This page has information on travelling to the Republic of Korea (South Korea).
This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.
The authorities in South Korea set and enforce entry rules. The Embassy of the Republic of Korea in London maintains a list of Notices describing the latest updates to South Korean entry requirements, including COVID-19-related regulations.
Covid-19 Testing and Q-Code
On arrival in South Korea, you need to submit a questionnaire on your health condition. The South Korean government encourages all arrivals to log this information in the Quarantine COVID19 Defence (Q-Code) system prior to travel. Paper-based alternatives can be used instead but may result in a slower arrivals process. Travellers from China must use the Q-Code system, not the paper-based alternatives.
Travellers arriving in South Korea do not need to provide a negative pre-departure COVID-19 test certificate unless travelling from China after 5 January 2023, in which case they will need a negative PCR test taken up to 48 hours prior to departure or a negative RAT taken up to 24 hours prior to departure. Travellers arriving from China are required to take a PCR test within 24 hours of arrival (as of 2 January 2023). Other travellers arriving in Korea are not required to take a COVID-19 test on arrival. If you have COVID-19 symptoms and would like to take a COVID-19 test within three days of entering Korea, you can receive a free PCR test at a local health centre. You should call 1339 from inside Korea (English language support is available) for more information.
There is no quarantine requirement for entry to South Korea.
Make sure you have with you a mobile telephone with the roaming function enabled, and/or the telephone number of a friend, relative or contact who can update the authorities on your state of health, if required. A hotel telephone number will not be accepted.
If you’re fully vaccinated
There are no special provisions for vaccinated individuals. Vaccinated travellers should follow the rules for ‘All travellers’ above.
If you’re not fully vaccinated
There are no special provisions for unvaccinated individuals. Unvaccinated travellers should follow the rules for ‘All travellers’ above.
If you’ve had COVID-19 in the past year
If you have recently recovered from COVID-19, you should bring with you an official note from your doctor detailing when you tested positive, what treatment you received and/or what isolation you observed. If you test positive or inconclusive while in Korea, officials will consider this information when deciding how to proceed. Korean health officials have broad discretion in deciding what precautions are required.
Children and young people
Children aged 17 and under can follow the rules for ‘All travellers’ to enter South Korea.
If you’re transiting through South Korea
Transiting is when you pass through one country on the way to your final destination.
All transit passengers receive a temperature check on arrival in Korea. Symptomatic individuals will be subject to a COVID-19 test and hospitalisation if found positive. Passengers who do not show symptoms and/or test negative may continue their journey.
Transit passengers at Seoul Incheon Airport require a ticket/boarding pass for their onward flight to their final destination. They should confirm with the airline(s) before departure that their bags have been checked through to their final destination (as transit passengers are not able to collect and re-check in baggage on arrival in Incheon Airport).
Transit hotels are available in both Terminals 1 and 2 at Incheon Airport. Layovers in South Korea (i.e. passing through immigration to enter South Korea during a long gap between flights) are possible but you will need to satisfy the regular entry requirements.
Check your passport and travel documents before you travel
For those entering South Korea with a long-term visa, your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into South Korea. For short-term visitors applying for a Korea Electronic Travel Authorization (K-ETA) to enter South Korea without a visa (see ‘Visas and K-ETA’ below), there is no requirement for a minimum period of passport validity. However, your passport should be valid for the duration of your entire stay in South Korea.
All foreigners living in South Korea are required to report any changes in their passport information (such as when receiving a new passport) either online using the Korean Immigration Office website or by visiting a local immigration office in South Korea. For further information, call the Korean Immigration Contact Centre (Tel: +82 1345).
Check with your travel provider to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.
Visas and K-ETA
If you have a British Citizen passport you can enter South Korea as a tourist for up to 90 days without a visa. You must also have an onward or return ticket. It’s illegal to work on a tourist visa, whether as a teacher or in any other capacity.
You must be in possession of a Korea Electronic Travel Authorization (K-ETA) to enter Korea visa-free. You should apply for the K-ETA at least 72 hours before boarding your flight and it will be valid for two years from the date of approval. There is a small, non-refundable charge. Visit the official K-ETA website for more information and to apply.
If you have a different type of British nationality, or are travelling for any purpose other than tourism, you should check visa requirements with the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in London.
Long-term visa holders: re-entry permits
Foreign nationals residing in South Korea on most long-term visa types are allowed to re-enter South Korea within 1 year of departure without the need for a re-entry permit. For further information on re-entry permit exemption eligibility, call the Korean Immigration Contact Centre (Tel: 1345) or see the list of official announcements.
Foreign residents who intend to spend more than a year outside of South Korea should, in most cases, apply for a multiple re-entry permit via the HiKorea website before departure. If you require a re-entry permit, you should engage early with the Immigration Authorities and apply for a re-entry permit in good time – at least four working days – ahead of any planned travel.
Visas for working as an English teacher
To get a visa to teach English in South Korea, you must have a 3-year university degree. A TEFL qualification alone is not sufficient. If you are found to have obtained a teaching visa by deception, you will be detained and deported.
British nationals teaching English in South Korea have sometimes found living and working conditions to be below expectations, and have encountered difficulties getting the correct visas and residence permits. There have also been complaints of breach of contract, confiscation of passports, payment being withheld and inadequate or no medical insurance. Check all terms and conditions of your employment carefully and if possible speak to other teachers from the place where you plan to work before accepting any offer. If you are in South Korea and in need of assistance, you should contact British Embassy Seoul.
For those in possession of a work visa, all employment changes must be authorised by Korean Immigration.
British males of Korean origin
If you are a British male of Korean origin whose name appears on the Korean family register, you may be liable for military service even if you are travelling on your British passport.
UK Emergency Travel Documents
UK Emergency Travel Documents are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from South Korea.
Check the website of the Korea Customs Service for information on restricted or prohibited items that may not be brought into the country. If you are in any doubt about the legality of any items - including medications - you should declare them on entry.
South Korean customs authorities allow you to bring small amounts of medication for your personal use, provided that it is kept in carry-on baggage. It is advised to take an English language prescription from your doctor at home for both your prescription drugs and non-prescription medicines. It is also a good idea to consult the website of the South Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety before you travel to South Korea.