Harvard University

Korea, South

Risk Ratings  

    LOW MEDICAL RISK for Korea, South
    LOW TRAVEL RISK for Korea, South

COVID-19 Impact

COVID-19 virus imageCOVID-19 Impact Rating (Travel): Medium -

Inbound travel is possible, but with notable inconvenience; restrictions affect a wide range of travellers.

Restrictions in place for a wide range of originating countries / nationalities arriving in country. Mandatory testing and quarantine in designated facilities may apply.

COVID-19 virus imageCOVID-19 Impact Rating (Domestic Operations): Low -

COVID-related precautions and restrictions causing some inconvenience to business operations. Most businesses are operating.

Both essential and non-essential businesses are operating, though outbreaks may impact medical and/or logistic factors  and cause disruption, often at short notice. Pre-existing security risks likely to be exacerbated by COVID-19-related political and socio-economic concerns in the near/medium term, though these disruptions will not affect the stability of the overall security environment. Elective surgery may not be accessible at times and VERY HIGH and HIGH Medical Risk Rated countries will be under pressure. Basic elements of BCPs – such as reduced or staggered staffing, social distancing, limited face to face interaction – may be active, with clear escalation and de-escalation triggers as well as mitigation measures.

RestrictionsInboundAll overseas travellers arriving in South Korea are required to quarantine for 14 days. The 14-day period starts the day after arrival and travellers can end quarantine at 12.00 on the 14th day.

South Korean national and long-term visitors (staying for more than 90 days) can self-quarantine. Short-term foreign visitors with a family member who is a South Korean national can also self-quarantine at the residence of that family member, contingent upon provision of official family documents issued by the South Korean government upon arrival; the decision is made at the discretion of the disease control authorities at arrival. Individuals heading into self-quarantine are advised to use private vehicles to transit to their place of residence from the airport. Those who do not have access to private vehicles are to use designated buses, trains and taxis.

Short-term foreign visitors staying for less than 90 days will be quarantined at a government-designated facility at a maximum cost of KRW150,000 per day. The same also applies to Korean nationals without a negative PCR test (foreigners who do not meet the COVID-19 test requirement will be denied entry).

Both South Korean nationals and foreigners can request to be exempted from quarantine for important business or academic purposes, humanitarian reasons (to attend a family funeral) or if it is considered to be in the national interest; if the exemption is granted, they will be isolated for up to two days in a designated temporary residential facility to await COVID-19 test results.

Travellers who hold A-1, A-2, A-3 visas, diplomats and their families (as well as those who have received exemption documents from a Korean embassy before entry into South Korea) are exempt from the 14-day mandatory self-isolation. These travellers are tested at a temporary accommodation and released from quarantine when a negative result is confirmed.

Korean nationals arriving from Brazil or African nations will be required to quarantine in government facilities until they are verified COVID-19 negative. Residents who have had both their COVID-19 vaccine shots will not have to undergo 14 days of quarantine when returning from overseas or if they have had contact with a confirmed patient.
The quarantine exemption will only apply to those with a negative COVID-19 test and show no related symptoms.
This does not apply to people arriving from South Africa or Brazil, or any other locations where COVID-19 variants are prevalent. It also does not apply to people vaccinated in other countries.
Further details can be expected in the coming days.
(Until further notice)
COVID-19 TESTING FOR ENTRY & UPON ENTRY: All inbound travellers, both Korean and foreign nationals, are required to take a negative result from a PCR test taken within 72 hours before their departure to South Korea. The test result must be presented before boarding the aircraft and submitted to the authorities upon arrival in South Korea. The test result, issued at the country of departure, must be original and in English, Korean, or supplemented with official translation in English or Korean. Foreign travellers without documents outlined as such will be denied entry into aircraft; South Korean nationals will be allowed entry, but quarantined at a government-designated facility at own cost.

Upon entry, symptomatic travellers will be immediately tested. If negative, travelers should follow regular quarantine protocol. If positive, travellers will be transported to a hospital or designated medical facility for treatment. Those that are without symptoms enter quarantine upon entry, but need to be tested within 24 hours. If negative, they continue quarantine. If positive, they are transported for treatment.

From May 5, South Korean residents who have had both coronavirus vaccine shots will not have to undergo the mandatory two-week quarantine for people who have been in contact with a confirmed patient or have returned from overseas travel. The exemption will only apply for those with a negative COVID-19 test and who show no related symptoms.
(Until further notice)
TRANSIT: Airport transits are allowed through South Korea if the traveler has a confirmed airline ticket/itinerary leaving within 24 hours. Thai nationals are required to have paperwork issued by the Thai Embassy before returning to Thailand. Mongolian nationals are allowed to transit if their itinerary neither originates from nor concludes in Mongolia.

Domestic transit is restricted for foreigners, except residents of Jeju Island transiting to a direct flight to Jeju and holders of quarantine exemption paperwork.
(until further notice)

Korean nationals and foreign nationals who are long term residents in Korea, should download the 'Self-Quarantine Safety Protection App' http://ncov.mohw.go.kr/upload/ncov/file/202004/1585732793827_20200401181953.pdf.

Short term visitors, A1, A-2, A-3 visa holders and foreigners who received the 'Quarantine Exemption Certificate', should download the 'Self Diagnosis App' http://ncov.mohw.go.kr/selfcheck/#app_2

Immigration officials will verify app installation and paperwork upon entry, issuing certification upon successful verification.
(Until further notice)
VISA: Existing visa exemptions and/or visa free entry is suspended with the exception of 21 nations/territories (Visa exemption: Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Barbados, Venezuela, St Vincent and the Grenadines. St Kitts and Nevis, Malta, Ireland, and the UK; Visa free entry: Guam, New Caledonia, Palau, the US, Guyana, Monaco, the Vatican, San Marino, Andorra, Albania, Slovenia).

Additionally, C-1 and C-3 visas issued before 5 April have also been suspended. Exceptions include diplomatic and official passport holders, air crew, holders of the ABTC/APEC Card, and individuals with the C-4 (short-term employment) or long-term visa. Foreigners with active visas can leave and re-enter South Korea as long as they are registered. If not, they must attain a visa.
(Until further notice)
Internal / DomesticNotable restrictions for Level 2 in Seoul
1. Ban on private gatherings over 5 people EXCEPT marriage-related family gatherings, infants, immediate families (infants and immediate families are instead allowed to gather in groups no more than 8).
2. Restaurants, cafes, indoor gyms, karaokes, in-person sales, party venues, indoor standing performance halls, as well as bars and clubs must close by 2200.
3. Events are limited to 100 people and religious gatherings are limited to 20% capacity.

Specific requirements can change without prior warning. Please inquire upon receiving inquiry for a specific activity and location.
(Ends 4 July 2021)
A ban on nightclubs, karaoke bars and other night entertainment facilities has been imposed in Seoul and Busan. A nationwide ban on dining in after 22.00 and ban on gatherings of more than four people remains in place. Under the country's five-tier social-distancing guidelines, the third-highest Level 2 will be kept in place until 4 July in the capital Seoul and its surrounding Gyeonggi province, and Jeju, with the Level 1.5 to be placed in other areas.
(Ends 4 July 2021)
Daegu's social distancing level is at 1.5. The restriction prohibiting restaurants, cafes and indoor sports facilities from operating after 22.00 has been lifted.
(Until further notice)
Restrictions on large concerts and sports events were eased on 14 June. Up to 4,000 people will be allowed to attend pop concerts and other cultural shows, while sports stadiums will be able to operate at 30-50% capacity, depending on the district.
(Until further notice)
South Korea operates a five-tier system (1 - 1.5 - 2 - 2.5 - 3). Provincial governments may change their tier ad hoc, and the central government reconsiders tiers every two weeks. The general guidelines and standard for escalation are provided below; however, specific guidelines have recently been in flux. Inquiries regarding restrictions on specific activities should be directed to the Korea Desk.

The list of Level 2 areas are as follows: Seoul, Gyeonggi province, Incheon, Daejeon, Busan, Jeonju, Wanju, Iksan, Suncheon, Jeju (13 June - 4 July). The rest of the country is Level 1.5.

Level 1 - aims to maintain daily life and socio-economic activities while adhering to baseline containment measures against COVID-19. This will be implemented when the daily average number of COVID-19 cases is fewer than 100 per week in the Seoul metropolitan area, fewer than 30 in Chungcheong, Jeolla, Gyeongsang provinces, and fewer than ten in Gangwon and Jeju provinces.

Level 1.5 - acknowledges initial stages of localized spread of COVID-19 and affected regions will be subject to strict containment measures. Level 1.5 is implemented when local medical systems are pressured "beyond conventional levels" due to COVID-19 patients. In particular, the number of patients over 60 years of age rises to over 40 a day in the Greater Seoul Metropolitan Area, over 10 in Chungcheong, Jeolla, Gyeongsang, and over 4 in Gangwon.

Level 2 - recognizes that localized spread is in full swing and moves to discourage nonessential movement and gatherings in affected areas. Further limitations imposed on crowded venues. There are three conditions for Level 2: 1) number of patients exceeds twice of Level 1.5 standards at least one week after 1.5 has been implemented. 2) Level 1.5 maintained in more than two provinces over one week. 3) confirmed cases increased by more than 300 daily over one week.

Level 2.5 - acknowledges that COVID-19 is spreading at a national level. Measures aim to restrict nonessential movement, gatherings, and travel. Level 2.5 is implemented if the national weekly average of confirmed cases exceeds 400~500 or patient levels increase drastically under Level 2.

Level 3 - recognizes that COVID-19 is now widespread across nation and all are to stay home on principle and minimize encountering others. Existing medical resources are considered at risk of collapse due to drastic increase in patients. Level 3 is implemented when the weekly average exceeds 800~1000 patients or drastic increases within Level 2.5.
(Until further notice)
OutboundLong-term visa holders are temporarily required to obtain re-entry permits before departing the country. Failure to do so will result in visas being terminated.
(Until further notice)
Planned changes and internal conditionsGatherings of up to six people will be permitted in the Greater Seoul area.
(Until further notice)

23 Jun 2021 (Updated Daily)

Risk Summary


Please see our:

Medical and Security Alerts for South Korea

COVID-19 information for South Korea

Dedicated COVID-19 website


South Korea is a safe travel destination. In general, crime, particularly violent crime, poses a low risk to business travellers. City-centre protests and demonstrations occasionally end in minor clashes with the police. Periodic surges in anti-US or anti-Japanese sentiment very rarely provoke harassment of individual foreign nationals.

Occasional provocations from North Korea, along with persistent threatening rhetoric, periodically lead to increased tensions between both countries. However, they are highly unlikely to pose any direct security risks or to lead to wider conflict.

This information is intended as a summary of the security environment. However, the risks can change at short notice during a crisis or evolving situation. Please check our security alerts to ensure you are informed of the most recent developments.


Vaccinations For Korea, South
Hepatitis ARecommended for all travellers and expatriates,
Read more
Hepatitis BRecommended for most travellers and expatriates,
Read more
Japanese encephalitisVaccine is recommended for people who will
Read more
Typhoid feverRecommended for adventurous and long-term
Read more
Routine Vaccinations

Disclaimer  Privacy

Travel security advice provided in this report represents the best judgment of AEA International Holdings Pte. Ltd. Medical and health advice provided in this report represents the best judgment of AEA International Holdings Pte. Ltd. Advice in this report does not however provide a warranty of future results nor a guarantee against risk.

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