allows Korean authorities monitor traveler’s health conditions.
2. Quarantine requirements
Post-entry quarantine does not apply automatically regardless of the vaccination status of a traveller. However, if the result of the test carried out at the airport is positive and accompanied by symptoms associated with Covid-19, short-term travellers are likely to be transferred to a hospital.
However, travelers may be allowed to self-isolate at their place of stay subject to prior agreement with local health authorities. Usually, self-isolation ends after 7 days. In any case, the concrete mode of isolation will be defined by the competent authorities.
It is important to to contact the Korean Center for Disease Control and self-isolate as soon as possible, if during your stay in Korea, Covid-19 attributable symptoms appear.
The Korean Center for Disease Control has broad discretion to choose and apply any mode of isolation they deem necessary. For example, expenses for treatment in a government facility may be imposed on a traveller, the duration of isolation can be extended beyond 7 days.
3. Staying in South Korea
There are no restrictions regarding internal mobility unless a person tests positive for Covid-19 and was requested to self-isolate. Public transport operates as normal.
Despite the fact that the anti-Covid provisions have been revoked, the Korean Center for Disease Control recommends observing the following preventive measures: wear a mask, wash hands, ventilate the rooms frequently, maintain an adequate interpersonal safety distance.
Starting from March 2023, face masks are compulsory only in high-risk places such as healthcare facilities, hospitals, pharmacies. It is no longer mandatory to wear a mask in public transport. It is important that mask covers both nose and mouth. Failure to meet these requirements could result in a fine of up to 100,000 won (approximately 70 Euro).
Finally, it should be noted that the restrictive measures may vary at the regional level. Therefore, it is recommended to check the situation in cities and regions of interest, as local governments exercise authority to regulate restrictive measures in areas of their competence.
Please note that Covid-19 travel rules, and, consequently, the information provided in this article, may change at short notice or without notice at all. Therefore, we recommend that you regularly monitor the provisions or seek advice from our experts.