Earlier this month South Korea made the latest relaxation to its quarantine-free arrival scheme, removing the pre-departure COVID-19 test requirement for visitors and returning residents from 3rd September 2022, but retaining on-arrival testing at the airport.
A self-isolation period has also been recommended, while awaiting the results of the on-arrival PCR test, which can take a few hours to come through.
Needless to say this was always a worrying aspect of the trip for travellers, with up to seven days of quarantine facing those who returned a positive on-arrival test, not to mention there’s a cost of around S$70-90 involved for the swab itself.
On-arrival testing in South Korea currently applies regardless of age or nationality.
On-arrival PCR test removed from 1st October
This will leave China (including Hong Kong) as the only country in the world imposing post-arrival PCR testing on travellers from next month.
South Korea already removed its vaccination requirement for travellers from 8th June 2022, meaning everyone can now visit without any vaccination, testing or quarantine – just like the good old days.
South Korea has maintained strict pandemic travel restrictions since adopting a two-way Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) with Singapore, and later opening to visitors from other countries, so this latest policy shift is a very welcome removal of all inbound traveller restrictions.
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)
This expense will happily no longer need to be factored in to your trip budget when heading to South Korea, plus you’ll save time at the airport with the freedom to head straight to your accommodation or final destination once you’ve collected your bags.
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 1st October 2022.
Eligibility & Process
Singapore South Korea
* Not applicable for South Korean citizens or permanent residents
It costs KRW 10,000 (around S$10) to apply for a K-ETA. Once approved, this is valid for multiple entries over the next two years.
Remember there is no requirement to be vaccinated to travel to South Korea, with the country removing this requirement on 8th June 2022, so you don’t need to worry about uploading any certificates or even bringing them along with you.
Do note that the embassy guide to quarantine-free Singapore – South Korea travel has yet to be updated at the time of writing, to reflect these latest relaxations.
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.
Finally from 1st October 2022 the process is entirely free of restrictions in both directions, with the exception of obtaining a K-ETA prior to departure, and completing Singapore’s SGAC form before returning home.
The removal of the on-arrival PCR test at the airport when flying into Seoul, Busan or Jeju, and the recommendation to self-isolate until a negative result is received, will remove concerns many travellers have had about the consequences of testing positive at the start of their trip.
In the worst case, a mandatory seven-day quarantine at a designated facility has been imposed for visitors who test positive on arrival, so it’s great to have this concern removed.
There’s also a cost saving, with the on-arrival PCR test at Busan or Jeju costing around S$68 and at Seoul Incheon costing around S$84, money that can be better spent on enjoying your trip!