Traveling to South Korea in 2021: What You Should Know

traveling to south korea

Traveling to South Korea has become much more popular in recent years as a result of Hallyu wave. You can travel to South Korea for tourism, school, to teach English, studies or something else. Read this comprehensive guide before you travel to South Korea in 2021 in pandemic.

Traveling to South Korea and Requirements

An image of an open passport book, which you need as a requirement for traveling to South Korea..

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Before you travel to South Korea, or any country, always check out the requirements for that country. Make your to-do list. Be sure to check for travel advisories on the government website, your country’s embassy and that country’s embassy. Also check on if you need a visa for travel or any other required documents. But if you don’t have the proper required documents then you may not be admitted into the country or have to pay fine. In case of emergencies that happen abroad, always contact your embassy!

Visas for Traveling to South Korea

South Korea has several visas for all of your potential situations. So if you want to travel to South Korea, check out the Korean visa portal and immigration site to apply. You can request an application or even be invited to apply by another party in the country through the immigration office or branch office.

Important things to remember:

  • If you have requested approval for the payment of a visa and enter the country before it’s approved, your application will be considered invalid.
  • If you get a visa three months after the date of your request for issuance have been notified or the date you receive your issuance by the Minister of Justice, then you must apply for new visa issuance.

All this can be seen on immigration site

  • List of visas you can apply for:
    • Short-term Employee (C-4)
    • Culture and Arts (D-1)
    • Study Abroad (D-2)
    • Technical Training (D-3)
    • General Training (D-4)
    • Religion (D-6)
    • Corporate Investment (D-8)
    • Trade Management (D-9)
    • Professor (E-1)
    • Foreign Language Instructor (E-2)
    • Research (E-3)
    • Technical Instructor/Technician (E-4)
    • Professional (E-5)
    • Arts/Athlete (E-6)
    • Foreign National of Special Ability (E-7)
    • Non-Professional (E-9)
    • Maritime Crew (E-10)
    • Foreign Affairs/Diplomat (A-1)
    • Public Affairs/Government Official (A-2)
    • Eligible for Visa system (B-1)
    • Tourism (B-2)
    • Eligible for employment (D-10)
    • Eligible for residency (F-2)
    • Overseas Korean (F-4)
    • Permanent Resident (F-5)
    • Marriage Migrant (F-6)
    • Working Holiday (H-1)
    • Work and Visit (H-2)

Before traveling to South Korea, you need a valid passport and visa. However, you can enter without a visa if you fall under the specified categories listed on the visa portal.

For other visas check the portal and immigration site. For more information about the requirements and customs click here.

Coronavirus Restrictions for Traveling to South Korea

A Korean woman wearing a mask in public, which you should do when traveling to South Korea..

Photo by Portuguese Gravity on Unsplash.

Since the entire world is in the middle of a pandemic, there are restrictions and advisories you must look.

        Some travel restrictions and rules to consider before leaving:

  • Since June 1, 2020, Korea temporarily suspended the waiver for Re-entry Permits for long-term visa holders. If you fall under this category, click here to view the notice.
  • All foreigners traveling to Korea must have a negative PCR test within 72 hours of their departure.
  • All inbound travelers from the U.S. or any country must go through intensive screening related to health and travel records.
  • After the screening, travelers will be split into two groups: one group with Coronavirus symptoms who will be sent to a quarantine facility for testing and diagnostics. The other group will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days if they reside in Korea.
  • But if they are in Korea temporarily, they will be escorted to a testing facility and will receive results in 6-24 hours.
  • Those with positive results will be sent to treatment centers and those with negative results will be monitored through the Self-Diagnosis App.
  • Travelers must answer phone calls from health authorities daily during their stay in Korea.
  • Those who break self-quarantine will be fined 8100 USD or will be put in jail up to one year.

       In short, you MUST follow the rules.

       For more information from the notice, click here. For more tips on self-quarantine and using the Self-Diagnosis App, click here.

     Basic tips that you should keep in mind:

  • Wash your hands and wear a mask.
  • Avoid gatherings.
  • Take designated taxis and buses when you can.
  • Avoid public transportation.
  • Open windows for ventilation.
  • Seek out medical help if you develop symptoms.

Check out the video below for latest update on traveling to South Korea!

Exemption from Quarantine

The South Korean government has decided to exempt some travelers from country’s two week quarantine who have received Covid-19 vaccination starting from July 1.

Following groups who have been fully vaccinated with a approved WHO vaccine will be exempted from two week quarantine when traveling to South Korea are:

  • Korean or foreign nationals visiting family members who are living in South Korea.
  • People who are traveling for important works such as business, academic and public interest purposes.
  • Must have received their last dose of the vaccine at least 14 days prior to submitting a quarantine exemption application.
  • Travelers will still have to go under PCR testing before and after arrival to South Korea.
  • This policy has been extended to travelers who have been vaccinated out of South Korea as well.

Costs and Planning Before the Trip

An image of someone using a laptop and notebook, which you should use when preparing to travel to South Korea..

Photo by J. Kelly Brito on Unsplash.

There is already a lot to keep in mind when traveling to a different country. In other words, make a checklist and do research before you go.

 Some questions you should ask before traveling to South Korea or any country:

  • Do I have a valid visa and passport?
  • What are all of the required documents?
  • Have I tested for Coronavirus within 72 hours of departure?
  • Do I have a plane ticket, and which airport am I flying into?
  • Does my health insurance work in Korea?
  • Should I insure my plane ticket?
  • Will I be driving in Korea, or taking other transportation?
  • Do I need an International Driving Permit if I choose to drive?
  • Can I get my medications in Korea?
  • Do I have my embassy’s contact information on my phone for easy access?
  • What are my living arrangements?
  • Is someone picking me up at the airport?

For more resources, check out this Traveler’s Checklist from the U.S. Bureau of Consular Affairs. Also make sure to check out your own country’s government websites for traveling abroad.

Calculating the costs

 You should also calculate the costs before traveling to South Korea. Here are some ballpark prices you can expect:

  • Visas: $40-$90 (depends on type)
  • Passport: $145 total for a first-time passport/$110 for a renewal
  • International Driving Permit: $15 (at AAA or NAC)
  • One-way Plane Ticket: $560-$1,600 depending on location and travel website (From U.S. to South Korea)
  • In-country purchases depend on person to person.

Other Tips and Considerations Before Traveling To South Korea

Make sure you are personally prepared for the trip after getting everything in order. You have all the required documents including your Coronavirus test, checklist and finances. In other words, triple-check everything. Do a well research on their culture and mannerism before traveling to South Korea. If there are any last-minute jitters, meditate and think over all the great things you will do in South Korea!

Traveling in a pandemic can be scary, but if you follow the rules you can still have a great time. In short, make some connections and learn as much as you can. Above all, it’s always fun experiencing another country.

If you need ideas for great things to do in South Korea, also look at KWorldNow!

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