South Korea reopening to international tourists from 21 March

South Korea will reopen to fully vaccinated tourists from 21 March, and make it easier to register overseas vaccinations.

While Singaporeans have enjoyed a virtual monopoly on Seoul’s sights and sounds thanks to the Singapore-South Korea VTL, those days are coming to an end soon. 

From 21 March 2022, South Korea will reopen its borders to the world, allowing fully vaccinated tourists to visit without quarantine. 

There will also be a greater emphasis on the use of antigen rapid tests (ARTs) instead of PCRs, with the country already moving to change the Day 6/7 PCR test requirement to a self-administered ART. However, pre-departure and on-arrival testing will still require PCRs. 

South Korea reopening on 21 March

South Korea will reopen to vaccinated tourists from 21 March

From 21 March 2022, fully vaccinated tourists can visit South Korea without quarantine.

The full details of the plan (in Korean) can be found on the MOH’s website; a translated summary (in English) can be found here.

In short, the current 7-day quarantine will be lifted according to the following timelines:

  • From 21 March: For those who have been vaccinated in Korea, or abroad and have registered their vaccination with the Korean authorities
  • From 1 April: For those who have completed vaccination abroad but have not registered their vaccination history
⚠️ Exceptions
A 7-day quarantine will still be required for travellers from high risk countries, which currently include Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine and Myanmar

Registering an overseas vaccination will be possible via this link from 21 March 2022 onwards.

South Korea defines fully vaccinated travellers as those who have received any vaccine on the WHO’s EUL, with the following time limits:

  • Completed primary regime: 14-180 days after vaccination
  • Completed booster jab: No time limit

Travellers will be required to take the following COVID-19 tests:

  • Within 48 hours of departure to South Korea (PCR)
  • On arrival in South Korea [and isolate until negative result received] (PCR)
  • On Day 6/7, if staying at least 8 days (self-administered ART)

After taking the on-arrival test at Incheon Airport, travellers will be required to head to their hotel and isolate until a negative result is received. From 1 April 2022, they may take either public or private transportation to the hotel.

How does this affect the Singapore-South Korea VTL?

The process for Singaporeans will be the same as before

Not a whole lot, actually. 

The requirements for international arrivals are exactly the same as those for Singaporeans currently travelling to South Korea under the VTL. 

If anything, it makes things slightly easier. 

Singaporeans wanting to travel to South Korea are currently required to have a 14-day travel history featuring Singapore or South Korea only; that will no longer be required from 21 March.

In addition, Singaporeans currently have to visit a health centre in Korea to register their vaccination (thereby allowing them to use the COOV app to check-in and visit vaccinated-only venues), but from 21 March this can be done online before you arrive.

Finally, Singaporeans currently need to take non-stop flights to Seoul. From 21 March, they will be able to transit in any country so long as it’s not on the high-risk list. 

The difference, if you want to call it that, is that you may have to wait in longer lines for attractions or restaurants as international tourists return!

South Korea VTL: Summary

Here’s the current requirements for travel to South Korea under the VTL. 

✈️ Summary: South Korea VTL
To South Korea 🇰🇷
  • 14 day travel history: Singapore and South Korea only
  • Purchase travel insurance with min. 30M KRW (~S$35K) coverage (short-term visitors only)
  • Apply for K-ETA (foreigners only)
  • Fully vaccinated with any vaccine in the WHO EUL (exemption for children aged 5 and below; unvaccinated children aged 6 and above not allowed entry)
  • Take pre-departure PCR test 48h before flight
  • Take non-stop flight to South Korea
  • Install Self-Check Mobile App and report daily health status for 14 days or duration of stay, whichever is shorter
  • Take PCR test on arrival in South Korea (pre-booking required) and isolate until negative result received
  • Take ART on Day 6 or 7 in South Korea (if stay ≥8 days)

As mentioned in the previous section, some of these  restrictions (e.g. 14 day travel history rule, taking non-stop flight to Korea) will be loosened when 21 March comes. 

Conclusion

South Korea’s transition to living with COVID continues

South Korea will be scrapping its 7-day quarantine for all fully vaccinated travellers from 21 March 2022. It will also make it easier for those vaccinated overseas to register their vaccinations and have them recognised locally. 

Singaporeans can already visit South Korea without quarantine, but still stand to benefit from easier vaccination registrations and the loosening of certain rules regarding travel history and non-stop flights. 

Just be prepared for bigger crowds!

Aaron Wong
Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion to help people travel better for less and impress chiobu. He was 50% successful.

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Tina

Great news and thanks for the prompt updates!

Dumdum

TERRIBLE NEWS. Now going to be crowded af

Dilys

Do you kmow if Japan considered a high risk country? I can’t find this info on the South Korea tourism websites.

Tina

I just read from the Korean Embassy in Singapore’s website. It has quite a fair bit of info/update. Based on the Notice issued on 23 Mar 2022; attachment on list of countries which can apply for KETA (updated 1 Apr 2022), it seems to suggest that Japan will not be able to apply KETA yet i.e. a pass to enter Korea.

JW19

Anything on recovered travellers? PCRs are always tricky for folks under this category.

Miles

So If I enter by VTL my two dose vaccine is still valid after 180 days? Only a non-VTL entry requires a booster after 180 days to be valid?

Tom

http://www.koreabiomed.com/news/articleView.html?idxno=13279

The above article has the following paragraph:
Overseas travelers will no longer need to take a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to visit Korea. Instead, the government will only require the results of a rapid antigen test six to seven days before they visit Korea.

Does that mean ART is sufficient?

Matrix.RX1

what is the average time for on-arrival PCR results to appear?

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