As of May 3, 2021, a new entry procedure has been introduced in Korea, which is different from what we were used to before the borders closed. For short stays of various kinds, up to 90 days, you can apply for a K-ETA. Let’s take a closer look at what this is all about.
What is K-ETA?
K-ETA, which stands for Korea Electronic Travel Authorization, is an online travel authorization system that allows you to enter Korea for tourist purposes. To obtain the K-ETA, you need to fill out the K-ETA form electronically by providing personal information such as your full name, nationality, date of birth, contact information, occupation, passport number and expiry date, purpose of travel, any previous entries to Korea, and the address where you will be staying in the country, along with a photo of yourself.
This process shortens the time it takes to enter the airport (you no longer have to fill out an ‘Arrival Card’ with your information upon arrival) and at the same time allows the Korean immigration office to better track your entry data. If you have visited the United States before, you will find this process very similar to that to applying for ESTA – the online authorization required to enter the USA.
How to obtain the K-ETA
To obtain a K-ETA, you can apply for one at www.k-eta.go.kr up to 24 hours before your flight’s departure, which is the time required for processing. For this reason, we advise you to prepare in advance, bearing in mind that the K-ETA is then valid for 2 years from the date of approval. However, approval of the K-ETA does not guarantee entry into the country, and entry will be decided upon after verification by the immigration office upon arrival at the airport. In fact, if the information entered at the time of application is incorrect, penalties or restrictions may apply. In this regard, you should bear in mind that even if your K-ETA has not yet expired but your personal information has changed, you will need to complete another application to renew your information. If it is information related to your stay (such as the address where you will be staying once in Korea), you can update it on the website in the eArrival Card section.
The cost of the K-ETA is currently 10,000 won (about $10) and is non-refundable, even if the authorization application is denied. You can also apply for yourself and other people at the same time and pay once for all, up to a maximum of 30 people.
To sum up…
To sum up, to enter Korea, it will no longer be enough to just have a passport and it is now a requirement to apply online for a K-ETA authorization within 24 hours of departure, entering the required information and making a payment of 10,000 won. Within 24 hours, you can view your application result on the website and possibly print it out. The K-ETA allows you to stay in Korea for up to 90 days for tourism and short-term work purposes. For full-time work, however, you will need to apply for a special visa at the embassy, and the same applies for study purposes of more than 90 days.
Please do not forget that Korea still requires a 14-day quarantine for all travelers entering from abroad, regardless of the type of visa. Read more about the entry rules for Korea in the COVID-19 era here.