Visiting Korea > Your Arrival in South Korea

Entering Korea, Immigration-Customs

Entering Korea, Immigratio...

The chances are that you will be arriving in Korea via Immigration at Incheon International Airport. The immigration rules vary depending on the purpose of your sojourn in Korea and the country of which you are a citizen. Some information on immigration and visas is included in this section, but for more details you need to check with the Korean government including:

  1. Government of Korea for Foreigners - this site is sometimes difficult to access if you don't have Active X. Try cutting and pasting:
  2. Immigration Help Line: In Korea, you can telephone 1345 (press 3 and then * for English). No need to put in area code, even from a cell phone.

 While on the plane you will have been given forms to fill out for immigration and for customs.

On landing you will proceed to immigration – where you will queue depends on your passport and visa. Most people go to either the Korean Citizen lines or to the Non-Korean or Foreigners lines. (These are clearly indicated). Diplomats and those holding a foreign investor’s visa can go to the express line at the extreme right (usually). Most immigration officials can speak English – in fact, more and more are quite fluent.

Before the immigration officers clears you, your fingerprints will be taken. You will be asked to place the index fingers of each hand on a sensor. Your face will also be photographed during the process.  Foreign residents in certain visa categories can also register for a smart entry system known as an Automated Immigration System.

A written baggage declaration must be submitted to a customs officer upon entry. (You’ll receive the form on the plane but if not, there are some on the counters as you enter the immigration area)

Passengers must clear customs through either the green, white, or red channel. Passengers who have no articles to declare should use the green channel. If a passenger declares non-duty-free articles voluntarily, the declared amount will be accepted and the clearance procedure will be expedited.

Duty-Free Articles include:
• Goods you will be taking out of Korea upon departure. (The total quantity of the goods should be declared for duty exemption.).
• Goods which were declared upon departure from Korea and are being brought back – this applies especially to expensive item that you had purchased either in Korea or elsewhere before your departure. Examples of such items include digital cameras, computers, other electronic gadgets/equipment, golf clubs, etc.
• 1 bottle (not over 1 liter) of alcoholic beverages 200 cigarettes (50 cigars or 250 grams of tobacco)
• 2 ounces of perfume
For further information on goods subject to declaration and prohibited goods, please contact the Customs Information Office at Incheon International Airport or go to the Korea Customs Service website. You can also call 032-74-3100 or 080-742-7272.  

If you bring anything in excess of your duty free allowance, you will need to pay customs duties, VAT (Value Added Tax) and special excise taxes.  For most industrial products, you will probably pay 8% of Customs duties and 10% of VAT.  For all the details of applicable customs duty and tax rates in English, you can refer to the Duties and Taxes in Korea on the Korea Customs website

Besides customs duties and taxes, some items require licensing and approval procedures with other Korean Government agencies.  These items include food, alcohol, pets, medicine, and cars.  More than simply paying duties and taxes, these goods could require clearance by Korean Customs and could involve quarantine or other lengthy review procedures.  However,

NOTE: Foreign embassies generally have no authority to intervene for their nationals Korean customs cases or Korean domestic regulations regarding important items. Because something may be allowed in your country does not mean it is in Korea. Before setting out for Korea, it's a good idea to consult the Korea Customs website, especially if you are planning on bringing medicines, food items or a pet with you. 

The Korean Customs website also provides a list of items that have importation restrictions or prohibitions:
- Articles beyond tax-free limitation (dutiable items)
- Articles for sale in Korea
- Foreign Currency or other Monetary instrument valued more than US $10,000

Restricted articles:
- Guns, firearms, knives and explosives
- Drugs (narcotics and psychotropic substance)
- Quarantine required goods (food, animal material, plant material, etc.)
- Articles controlled by the Convention on Intl Trade in Endangered Species

Prohibited Articles:
- Books, publications, drawings and paintings, films, phonographic materials, video work and other items of similar nature that may either disturb the constitutional order or be harmful to public security or traditional custom
- Goods which may reveal confidential information on the government or which may be used for intelligence activities
- Coins, currency, bank notes, debenture (a document that either creates a debt or acknowledges it) and/or other negotiable instruments counterfeited, forged or imitated

INFO: For further details on specific regulations, you may contact the Main Customs office within Korea at telephone: 042-472-2120.  Other contact numbers for offices throughout Korea are listed on the Korea Customs website: (site has info in English, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese as well as Korean)

K4E Editor: tries to ensure that the information we provide is accurate and complete, so should you notice any errors or omissions in the content above please contact us at Please note that government regulations and proceedures may have changed from what has been described above or may not apply in all situations/cases. K4E recommends that you check with the appropriate government office and/or officials prior to going forward.  


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Last Updated on 2019-05-10

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