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South Korea Entry Requirements

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A passport is required. U.S. passport holders may enter the Republic of Korea without a visa for a stay of up to 90 days for tourism or business. When staying for more than 90 days or for any purpose other than tourism or business, the U.S. passport holder must obtain a visa to Korea prior to entry. Americans visiting Korea for employment or profit-making purposes, English teaching positions, or stays of more than 90 days must obtain a visa at a Korean embassy or consulate abroad. Individuals staying in Korea for longer than 90 days must also apply for an Alien Registration Card, once in Korea.

To stay beyond the period of stay authorized upon entry, visitors need to apply for an extension with Korean Immigration. Individuals who overstay their authorized time without an extension are subject to fines that must be settled before they can depart the country. Changes of status from one type of visa to another (from tourism to teaching, for example) are normally not granted in the Republic of Korea and must be obtained at a Korean embassy or consulate in another country after leaving Korea.

U.S. citizens must submit to biometric data collecting when they enter the ROK. Immigration officials will take index fingerprints and digital face photographs during passport inspection. Officials with government agencies or international organizations, and children under 17 years of age, are except from data collecting.

Active-duty U.S. military personnel with the U.S. Forces Korea are allowed to enter the Republic of Korea under the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). They must have the correct Department of Defense (DOD) identification and travel orders to be admitted. Every civilian accompanying the force (including DOD civilian employees, invited contractors, and family members) must have a valid passport and obtain an A-3 SOFA visa in advance. Active duty military personnel should obtain a tourist passport prior to leaving the U.S. to accommodate off-duty travel elsewhere in Asia. DOD travelers should consult the DOD Foreign Clearance Guide before leaving the United States. Members of the Department of Defense with U.S. Embassy assignments must enter with diplomatic or official passports and the correct visas. DOD personnel on official business must have DOD APACS country clearance, while non-DOD members on official business must have clearance from the State Department’s eCC system. Active duty service personnel may enter the Republic of Korea on leave with DOD identification and orders.

Exit permits are not required to leave Korea. However, if a parent requests through the Korea Immigration Service that a travel restriction be placed on a child, the child is likely to be prevented from departing Korea.

Certain visas types including those granted to teachers and entertainment workers require negative HIV/AIDS test results. Republic of Korea immigration law also states that immigration officials may deny entry to individuals suspected of having communicable diseases.

For the most current visa information, contact the Consular Section of the Embassy of the Republic of Korea at 2320 Massachusetts Avenue N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 939-5660. Republic of Korea consulates are also located in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Guam, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, and Seattle.

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