One of the strictest Asian nations when it comes to pandemic management, South Korea has finally begun its reopening process after two years of barring most visitors from entering due to Covid. While it is far from being a full reopening in the mold of fellow Asian hotspot Vietnam, there are good news for Korea enthusiasts, especially those vaccinated.
Throughout the pandemic, South Korea resorted to some of the most stringent measures in order to halt the spread of Covid and its variants, including Omicron. Among those were the usual border closures, blanket country bans, successive lockdowns, contact tracing, and financially crippling testing regimes for those visitors who were able to bypass bans.
Now, those travel curbs will soon a thing of the past:
Vaccinated Foreigners Again Allowed To Enter South Korea Quarantine-Free From April 1
Two years after enacting tough border measures in response to the health crisis, South Korea will finally allow vaccinated tourists to return to its shores without quarantine. The country will be pushing ahead with the lifting of the mandate even though it has been experiencing a record rise in infections lately.
Starting April 1, 2022, vaccinated foreigners who are able to present a valid vaccination certificate and have registered their vaccination history on the online Quarantine COVID19 Defence (Q-Code) system will no longer need to isolate on arrival. They must submit their personal and health information prior to traveling, otherwise they will still be subject to quarantine.
Before the rule was lifted, there was a mandatory 7-day quarantine in place for international arrivals, irrespective of vaccination status. Travelers were also required to present a negative PCR test result issued within 48 hours of flying, increasing costs further and adding to the pains of traveling during the pandemic.
So far, the U.S. Embassy in the Republic of Korea makes no mention of a lifting of the pre-departure testing rule, meaning it is possible that vaccinated travelers will still be required to submit a negative PCR test before departure. There is still no testing in place for those who are only transiting a South Korean airport, and who do not pass through border control.
What Vaccines Are Accepted For Travel To South Korea?
The Government of South Korea initially considers Americans and other visitors to be immunized when they have had two doses of an approved-shot (one dose in the case ofJohnson & Johnson). If more than 180 days have passed since the initial vaccination scheme, visitors can enter quarantine-free by providing proof of a booster dose.
Whether it’s two doses under six months (one with Johnson & Johnson), or complete vaccination and a booster, at least 14 days must have passed since the most recent shot before foreigners become eligible for travel. All of the following vaccines, which have been widely used in the United States, have been approved for use in South Korea:
- AstraZeneca (SK Bioscience)
- AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria)
- Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty)
- Johnson & Johnson/Janssen
- Moderna (Spikevax)
- Nuvaxovi (Novavax)
Even though the quarantine order is being waived for vaccinated tourists, all arrivals are still subject to random health screening upon arrival, including Covid tests on the spot if selected. As reported by Time Out, unvaccinated travelers will still be required to isolate for a week before they are allowed to travel freely within South Korea.
Throughout the crisis, the borders of South Korea remained virtually sealed to tourists, with only returning Korean nationals and habitual residents allowed in. In February, the government started easing restrictions, axing three days off of the quarantine period in order to welcome more visitors. From April, this same quarantine will be removed in full.
- Travelers must still apply for a Q-Code before flying
- They can avoid quarantine by presenting a valid vaccination certificate
- If more than 180 days have passed since the initial doses, a booster is required
Southeast Asia Also Moves Towards A Broader Reopening
In the wider Asian continent, which has also experienced tough border closures, new travel bubbles are also being formed in order for visitors to country-hop more smoothly, and even the highly conservative Singapore (in terms of Covid) has reopened to all nations recently. With most of its competitors back in the game, it is no wonder South Korea is looking to catch up.
The country is one of the most vibrant destinations in Southeast Asia, and in recent years has dominated pop culture. Either through huge Korean pop acts, with the likes of BTS and Blackpink all hailing from there, highly popular TV shows, such as Squid Game, or its up and coming cinema scene (with Oscar-winning Parasite coming to mind), this is a cultural destination in the making.
Its facilitated entry rules will also make it a lot easier for vaccinated tourists to enjoy a hassle-free vacation, whether coming from North America, the United Kingdom, Europe, or Australia. When traveling to South Korea, foreigners are still advised to follow guidance issued by their own country’s embassies and make sure they comply with all border requirements in place.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories