Foreigner's Guide to the Quarantine Process when Traveling to Korea with Wonderful
The Covid-19/Corona pandemic has created a new reality for travelers all over the world. A minimum quarantine period of 14 days has become mandatory for most people traveling South Korea. [Updated June 14th 2021] With many countries already vaccinating their citizens, South Korea still only makes an exemption for those who get vaccinated while in Korea. That said, starting in July, the government plans to make an exception for those who are fully vaccinated from other countries, provided the purpose of stay is to visit immediate family or a business trip. The exception to this rule would be those coming from highly contagious countries who would still have to Quarantine. For many foreigners who do not know Korean, or do not have local friends to help go through the process, it can be a really uncomfortable experience. While the Korean government has done its best to support foreigners traveling, not every person seems to be getting the same experience and many foreigners turn to services like Wonderful to help with settling in.
Based on recent requests and from our research, our team has collected as much helpful information for any foreigners travelling to Korea, to make the process easier to understand and to provide solutions for people in quarantine.
Starting July 1st, travelers who are coming to Korea for Humanitarian, Business, and Education purposes can apply for a quarantine exemption, except those coming from;
South Africa, Brazil, Malawi, Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania, the Republic of Suriname, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, Equatorial Guinea, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, Colombia, Argentina, Malta, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, and the Philippines.
When applying for quarantine exemption, you are required to be fully vaccinated at least two weeks before your departure time with a vaccination approved by WHO. You would also need to submit your quarantine exemption form at Korean Embassy, along with your vaccination certificate, a written statement, and a negative PCR test 72 hours before your departure to Korea. For further information regarding the quarantine exemption, please contact the local Korean Embassy in your home country.
If you are fully vaccinated in Korea and would like to travel home, make sure you obtain your Vaccination certificate from KCDC before departure to be exempted from quarantine when you arrive. However, this rule won't apply if you are coming from a highly contagious country.
Please note that if you are coming to Korea with the purpose of tourist, you could only be exempt if you have an immediate family living in Korea.
As for the country vaccinations schedule, the reservation window for the age group 18-40 will open from August 9th to 21st. You are only eligible to register through the KCDC website if you have Korean National Insurance. If you do not have this, you would have to contact your Community Health Center (보건소) and submit your application by phone call. The advanced reservation system is based on the last digit of your birthdate. For example, if your birth date ends in 9 (9th, 19th, 29th), you would only be able to make your reservation on the 9th. From the 19th to the 21st, different age groups would be able to make vaccinations (36-49 on the 19th, 18-35 on the 20th and 18-49 on the 21st). The actual vaccination dates would start from the 26th of August to September 30th. If you are having a hard time completing your reservation or need help contacting the local community health center, Wonderful would be delighted to assist you.
Stage 1: Before traveling to Korea!
With 14 days spent in quarantine, it might be more difficult doing short transits in Korea or short visits to South Korea. Additionally the Korean government has banned visa free entry from most countries, ( You can check this link for the list ) which would mean that you might have to check with the embassy regarding what visa you need to apply for and your length of stay. If you are planning on staying for over 90 days, you are typically required to submit a Covid-19 test certificate taken within 48 hours of your visa application. If you plan on staying for les than 90 days, you are required to stay at a government isolation center and would have to sign a form agreeing to quarantine at an isolation center. It would also be a good idea to download the self quarantine safety protection application (apple | android) before departure to South Korea.
You might also need a local point of contact that can answer the phone during your immigration procedures on arrival to Korea. According to the current regulations, Wonderful is able to assist with this, though you would have to give us some information for us to prepare in advance of your arrival.
This would also be a good time to check on your accommodation options as well, as you would need to show that you have a place that you can quarantine at for 14 days. For foreign nationals that live in Korea, you would need to quarantine at your place of residence for 14 days. If you are living with other people, you might need to find separate accommodation. Additionally, the government can also find your place of residence as unfit for quarantine so you would have to be quarantined at a government quarantine facility at your own cost, (KRW 2,100,000 KRW ~ price can change, refer to visa requirement guidelines ).
Some guest houses and accommodations listed on sites like airbnb.com, agoda.com or booking.com indicate that they can be used for self quarantine. There is no official list on such places, so it might always be good to double check with the accommodation staff regarding this. Wonderful is able to assist with calling the nearest health center to double check if the accommodation can be used for self quarantine. That said most of the official quarantine facilities are hotels. It would be highly recommended to get your accommodation issue settled before arriving in Korea.
Another question we often get asked is if one is able to quarantine with a partner or a friend. Like most other government policies regarding quarantine, there are no clear or set guidelines on this. It seems that a lot would depend on the quarantine facilitator or Covid-19 team at the airport. However, we do know that, if you are a married couple with a marriage certificate, you should be able to quarantine together. However, this would also depend on whether the quarantine facility is conducive to allow for 2 people to quarantine, whether you arrive in Korea at the same time, if any of you are showing symptoms and your visa type (short term visas are assigned a government quarantine facility). This would apply to those who do not have a local address of residence. Even if you are not married, there is still a possibility that you can be quarantined together if your place of quarantine is large enough, but you need to ask the quarantine facilitator at the airport.
For people travelling with pets, you might also be interested in knowing whether you can quarantine with your pet. From what we have gathered, this should be possible, however, if you have booked your own quarantine facility, you would have to ask the local government health center if the facility can allow for quarantine with pets. For those going into government quarantine facilities, you could ask the quarantine official at the airport if the facility can accept pets.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, taking public transportation from the airport to the quarantine place is not an option anymore. If you are coming with a short-term visa, you will likely quarantine at the government facilities. In that case, there will be a shuttle bus waiting outside for you to take you to your quarantine accommodation.
If you are coming to the national residence, please be aware that you can only take KTX with a designated car or a quarantine taxi. Airport limousine bus and railroad are exclusively from both Korean and foreign national arrivals. The good thing is now there are various quarantine taxis available, and some are available upon arrival, but it is best to book your quarantine taxi in advance.
Please note that after 3 to 7 days of quarantine, you are required to take the second COVID19 test in the nearest health center. Wonderful would be a delight to arrange a quarantine taxi for pick up at your arrival or find a quarantine taxi for you to travel for your second covid test.
Stage 2 : Arrival in South Korea and Quarantine
On arrival, the process is pretty straightforward. You would need to declare if you have symptoms or not. If you do have symptoms, the officers will assist with getting the Covid-19 test, and you would be placed at a temporary quarantine facility to await your results. If you are symptom free or free from infection, you are free to leave after declaring your length of stay.
As you need to go into quarantine, you would not be travelling with the regular public transit systems, there are designated cars on the KTX line for those who use the train, a specially designated airport limousine bus or you would need to use your private car. There are also special quarantine taxis that you can use. You are not allowed to drop by other places but are required to go directly to your home.
After arriving home, you would then need to call the local health centers to inform them that you are under quarantine after arriving to your accommodation.
Many people try and stock up on dry foods and dry items at the airport or before arrival to go through the quarantine period. The Korean government has been giving a quarantine care package for foreigners, but it seems that not every person gets it, so you might want to plan ahead for your food/groceries. This is especially important if you have a particular diet or just want to eat something other than ramyeon for the 14 days. :)
Based on our years of experience helping foreigners with grocery/food orders in Korea, Wonderful has written a great article giving tips on how to shop for groceries in Korea. A foreigners Guide to Online Grocery Shopping with Homeplus/Emart/Market Kurly etc For those staying at a hotel, it is always a good idea to check with the staff if there are limits to the types of food that you can receive. From recent requests, it seems that certain hotels do not allow for wet/perishable foods, or they can have their own policy on specific items, which can disappointingly lead to them throwing away your orders. Should you decide to ask for Wonderful's help, our assistants can always check with the hotel on the requirements to save you time. For food orders, you might want to check on this article summarizing some food delivery options.
Many foreigners might find it difficult to make payments on the apps and give instructions for contactless food orders. Wonderful's assistants are able to make payments on your behalf and give instructions so that the food courier can just leave the food at your door and send a message notification.
- Wi-Fi/Sim card
You might also find that your current Wi-Fi connection at the hotel is spotty and unreliable, or that you might need a sim card to connect with your loved ones back home. Wonderful can help purchase a mobile Wi-Fi router with a temporary data plan to give you the freedom you need. We have included a suggestion for a reliable Wi-Fi router service below. Travel sim card vendors are also able to ship sim cards to locations in Korea as well, so you have options in terms of connectivity.
Useful Links: - Wifi Dosirak
- Online Shopping
While most can wait out the 14 day quarantine period, some of you might need some items asap, for example, if you need a charger for your mac book, or if your phone stops working and you need a replacement phone delivered asap, Wonderful can get this done. We can look for items with the fastest shipping times, and we can even arrange for a courier to pick up items and deliver them to your accommodation on the same day. We would make the purchases on your behalf so you do not need to meet or directly interact with the couriers or delivery people. You can check on this link for some popular Korean shopping sites:
Stage 3 : Getting out.
Even before leaving your accommodation, it is always a good idea to prepare in advance so that you can get back to work/ or at least hit the ground running. Of course planning your transportation to your next accommodation might be necessary, especially if you are a family and need large transportation options, or if you plan on leaving your quarantine location really early and cannot get a taxi. Some popular apps like Kakao taxi or T Map Taxi can be great if you know some Korean. If you need help, Wonderful can always schedule a transport van in advance to help you on your way. If you are new to South Korea, you might also need help with getting cleaners for your new place, purchasing furniture, setting up your internet and settling in. Wonderful has years of experience helping expats get this done all over Korea, not just in Seoul. You can make your request a few days before your move and our assistants would check for the best priced options that can work for you. For online orders or furniture orders, if you are unable to navigate Korean payment systems, you can just send us a list of the items you need and our assistants would confirm the total price and make the purchase on your behalf. We would also coordinate on the delivery when possible to reduce any issues caused by miscommunication.
Whatever request you may have, our assistants would be happy to review and see how best to assist.
Useful Links: Ikea Korea Furniture
We tried to give the most useful tips on what to expect when quarantining in Korea and how to make the quarantine process smooth and seamless. But we also recognize that we might have missed out on some things. If you have any suggestions, feel free to leave a comment and we would be happy to improve. We hope you have a safe journey to South Korea!
Regarding our pricing, we charge for the time taken working on your request at 800 KRW/min (There is a 15% discount for first time users), and you can get a refund on the remaining time within 3 months. There are NO processing fees when you pay us via bank wire transfer. (You will pay only the cost of the item(s)). When we charge your bank card, there is an 8.5% processing fee that goes to the payment processor for their services. We do NOT benefit from this fee. For more information regarding our pricing, please follow this link.
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