After 2 long years and plenty of setbacks along the way, Korea is finally ending its mandatory quarantine for travelers. Although it is not for everyone, this means travel to Korea during 2022 is actually possible.
To be honest, borders were never fully closed, but the mandatory quarantine and travel restrictions made it extremely difficult for international visitors to enter into the country. Since March 2020 Korea waived the visa exemption agreements with multiple nations and imposed a 14 days quarantine to foreigner visitors. Thus, international arrivals went close to zero. Luckily, this is all coming to an end. Starting from April 1st, 2022, medical tourists and families can visit the country without having to endure the mental, physical and economical cost of an isolation process.
New rules to enter Korea, 2022
As we mentioned, April 1st is the starting point. From that day, travelers arriving to Korea can skip quarantine if they meet the following conditions:
- COVID-19 fully vaccinated (1 or 2 shots depending on the vaccine) at least 14 days before entering Korea. If 180 days have passed since the final shot, the travelers should have a booster shot. Please note that Korea recognizes only WHO approved vaccines.
- PCR negative confirmation within 48 hours before departure.
- “Access Q-Code” issue: Go to https://cov19ent.kdca.go.kr, fill out the forms and download the QR code prior to boarding.
Process for medical visa application to enter Korea
Although we expect for the Korean government to reestablish the visa waive programs with several countries during 2022, for now, nationals from Southeast Asian countries and other regions need to apply for visa to enter Korea. We try to explain the process with the following chart:
From April 1st, 2022, the Korean government will go back to the visa waiver program with 96 nations. The new visa waiver system requires people to pre-register on the K-ETA system and pay the fee (10,000 KRW). Applications will start on March 30th, 2022.
Please note that this visa waiver K-ETA application is complementary to the QR-CODE needed to board your plain at the departure destination.
The K-ETA is a pre-clearance entry. This doesn’t mean travelers are exempted to meet with the migration official at the port of entry. If the visitor doesn’t have all the necessary papers and has a clear purpose of stay, the officer can still prohibit them to enter Korea.