All the Documents You Need to Visit Korea in 2022: K-ETA, QR Code and PCR Tests
Do you want to visit South Korea in 2022 but aren’t quite sure what documents and paperwork you’ll need for a COVID-19-safe trip? Then this guide is for you! Read on to learn about all the documents you need to visit Korea in 2022, including the new K-ETA and QR code application process.
How is the current COVID-19 Situation in South Korea?
New daily cases are on a downward trend and at this time, no curfews nor restrictions on intercity or interstate travel are currently in place in South Korea.
The outside mask mandate is no longer in place but you’ll still see lots of people wearing them. However, officials say indoor mask-wearing will be unavoidable for a considerable time.
As of at the time of writing, it is safe to visit Korea in 2022.
K-ETA – Korea Electronic Travel Authorization
Not sure what the K-ETA is, who needs it, and how to apply for it? Then be sure to continue reading!
The K-ETA is not a visa. It’s a travel authorization document by the Korean government to monitor international travelers to Korea.
This document is relatively new and was introduced following the COVID-19 pandemic. It is one of the most important documents you will need to visit Korea in 2022.
In the past, you had to fill out a form on the airplane en route to South Korea (same as with other countries). Now, you need to do it online (and pay for it). The cost is 10,000 KRW (just under $10).
You should apply for the K-ETA once you’ve booked your tickets, no later than 24 hours before your flight.
- It’s easier to complete the K-ETA on a mobile device. You can take a picture with your phone and upload it. This is much simpler than uploading your photo through a PC.
- Don’t apply for the K-ETA on an unofficial website – you probably won’t get it approved, and you’ll lose money.
- 96 countries can apply for the K-ETA. Check your country in the attached links. If your country isn’t listed, you need a visa to travel to Korea. Check with your embassy if travel visas are being issued now.
- Once you’ve been approved for a K-ETA, it is valid for 2 years, and you can use it multiple times to enter Korea. You don’t need to reapply if you travel again.
- 1 person can apply for the K-ETA for up to 30 people. Save time and apply together.
The official K-ETA website: https://www.k-eta.go.kr/portal/apply/index.do
Q-Code for Quarantine Travel
From April 22, 2022, not only persons who have completed their vaccinations in Korea, but also those, who have received their COVID-19 vaccinations overseas who have not registered their vaccines in Korea will be exempt from quarantine. All you have to do is to enter your vaccination information in advance to create your Q-code to visit Korea in 2022.
Also check out these useful Korea travel apps that are going to make your trip so much easier and learn some Korean words and phrases to get around Korea here.
Fully vaccinated travelers do not need to quarantine when arriving in South Korea if they register their vaccination records on the Q-code website.
Print out the QR code on paper so that the immigration staff at the airport in Korea can scan the code and view your vaccination records.
What you need to create your Q-Code:
- Valid passport
- Valid e-mail address
- Valid airline ticket
- Valid Confirmation of COVID-19 PCR/RAT negative test result
- Proof of COVID-19 vaccination certificate
- Health Condition information
PCR/RAT tests before/after arriving in Korea for quarantine-free travel
To visit Korea in 2022, a pre-departure negative COVID-19 test result is required for all international arrivals.
PCR Tests Required:
- Pre-departure – PCR within 48 hours before departing, RAT within 24 hours before departing.
- On-arrival – within 72 hours of arrival (from June 1)
- (At airport or other official test center in Korea)
- Day 6/7 – Rapid Antigen Test – NO LONGER NECESSARY (available at convenience stores and pharmacies)
CONTENTS OF THIS POST:
1: Test details and requirements
2: Exemptions to PCR tests.
3: Consequences of not doing a PCR test.
4: Where to get a PCR test In Korea
All travelers entering the Republic of Korea must submit pre-departure negative COVID-19 PCR/RAT test results upon arrival. Travelers without a valid test result will be prohibited from boarding the flight.*
* From March 7th, 2022 (Korea Standard Time), Koreans infected with COVID-19 within 10 and 40days of the departure date and recovered can board a flight to Korea without a valid test result.
1: TEST DETAILS & REQUIREMENTS
Test type (Method):
- It needs to be based on nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs).
- PCR tests based on DNA amplification (RT-PCR, LAMP, TMA, SDA, NEAR, etc.) and RAT antigen/antibody detection tests are also valid.
- All forms of self-administered tests are NOT valid regardless of test type.
Time of testing and issuance of negative certification:
- The testing must have been performed, and the PCR negative certificate must have been issued within 48 hours (two days) before the departure date.
- The testing for a RAT (Rapid Antigen Test) must have been performed, and the negative certificate must have been issues withing 24 hours (1 day) before the departure date.
- Example: If you are leaving at 10:00 on April 22, 2022, only testing which was performed and a PCR negative certificate that was issued after 0:00 on April 20, 2022, OR a RAT negative certificate that was issued after 0:00 on April 21, 2022, are accepted.
Required items on the test:
- Name – The name on the test result needs to match the name on the passport (the middle name can be omitted as long as the other names are identical)
- Date of birth – Passport number or national ID number is acceptable instead of a date of birth
- Test method
- Test date
- Test result
- Date of issuance
- The name of the testing center should be included in the test result.
- The test result must be NEGATIVE.
- If the test result is “INDETERMINATE,” “UNCLEAR,” or “POSITIVE,” the relevant result is invalid.
Language of the test:
- The test method must be written in Korean or English.
- If the test method is written in a language other than Korean or English, a translated copy of the test result in Korean or English needs to be submitted together with a translation certificate.
- If individual translators translated the test result, the translated document needs to be certified by a notary office or Korean embassy.
- From March 14, 2022, The negative PCR test result issued by any testing center is acceptable no matter what country you’re from.
- From May 23, RAT (rapid antigen tests) are also accepted; must be within 24 hours of travel. Only rapid antigen tests carried out by medical professionals in clinics or hospitals will be valid, not home tests.
2: EXEMPTIONS TO PCR TESTS.
Those who are exempt from the requirement of submitting a PCR negative certificate
- Children under 12 as of the date of arrival (only if all the accompanying persons traveling with the child have submitted valid negative test results).
- Individuals with quarantine exemption certificates for humanitarian (attending funerals) or official business reasons (these have mostly been suspended now)
- The exemption of test requirement for foreign nationals with quarantine exemption certificates for the above purposes is effective from November 18, 2021 (The exemption is already applied for Korean nationals) – also suspended.
- Flight crew
- Individuals who departed from Korea for another country but were denied entry or otherwise did not go through with the entry procedure at another country before returning to Korea.
- This applies to both Korean nationals and foreign nationals, and the burden of proof is on the traveling individual.
- Korean sailors departing from Singapore, who hold “Seafarer’s Book of Republic of Korea” – Subject to change according to the COVID-19 situation overseas
- Korean nationals or spouses or lineal descendants/antecedents of a Korean national departing from Ukraine. (The spouse or lineal descendant/antecedent does not need to be accompanied by the Korean family member.)
- Koreans who are infected with COVID-19 (The tests based on the nucleic acid amplification method, e.g., RT-PCR, NAATs, etc.) within 10 and 40 days of the departure date and recovered (Responsible for proving yourself*)(March 7, 2022 ~)
- The documentary evidence, such as Release from quarantine, confirmation of recovery, etc. ※ Except for those who have a fever above 37.5℃
3: CONSEQUENCES OF NOT DOING A PCR TEST.
Measures were taken if a person did not submit a PCR negative certificate or if a submitted certificate did not meet the requirements.
Before entry: If you do not have a PCR negative certificate or have a certificate that does not meet the requirements:
- You will not be allowed to board the aircraft.
- ※ A person who is exempt from submission of a PCR negative certificate is allowed to board the airplane even if he or she does not have a certificate or if the certificate does not meet the requirements.
After entry: If a person submits a PCR negative certificate that does not meet the requirements:
- Korean nationals: must be quarantined for five days at a facility designated by the government (a fee of 120,000 won a day should be paid by the person) and subsequently quarantined for two days.
- Foreign nationals: will not be allowed to enter the country.
- ※ If a person who is exempt from submission of a PCR negative certificate submits a certificate that does not meet the requirements, he or she must, in principle, quarantine himself or herself for seven days
- ※ Korean sailor arriving from Singapore with a Seafarer’s Book of the Republic of Korea must quarantine in a temporary quarantine facility for 5days(Quarantine fee to be charged), followed by 2 days of home quarantine
4: WHERE TO GET A PCR TEST IN KOREA
You can get a PCR test at Incheon Airport, this costs 80,000 KRW.
Details are in this link.
More details from the US embassy here.
Recommended Travel Guides for Korea
If you want to learn more about South Korea and have a handy travel guide in your pocket, check out these three options below:
This Top 10 Seoul guide is a great pocket guide that breaks down the best of Seoul into helpful lists of ten – from selected highlights to the best museums and galleries, and the most authentic restaurants, tearooms, bars, shops, and markets. I personally helped update the most recent version of this guide. Buy this book.
You really can’t go wrong with a lonely planet guide in your hand luggage! I’m a huge fan of Lonely Planet and own this guide myself. What I love is the brand-new pull-out, passport-size ‘Just Landed’ card with wi-fi, ATM and transport info – all you need for a smooth journey from airport to hotel! Buy this book.
Calling all my solo female travel ladies out there – this guide is amazing! Part of the #1 Travel Guidebook Series for Women (and couples), this take on South Korea will help you avoid the scams, creeps, and tourist traps and skip ahead to the cities and adventures that are worth your time (and money)! Buy this book.
Get your Free Seoul City Check List
This downloadable checklist for Seoul contains insider information on what to see, do, eat and where to shop and party in Seoul, South Korea.