South Korea welcomed tourists back last month. Their embassy also started accepting visa applications at the same time. Visas aside, the hardest part about going on a South Korean trip is to make sure you do not contract COVID-19 before or after your flight.
Requirements for visa remain the same as in 2019. Forms must be printed on A4 paper. All documents submitted must be verifiable. For example, an employment certificate must have a company email and phone number. Personal email addresses are not allowed.
There are currently no special promos that grant multiple entries to partner credit card holders. It takes five working days to process an application and the Korean Embassy allows walk-ins from 8:30-11 a.m., Monday to Friday. Korean visas are still free for Filipinos.
Status of the visa can be checked at the Korea Visa portal (visa.go.kr) under the diplomatic office.
Visas no longer come in sticker form. You must print them and bring with you to immigration.
The Q-code (cov19ent.kdca.go.kr) can be filled out 48 hours before departure. It will ask details such as your hotel address, phone numbers and vaccination status.
Fully vaccinated tourists do not need to undergo quarantine. The fully vaccinated are those who have completed the two initial vaccines within 180 days or have been boosted with a third vaccine.
You do not need a yellow card (the certificate issued by Bureau of Quarantine) for the Q-code. The vaccination certificate issued by VaxCertPH (vaxcert.doh.gov.ph) will suffice.
The Q-code will also require a result of a reverse transmission-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test done 48 hours before departure. Or, you can opt for the cheaper rapid antigen test, but it should be done 24 hours before your flight. The result must come from a Department of Health-accredited laboratory.
Done in under 15 minutes
Once all the documents are submitted, you will receive a QR code almost instantly. It will let you use the express lane in the quarantine defense area at the airport.
Once you pass all this, you will experience the prepandemic ease that Incheon airport takes pride in. It’s possible to be done with the quarantine area and immigration and get your checked-in bag in under 15 minutes.
The government of South Korea requires all tourists to be tested again within three days after arrival. We did ours at the airport. They have laboratories that are walking distance from Incheon airport. Reservations can be made through Safe2Go (safe2gopass.com).
A PCR test at the airport can cost as much as P3,500. They will email the results within two hours, even as they say it will take at least six hours to get it.
Our group experienced some confusion because the result we received showed a dot instead of the words negative or positive. We just assumed that we were negative because if we had COVID-19, an ambulance would be waiting for us outside our hotels.
Another option would be to find cheaper laboratories in Seoul. Some of these tests only cost P1,500. If you know someone in Korea, you can probably ask them to take you to a public testing center for a free test.
For extended stays, you will be required to take the test again on the sixth or seventh day after arrival.
The government does not require this, but it is best to have travel insurance that covers COVID-19. Most of the COVID facilities or quarantine places in Korea are free. But, they will hold you for seven days.