Updated: March 2022
South Korea is still struggling with COVID-19 virus resurgence (since its fourth wave, due to the spread of omicron variant). The numbers of new cases are increasing. On 6th February 2022, South Korea reported 35,286 new COVID-19 local cases, raising the total caseload to 1,044,963, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA). The country added 13 more deaths from COVID-19 on that day, raising the death toll to 6,873. Now, Omicron is declared to be the dominant variant in the country.
On 4th February 2022, South Korea decided to extend the current social distancing curbs for two more weeks through 20 February 2022, during which private gatherings of more than six people are banned and businesses are subject to a 9 p.m. curfew.
Also, a “vaccine pass” policy is currently being implemented until further notice. The policy is that people, who have not been vaccinated, are not able to enter most multi-use facilities (restaurants, cafés, gym, etc.), and even, for private gatherings, it is prohibited to gather more than 2 people not vaccinated.
However, the Government decided to treat unvaccinated people the same as fully vaccinated only if they present a negative PCR test issued less than 48 hours. If so, unvaccinated people are able to enter the public places etc. same like the fully vaccinated ones.
Places where the virus could spread more easily require a “vaccine pass”, a “COVID health pass” system similar to those used overseas, for entry. This includes noraebang (singing room), bathhouses, indoor sports facilities, clubs and bars that allow dancing, casinos, nursing homes and senior citizen communities.
Vaccine passes can be a digital vaccine certificate from the COOV mobile application, a paper certificate or a sticker from local community service centers on ID cards. An unvaccinated person must present a negative PCR test result from the previous two days to get into those places.
People under the age of 19, those fully recovered from COVID-19 and individuals who cannot get a vaccine for medical reasons are not required to present a vaccine pass or a negative result.
Mass events, including conferences, weddings, funerals and birthday parties for one-year-old, a common Korean custom, are limited to 100 people if they include unvaccinated people. If everyone has a “vaccine pass” or a recent negative test, the cap is eased to 499 people.
South Korea K-ETA (Electronic Travel Authorization)
South Korea has launched a Korea Electronic Travel Authorization system, known as K-ETA. It is a new electronic authorization allowing visa-free travelers to visit the country.
Foreign nationals will only be able to enter South Korea without a visa by registering for a K-ETA. Upon acquiring the waiver, visitors will be exempted from submitting arrival cards, enabling them to clear immigration quickly.
It permits eligible travelers to visit South Korea for short stays for tourism, visiting family members, or business activities. In addition, the K-ETA is valid for 2 years, allowing the holder a stay of between 30 to 180 days per entry, depending on the nationality.
Visitors must apply for the K-ETA at least 24 hours before boarding the flight. Those who apply now can also use the visa waiver for future trips to South Korea.
To enter the country for purposes other than those authorized with the K-ETA or for extended consecutive stays, travelers must contact the nearest South Korean Embassy.
How to get a K-ETA
Application form: Click Here
To complete the online form, applicants need to enter basic information including:
✓ Personal details: name, nationality, date of birth
✓ Contact information: including email address
✓ Passport data: passport number, issue, and expiry date
✓ Health and security information
✓ A recent individual photo
✓ A non-refundable application fee of 10,000 KRW (about 7,5 euros) is paid using a debit or credit card to finalize the request.
On approval, the travel permit is sent to the applicant by email.
✓ For a full list of eligible countries, please Click Here
✓ All travelers must stay in quarantine for 14 days on arrival in South Korea at designated facilities (at their own expense).
✓ A negative Covid-19 test is required for all passengers no more than 72 hours before departure.
For essential information and further details, Click Here
Meanwhile, Visa exemptions (for those who still need to apply for visa) are suspended for 90 countries, so it is mandatory to apply for a visa at the Korean Embassy of your home country prior to travelling. The Korean government will authorize the visa depending on the risk of infection and the country's alert status.
All foreign nationals will be required to provide a “consent for quarantine” as well as a PCR negative confirmation issued within 72 hours of departure.
All passengers on the flight to Korea will undergo fever check at the departure airport. Boarding will be rejected for those who have fever with temperature of over 37.5'C.
As of 4th February 2022, due to the high number of new cases every day, all passengers (both foreign and Korean nationals) entering South Korea, regardless of their vaccination history, are tested on arrival at the airport and will be quarantined for 7 days at designated facilities (at their own expense) and must download and use the government tracing app. Failure to comply with these measures could result, among other things, in the cancellation of visa or residence permit and the imposition of significant penalties. This quarantine policy is currently applied until further notice.
In addition, due to the spread of Omicron variant, the application for exemption from self-quarantine for overseas arrivals (including foreigners) for major business and humanitarian purposes has been completely suspended.
Persons transiting through an airport in South Korea for no more than 24 hours are not required to be tested for Covid-19. However, they are subject to temperature control.
BEFORE DEPARTURE FROM SOUTH KOREA
To those travelers needing a PCR test done a day before their departure from South Korea, Phoenix Voyages can arrange such service with a supplement. Please contact us for more information.
The government is trying to improve the total vaccination rate. Nine out of 10 South Korean adults have received at least one shot of COVID-19 vaccine, helping the country to get closer to a goal of creating herd immunity.
A total of about 44.68 million people had received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, totaling 87% of the country's 51.3 million population. The number of fully vaccinated people stood at 44.11 million, or 86% of the adult population. Moreover, as of 7th February 2022, 28.17 million people, or 53% of the population, had received booster shots.