Moving to Korea > Immigration and Visas

Biometric Screening

Biometric Screening

As of January 2012, fingerprints and facial recognition are required for all inbound foreign visitors to Korea. Everyone, except foreign government officials/international organization representatives and their accompanying immediate family members as well as persons under17 years of age (newborn through age 16),  will have their two index fingerprints electronically scanned at the same time a digital photograph is taken of their face by Korea Immigration Service inspectors at all ports and airports across Korea.

This Bio-information System, collects and matches all the fingerprints and facial information of foreigners visiting the country thus "effectively blocking identify thieves who are tyring to re-enter Korea"*. The system can also be applied to criminal investigations and body identification. 

Korea has also implemented an Advanced Passenger Information System (APIS) where the information foreign travellers have provided the airline company can be collected and analysed prior to the flight's arrival so as to permit officials to focus on "problematic passengers while good passengers go through a quick process"*.

Korea's Automated Passport Reading System quickly reads the passport information then saves it. The system can also identify fake passports.

The Smart Entry Service System allows people to register their fingerprints and facial information prior to entry and it is an automated unmanned Immigration screening process where visitors can screen themselves at immigration checkpoints. The service is available to citizens over 17, permanent residents, and investors (the government is planning to expand it to everyone). In order to use the SES, the applicant must agree to provide their bio information and register their passport and facial information along with their fingerprints. Registration is available at Incheon airport, Gimpo airport, Downtown terminal, Seoul Station, and KOTRA. After registration one can use the SES checkpoints at Inchon and Gimpo airport, and by 2102, Gimhae Airport.

For additional information in Korea contact the Immigration Center 1345 or Immigration information website. Outside Korea, contact the nearest Republic of Korea embassy or consulate.

*Info source

Editor's Note: The information above is based on the information K4E has available at the time of writing.  K4E would appreciate your feedback should you find out that our information is out-of-date.

Last Updated on 2012-02-21

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