Since September 1st, 2021, Korea has required travellers aged 18 to 65 from 112 countries to apply for the Korea-ETA (K-ETA). The K-ETA is an electronic travel authorisation program that will save travellers time when they arrive in South Korea by reducing paperwork at the airport.
But what is the K-ETA? And who needs it? If you’re not sure, you’re not alone. There are a lot of questions about whether or not you need to get a K-ETA, how long it lasts for, whether it works instead of a visa (it doesn’t), and if there are any exemptions (there are).
If you require the K-ETA, but don’t apply for one, you won’t be allowed to travel to South Korea. This guide will help you avoid this problem, explain who needs the K-ETA, show you how to apply for the K-ETA, and answer a range of other questions regarding this travel document.
Save yourself the time and hassle on your trip to Korea with this guide to the K-ETA.
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1: What Is The K-ETA?
The K-ETA (Korea Electronic Travel Authorisation) is an online electronic travel authorisation that visa-free foreign visitors need to obtain before entering the Republic of Korea for tourism, visiting relatives, participating in events or meetings, and for business purposes other than profitable activities.
If you are ready to apply, start the process through the official K-ETA site below:
WARNING: Don’t apply for the K-ETA through any other website than the official site. You’ll be charged a higher price and the site might not actually process your K-ETA application.
If you want to know more about how to apply for the K-ETA, who needs to apply for it, or want any other information the Korea Electronic Travel Authorisation, then please keep on reading. Alternatively, read this guide to visiting Korea for more general Korean travel advice.
Planning to visit Korea? These travel essentials will help you plan your trip, get the best deals, and save you time and money before and during your Korean adventure.
Korea Electronic Travel Authorisation (K-ETA): Most countries need a K-ETA to travel to Korea. Apply before you travel only with the Official K-ETA Site.
Staying Connected: Pre-order a Korean Sim Card or a Portable WiFi Router to collect on-arrival at Incheon Airport. Collection desks are open 24 hours. Alternatively, download a Korean eSIM for you travels.
Hotels In Korea: Staying in Seoul, I recommend Myeongdong (convenient), Hongdae (cool culture) or Gangnam (shopping). Find the best hotel prices across Korea with Agoda, Klook, or Hotels.com.
Incheon Airport To Seoul: Take the Airport Express (AREX) to Seoul Station or a limo bus across Seoul. Don’t like carrying heavy suitcases? Book an Incheon Airport Private Transfer and relax to or from the airport.
Korean Tours: Find the best tours in Korea with tour companies that have a big presence in Korea, including Klook, Trazy, Viator, and Get Your Guide. These sites also offer discounted entry tickets for top attractions.
Seoul City Passes: Visit Seoul’s top attractions for free with a Discover Seoul Pass or Go City Seoul Pass. These passes are especially good for families and couples visiting Seoul and can save you lots.
Transportation: Get a T-Money Card or WOWPASS to pay for public transport, including buses, subways, and taxis. For Korea’s high speed trains, save money and get unlimited rides with a Korea Rail Pass.
Travel Money: Exchange foreign currency in Myeongdong or Hongdae money exchanges. Pick up a Wise, Revolut, or WOWPASS travel money card for the best rates and convenient card payments in Korea.
Flights To Korea: I recommend using flight comparison sites such as Expedia and Skyscanner to find the best flights to Korea from any country. Air Asia is a good option for budget flights from Asia.
Learning Korean: Want to learn Korean? I recommend a complete language learning course from 90 Day Korean or Korean Class 101 – both have well-structured lessons and lots of useful resources.
2: Who Needs To Apply For The K-ETA?
The K-ETA is required for nationals of:
A: Korean visa waiver countries
B: Designated visa-free countries
The K-ETA is required for foreign nationals who intend to enter Korea for tourism, visiting relatives, participate in events or meetings, and business purposes other than profitable activities.
From April 1st, 2023 until December 31st, 2024, the Korean government has decided to suspend the K-ETA requirement for travellers from the following 22 countries:
Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Macao, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, UK, US (including Guam).
The aim is to reduce the burden of travellers coming to Korea and to encourage more people to visit Korea during the ‘Visit Korea Year’, which runs during 2023 and 2024.
Source: K-ETA website news.
From July 3rd, 2023, the Korean government will no longer ask for travellers who are 17 years and younger, or 65 years and older, to apply for a K-ETA when visiting Korea. These are ages based on the time you travel to Korea, not the age when you apply to travel.
Furthermore, the validity period of the K-ETA is now 3 years, not 2 years. The Korean government has decided to extend the validity period to make it easier for people to travel to Korea.
Source: K-ETA website news.
Please note: Eligibility for K-ETA is based on your nationality, not your country of residence or where you’re travelling from. If you live in one of the 22 above-mentioned K-ETA excluded countries, but aren’t a citizen of one of those countries, you’ll still need to apply for a K-ETA.
Do I Need A K-ETA?
If you need a tourist visa to travel to South Korea, then you won’t need to obtain a K-ETA. You’ll need to apply for a tourist visa from your local Korean embassy. The infographic above will help you see if you need a K-ETA or not and what you should do next.
Below is a detailed list of Korean visa waiver and visa-free countries that require a K-ETA.
A: Korean Visa Waiver Countries
Nationals aged between 18 and 65 from countries that concluded a visa waiver agreement with the Republic of Korea will need to obtain the K-ETA. This applies to the following countries:
Asian Visa Waiver Countries
Israel, Kazakhstan, Malaysia , Singapore*, Thailand , Turkey, United Arab Emirates
European Visa Waiver Countries
Austria*, Belgium*, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark*, Estonia, Finland*, France*, Germany*, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy*, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands*, Norway*, Poland*, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Spain*, Sweden*, Switzerland, United Kingdom*
American Visa Waiver Countries
Antigua and Barbuda .Bahamas, Barbados, Brazil, Chile , Colombia , Commonwealth of Dominica, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Haiti , Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, Venezuela
African Visa Waiver Countries
Lesotho, Morocco, Tunisia
Oceania Visa Waiver Countries
*These countries don’t need to apply for a K-ETA from April 1st, 2023 to December 31st, 2024.
B: Designated Visa Free Countries
Nationals aged between 18 and 65 from countries that are designated visa-free entry to the Republic of Korea will need to obtain a K-ETA. This applies to the following countries:
Asian Visa-Free Countries
Bahrain , Brunei Darussalam, Hong Kong*, Japan*, Kuwait, Macau*, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan*
European Visa-Free Countries
Albania, Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Cyprus, Holy See, Monaco, Montenegro, San Marino, Serbia , Slovenia
American Visa-Free Countries
Argentina, Canada*, Ecuador, Guyana, Honduras, Paraguay, United States*
African Visa-Free Countries
Botswana, Kingdom of Eswatini, Mauritius, Seychelles, Republic of South Africa
Oceania Visa-Free Countries
Australia*, Fiji, Guam*, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, New Caledonia, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu
*These countries don’t need to apply for a K-ETA from April 1st, 2023 to December 31st, 2024.
Is it mandatory to get a K-ETA when visiting Korea?
Yes. If a person, who is a national of a K-ETA required country, does not have a K-ETA, he or she will not be allowed to board the flight or ship bound for the Republic of Korea. Children 17 years and younger, or adults 65 years and older don’t need to apply for a K-ETA.
How long can I stay in Korea if I have a K-ETA?
Generally up to 90 days, but the allowed period of stay may differ by nationality. The minimum amount of time is 30 days and the maximum is 3 months. Please check the K-ETA Website to confirm your period of stay.
3: How To Apply For The K-ETA
This section will describe how to apply for the Korea-ETA, how much to pay, and what you will need to prepare for your K-ETA application.
What do I need to prepare to fill out the K-ETA application form?
You need a valid passport, email address, and credit or debit card to pay the K-ETA application fee.
AirBnB Problems: You should enter the address of the hotel you’re staying at in Korea. There have been issues with people booking AirBnBs as these are not legally registered addresses in Korea. Many AirBnBs operate outside the law and are not legally registered accommodations for travellers. Therefore, if you try to enter the address of an AirBnB, it may not be accepted for the K-ETA. You won’t be able to process your application until you enter a valid hotel address.
Photo Uploads: You will need to submit a passport-style photograph for the K-ETA application. If you are applying with your PC, you will likely need to resize any image you upload and this can be tricky. It is much easier to complete your K-ETA application through a mobile device using the K-ETA app as you can take a photo with your phone’s camera and the image dimensions should be fine.
When do I need to apply for the K-ETA?
You should apply for the K-ETA at least 24 hours prior to boarding the flight or ship bound for the Republic of Korea. Once you’ve booked your hotel and know your travel dates, you can start your K-ETA application. I recommend completing your application as soon as possible so it’s done and you can forget about it until you travel.
How long does it take to apply for a K-ETA?
It will take approximately 10 minutes.
How long does it take from submitting the K-ETA application to receiving the results?
You should receive the results by e-mail, within 24 hours after completing the K-ETA application. However, in practice, the actual processing time can range from a few hours to a few days. If it takes more than a day, there might be some issues with your application, or it might be a busy period.
How can I check my K-ETA results?
K-ETA approval results are sent to the e-mail address which the applicant provided upon application. You can also check your K-ETA approval status with your application number on the K-ETA official website.
How much is the K-ETA fee?
The K-ETA application fee is 10,000 KRW (additional fees not included). If you visit a website charging more than 10,000 KRW, then it is not likely to be the official Korea-ETA website.
Please note: you should only apply for the K-ETA on the official website – www.k-eta.go.kr. You can access the website from the link below.
Reminder: Don’t sign up for the K-ETA on any other website.
Can I get a refund if my K-ETA application is refused?
No. The 10,000 KRW fee for applying for the K-ETA is non-refundable, even if your application is unsuccessful.
Can I apply for K-ETAs for other people?
Yes. One applicant can apply for up to 50 people, such as family members, and can proceed with the K-ETA payment as well. All results will be sent to the applicant’s email address.
How do I pay for the K-ETA fee?
You can use debit cards or global credit cards such as VISA, Master, JCB, or Express.
How long is the validity period of a K-ETA?
The validity period of a K-ETA is 3 years from the date of approval (as of July, 2023).
However, if the passport used for the K-ETA application expires in less than 2 years, that K-ETA approval will be valid until the passport expiration date.
In what cases do I need to re-apply for the K-ETA during the validity period?
Note that if there are any changes to your information (nationality, name, sex, date of birth, passport number, passport expiration date, infectious disease and criminal record) you are required to apply for a new K-ETA, even if the previous K-ETA is still valid.
Is there anything else I need to prepare when I am visiting Korea again within my K-ETA validity period?
Even if you are entering the Republic of Korea again within the validity of your K-ETA, you must update any changes to your purpose of entry, address in Korea or contact information through the K-ETA website (My Application Status – e-Arrival Card) before entering Korea.
The Ministry of Justice will not be responsible for any disadvantages caused due to failure of information update by the traveler.
4: Do I Need A Korea-ETA? K-ETA Exemptions
This section will detail possible exceptions to who needs to get a K-ETA, whether the K-ETA applies to transfer passengers, and other exceptions in regards to the K-ETA.
I am from a K-ETA required country but I already have a valid Korean visa. Do I need to get a K-ETA?
No. If you have a valid Korean visa, you do not need to get a K-ETA.
I am from a K-ETA required country but I am a registered foreign resident in Korea. Do I need to get a K-ETA?
No. Residence Card holders (registered foreign residents) don’t need a K-ETA.
Do flight or ship crew members need to get a K-ETA?
When a flight or ship crew member is entering the Republic of Korea as a crew member, that person does not need to get a K-ETA.
I want to travel to Jeju Island. Do I need to get a K-ETA?
Yes. From September 1st, 2022, people travelling to Jeju Island via an international flight that would normally require a K-ETA will need to apply for a K-ETA, even if they don’t visit mainland Korea.
I am a transfer passenger. Do I need to get a K-ETA?
No. Transfer/transit passengers who are not entering Korea do not need to get a K-ETA.
I am a transfer passenger but I need to enter the Republic of Korea for my luggage connection. In this case, am I eligible for K-ETA exemption?
No, you aren’t eligible for an exemption. If you need to go through check-in process after entering for luggage connection, you need to get a K-ETA.
I have a valid ABTC. Do I need to get a K-ETA?
No. Valid ABTC holders will be able to receive their boarding pass without a K-ETA.
Please note: An ABTC card is an APEC Business Travel Card. For more details about this card, check the APEC Business Travel Card website.
I am a diplomatic/official passport holder and I will visit Korea for official purposes. Do I need to get a K-ETA?
In principle, diplomatic and official passport holders are required to obtain a K-ETA. However, for those who requested for K-ETA exemption through relevant organizations in advance, and received approval from the Ministry of Justice, will not be required to get a K-ETA.
I am a member of the United States Forces Korea (USFK). Do I need to get a K-ETA?
No. According to the ‘Agreement under Article IV of the Mutual Defense Treaty between the United States of America and the Republic of Korea, regarding Facilities and Areas and the Status of United States Armed Forces in the Republic of Korea (SOFA)’, members of the United States Armed Forces (USFK service members) do not need to get a K-ETA.
Please note: you will need to present your DOD ID card instead of your passport upon check-in for issuance of your boarding pass.
Do dependents of members of the United States armed forces and members of the civilian component need to get a K-ETA?
Yes. In principle, dependents of USFK members and members of the civilian component are required to obtain a K-ETA. However, those who request K-ETA exemption through the competent authorities of the United States to the Ministry of Justice, and receive approval, they may be exempt from the K-ETA requirement.
5: Problems With Your K-ETA Application
This next section deals with any potential problems you might have when applying for a K-ETA, including any mistakes and how to resolve them.
What happens if I submit false information on the K-ETA application?
In case of submitting false information, the K-ETA approval will be refused or cancelled, and that person may by subject to penalties or face entry restriction according to relevant Korean laws.
What do I do if I made a mistake on the application form?
Before submitting your application, you will be able to correct any mistakes that you made.
I received K-ETA approval with incorrect information. Will I be allowed to enter Korea?
You may face disadvantages such as entry denial. Please re-apply for your K-ETA.
Does my identification photo (face image) for my K-ETA application have to be the same as my passport photo?
No. It does not have to be the same photo, but should comply with the following conditions.
- Should be in colour
- Should be in image file such as JPG
- Image size less than 100KB
- Pixel density less than 600×600
- No accessories such as hats, scarves, or sunglasses
- Recommend less colorful patterned clothing
- Full face, front view (75% of the image)
- Eyes should be open looking straight at the camera
How will my photo and personal information that were provided upon application for the K-ETA be used?
Information provided for the K-ETA application is collected in accordance with Article 7-3 (Electronic Travel Authorization) of the Immigration Act and Article 8-3 (ETA Issuance Criteria) of the Enforcement Regulations of the Immigration Act.
Collected information will be stored in the Immigration Control Information System, and may be disclosed to other government agencies of the Republic of Korea in accordance with relevant domestic laws and regulations.
My K-ETA application was disapproved. What can I do to enter Korea?
You should visit a Korean Embassy (or Consulate) located in your jurisdiction and apply for an entry visa.
Where can I ask questions about K-ETA?
You can make inquiries online with 4 languages (Korean, English, Thai, and Russian) through the K-ETA official website ‘Ask Us’.
6: Other FAQs About The K-ETA
This final section contains some of the other frequently asked questions about the K-ETA process, when you need to apply, and how to apply.
Do I need to get a K-ETA every time I visit Korea?
No. Once you are approved for a K-ETA, you do not have to apply for 3 years. However, if the passport used for the K-ETA application expires in less than 3 years, that K-ETA approval will be valid until the passport expiration date.
If I have a K-ETA, am I allowed to work in Korea?
No. You cannot engage in profitable activities in Korea with a K-ETA. You must obtain a separate visa that allows you to work and participate in employment activities in Korea.
I am travelling with a friend, can we apply for a K-ETA together?
Yes. One applicant can apply for up to 30 people, such as family members, and can proceed with the K-ETA payment as well. The K-ETA results for each person will be sent to the applicant’s e-mail. Each applicant can also check the K-ETA approval status with the application number and passport number on the K-ETA official website.
Can I fill out the K-ETA application in any language?
The K-ETA can only be completed in English, Korean, Chinese, Thai, Malay, Spanish, French and Japanese. For assistance in other languages, contact the K-ETA Support Team.
Still Have Questions About The K-ETA
If you’re still unsure about the K-ETA and how or why to apply for it, then feel free to join the Korea Travel Advice Group on Facebook and ask experienced travellers, guides, expats, and tourists who share a love for travelling in Korea.
If you think the K-ETA applies to you and you’re ready to book your K-ETA, then here’s the link to the website again:
Useful Resources For Travelling To Korea
Planning a trip to Korea and want some more information, advice, or tips? Then check out some of my other articles about visiting Korea and make your trip planning a lot quicker, safer, and easier.
Activities: There are many Unique Korean Attractions And Activities to enjoy when you travel to Korea, such as wearing a hanbok, soaking in a sauna, and many Delicious Korean Dishes. Try to see more than just cities, with a trip to a Korean Buddhist temple in one of the many national parks, a day out at a Korean beach, or even a day Hiking In Korea’s Many Mountains.
Seasons: Not sure if the weather will be good enough to go out and enjoy all you want to do? If you’re visiting in winter, here are some of the Best Places To See Snow. For spring, be sure to visit as many incredible Cherry Blossom Spots In Korea as you can. There are many Summer Activities In Korea that you can enjoy when it gets hot. But the best time of year is autumn as you can see the many Fall Foliage Sights In Korea.
Culture: Worried about not understanding Korean when you visit? No worries, check out my list of 60 Basic Korean Phrases – they’ll go a long way to helping you get the most out of your Korean journey. Once you’ve mastered some of the basics of the language, why not take a minute to learn more about Korean Culture And Etiquette to make sure you avoid any social faux pas as you travel.
Travel: Planning to book your travel to Korea soon? Find out where to get cheap flights to Korea and the best time to book flights before you travel.
FAQs About The K-ETA
Here are a few final FAQs about the K-ETA that covers some of the most popular questions asked about the Korea-ETA process.
Who Needs A K-ETA?
A K-ETA is required for foreign nationals aged between 18 and 65 from 112 countries who intend to enter the Republic of Korea for tourism, to visit relatives, to participate in events or meetings, and for business purposes other than profitable activities.
How Can I Apply For The K-ETA?
You will need a valid passport, email address, and a credit or debit card to pay the K-ETA application fee. If you are applying with your PC, instead of your mobile device, you will need an identification photo for uploading your facial image. Visit the official website at www.k-eta.go.kr to apply for the K-ETA.
How Long Does The K-ETA Last?
The validity period of a K-ETA is 3 years from the date of approval, as of July 3rd, 2023. However, if the passport used for the K-ETA application expires in less than 3 years, that K-ETA approval will be valid until the passport expiration date.
Can I Use A K-ETA For Multiple Trips To Korea?
Yes. You can use the K-ETA multiple times within the 3 year validity. However, please note that if there are any changes to your information (nationality, name, sex, date of birth, passport number, passport expiration date, infectious disease and criminal record) you are required to apply for a new K-ETA, even if the previous K-ETA is still valid.
Do I Still Need To Self-Quarantine With A K-ETA?
Eligible travellers to Korea with need to get a K-ETA before travelling, but since April 2022 no longer need to self-quarantine unless they test positive for COVID when entering or in Korea.
Why was my K-ETA application rejected?
There are multiple reasons why a K-ETA application can be rejected. The most common one, and one that can be fixed easily, is due to an inappropriate image being uploaded with the application. The image should be under 100kb in size and have dimensions of less than 600 x 600. If your image exceeds these restrictions, it can be rejected. Other reasons why a K-ETA application could be rejected include an incorrect name or passport detail, an ineligible accommodation address (this can happen with AirBnBs), or previous issues when visiting Korea in the past.
Is my K-ETA valid if I didn’t apply through the official website?
Only applications made through the official K-ETA website will be valid and it is strongly recommended not to apply through a 3rd party website. These can be more expensive and may not actually process the K-ETA. If you applied for the K-ETA through a 3rd party website, you should be able to check the validity of the K-ETA on the official website.
Can you complete the K-ETA in any language?
The K-ETA can only be completed in English, Korean, Chinese, Thai, Malay, Spanish, French and Japanese. If you are unable to understand one of those languages, you can contact the Korean embassy in your country to ask for support. Don’t use 3rd party websites to apply for the K-ETA as this could be a fraudulent site and you can lose any monies paid.
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