South Korea Travel Restrictions


The COVID-19 pandemic has led to travel restrictions worldwide, including in South Korea. To mitigate the spread of the virus, South Korea has imposed entry restrictions and quarantine requirements for travelers.

Only Korean nationals, foreign residents, and certain visa holders are allowed to enter the country, subject to mandatory COVID-19 testing and quarantine. Domestic travel restrictions have also been implemented, with some areas under lockdown and non-essential travel discouraged.

As the situation evolves, travelers must keep up with the latest regulations and guidelines to ensure a safe and smooth trip to South Korea.

Overview of South Korea’s Current COVID-19 Situation

The response from South Korea to COVID-19 has been outstanding. Building on its experience managing Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). South Korea could quickly flatten the epidemic curve without imposing stay-at-home orders, or closing down businesses.

Or putting in place many of the more stringent measures other high-income nations took until late 2020. It accomplished this success by creating clear guidelines for the general public, carrying out extensive testing and contact tracing, and assisting those in quarantine to facilitate compliance.

A more significant, widespread outbreak in December 2020 was gradually controlled after the nation successfully managed episodes in March and August. The three stages of the framework for epidemic preparedness and response—detection, containment, and treatment—have all been successful for South Korea.

Entry Restrictions for Foreign Travelers to South Korea

To stop the spread of COVID-19, a particular immigration procedure is required for everyone entering Korea. Travelers are advised to check the Korea Disease Control Agency for updates as immigration safety regulations are frequently changed (KDCA). 

Complete the Health Questionnaire and Travel Record Declaration (Special Quarantine Report) on the aircraft. This does not apply to those who pre-registered their information as Q-code applicants.

When you get to the airport, go to the quarantine checkpoint and submit your paperwork after checking your temperature. The pre-issued Q.R. code that Q-code applicants receive can be used in place of printed documentation.

  • Declaration on the Health Questionnaire and Travel Records
  • Passport

All of the documents above may be pre-registered using Q-code.

And After passing through immigration, people who have completed their vaccinations (either in Korea or abroad) and who exhibit no symptoms (such as fever, cough, etc.). During the health screening process or on their health questionnaire are allowed to continue to their destination.

Mandatory Quarantine Requirements for Travelers Entering South Korea

South Korea has implemented mandatory quarantine requirements for travelers entering the country to prevent the spread of COVID-19. All travelers, including Korean nationals, foreign residents, and certain visa holders, are subject to a mandatory quarantine period of 14 days upon arrival.

Travelers must also provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 72 hours before departure to South Korea.

The quarantine can be conducted at a government-designated facility or at the traveler’s own accommodation, depending on the traveler’s status and circumstances. Those who choose to quarantine at their own accommodation must install a self-diagnosis app

and report their health status daily. Failure to comply with quarantine requirements can result in fines and deportation.

South Korea has also designated high-risk countries, and travelers from those countries are subject to additional testing and quarantine requirements. The list of high-risk countries is subject to change, and travelers need to check the latest updates before planning their trip to South Korea.

COVID-19 Testing Requirements for Travelers Entering South Korea

We will direct you to the open areas for passengers going to places that need a COVID-19 negative certificate. Selected Medical Clinic and the COVID-19 Testing Center at Incheon International Airport are authorized to administer the COVID-19 test and issue certificates for those looking to travel abroad from Korea.

(Ahead inspection and issuance require wired and wireless confirmation.) Before visiting the Incheon Airport COVID-19 Testing Center, please verify the time of result availability. The times for the arrival and departure PCR test results are identical.

Once you receive your certificate via SMS or email, please revisit the testing center to pick it up. When requested, the test result is sent via encrypted mail. Please confirm that you can print it on your own.

Restrictions on Domestic Travel Within South Korea

For entry into South Korea, there is no requirement for a COVID-19 test before travel or a PCR test upon arrival. When coming from China, Hong Kong, or Macau, for instance. You must wear a mask while using public transportation and in places with a risk of infection, such as hospitals and pharmacies. 

South Korea is still at risk for COVID-19. You must isolate for seven days if your test is favorable while you are in South Korea. Visit the websites of the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) for the most recent information on COVID-19 in South Korea.

There are high levels of pollution, especially from March to May. Strong winds from China and Mongolia are also responsible for bringing yellow dust to the Korean Peninsula. This might irritate your mouth, nose, eyes, and throat.

If you have heart or breathing issues, seek medical attention. South Korean medical facilities are typically high quality, but only a few staff members speak English. Most likely, you’ll have to pay in advance. Make sure your travel insurance includes coverage for all medical expenses. South Korea is well-known.

Although South Korean hospitals generally have high standards, only a few staff members can speak English. Most likely, you’ll have to pay in advance. Make sure your travel insurance covers all medical expenses. Medical tourism is standard in South Korea.

When traveling for a procedure, do your homework and pick your medical service providers wisely. Avoid using cheap or unlicensed providers. Make sure the complications of surgery are covered by your travel insurance.

Impact of South Korea Travel Restrictions on the Tourism Industry

Regarding visitor arrivals and export earnings, South Korea has been a growing market for the United States. The increase in outbound tourism has been 

fueled by Koreans’ desire for international travel and the abundance of information shared through media and social networking sites. Due to COVID-19, the years 2020–2021 have unfortunately been difficult.

International travel restrictions have had a significant negative impact on the Korean travel industry as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, which has caused an unprecedented crisis.

1.22 million Koreans made international trips in 2021, a 95.7 percent decline from 2019. In the same year, 202,711 Koreans visited the U.S., a 91.2 percent decline from the year before the pandemic.

The Korean market is expected to be one of the first to recover and one of the most popular inbound travel destinations for Americans after the pandemic. However, Korea is recognized internationally for its successful handling of COVID-19 without the enforcement of total lockdowns.

Following a four-month flight suspension, U.S. airlines started flying again to domestic destinations in July 2020.

Tips for travelers planning a trip to South Korea during COVID-19

All travelers are advised to check entry requirements with the Korean authorities before travel as they are subject to change at short notice. The Korean Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA), Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW), and Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Ireland have up-to-date websites.

Neither before nor after entry into Korea is necessary to take the COVID-19 test. To make the arrival process more efficient, the Korean authorities advise all arrivals to use the ‘Q-Code system’ to register their travel schedules and health status.

Mandatory quarantine still applies to those who get a positive COVID-19 test result while in Korea. Short-term foreign visitors are required to complete their quarantine in a government facility and are responsible for all costs. Long-term residents and those from Korea may finish the quarantine there.

It is doubtful that the lives of people living in the Republic of Korea will be affected by the escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula. Visitors should keep an eye on the travel advice in case of a rise in tensions, though recent missile tests by North Korea are cause for concern.

The public should also watch local media reports and government advice for updates. Follow the Irish Embassy Korea on Twitter if you’re an Irish citizen living in Korea. Based on updates provided by the authorities in Ireland and Korea.

We will issue travel advice from @IrishEmbKorea in the event of a crisis. To ensure they can receive any communications issued by the Embassy, we strongly advise all Irish citizens living in Korea to register on our citizen’s registration portal.

The future outlook for South Korean travel restrictions

Due to decreased global disease activity, South Korean authorities have ordered a slight relaxation of the nation’s COVID-19-related international travel restrictions, which will take effect on February 11. The management will start issuing short-term visas for visitors from China following the new regulations.

However, officials will demand that all visitors from Hong Kong, Macau, and mainland China show proof that they had a PCR or rapid antigen test performed within 48 or 24 hours before departure and that the results were negative. Visitors from China will also continue to be tested upon arrival.

  • Domestic Measures

With some exceptions, face masks are no longer required in most indoor public spaces (e.g., healthcare facilities and public transportation). Provinces will likely have different domestic restrictions, such as gathering limitations and testing requirements. Depending on the level of domestic COVID-19 activity, the authorities may loosen or enlarge the current limits.

  • International Travel Restrictions

With a few exceptions, visa-free and visa-waiver programs are once again available. At least 72 hours before entry, passport holders from countries that qualify must obtain an electronic travel authorization (K-ETA).


In conclusion, navigating South Korea’s travel restrictions in the age of COVID-19 can be daunting. Like many other countries, South Korea has implemented various measures. To prevent the spread of the virus, which can affect travel plans.

However, with careful planning, adherence to health and safety protocols, and keeping updated on the latest regulations. Travelers can still enjoy the beauty of South Korea. The pandemic has brought a new level of awareness to the importance of responsible and sustainable travel.

While the process may be challenging, it has also presented an opportunity to appreciate the value of exploring new cultures and experiences. while prioritizing public health and safety.

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