A visa is an endorsement or acknowledgment of a specific status, with the specific meaning differing from country to country. Generally speaking, however, it is used to mean one of two things: permission to enter a given country, or a consul's recommendation to accept an entry request by a foreign national.
In the Republic of Korea, the latter definition is used. Therefore, even if one were to have a Korean visa, one can still be denied the right to land on Korean soil should an immigration officer find some requirements unmet upon inspection.
Designated Countries & Regions Granted Visa-Free Entry to Korea
Foreign nationals entering Korea are generally required to have a valid passport and a Korean visa assigned by a Korean embassy or consular office (i.e., overseas). However, many are now permitted visa-free entry for a limited period under certain conditions in accordance with the "Citizens of the Countries under a Visa Exemption Agreement" [Table 1]. Contact a Korean immigration office or visit the following websites to confirm whether you need a visa or not, and any related requirements.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
www.mofa.go.kr (Korean, English)
Korea Immigration Service
www.immigration.go.kr (Korean, English)
Hi Korea (e-government for foreigners)
www.hikorea.go.kr (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
[Table 1] Designated Countries & Regions Granted Visa-Free Entry to Korea
|Asia||Japan (90 Days), Hong Kong (90 Days), Macau (90 Days), Taiwan (90 Days), Kuwait(90 Days), Brunei, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain (90 Days)|
|NorthAmerica||United States (90 Days), Canada (180 Days)|
|South America||Argentina, Honduras, Paraguay, Uruguay (90 Days), Ecuador, Guyana|
|Europe||Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, Cyprus, Albania, Croatia, Slovenia (90 Days), Vatican, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro|
|Oceania||Australia (90 Days), Guam, Fiji, Nauru, Palau, Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, Micronesia, New Caledonia, Samoa, Tuvalu, Tonga|
|Africa||Republic of South Africa, Mauritius, Seychelles, Swaziland, Egypt|
When a foreign national enters the Republic of Korea, he/she shall hold a valid passport and a visa issued by the Minister of Justice. However the following foreign nationals may enter the Republic of Korea without a visa:
1. Persons who obtain permission to reenter or who are exempted from the need for permission to reenter, and who enter the Republic of Korea before the period of such permission or exemption expires;
2. Persons who are nationals of a country which has concluded a Visa Exemption Agreement with the Republic of Korea, and who are subject to exemption under the Convention;
3. Persons who enter the Republic of Korea for international friendship, sightseeing or in the interests of the Republic of Korea, etc., and who have separately obtained an entry permit, as prescribed by Presidential Decree;
4. Persons who have departed from the Republic of Korea with a refugee travel document issued, and enter the Republic of Korea before the term of validity of such certificate expires.
Single Entry Visa
Only a single-entry is permitted for the duration of the visa.
Valid for 3 months from the date of issue.
Multiple entries are permitted as long as the visa remains valid.
- Diplomacy (A-1) / Conventions/Agreements (A-3) visa status: 3 years from date of issue.
- Visa provided under multiple-entry visa agreement: duration specified by the agreement.
- Visa provided for national benefit: duration specified by the Minister of Justice
Should a visa applicant enter Korea prior to the actual issuance of the visa, it will be assumed that the applicant has withdrawn their application, and issuance will be canceled
Visa applicants must claim their visa within 3 months after:
-the date of application or
-the date of notification of approval by the Minister of Justice (if approval is needed)