Effective April 1, 2023, South Korea has temporarily exempted travelers from twenty-two countries and regions from the requirement to obtain a Korean Electronic Travel Authorization (K-ETA) before entry. The exemption will be in place through at least December 31, 2024. Among the locations covered by the exemptions are the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Japan, and Taiwan. According to the notice by South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the temporary policy is intended to support the revitalization of the country’s tourism industry, which has been heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Background: The K-ETA Requirement

South Korea allows foreign nationals from dozens of countries to enter the country for temporary tourism or business purposes without first obtaining a visa stamp. Prior to the April 1 announcement, all such foreign nationals who wished to enter the country visa-free were required to obtain a K-ETA before boarding their flight. The K-ETA application is submitted electronically but can sometimes take more than seventy-two hours to process. The K-ETA is valid for two years from the date of approval, and individuals with a K-ETA are not required to submit an arrival card upon entry.

The K-ETA Exemption

Under the newly announced policy, South Korea will exempt visa-free travelers from the following countries or regions from the requirement to obtain a K-ETA:

  • Asia: Hong Kong, Japan, Macao, Singapore, Taiwan
  • Americas: Canada, United States (including Guam)
  • Europe: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom
  • Oceania: Australia, New Zealand

Foreign nationals of countries not listed above who intend to travel visa-free to South Korea must still obtain a K-ETA before departure. Foreign nationals who take advantage of the K-ETA exemption will be required to submit an arrival card on entry.

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