South Korea to eliminate pre-departure COVID-19 testing

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From 3 September, South Korea will eliminate its pre-departure test requirement- although it will retain on-arrival PCR testing.

South Korea is one of the few remaining countries to still require pre-departure testing; even COVID-zero holdouts like Taiwan and Japan have dropped or will drop the requirement soon. There was even a period of time when the Korean authorities were considering reinstating mandatory pre-departure PCR testing for all arrivals!

Thankfully, sensible heads have prevailed, and from 3 September 2022, South Korea will drop the pre-departure COVID-19 test requirement for all international arrivals. 

However, on-arrival PCR testing will still be required, with a possible 7-day stay in a designated isolation facility for foreigners who test positive.

South Korea to end pre-departure testing

South Korea is ending pre-departure COVID-19 testing

South Korea currently requires all international arrivals to present a negative pre-departure  COVID-19 test before boarding their flight. The test can be:

  • A PCR  test taken within 2 calendar days of departure
  • A professionally-administered ART taken within 1 calendar days of departure (tele-supervised ARTs are not acceptable)

This requirement is waived for children aged 5 and below.

From 3 September 2022, this requirement will be eliminated altogether. However, on-arrival PCR testing within 1 day of arrival still be required.

Incheon Airport East testing centre

The on-arrival PCR test is compulsory, regardless of your length of stay in South Korea. The results must be registered on the Q-code website, and travellers are “recommended” to remain in their accommodation until they receive a negative result.

Should the on-arrival test result be positive, a 7-day quarantine will be required. Korean nationals and ARC holders may self-quarantine at home while short-term visitors will serve the quarantine at an allocated quarantine facility.

Summary of South Korea travel requirements

Here’s a summary of the travel requirements to South Korea, effective 3 September 2022. 

🇰🇷 Summary: Travel to South Korea
(from 3 September 2022)
Full Details: Korean Embassy

The main pre-departure requirements are to get your K-ETA (if you hold a passport from Singapore or another visa-waiver country) and Q-Code completed. The Q-Code requires the completion of a health declaration and submission of pre-departure test results- the latter will be removed from 3 September onwards. 

As a reminder, South Korea lifted the mandatory vaccination requirement for all arrivals from 8 June 2022. 

Conclusion

When South Korea first opened to Singapore under the VTL, up to five PCR tests were required for a round-trip journey, which would easily cost upwards of S$700. From 3 September, only a single on-arrival PCR test will be necessary. We’ve come a long way indeed!

Here’s the thing though: I’d much rather they have kept pre-departure testing and eliminated on-arrival testing. After all, if I’m COVID-positive, I’d much rather find out before I get on the plane, since a 7-day quarantine isn’t a great way to start your vacation. Until testing is fully removed, skittish travellers may want to hold off on their plans.

Is on-arrival PCR testing a deal-breaker for you?

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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Amos

Still going, but for the sake of not having a rude shock on arrival, the plan is to do a PCR before departure anyway. At least an insurance claim can be made for cancelling the trip due to health/COVID reasons, unless there’s some fine print in the insurance that I don’t know about yet. Our trip is end November, so we’ve yet to buy travel insurance for it. Who knows what travel to Korea will be like that anyway. A lot can happen in 2 months. Having said that, I don’t see how keeping on arrival testing makes any difference.… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by Amos
Leana

For info, travel insurance need to be bought min 3 days b4 the trip for any covid related claim can be made, including trip cancellation.

Amos

Thanks for the heads up Leana! We usually buy our insurance a month or two prior to departure anyway.

Jordan

Non-related to post, But still waiting anxiously for Taiwan to open. Anyone has any clue on possible dates/periods for TW reopening for tourist?

Ms Tsai

You wait long long lah

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