Republic of Korea: New Electronic Travel Authorization to Allow Visa-Free Entry

May 4, 2021

Overview

Last month, the Ministry of Justice of South Korea issued a notice that describes the implementation of a new Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) system that will permit foreign nationals to enter South Korea without a visa. Instead, travelers will be required to provide personal and travel-related information through the new ETA website in advance. The ETA system will undergo a pilot launch test and supplementation period beginning May 3, 2021, through August 2021. The system will be fully implemented in September 2021.

Key Points

  • South Korea is launching a new Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) system that will allow eligible foreign nationals to enter the country visa-free.
  • The new system is set to launch a pilot period from May through August 2021. The system will be fully implemented in September 2021.
  • During the pilot test period, the ETA will be optional for travelers and the application fee will be waived.
  • The ETA system will be eligible to nationals of only 21 countries (United States included) while COVID-19 restrictions continue around the world.
  • Foreign nationals will need to provide personal and travel-related information through the ETA website at least 24 hours prior to traveling to South Korea. This information can be uploaded through this ETA website.

What Are the Changes?

Beginning September 2021, certain foreign nationals traveling to South Korea will be required to upload personal and travel-related information to the new ETA website at least 24 hours before boarding their flight to South Korea. This new system will allow foreign nationals to enter the country without a visa. While the ETA system undergoes a pilot period from May through August 2021, the application fee will be waived for travelers. However, beginning in September 2021, the ETA application fee will be 10,000KRW (local currency) and the application result will be sent via email.

Looking Ahead

South Korea is working toward simplifying the immigration process for foreign nationals coming from many different countries. Beginning in September 2021, after the pilot period, foreign nationals must provide the ETA website a boarding pass with the destination to the Republic of Korea, and the ETA will be valid for up to two years. Foreign nationals will then be allowed to enter the country visa-free and will additionally be exempt from having to submit arrival cards.

Content in this publication is not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. For additional information on the issues discussed, consult an Envoy-affiliated attorney or another qualified professional.

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