COVID-19 Information

Last updated:   11/26/2021 

Read about the latest requirements for travel to the U.S. and other relevant travel information, including answers to FAQs.  

Effective November 8, 2021, all non-immigrant, non-U.S. citizen air travelers to the United States will be required to be fully vaccinated and to provide proof of vaccination status prior to boarding an airplane to the United States.

U.S. citizens and Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs) who are eligible to travel but are not fully vaccinated will need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test one (1) day before their flight. U.S citizens and LPRs who are fully vaccinated will need to present airlines with proof of vaccination and of a negative COVID-19 test three (3) days before their flight.

Exemptions will be considered on an extremely limited basis.  Please contact your nearest embassy or consulate to apply for an exemption.  Please visit the CDC webpages for more information about exemptions and the requirement for proof of negative COVID-19 test or recovery from COVID-19 for all air passengers arriving in the United States.

Country-Specific Information

  • The U.S. Department of State currently has a level 3 travel advisory (Reconsider Travel) for the Republic of Korea (ROK) indicating a high level of COVID-19 in the country. Please see the full language of the travel advisory here.
  • All travelers to Korea must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test result issued within 72 hours of their departure.
  • There is a mandatory 10-day quarantine upon entry for most travelers. Some exceptions may apply. Please direct any questions regarding Korean entry and quarantine requirements to your nearest Korean Embassy or Consulate. General information is detailed below, but please consult the ROK COVID-19 Portal, Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) and the Embassy of the ROK in the USA.
  • Although most stores and public buildings are open, national and local governments exercise authority to regulate businesses, schools, the size and type of gatherings, treatment and quarantine requirements for those who test positive for COVID, and testing mandates to respond to outbreaks.
  • The U.S. Embassy in Seoul is aware of the discriminatory policies that are preventing certain U.S. citizens from registering their U.S. vaccination records at the local health centers. We understand this brings undue hardship to those excluded under the current “living with COVID-19” plan. The U.S. Embassy has raised our serious concerns to the government of South Korea at the highest levels, and we continue to engage with the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and the Korean Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) to resolve this issue without delay.

COVID-19 Testing

  • Are PCR and/or antigen tests available for U.S. citizens in Korea? Yes.
     * PCR tests are more widely used, but both are available.
  • If so, are test results reliably available within 72 hours? Yes.
     * Typical wait time is 24 to 48 hours.
  • Testing for travel purposes. If you need a COVID test for travel or other purposes, many local hospitals and clinics offer them for a fee, usually between $100 and $300. The U.S. Embassy does not have designated testing centers. The Korean government maintains a list in English of COVID-19 testing locations. Please refer to the list and contact the testing facility that is most convenient for you. Also see Incheon Airport’s website for information on COVID-19 testing options at the airport. Please note this testing center is located before passenger check-in and requires an appointment, so it is not available to passengers in transit. Please ensure that the clinic you choose will provide test results that comply with CDC guidelines and those of your airline as travelers present this documentation to their airline. For additional information, including recommendations and requirements after you travel, please refer to the CDC’s Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Testing for health reasons. U.S. citizens experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should immediately contact the Korean Disease Control and Prevention Agency at 1339 (press 6 for English) to be directed to the appropriate facility. Local testing centers may offer free testing if you are identified by the government as a close contact, if you are suffering COVID symptoms, or if the local situation warrants expanded testing. Results from these testing centers are often texted directly to your mobile number and do not include your name.
  • Responsibility for treatment costs. U.S. citizens who are infected with COVID-19 at any time due to violation of ROK preventive measures, such as quarantine measures and limits on group activities, or who submit false COVID-19 examination results must pay for their COVID treatment. More information about this policy is available on the Embassy of the ROK in the United States’ website.

COVID-19 Vaccine Information

  • Has the government of Korea approved a COVID-19 vaccine for use? Yes
  • Are vaccines available in Korea for U.S. citizens to receive? Yes.
  • Which vaccines are available in Korea? The ROK government approved the AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson Janssen, and Moderna vaccines for use.
  • According to ROK guidance issued to local governments on COVID-19 vaccinations (in Korean only), foreigners living in Korea with valid residence cards (i.e., Alien Resident Cards commonly referred to as ARCs) are eligible to receive vaccinations in the same priority order as Korean citizens. See Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency vaccination statistics and FAQs on this website (in Korean only). Contact your local government for more information on when vaccines will be available to your priority group and for vaccine registration information. You may also call 1339 to verify your local government’s contact information. See, for example, the COVID website for Seoul Metropolitan Government. Please refer to the Korea Immigration Service website for additional information on vaccine eligibility and guidelines.
  • Visit the FDA’s website to learn more about FDA-approved vaccines in the United States.
  • The U.S. government does not plan to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to private U.S. citizens overseas. Please follow host country developments and guidelines for COVID-19 vaccination.

Entry and Exit Requirements

  • Are U.S. citizens permitted to enter? Yes.
    * Pre-departure testing required for all inbound travelers to Korea, including those who have been vaccinated. There is also a mandatory 10-day quarantine upon entry for most travelers. See “Quarantine Requirements” below for more information.
    ROK COVID-19 Portal
    Korean Immigration Service
    U.S. Forces Korea’s website to register for more information regarding COVID-19
    The Embassy of the ROK in the USA has information about testing and quarantine requirements for short-term visitors to Korea.
  • Is a negative COVID-19 test (PCR and/or serology) required for entry? Yes.
     * Passengers arriving in the ROK by plane must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test result issued within 72 hours prior to the date of departure. Please refer to the Embassy of the ROK in the USA website for more information. Follow your airline’s guidance and consult with the nearest Korean consulate if you have questions. Please see “Transit Passengers” section below for information on COVID-19 testing requirements for passengers transiting Korean airports (e.g. those who do not pass through immigration).
  • Are health screening procedures in place at airports and other ports of entry? Yes.
      * Arriving passengers will experience some combination of temperature screening, health questionnaires, quarantines, and/or COVID-tests, depending on points of departure, visa status, and nationality. All arriving passengers are required to download and respond to daily questions via a Self-Diagnosis Mobile App for 10 days. See: http://ncov.mohw.go.kr/selfcheck/. Passengers who are unable to download the mobile app must provide a valid local phone number and address in Korea to facilitate daily health monitoring by local government officials.
  • Exit requirements for long-term residents. Foreigners who are long-term residents of the ROK are required to obtain a re-entry permit four business days prior to departure from Korea. The permits are available online through an e-application at www.hikorea.go.kr website. For inquiries, call the Korean Immigration Contact Center at +82-1345.
  • Visa extensions. Travelers wishing to lengthen their stay in Korea must submit an online e-application, documenting the circumstances that compel them to extend their stay. Extensions will not be granted beyond the validity of the passport. Please refer to these websites for more information:
    https://www.hikorea.go.kr
    https://immigration.go.kr/immigration_eng/index.do

Movement Restrictions

  • Is a curfew in place? No
  • Are there restrictions on intercity or interstate travel? Yes.
    * There are no restrictions on domestic travel in Korea. However, those entering Korea from abroad will not be permitted to board domestic connecting  flights (i.e., to Jeju or Busan) until completing government-mandated quarantine.
  • QR code-based access to facilities. Korea has a QR code-based registration system for patrons at restaurants, clubs, and other entertainment facilities across the country that are considered high risk for COVID-19. This system enables the government to conduct contact tracing as COVID cases are identified. Information on this system is available on the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s COVID-19 Portal.

Quarantine Information

  •  Are U.S. citizens required to quarantine? Yes.
       * There is a mandatory 10-day quarantine upon entry for most travelers. Some exceptions may apply. Please direct any questions to your nearest Korean Embassy or Consulate. See the Embassy of the ROK in the USA website for more information.
  • Transit passengers. Passengers originating from the United States who transit through Korean airports (who do not pass through immigration) do not require a negative PCR COVID-19 test and have no quarantine requirement for stays less than 24 hours. Passengers originating from other countries should consult the ROK Embassy in the country of their departure to find out whether a negative PCR COVID-19 test is required to transit through Korean airports. The Korean Immigration Contact Center can clarify testing requirements for transit passengers at telephone number +82-1345. Transit passengers should also confirm entry requirements at their onward destination. Please note, there are no COVID testing facilities available in airport transit areas.
  • Isolation exemption certificates for short-term travelers. Some U.S. citizens traveling to South Korea for business or emergencies such as a family member’s death may be exempt from self-quarantine requirements. Certain categories of vaccinated travelers may also apply for an exemption. Isolation exemption certificates must be approved prior to travel at a Korean Embassy or Consulate in the United States. See website for locations and procedures: http://overseas.mofa.go.kr/us-en/index.do

Transportation Options

  • Are commercial flights operating? Yes.
    * Despite reductions in flight services by several carriers, South Korea remains well-served by commercial aviation. Please see https://www.airport.kr/ap/en/index.do to check departure schedules and flight availability.
  • Is public transportation operating? Yes.
    * Masks are compulsory on all modes of public transportation, including taxis and domestic/international flights. Drivers and pilots are authorized to deny passengers who refuse to wear a mask.

Fines for Non-Compliance

  • Short-term visitors must provide passport information to lodging facility owners, who must forward it to the Ministry of Justice. Failure to comply could result in a fine of 500,000 won (approximately $500). More information is available on hikorea.go.kr.
  • Face masks are compulsory in public places (public transportation, demonstration sites and in healthcare facilities). Failure to wear an appropriate mask that covers both nose and mouth could result in a fine of up to 100,000 won (approximately $100).
  • People suspected of having COVID-19 who refuse to get tested can be fined up to 10 million won (approximately $10,000) or one year of prison.
  • Users and operators of high-risk businesses who violate disinfection and quarantine guidelines can be fined up to 3 million won (approximately $3,000).
  • Those who violate a self-quarantine order may be subject to a fine, arrest, or deportation. This includes failing to respond to daily checks conducted by the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW).
  • Local governments may enact their own fines for non-compliance with COVID-19 rules on gathering size, permitted activities and/or testing mandates.

Consular Operations

  • American Citizen Services offers limited in-person appointments for passports, Consular Reports of Birth Abroad, Loss of Nationality, and notarials. Passport renewal applications (those using form DS-82) must be submitted by courier service. Please see information on all U.S. Citizen Services in Korea on the “U.S. Citizen Services” page of our website: https://kr.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services
  • The U.S. Embassy in Seoul has resumed routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa services for all visa categories; however, the number of visa interviews per day will remain limited to ensure appropriate social distancing. If you have an urgent matter and need to travel immediately, please follow the guidance provided online here to request an emergency appointment. Please see the latest information on U.S. Embassy Seoul visa services on the “Visas” page of our website: https://kr.usembassy.gov/visas/

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