South Korea is a versatile country, known for both the modern cities like the capital Seoul, as well as the traditional temples and the picturesque countryside.
To visit it, citizens of several countries will have to apply for a South Korea visa – although a fair number of them are exempt from visa requirements for short term purposes.
Do I need a visa for South Korea?
You need a visa for South Korea unless you are from one of the visa-free countries listed below, which include EU countries, Canada, Australia, and the United States.
South Korea visa-free countries
Citizens of several countries (as listed below) can visit South Korea without a visa for short-term visits. Foreigners entering under the visa-waiver program are not allowed to work or engage in any remunerated activities.
If you are from one of the countries exempted from South Korea visas, but you want to stay longer than the visa-exemption allows, then you have to apply for the corresponding South Korea visa before you travel.
South Korea visa exemption for up to 180 days
Citizens of Canada can enter South Korea without a visa for a stay of up to 180 days.
South Korea visa exemption for up to 90 days
Citizens of the following countries can enter South Korea without a visa for up to 90 days:
|European Union countries (except Cyprus)||Antigua and Barbuda||Australia|
|Panama||Peru||Saint Kitts and Nevis|
|Saint Lucia||Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||Serbia|
|Taiwan||Thailand||Trinidad and Tobago|
|Turkey||United Arab Emirates||United States|
South Korea visa exemption for up to 60 days
Citizens of Lesotho and Russia can enter South Korea without a visa for up to 60 days.
South Korea visa exemption for up to 30 days
Citizens of the following countries can visit South Korea without a visa for up to 30 days:
|Bahrain||Bosnia and Herzegovina||Botswana|
|San Marino||Saudi Arabia||Seychelles|
|Solomon Islands||South Africa||Tonga|
Other exemptions from South Korea visas
You are also exempt from South Korea visas if:
- You have a visa for the U.S., Canada, Australia, or New Zealand, and you are traveling directly from one of those countries or intend to travel there afterward.
- You are part of a Chinese group tourist and have a group-tourist visa to Japan
- You have an onward flight ticket out of the country, scheduled within the next 30 days
Types of South Korea visas
South Korean visas are divided based on the duration and how many entries in the country they allow:
- Single-entry visas, valid (as the name suggests) for a single entry and up to 90 days.
- Multiple-entries, allowing multiple entries in South Korea for the duration it has been issued.
Then, depending on why you want to visit South Korea, you can apply for one of the following visas:
- South Korea Tourist Visa
- South Korea Business Visa
- South Korea Family Visit Visa (for more than 90 days)
- South Korea Work Visa
- South Korea Student Visa
- South Korea Working Holiday Visa
South Korea Tourist Visa
South Korea tourist visas issued to foreigners who want to travel simply for tourism or recreational purposes. So, you can receive a tourist visa if you are travelling for one of the following reasons:
- To receive medical treatment in a South Korean hospital
- To visit a family member/friend
- To attend a religious/cultural/sporting/musival event
- Another short-term reason
South Korea tourist visas allow the holder to stay in South Korea for up to 90 days. The holder of a tourist visa is not allowed to work or engage in any other renumerated activities.
South Korea Business Visa
You are eligible for a long-term Business Visa for South Korea if:
- You are a specialist who will work for a public or private organization in Korea to repair, install, or operate imported machinery
- You will work as a manager or specialist in a company in South Korea
- You are an Intra-Company Transferee
- You are a specialist in a foreign investment company in South Korea
South Korea Work Visa
If a foreigner wants to work in South Korea, they have to apply for a South Korea Work Visa. Foreigners eligible for a South Korea Work Visa include professors, foreign language teachers, researchers, and those working in another activity permitted by the Minister of Justice through a contract with a public or private organization or company in South Korea.
South Korea Student Visa
Foreigners who will enter South Korea to pursue their studies in a Korean educational institution have to apply for a South Korea Student Visa. They can be:
- Short-term Student Visas to attend a course of study that’s shorter than 90 days.
- Long-term Student Visas, to attend a course of study longer than 90 days, such as in a university or language school.
South Korea Working Holiday Visa
The South Korea Working Holiday Visa is available to citizens of countries that have a Working Holiday Agreement with South Korea (as listed below). The WHV allows the holder to remain in South Korea for up to one year, for the purpose of holidaying, working, or studying.
To receive the South Korea Working Holiday Visa, you must:
- Be from one of the eligible countries
- Be between 18 and 30 years of age (in some cases, the cut-off age is 25)
- Have sufficient funds to cover at least the beginning of your trip (at least KRW 3,000,000)
- You must not have received a South Korea Working Holiday Visa in the past
- Have a clean criminal record
- You must be travelling primarily for holidays (working or studying should be secondary purposes, otherwise you have to apply for a Student or Work Visa)
Citizens from the following countries are eligible for a South Korea Working Holiday Visa:
South Korea Family Visit Visa (for more than 90 days)
You have to apply for a South Korea visa for Family Visit purposes if you fall under one of the following categories:
- You will stay with a relative in South Korea for longer than 90 days
- You are the spouse of a South Korean national
- You are the dependent (spouse or child under the age of 20) of a South Korean temporary or permanent resident
You can also receive this type of visa if you are part of the South Korean diaspora or you once held South Korean nationality (Overseas Koreans).
How to apply for a South Korea Visa?
You have to apply for a South Korea visa from one of the Diplomatic Missions of the Republic of Korea abroad (ie. an Embassy or Consulate).
If you have a sponsor or host in South Korea, they can request a visa on your behalf through the South Korea Visa Portal of the Korea Immigration Office.
Submitting the South Korea visa application at an Embassy/Consulate
If you do not have a sponsor in South Korea or you are otherwise not eligible for a “Confirmation of Visa Issuance” (see below) then you have to apply for your South Korea visa at the nearest Embassy or Consulate of South Korea.
The application process is as follows:
- Find the South Korean Embassy or Consulate responsible for your area*
- Submit the South Korea visa application.
- Wait for the visa application to be processed.
- After the application is processed, you have to go back to the office of the Diplomatic Representation.
- If the visa is approved, it will be affixed on your passport and you can use it to enter South Korea.
*Find the Diplomatic Mission offices of South Korea here. The exact rules for submission of South Korea visa application submissions and appointments change depending on the specific country in which you will apply, so make sure to contact the Embassy/Consulate or visit their website.
If a sponsor will submit the South Korea visa application for you
If you fall under one of the categories listed below, and you have a sponsor in South Korea, then your sponsor can apply for a “Confirmation of Visa Issuance” on your behalf:
- You are travelling for business, invited by a South Korean company
- You are travelling for medical purposes
- You are travelling for research or academic purposes (ie. you are a professor, researcher, technical instructor or professional)
- You are a “Foreign National of Special Ability” (ie. you are highly skilled in advanced science and technology)
- You are an investor and you have been invited by a promotion agency of the Immigrant Investor Scheme for Public Business of South Korea
- You are travelling as part of a tourist group (for Chinese citizens only)
Where to submit the application for “Confirmation of Visa Issuance”?
Your sponsor has to submit the application for the Confirmation of Visa Issuance at the Visa Portal of the Korean Immigration Office (see here). They have to:
- Complete the online South Korea Visa application form
- Pay the fee
- Attach the required documents for the South Korea visa (depending on the reason for your visit)
- Wait for the Confirmation of South Korea Visa Issuance. If the application is confirmed:
- Print the Confirmation and send it to you
What to do after your South Korea Visa Issuance is confirmed?
After the Korean Immigration Office confirms your visa, you have to send the letter of Confirmation of Visa Issuance to the nearest South Korean Embassy/Consulate and receive your actual South Korea visa on your passport.
You can then travel to South Korea.
South Korea visa requirements
When you apply for a South Korea visa, you have to submit several documents to support your application. The South Korea visa requirements change depending on the type of visa you need as well as the country in which you are applying. However, the standard set of documents everyone has to submit includes:
- South Korea Visa Application Form
- Your passport, which must be:
- Valid for at least another six months
- Have at least two blank pages
- Passport-size picture(s). The South Korea visa photo size has to be 3.5 cm x 4.5 cm and have the following specifications:
- White background
- Taken recently (in the last three months)
- You must have a neutral facial expression, staring straight ahead
- Your face and ears have to be fully visible
- You must not be wearing glasses
- A return or onward flight ticket
- Proof of sufficient funds to cover the duration of your stay (such as through bank statements and income tax returns)
- Proof of accommodation in South Korea, such as hotel reservation
- Payment of the South Korea visa fee, as per the requirements of the Embassy/Consulate
- For South Korea Student Visa:
- Reference Letter(s)
- Letter of Acceptance into the school/university
- For South Korea Business Visa:
- Letter from your employer
- Letter of Invitation from the South Korean company
- For South Korea Work Visa: Employment contract
- You may also have to submit:
- Cover Letter, introducing yourself and stating the reason for which you are traveling
- Trip Itinerary, which details the activities you’ll be doing in South Korea on a daily basis
- Any other additional documents that the Embassy or Consulate request, depending on the purpose of your trip
South Korea Visa Application Form
Depending on the method through which you are applying, you can get hold of a South Korea Visa Application form in the following ways:
- Online, by downloading it from the website of the Embassy or Consulate through which you are applying, if it is available there.
- At the Embassy or Consulate itself, when you go to make an appointment or submit the documents
- At a visa application agency, if you are using the services of a private company to apply for your South Korea visa
You have to complete the application form completely and truthfully, with black or dark blue pen. The writing should be clear and legible.
South Korea Visa processing time
The processing time for a South Korea visa changes depending on which Embassy or Consulate you are applying in. However, you should submit a completed application at least 15 days before you intend to travel but no earlier than three months.
Procedures after you enter South Korea with a visa
Once you enter South Korea with a visa, and you intend to stay for longer than 90 days, you have to register your stay at a local Immigration Office in South Korea. You have to submit the relevant documents, such as:
- Your passport
- The completed application form (downloadable online)
- A passport-size picture with 3.5 cm x 4.5 cm dimensions
- Payment of the processing fee (KRW 30,000)
- Proof of residence (such as utility bills, a lease agreement, etc)
- Any other documents depending on the purpose of your stay
What is the duration of a South Korea visa?
The duration of the South Korea visa you receive depends on the purpose of your travel. So, if you are traveling for tourism purposes, then you will receive a visa for up to 90 days or less, usually for a single entry.
If you are traveling for a longer-term purpose, such as working or studying, then you will receive a visa with a longer duration.
Extending a South Korea Visa
If you want to stay in South Korea for longer than your visa allows, you can apply for a visa extension at the Immigration Office in South Korea. You have to apply for the South Korea visa extension at least four months before your current visa expires.
You have to submit the following documents:
- Your passport
- The completed application form for permission of extension of stay (downloadable online)
- Payment of the processing fee
- Your Foreign Registration Card (if you are extending a long-term visa)
- Any other documents depending on the specific visa
South Korea visa fees
The South Korea visa fees are as follows:
|Single-entry visa (up to 90 days)||US$ 40|
|Single-entry visa (longer than 90 days)||US$ 60|
|Double-entry visa||US$ 70|
|Multiple-entry visa||US$ 90|
Special visa requirements for Jeju-do region
If you want to travel to the Jeju-do region of South Korea (and only there) you may be exempt from holding a visa even if you are not from one of the countries whose citizens are normally exempt from visa requirements.
However, to enter the Jeju-do region without a visa, you have to:
- Travel directly to the Jeju International Airport or Jeju International Passenger Terminal
- Only stay in the region of Jeju-do for tourism purposes
- Only stay up to 30 days
Note: Citizens of the following countries are not included in this scheme: