South Korea has announced a relaxation of its entry requirements, with a removal of the mandatory negative COVID-19 PCR or ART test within two days of departure from your home country, though with PCR testing still imposed on arrival it’s probably not the improvement most travellers wanted to see.
The simplified procedure applies for arrivals from 3rd September 2022, and includes those who depart from another country on 2nd September 2022 but arrive in South Korea on 3rd September 2022 at 0.00am onwards.
Unfortunately you are still required to complete a COVID-19 PCR test on arrival in South Korea, which must be conducted at the airport unless you are Korean national or resident.
Self-isolation continues to be recommended until you have received a negative result from the on-arrival test, however you can take public transport or domestic flights in the meantime.
Pre-departure testing removed
Recently South Korea has been one of the few countries popular with Singapore residents that still imposed a pre-departure testing requirement, with those arriving from overseas required to take one of the following tests:
- a PCR test within 2 days of departure; or
- an ART test (clinic only) within 1 day of departure.
Tele-ARTs were not permitted, only tests administered by a medical professional (i.e. clinic ART or PCR) were accepted.
For those arriving in the country from 3rd September 2022 at 0.00am onwards, this requirement will be removed.
For most of our readers making the trip from Singapore this will save costs of around S$18 (clinic ART), plus the hassle of having to make a trip to a clinic to have your test conducted.
Latest on-arrival test process
Since 10th August 2022 , all short-term visitors (tourists) must complete their on-arrival PCR test at the airport when touching down in Seoul (Incheon Airport), Busan (Gimhae Airport) or Jeju Airport.
All three of these cities now feature direct flights from Singapore.
Citizens and residents of South Korea are still permitted to take their on-arrival tests at an approved clinic by 11.59pm the day after their flight’s arrival date, but this option is currently not available to visitors.
Here are the booking links for the on-arrival test at the various airport locations.
South Korea Airport
On-arrival test booking
|Seoul Incheon Airport
|Busan Gimhae Airport
The cost of on-arrival PCR testing in South Korea is currently:
- At Seoul Incheon: KRW 80,000 (around S$84)
- At Busan or Jeju: KRW65,000 (around S$68)
On-arrival testing in South Korea applies regardless of age or nationality.
Your on-arrival test result should also be registered at the Q-code website, which is also used for recording pre-departure test information.
Do note that taking the a COVID-19 PCR test on arrival in South Korea is mandatory. If you fail to take the test, you could face to up to one year of imprisonment or a fine of up to KRW10 million (S$10,500).
After the on-arrival test:
- You are recommended to proceed directly to your residence or accommodation and self-isolate until a negative result is received.
- You can proceed to your accommodation by public transport, including on trains, while waiting for the result.
- You can proceed to your accommodation in another city in South Korea by domestic flight, while waiting for the result.
What if the on-arrival test is positive?
It’s very important to remember that if your on-arrival COVID-19 PCR test result is positive, a mandatory seven-day quarantine period is required in South Korea.
Even with this latest removal of pre-departure test requirements, we doubt many travellers will want to travel to South Korea without taking at least a self-swab ART test at home, to minimise the risk of testing positive on arrival and potentially facing quarantine.
Korean nationals and Alien Registration Card (ARC) holders may self-quarantine at home, however short-term visitors must serve the quarantine at an allocated facility.
Non-residents who have recovered from COVID-19 but still test positive on arrival are also required to isolate for seven days, regardless of medical documentation of a prior COVID-19 diagnosis.
Singapore – South Korea trip process
Here’s the latest process for those travelling from Singapore (and other countries) quarantine-free to South Korea, for arrivals from 3rd September 2022.
Eligibility & Process
Singapore South Korea
- Apply for an Electronic Travel Authorisation at least 24 hours in advance*
- Obtain a Q-code, which must be presented upon arrival
- Take a COVID-19 PCR test on arrival at the airport in Seoul, Busan or Jeju, with a recommendation to self-isolate until a negative result is received
- Upload your on-arrival test result via the Q-code website
* Not applicable for South Korean citizens or permanent residents
There is no requirement to be vaccinated to travel to South Korea, with the country removing this requirement on 8th June 2022.
What about transits?
If you’re transiting in South Korea on a connecting itinerary without clearing immigration (i.e. with onward boarding pass and any luggage checked through to your final destination), you are exempt from the country’s on-arrival testing requirements.
Only the requirements of your final destination (if any) will apply. Transit time must not exceed 24 hours.
South Korea has come a long way since its initial array of testing, combined with Singapore’s original VTL requirements, which meant adding S$600+ in costs to a round-trip between the two countries.
From 3rd September 2022 there will no longer be a requirement to have a pre-departure PCR or ART test, though we think many travellers will still do one in order to avoid a nasty surprise by testing positive on arrival.
While this is the simplest process so far, visitors still need to take an on-arrival PCR test at the airport itself when flying into Seoul, Busan or Jeju, with a recommendation to self-isolate until a negative result is received.
In the worst case, a mandatory seven-day quarantine at a designated facility is still imposed for visitors who test positive on arrival, so be sure to at least take a pre-departure self-swab ART to minimise the risk of that unpleasant scenario.
(Cover Photo: Korea Tourism)