As we previously reported South Korea will open to international arrivals again starting April 1, 2022 and they have updated the Visit Korea page with some clarifications about entry and requirements.
What is especially noteworthy is that the Korean Tourism Authority now officially advises that the Visa Waiver Program is available again to “most previously eligible countries” as long as travelers have been approved for the new K-ETA prior to the trip.
When Korea reopens to international arrivals to those who are fulfilling the “fully vaccinated” criteria that Korea applies the quarantine portion of previous regulations will no longer apply.
These are the current rules that were updated on March 23, 2022 and accessible on the Visit Korea website:
It’s the news we’ve all been waiting for! Starting from the 1st April 2022, fully vaccinated visitors to Korea will no longer need to quarantine upon entry into the country. The announcement was made last Friday, 11th March, and marks the first time Korea will be open to the majority of vaccinated visitors* since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
[*Please note this exemption does not currently apply to vaccinated visitors from Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine and Myanmar, who must still quarantine for seven days.]
Who qualifies as ‘fully vaccinated’?
This refers to those who have a) received two doses of a WHO-approved Covid-19 vaccine (at least 14 days prior to travelling, but within 180 days), or b) received a third (booster) dose of the vaccine.
How do I demonstrate my vaccination status to gain entry to Korea?
International visitors must register their vaccine status on the Q-CODE website before arriving in Korea – a QR code will be provided which you must scan at immigration. When registering, Q-CODE will ask for your personal information (including passport number), entry information (departure country, airline, address in Korea, phone number) and vaccine records.
Q-CODE website: cov19ent.kdca.go.kr
Is some quarantine-free travel allowed from 21st March?
Only those who have received their vaccines in Korea, or registered their vaccine status via the Korean COOV app prior to 21st March, can qualify for the quarantine exemption from 21st March.
Are there any other entry requirements?
Covid testing: All international arrivals to Korea are required to provide a negative PCR test certificate. The test must have been taken within the 48 hours prior to departure.
Visa requirements: Eligible travelers can enter South Korea as a tourist for up to 90 days without a visa, but you must be in possession of a Korea Electronic Travel Authorization (K-ETA).
You can complete your K-ETA application up to 24 hours before boarding your flight and it will be valid for two years from the date of approval.
Please consult the Korean embassy in the country where your passport is registered for up-to-date visa information. For more information about entry requirements visit www.mofa.go.kr/www/index.do
All these different websites are extremely complicated and slow. The Q-Code site collapsed twice when I tried to access it and I hardly think it’s due to high demand.
So far I haven’t applied for the Q Code yet as I have not found the proper flights for my ANA Round the World award yet but I went through it step by step and despite the lagging of the website it seemed to work quite well.
I have previously written about the application process for the Electronic Travel Authorization:
Reminder To Apply For Your New South Korea Electronic Travel Authorization Before Visiting
The ETA is required for travelers who:
- Do not have a visa for the Republic of Korea
- A person who intends to enter the country short-term for business or tourism purpose
There are some exemptions as well such as for airline crew as well as transit passengers who do not require this ETA. Anyone who has one will no longer be required to submit the arrival forms at the immigration counter. You do need to update your details concerning the stay in Korea (first address) with each entry though.
This is the official website from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that explains the rationale and policy process behind the K-ETA.
Korea had previously (in March of 2020) suspended the visa waiver program for most eligible countries. It’s my understanding that the visa waiver option is now back for most of the affected countries as this notice on the Korean Embassy website in France suggests. The Korean Embassy in Washington DC as well as their Embassy in Berlin have similar notes.
I recommend making 100% sure of this by consulting the consulate/embassy website or hotline in your country of citizenship to avoid any issues.
The only issue at this point is the vaccination requirement. Depending on when one received his shot in the past this might be an issue. I really don’t have a problem with getting my first set but I’m not planning on signing up for a permanent subscription.
Korea has provided some clarification about the entry into the country under the new framework which will come into effect starting April 1st which is just a few days away.
There are now two systems in place that travelers are required to use. A mandatory ETA (Electronic Travel Authorization) form for entries into South Korea and the Q code. Travelers have to apply for both, awaiting their approval, prior to flying to Korea in order to be eligible for entry.
It’s recommended to have these forms (once approved) printed or at least available in a digital version to present to airline staff and immigration officials when prompted. It’s unclear where (if) this will be physically checked and validated or if it’s going to be through electronic channels only.