South Korea to Give K-ETA Eligibility to 8 Countries

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The South Korea online visa waiver, or K-ETA, will be made available to citizens of 8 countries for the first time from November 1, 2022.

This will mark the first time that visitors from these 8 nations have qualified for visa exemption for South Korea since travel restrictions were introduced during the pandemic.

The newly eligible travelers include nationals of Japan and Taiwan.

The Korea Disease Prevention and Control Agency (KDCA) issued a press conference stating that the decision had been made after consultations with various agencies in the country, including the justice ministry.

The South Korean K-ETA is an electronic travel authorization obtained online. Visa-exempt travelers may use this waiver instead of going through the lengthier, in-person process of applying for a visa. The digital platform is seen as much more convenient, with an easy-to-use interface and rapid processing times.

South Korea to Give K-ETA Eligibility to 8 Countries

The Return to Visa-Free Travel With the K-ETA

The K-ETA was launched in September 2021 to visitors from 49 of the 112 countries and territories that had previously been visa-exempt.

Since, then, the online visa waiver has been opened up to more and more of the 112 nations. The last permanent addition was Hong Kong on July 1, 2022.

Since then, only 8 previously visa-exempt countries have been ineligible for the K-ETA. Those traveling on passports issued by these nations have been required to apply for a visa to visit South Korea instead.

South Korea’s policy has largely been based on reciprocity. It has been reluctant to restore visa-exempt status to visitors from countries that have suspended their own visa exemptions for South Korean nationals.

This is set to change from November 1. For the first time, all 112 visa-exempt nationalities will be able to get the K-ETA.

The K-ETA is now a requirement for visa-free travel to South Korea. It can be used for vacations, business trips, and other visits for non-profit-making activities.

Which Countries Are Eligible for the K-ETA from November 1, 2022?

From the start of November 2022, it will be possible to apply for the K-ETA visa waiver for South Korea using a passport issued by any of the following nations:

  • Japan
  • Kiribati
  • Macau
  • Micronesia
  • Samoa
  • Solomon Islands
  • Taiwan
  • Tonga

Japan, Macau, and Taiwan had previously been granted the K-ETA temporarily during August 2022 for the Seoul Festa. However, nationals of these countries became ineligible once again from September 1.

Now, the K-ETA has been made available to citizens of these nations on a permanent basis.

As well as the latest 8 additions to the list, there are a further 104 countries that are already eligible for the K-ETA, including the US, UK, Canada, New Zealand, and all European Union (EU) countries.

How the K-ETA Will Affect Travel to South Korea from the 8 Countries

One of the main reasons why South Korea is opening the K-ETA to all 112 visa-exempt countries is to encourage more international visitors.

The pandemic had a huge impact on global tourism and South Korea was no exception.

Now that the situation is under control, it is hoped that easing restrictions and returning the South Korean visa policy to normal will lead to an increase in tourism. This should help to boost the country’s economy.

Some of the countries set to become eligible for the K-ETA in November include some of the most important in terms of tourism.

Before the pandemic, Taiwanese visitors made up the 3rd-largest group of tourists visiting South Korea each year, with 1.21 million in 2019. The reverse was also true — 1.24 South Koreans traveled to Taiwan in the same year. There were over 500 flights between Taiwan and the Republic of Korea each week.

It is expected that with visa exemption through the K-ETA, more Taiwanese nationals will want to visit South Korea and tourist numbers will start to rise again.

Similarly, Japan is a major source of tourism for South Korea. Before the pandemic, most years saw between 2 and 3.5 million Japanese tourists visit the Republic.

Although travel between the 2 countries has slowed during the pandemic, it is expected to skyrocket once the K-ETA becomes available.

From October 30, it is expected that flights between Tokyo Haneda International Airport (HND) and Seoul Gimpo International Airport (GMP) will double to 56 round trips per week.

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