The Korean government started a No-Visa Entry Program for foreigners in transit, in order to boost Korean tourism industry and promote friendly relations with other countries.
International travelers in transit at Incheon International Airport with a layover of 72 hours or less can tour Korea without a visa.
Foreign nationals who are transferring at Incheon International Airport to a third country are eligible for an official entry permit to the country when they sign up for a transit tourism program organized by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
There is a fee of 10,000 won and an immigration assistants accompanies transit passengers during the entire stopover period, helping them through immigration procedures and sightseeing during their scheduled layover.
Whether or not you need a visa to visit South Korea depends on a variety of factors: Your nationality, the purpose and the expected duration of your stay etc.
Criteria for Permission
The person must hold an airline ticket for transit within 72 hours and the person must stay only in the possible destination for tourists of Seoul (Seoul, Incheon, Gyeonggi Province)
Status of Stay and Period
Tourism & Transit (B-2) visa, Within 72 hours
The B-2 status also allows passport holders of different Nations, including the People’s Republic Of China mainland, to stay in South Korea for a maximum period of 30 days, on the condition that they use Incheon International Airport as a transit stopover.
Here is a list of countries whose citizens don’t require a visa to enter South Korea for tourism, business or transit purposes for limited periods of time.
Designated Countries & Regions Granted Visa-Free Entry to Korea
* Allowed to stay in Korea for 30 days only (unless otherwise specified below) for the purposes of tourism and visitation only.
Asia Japan (90 Days), Hong Kong (90 Days), Macao (90 Days), Taiwan (90 Days), Kuwait(90 Days), Brunei, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain (90 Days)
North America United States (90 Days), Canada (6 Months)
South America Argentina, Honduras, Paraguay, Uruguay, Ecuador, Guyana
Europe Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, Cyprus, Albania, Croatia, Slovenia (90 Days), Vatican, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro
Oceania Australia (90 Days), Guam, Fiji, Nauru, Palau, Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, Micronesia, New Caledonia, Samoa, Tuvalu, Tonga
Africa Republic of South Africa, Mauritius, Seychelles, Swaziland, Egypt
Citizens of countries not mentioned above must apply for a visa no matter the duration of stay or purpose of travel.
Visa-Free Entry to Jeju Islan
Apart from the countries listed as ‘not eligible for visa-free entry’ most foreign nationals arriving at Jeju International Airport or passenger terminals for the purpose of tourism or transfer are eligible for visa-free entry.
Countries NOT eligible for visa-free entry to Jeju (11 countries)
Ghana, Nigeria, Libya, Macedonia, Sudan, Syria, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Cuba, Palestine
Allowed region and range of activity
Those eligible must take planes or ferries with direct routes to Jeju Island
Visitors meeting these requirements can enter Korea without a Korean visa for a stay of up to 30 days, if their purpose of visit is transit. Nationals of Cuba and Macedonia however, must apply for korean visa, even if they meet these requirements. Also, those who have visited Korea more than 4 times in recent two years, or those who have visited Korea more than 10 times in total can enter Korea without a Korean visa, notwithstanding the requirements above. However, this privilege for frequent visitors is not applicable to nationals of China, Cuba and Macedonia.
All visitors must hold a confirmed onward flight ticket for departure within 30 days. Regardless of your citizenship or any visa-exemptions that may apply to you, your passport has to be valid for a minimum of 6 months upon entry in South Korea.
Generally, if you stay in Korea for longer than 90 days, you must apply for an Alien Registration Card.
Visitors may be permitted visa exemptions on diplomatic or official passports.