Republic of Korea

Republic of Korea

Customs regulations

Used Household Goods and Personal Effects

Documents Required

  • Copy of passport (photo, entry stamp, & long term visa pages)
  • Detailed inventory / packing list (in English)
  • Copy of bill of lading (OBL) or sea waybill / air waybill (AWB)
  • Alien registration card (ARC) (from Korean Immigration Office)
  • Certificate of entry and exit (returning citizens and accompanying family members only)
  • Application for duty exemption issued by Ministry of Foreign Affairs Korea (diplomats)
  • Customs declaration form
  • Power of attorney

Specific Information

  • Passport copy should be a copy of the owner of the goods’ passport, and each of the accompanying family members.
  • The ARC must be valid for at least 12 months.
  • Goods must arrive at port of entry / airport of entry (POE / AOE) in Korea within 6 months of the owner of the goods’ arrival.
  • Clearance should take place at a Customs bonded warehouse (except for diplomats).
  • Personal effects cannot be Customs cleared prior to the owner of the goods’ arrival.
  • All incoming shipments, excluding diplomatic shipments, are subject to open inspection by the Korean Customs Authority.
    • However, even diplomats, due to container access restriction within Seoul’s four main gates area, must have containers de-vanned and trans-loaded to mover’s van but without inspection.
  • Evidence of at least 12 months abroad must be shown in passport (returning citizens).
Import regulations:
  1. Free import of 60 milliliters of perfume, goods for personal use and gifts up to a value of USD 600.-.
  2. Free import for persons of 19 years of age and older:
    – 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 20 milligrams of E-cigarettes or 250 grams of other tobacco products;
    – 1 liter (one bottle) of alcoholic beverages up to a value of USD 400.-.

Restricted/Dutiable Items

  • Illegal drugs
  • Pornographic material
  • Counterfeit goods or materials
  • Subversive and treasonous materials
  • Weapons (including imitation), ammunition and explosive material (fireworks) only with permission from Commissioner General of National Police Agency
  • Drugs(Narcotics and Psychotropic substance)
  • Animals, plants and products thereof including foodstuff is subject to quarantine and may not be allowed to enter. For more information contact nearest embassy or consulate or appropriate authority –plant or animal for required certificates and prohibited items
  • Pets – valid good health certificates as well inoculation proofs are need. For a detailed outline of how the process of bringing your pet animal please see our Contact Tab
  • Endangered animals and plants and products thereof as outline by the CITES convention will require permit from CITES
  • Person carrying more than US$ 10,000 worth of any means of payment (cash, cheque etc.) needs to declare it to the customs. If you plan to bring large amount of money please contact nearest embassy for more detailed information.

Prohibited Items

  • The following household goods may be imported duty free by persons 19 years and older within the limits indicated:
    • Alcohol (1 L)
    • Cigarettes (200), cigars (50), tobacco (250 g)
    • Perfume (2 oz.)
    • Personal items (gifts, new items, etc. up to $400)
  • Firearms, ammunition, and explosive materials, including fireworks (permission from the Korean authorities is required)
  • Narcotic and psychotropic drugs
  • Animals
  • Foodstuff
    • Food items are allowed in sea shipments only.
    • If the owner of the goods is shipping food items ensure all food items are sealed and labeled.
    • Duty free entry for small amounts.
    • The shipment is subject to payment of 20% duty if total amount is too large for a household good shipment.
      • Check with destination agent for more details.
    • Plants and plant byproducts (subject to quarantine and approval by the authorities; denial of entry is possible)

Prohibited:

If arriving from countries with avian influenza outbreaks or other contagious livestock diseases: birds, chicken meat and all other animal products such as ham, sausages, beef jerky etc.
The list of import banned countries may change depending on the outbreak of diseases.
Restrictions:
If arriving from other countries: agricultural, livestock and food products must be declared and reported to the Quarantine Office at the airport. Items may require an import permit, and a phytosanitary and quarantine certificate from the exporting country. Upon arrival items may be subject to quarantine.
For more information, see here

Duty-free allowances for agricultural, forest, fishery and livestock products (oriental medicine materials) can be imported up to a total value of KRW 100,000.-. Item-specific quantity and/or weight limits apply, but total weight must be less than 50kg. For more information, see here

Miscellaneous (Pets, Motors, and others.)

Arms and Ammunition regulations:

Import of weaponry, arms and ammunition requires police permission obtained prior to travel.

Wild Fauna and Flora:

The import of certain endangered species of plant, live animals and their products is prohibited or restricted under CITES. For further details please refer to CITES: www.cites.org

Export regulations:

All baggage will be inspected against verbal declaration.
Prohibited: Korean antiques and curiosities, unless a certificate is attached by the Minister of Culture and Information.

Crew members customs regulations:

Same regulations as for passengers apply. However, the value of goods for personal use and gifts is limited to USD 150.-.

Pets:

Pets may enter as passenger’s luggage in the cabin, checked baggage or as cargo.

Birds may only be imported from Australia, Canada, Chinese Taipei, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Spain, United Kingdom and USA.

Detailed information can be obtained from the Korean Quarantine Office.

Dogs and Cats: Animal health certificate issued by the veterinary authority of the exporting country is required, and must include a microchip identification number. Pets older than 90 days originating from rabies infected countries also require a result of an internationally approved rabies antibody test, carried out within 24 months prior to shipment.
Quarantine period:
a. dogs and cats aged 90 days or older, if:

  • identified with microchip and rabies antibody result was 0.5 IU/ml or higher: no quarantine required;
  • microchip not implanted: until microchip has been implanted;
  • rabies antibody test was not conducted or was below 0.5 IU/ml: until test shows a result of 0.5 IU/ml or higher after vaccination;

b. dogs and cats aged under 90 days or arriving from rabies free region: if

  • identified with microchip: no quarantine required;
  • microchip not implanted: until microchip has been implanted.

Microchips must be ISO-compliant (ISO11784 and 11785 standards). For any other chips, importers must bring their own microchip scanner.
Rabies free region are subject to change. Detailed information can be found at www.qia.go.kr or Tel: Gimpo Airport (GMP) 82226642601, Incheon Airport (ICN): 82327402660/1, Gimhae Airport (PUS): 82519711925, Muan Airport (MWX): 82629756033, Jeju Airport (CJU): 82647460761.
For a list of rabies testing authorized laboratories, see https://ec.europa.eu/food/animals/pet-movement/approved-labs. The average quarantine period can be extended for 10 days, depending on the case.

Cats from Australia and cats and dogs from Malaysia require a certificate showing that the animal is free from the Hendra and Nipah virus. Without such certificate, the quarantine period will be extended by 21 days.

Baggage Clearance regulations:

Baggage is cleared at the first airport of entry in Korea (Rep.). Baggage entering Korea (Rep.) can only be checked-in to the first international airport. Passengers connecting with domestic flights must clear their baggage and then recheck-in their baggage to their final destination. On average, clearance takes 1 hour.

Exempt: through checked baggage of transit passengers arriving at Incheon (ICN) with a final destination of Busan (PUS) or Daegu (TAE) connecting with:

  • Busan (PUS): Korean Air flights KE1401/1403/1405/1407 or Asiana Airlines flight OZ8531/8533;
  • Daegu (TAE): Korean Air flights KE1411/1413/1415.

Passenger must not clear immigration at ICN Airport but must proceed directly to the domestic transfer desk.
Exempt: baggage of transit passengers with a destination outside of Korea (Rep.) if the onward flight is within 24 hours at Seoul Incheon (ICN) or on the same calendar day at all other airports.

Passengers whose unaccompanied baggage will arrive by a later flight are required to make a declaration to Customs and to obtain a “Clearance Record of Accompanied Baggage” at time of entry.

Currency

Currency Import regulations:

Allowed.
Residents: Local currency (Korean Won-KRW) up to KRW 8,000,000.-. Foreign currencies: as from 20 years of age: USD 10,000.-.

Non-residents: Local currency (Korean Won-KRW) up to KRW 8,000,000.-. Foreign currencies: unlimited, if declared on arrival. Amounts exceeding the equivalent of USD 10,000.- (including traveler’s cheques) must be accompanied by a “Declaration of Foreign Currencies” form.
No declaration is required for diplomats, diplomatic missions, US military personnel and those coming on official business (duty).

Currency Export regulations:

Allowed: local currency (Korean Won-KRW) up to KRW 8,000,000.-; foreign currencies up to the amount declared on import.

Motor Vehicles

Documents Required

  • Original title
  • Original registration certificate
  • Copy purchase receipt or invoice
  • Insurance policy documents
  • Detailed inventory (diplomats)
  • Customs duty exemption showing frame number, chassis number, engine number, model, and type (diplomats)

Specific Information

  • Vehicle must be listed on the inventory with full technical specifications (make, model, chassis number, plate number, etc.)
  • Insurance policy should be issued in Korea prior to removing the car from the Customs bonded warehouse.
  • In order to register and to drive in South Korea, the vehicle must pass the following Government tests:
    • Emission gas level test
    • Noise and vibration test
    • Type and model approval
  • Vehicles cannot be sold or transferred by a diplomat to a non-diplomatic individual for 3 years; however sale or transfer between diplomatic individuals is authorized.
    • If a vehicle is sold or transferred to a non-diplomatic individual by a diplomat, duties and taxes shall be charged by Korean Customs.
  • The vehicle must be identified on the detailed inventory.

Pets

Documents Required

  • Microchip installation showing below information:
  • Valid health certificate
  • Vaccination record (must include rabies vaccination)
  • Proof of identification

Specific Information

  • Animals will be quarantined upon arrival to South Korea; currently, there is a 10-day quarantine required.
  • Animals should have vaccinations at least 30 days prior to import.
  • If rabies vaccinations are not older than 30 days, pets must remain in quarantine the 10-days plus the number of days to total 30 full days since the rabies vaccination.

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  • Traveller information

No airport tax is levied on passengers upon embarkation at the airport.

Entry requirements

The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.

The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

Entry rules in response to coronavirus (COVID-19)

Visa

South Korean diplomatic missions in the UK suspended the issuing of visas on 29 December 2020. Exceptions to this will only be made in limited circumstances. You should check visa requirements with the Embassy of the Republic of Korea, London.

Transiting in South Korea

All transit passengers receive a temperature check on arrival in Korea. Symptomatic individuals will be subject to a COVID-19 test and hospitalisation if found positive. Passengers who do not show symptoms and/or test negative may continue their journey. Transit passengers at Seoul Incheon Airport require a ticket/boarding pass for their onward flight to their final destination. They should confirm with the airline(s) before departure that their bags have been checked through to their final destination (as transit passengers are not able to collect and re-check in baggage on arrival in Incheon Airport).

Transit hotels are available in both Terminals 1 and 2 at Incheon Airport.

Testing / screening on arrival

All foreign nationals arriving in South Korea are required to provide a negative PCR test declaration, issued within 72 hours of departure. More details can be found on the Republic of Korea Embassy in London website.

All arrivals – regardless of nationality and length of stay – are also required to be tested for coronavirus (COVID-19) after entering South Korea. Arrivals will be taken for testing and must remain at the testing facility until a negative result has been secured. All must then quarantine for 14 days. Anyone who tests positive will be isolated and treated at a hospital or community treatment centre. Those not showing symptoms on arrival, Korean nationals, and long term foreign visitors with an Alien Registration Card and Korean residence, may self-quarantine at home for 14 days.

All other foreign short-term travellers must quarantine at a government-designated facility for 14 days. Individuals are required to pay a daily charge of 120,000KRW (approximately £81) while in government quarantine facilities.

There is currently no charge for hospital/community centre treatment for British nationals testing positive. It is worth noting that individuals testing positive on arrival may spend over a month in hospital/community treatment centres before testing negative and being discharged.

If you display symptoms or return a positive test result for COVID-19, you must comply with self-quarantine and treatment instructions issued by the Korean authorities. Failure to do so could result in imprisonment, deportation, the revocation of visas or residence permits and an entry ban, and you may be held liable for economic losses incurred by further transmission of the virus. The Ministry of Justice has made clear that this policy applies to foreign residents as well as short-term visitors.

You can find more information on Korean arrival procedures on the Government of the Republic of Korea website.

Data collection

Individuals from the UK will be tested for COVID-19 on arrival, and will need to participate with an active monitoring system via regular calls with a health expert and a specialised mobile App.

Make sure you have with you a mobile telephone with the roaming function enabled, and/or the telephone number of a friend, relative or contact who can update the authorities daily on your state of health. A hotel telephone number will not be accepted. Immigration authorities will undertake a test call before travellers leave the airport, and any individual unable to verify their contact details may be denied entry to South Korea.

Regular entry requirements

Visas

If you have a British Citizen passport you can enter South Korea as a tourist for up to 90 days without a visa. You must also have an onward or return ticket. It’s illegal to work on a tourist visa, whether as a teacher or in any other capacity.

If you have a different type of British nationality, or are travelling for any purpose other than tourism, you should check visa requirements with the Embassy of the Republic of Korea, London.

Long-term visa holders

Foreign nationals residing in South Korea on most types of long-term visa need to apply for a re-entry permit at a local immigration office or at the airport before undertaking any travel out of South Korea. You should engage early with the Immigration Authorities and apply for a re-entry permit in good time ahead of any planned travel.

Long-term visa holders leaving South Korea without a re-entry permit will have their visa and Alien Registration Card cancelled and will need to obtain a new long-term visa before they can re-enter South Korea. There is no longer a requirement for re-entry permit holders to obtain a medical certificate before returning to South Korea, but all travellers require a negative COVID test certificate as detailed above.

Exceptions to the re-entry permit requirement include holders of A-1, A-2, A-3 and F-4 visas, or those issued with an Isolation Exemption Certificate by a Korean Embassy or consulate overseas. The issue of Isolation Exemption Certificates has also been temporarily suspended by the South Korean Embassy in London.

For further information, call the Korean Immigration Contact Centre (Tel: 1345) or see the official announcement here.

Passport validity

Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 3 months from the date of entry into South Korea.

All foreigners living in South Korea are required to report any changes in their passport information (such as when receiving a new passport) either online using the Korean Immigration Office website or by visiting a local immigration office in South Korea. For further information, call the Korean Immigration Contact Centre (Tel: +82 1345).

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from South Korea.

Customs declarations

Check the website of the Korea Customs Service for information on restricted or prohibited items that may not be brought into the country. If you are in any doubt about the legality of any items – including medications – you should declare them on entry.

South Korean customs authorities allow you to bring small amounts of medication for your personal use, provided that it is kept in carry-on baggage. It is advised to take an English language prescription from your doctor at home for both your prescription drugs and non-prescription medicines. It is also a good idea to consult the website of the South Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety before you travel to South Korea.

British males of Korean origin

If you are a British male of Korean origin whose name appears on the Korean family register, you may be liable for military service even if you are travelling on your British passport.

Employment

To get a visa to teach English in South Korea, you must have a 3-year university degree. A TEFL qualification alone is not sufficient. If you are found to have obtained a teaching visa by deception, you will be detained and deported.

British nationals teaching English in South Korea have sometimes found living and working conditions to be below expectations, and have encountered difficulties getting the correct visas and residence permits. There have also been complaints of breach of contract, confiscation of passports, payment being withheld and inadequate or no medical insurance. Check all terms and conditions of your employment carefully and if possible speak to other teachers from the place where you plan to work before accepting any offer.

For those in possession of a work visa, all employment changes must be authorised by Korean Immigration.

Safety and security

Political situation

In April 2018, North Korea announced a halt to nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile testing. However, there has been no senior-level engagement since the meetings held between US President Trump and DPRK leader Kim Jong Un in February and June 2019, and both the level of tension and the security situation on the Korean Peninsula can still change with little notice. Tensions can rise during the regular South Korean-US military exercises, which take place throughout the year. You should follow the advice of local authorities and keep up to date with developments, including via news broadcasts and this travel advice.

Since the end of the Korean War in 1953, the Korean Peninsula has been divided by a demilitarised zone (DMZ) separating the DPRK and the Republic of Korea. Peace has been maintained under an armistice agreement but no formal peace treaty has ever been signed. If you’re in the area of the DMZ, you should exercise caution and follow the advice of the local authorities.

Contingency planning

At times of increased tensions, you should make yourself familiar with local procedures and preparations, including civil emergency exercises and advice (see below). You can also stay up to date with our travel advice for South Korea by subscribing to our email alert service to be notified of future updates, and by following our Twitter and Facebook channels.

As part of your own contingency plans, you should make sure you have easy access to your passport and other important documents such as nationality documents and birth and marriage certificates, as well as any essential medication. You can read our crisis overseas page for further information and advice, including sections on what you can do to prepare effectively, what you should do in the event of a crisis abroad, and how we can help you.

If the situation were to deteriorate, the British Embassy would pass information via this travel advice page and via Embassy Facebook and Twitter feeds.

Civil emergency exercises and advice

The South Korean authorities sometimes hold civil emergency exercises. Sirens are sounded, transport stopped and some people are asked to take shelter indoors, including in designated metro stations or basements. Shelters in Seoul are marked with a special symbol. Participation by foreign nationals in these exercises isn’t obligatory but you should follow any instructions by local authorities during any exercises.

The South Korean government has developed a smartphone application with civil emergency advice, including shelter locations, different types of alarms, medical facilities and emergency services. Search for ‘emergency ready app’ on Android or Apple app stores.

Crime

Crime against foreigners is rare but there are occasional isolated incidents. While most reported crimes are thefts, there have been cases of assaults, including sexual assaults, particularly around bars and nightlife areas. You should remain vigilant and take sensible precautions.

Take extra care of passports, credit cards and money in crowded areas and be careful in areas visited by foreigners, like Itaewon. Take care when travelling alone at night and only use legitimate taxis or public transport.

For emergency assistance, or to report a crime, call 112 for police (a 24 hour interpretation service is available) and 119 for ambulance and fire.

Demonstrations

Public demonstrations in South Korea are common. These gatherings are mostly peaceful and well-policed, but you should take extra care as in any crowded place. You should also be aware that under Korean law, foreign nationals are prohibited from engaging in political activities in South Korea.

Road travel

Under Korean traffic law the maximum blood alcohol content threshold permitted when driving or in charge of a vehicle is 0.03%). This differs to the legal threshold in the UK, which is 0.035%.

All passengers in vehicles must wear seat belts including in rear seats. City buses that are not fitted with seat belts are exempt from this regulation. From 27 May 2020, government COVID-19 procedures include mandatory wearing of masks in public areas and on all public transport.

Drivers are required to take precautionary measures when parking on hills/slopes (such as placing stops behind each wheel, or turning the steering wheel to ensure that the front wheels of the vehicle are angled towards the kerb).

Further information can be found in the Korean Road Traffic Act, though there is currently no official English translation. If you need additional advice, contact the Korean police authority.

You’ll need an International Driving Permit to drive in South Korea. Make sure you have fully comprehensive insurance.

Car and motorbike drivers are presumed to be at fault in accidents involving bicycles or pedestrians. Criminal charges and heavy penalties are common when accidents result in injury, even if guilt is not proved. Watch out for motorcycles travelling at speed on pavements.

Taxi drivers tend to speak little or no English. Although translation services are available, have your destination written in Korean, if possible with a map.

In 2019 there were 3,349 road deaths in the South Korea (source: Department for Transport). This equates to 6.5 road deaths per 100,000 of population and compares to the UK average of 2.6 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2019.