***** Article first published on March 20, 2020 and updated on June 8, 2020 *****
Korea entry restrictions & quarantine requirements
All passengers entering Korea (as of April 1, 2020) are subject to 14 days of mandatory quarantine.
- Korean nationals/foreign nationals of long-term stay: will be quarantined at their registered address
- Foreign nationals of short-term visit: will be quarantined at designated facilities at their own expense (KRW 100,000 per day) except for foreign nationals who are family members of Korean nationals or foreign nationals of long-term stay
- Foreigners with an E-9 visa without a ‘Confirmation of Self-quarantine’
- Nationals of Thailand, Mongolia, and Russia are not allowed to transit through Korea (as of June 3)
- [Exception 1] Nationals of Thailand, Mongolia, and Russia are allowed to transit through Korea if they depart from and arrive in a 3rd country. (as of June 5)
- [Exception 2] Nationals of Thailand are allowed to transit through Korea if they have documents issued by the Thai Embassy or Consulate General in the United States and are returning to Thailand. (as of June 5)
- Foreign nationals who are not eligible for visa waiver entry to Korea, except for nationals of Thailand, Mongolia, and Russia traveling from China without a Korean visa are not allowed to transit through Korea
Entry procedures & special conditions
- Re-entry permit exemption will be suspended for long-term stayers in Korea as of June 1, 2020.
- They are required to obtain a re-entry permit before departure.
- They are required to submit a medical certificate for re-entry.
- All international/domestic passengers must wear a mask. (as of May 27)
- All valid single/multiple short-term visas issued before April 5, 2020 are suspended. (as of April 13)
- [Exceptions] Long-term visas and short-term employment (C-4) visas
- All visa exemption entry into South Korea for 90 countries will be suspended as of April 13. Restriction on entry to nationals of Japan is in effect until further notice.
- All passengers entering Korea will undergo special quarantine.
- They must have an available phone number
- They must have a mobile device for installing a self-diagnosis app
- They are restricted from the use of public transportation and domestic flights
- [Exceptions] Jeju residents, certificate of quarantine exemption holders, and E-9 visa holders
- All passengers on the flight to Korea will undergo a fever check at the departure airport. Boarding will be rejected for those who have fever with a temperature of over 37.5’C. (as of March 30)
Special entry procedure information (특별 입국 절차)
The Korean government introduced a ‘special entry procedure’ applied to all passengers entering Korea from mainland China, starting from February 4, 2020. The procedure was expanded on February 12 to include travelers from Hong Kong and Macau. The procedure was again expanded to all travelers March 19.
In accordance with the special entry procedure, all travelers are allowed entry after checking whether they have visited the Hubei province and identifying their contact information and address in Korea. Entry may be denied if they have visited the Hubei Province in the last 14 days or refuse to undergo mandatory quarantine.
Travelers are also required to install the Self Diagnosis Mobile Application to confirm their contact information and monitor their health status. After installing the application, they should record their symptoms* every day on the application for 14 days.
Those who have recorded any symptoms should call the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) Call Center at 1339. If the application is not installed or self-diagnosis categories are not checked, you may receive a call from the call center. If you fail to receive any calls, measures may be taken to identify your location.
Please remember that if respiratory symptoms appear and you are suspicious of having COVID-19, please call 1339 first and then visit a COVID-19 screening center or other hospital as directed.
(*) Self-diagnosis categories: fever (37.5°C or higher), cough, sore throat, respiratory difficulties or difficulty breathing.
Selective care center (선별 진료소)
This is the special care center to check if you have COVID-19 or not. In Korea, 616 centers are operating and you can check where they are at the link above. Working hours vary so please check before visiting. Some are open during the weekend. The wait time for results is normally 1-2 days.
Public relief hospitals (국민안심병원)
If you need any medical support besides COVID-19 treatment, then you can visit a public relief hospital. Currently there are 326 hospitals operating as public relief hospitals. You can check their location here.
When you visit the public relief hospital you will be asked the purpose of your visit and current health conditions. Based on your symptoms, you will be guided where to go. Some hospitals will also be treating COVID-19 patients. Treatment will be separated between the ventilator patients and non-ventilator patients to avoid exposure to the COVID-19.
Drive-through test center (승차검진 선별진료소)
You must visit a drive-through test center in your car alone. No other passengers can be present. The whole check-up process will be done in 5 ~ 10 minutes. There are 84 locations all over Korea except for Jeju Island as of March 20th. You need to book a visit to the drive-through test center in advance. Their normal hours are 9AM ~ 6PM. The test results will be announced in about 1 day.
Buying masks in Korea
In order to buy the public subsidized masks in Korea (공적마스트), foreigners must have an alien registration card AND be subscribed to the national health insurance plan. You can visit local pharmacies selling them and you can receive 3 per week. The price is KRW 1500 per mask. You can visit any day of the week to buy the masks and your allotment resets every week.
If you don’t have an alien registration card or want to buy more, many retailers are now stocking masks as the supply has stabilized. This includes places like Daiso and major supermarkets like Emart, however, the price will vary.
Q: If I cannot depart Korea due to not having an available flight or a sudden flight cancellation due to COVID-19 what can I do?
A: If you are unable to find a flight or your flight has been canceled due to COVID-19, you can ask for an extension of stay in Korea by providing a letter of reason and a copy of a newly booked flight to the immigration office in Korea (if a flight is able to be booked). The decision will be up to immigration.
Q: I am a registered alien in Korea (visa holder with an alien registration card (ARC)). If I want to travel outside of Korea, what do I need to do?
A: If you are planning on departing and returning to Korea while your ARC is still valid – as of June 1, 2020, in order to reduce the amount of imported COVID-19 cases, the government is temporarily requiring all ARC holders to apply for a re-entry permit before departing Korea. The re-entry permit is KRW 30,000 and can be acquired at airports and immigration offices. If you do not acquire the re-entry permit, your visa will be cancelled upon departure. Also, before you return to Korea, you need to receive a health check detailing related COVID-19 symptoms (written in Korean or English) within 48 hours of departure. A-1, A-2, A-3, and F-4 visa holders are exempt.
Q: I am studying during my visa-free tourist period. Do I need the re-entry permit before I depart Korea?
A: No, the re-entry permit only applies to registered aliens (visa holders with an ARC).
Q: If I leave Korea and am not planning on returning before my ARC expires, do I need a re-entry permit?
A: No, the re-entry permit only applies to registered aliens that will return to Korea before their period of stay on the visa expires.