No visa entry to South Korea for visitors in transit

Here is some more good news for those who want to visit Korea but finding it tedious to apply for a short-term visitor visa. The Ministry of Justice or MOJ is allowing visitors in transit at the Incheon Airport to visit Seoul and other parts of the country without the need for a visa, even if the visitor in transit isn’t from an OECD country such as the United States, Japan and UK.

With the program, those who transfer at Incheon Airport to a third country or a domestic flight to Jeju Island, especially Chinese tour groups, will not need to be issued a visa. Foreign nationals transferring at Incheon Airport to a third country are able to enter Korea without a visa if they participate in one of the transit tourist programs permitted and operated by MCST or IIAC. Chinese tour groups heading to Jeju Island will be permitted to enter the country without a visa within twelve hours of arrival under the condition that they will go sightseeing in the Seoul metropolitan area. They will get an official entry permit once arriving on Jeju Island.

Read carefully the details of this new tourism policy of the Korean government. You might benefit from it ;p
No visa entry for transit passengers at Incheon Airport


  1. We’re from the Philippines and we want to come back Dec 2013 and will go to Jeju. How are we going to participate in the MCST or IIAC. Would appreciate your response through my email account. Thanks so much!

  2. Ms. appears that these will be applicable to package tours and might be a litle bit expensive for some pinoys na budget traveler lang.. when I went to Jeju, my tour was merely a DIY as in nag bus lang from one location to another 🙂

  3. Hi Ms. Betchay
    I will visit Korea soon on a tourist visa. I will stay in Seoul for about 59 days, and I want to make the most out of my vacation by learning basic Korean. Do you happen to know any free (or budget) Korean Language classes that I can attend to while I’m there?
    Thanks a lot 🙂 God bless.

    1. HI Lourdes! Most of the free Korean language classes will require you to produce an ACR which is proof of your legal residence. I’ll check about the budget language classes.

  4. hello po ms. betchay ask ko lang po sana if yung kukunin ko po na flight papunta po dun is manila-HK-jeju , pabalik po ba ganun pa rin yung route? if kunwari po na pagpabalik po ng phils is jeju-seoul-manila pwede po ba yun o kailangan pa po nun ng visa. kasi yun po problem namin eh. kasi pwede po magtravel to jeju without visa diba, eh panu po pagbalik dito baka di po pwede kasi dadaan pa ng seoul. please help naman po. thanks

  5. Hi, will be on a 8 hr layover in Seoul on February 25 2013. Is this program still in effect. I personally would rather be able to just leave myself and take the train downtown on my own and not pay for a tour is all this still possible. Travelers from Canada… Thanks hope to here from you soon!

    1. If you have a Canadian passport, you can leave the airport without a visa (and even stay in Korea for six months!) You won’t need to join a tour.

  6. Dear Ms. Betchay,
    I am going to Korea for a holiday and is still waiting for my visa but should things don’t go as planned, can this no visa entry be used in transferring from Incheon airport to Gimpo airport?
    I would want to fly to Jeju and the flight schedule flexibility going to Jeju is better in Gimpo than Incheon. My worry is will I be allowed to travel to Gimpo without a visa. Thank you.
    Also, I will not be coming from the Philippines so the direct flight to Jeju from Phil is really not an option. Thank you.

    1. Hi Lee! To get to Gimpo airport, you’ll need to exit the immigration. Gimpo is about an hour from Incheon and Korea doesn’t issue transit visa.

      1. Dear Ms. Betchay,
        I called the Korean Embassy here in Jakarta and they said that I need to still apply for a visa. They seem to be not aware of the 12-hr no visa entry. Is this trial run finished or is it still on? I do not want to take chances of flying to Incheon and then will be asked to turn back because I do not have visa. Please clarify if you can. Thank you.

  7. Dear Ms. ..
    I’ve got the information that since October 29th, 2012, the South Korean government has given out a new policy for tourists from China, Russian and other South East Asian countries. They are allowed to visit Seoul and other neighboring areas in South Korea without visas. The South Korean government is temporarily loosening the visa policy for international tourists on arrival at Incheon international airport. Tourists from China, Russia and other South East Asian countries now can enjoy a one-day-tour in Seoul without too many procedures that they used to be.
    However, in order to get visa exemption, tourists have to register with the tour transit program at the tourism agencies chosen by South Korean government. Hence, I’m just wondering if this policy is still valid. I’m going to have a tour to Hong Kong and transit in South Korea. Lastly, could you please tell me where I can register this program?

  8. oh my..why not just VISA-FREE to Korea is apply again? im sure if its free visa entry from any countries can help to gain more tourists and opportunity.and im sure the Korean gov. can do many things to all tourists specially those who have plan to stay illegal..for me i dont think so applying visa can help to stop them staying in korea far as i know still so many illegal in korea even they being issued tourist visa recently..sad to think these tourists can afford huh! and yet they rich here in i cannot understand about requirements also..yet they stay in korea illegally..hmmm..

  9. hi i have indonesia passport and Greencard from USA, i will transit like 20 hour in Incheon airport.. can i go out from the airport for 15 hour and go back to airport again ?
    thank you

    1. Hi Susanto! Yes, you can go out from the airport if you have a green card from the USA.

  10. Hi Ms. Betchay!
    I am a Filipina working in Dubai.
    On my vacation, i plan to drop by Korea for 4-5 days to visit Korean friends, then fly home to the Philippines. Is there a need for me to produce a tourist visa? if so, what are the requirements?
    Thank you so much. Best Regards!

    1. Hi Joan! Yes, you need to apply for a Korean visa at the Korean Embassy in Dubai. For the requirements, it’s better to ask the Korean Embassy since each embassy has a different set of requirements. I met a Filipina here before and she was visiting from Dubai. She said it wasn’t difficult getting a visa but she had to submit a lot of papers.

  11. Hello po mam Bechay, dto npo me sa pinas….Ask lng po favor kung pwd?
    baka po may naghahanap ng cosmetics products na ‘ITS SKIN” ang brand
    may kontak po ako na mura ang bigay, pki bigay po ang email add ko, Thanks po…. more power to you!

  12. Hello Ms. Betchay. Last year pa pala ang blog na ‘to pero hot pa rin cya. Kaya naman gusto ko lang magtanong patungol sa pagpunta dito s Korea na ang target destination ay sa Jejudo. Mula sa Manila patungong Jejudo, Phil. passport holder na ang purpose ng pagpunta ay invited by a friend to visit them, at visa free sya, so ilang buwan ang maximum na pwede ilagi ng “invited na friend”? Thanks. Waiting for your response.

  13. I have booked a flight to Incheon for April 2014 (salamat sa piso fare). Me and my friend are going to visit Jeju. She is coming from China and me, Cebu. I am really happy to see this post by MOJ regarding the No-Visa Entry Policy for Foreigners in Transit BUT I am still hesitant; I might not get through the Cebu Immigration for not having a VISA to SK. As much as possible, I don’t want to go through all the hassle of going to Manila just to get a Visa when we can just enter Jeju Visa-free. What’s the best thing to do? Anyone here who has visited Jeju without a Visa this year? Thanks!

  14. I have booked a flight to Incheon for April 2014 (salamat sa piso fare). Me and my friend are going to visit Jeju. She is coming from China and me, Cebu. I am really happy to see this post by MOJ regarding the No-Visa Entry Policy for Foreigners in Transit BUT I am still hesitant; I might not get through the Cebu Immigration for not having a VISA to SK. As much as possible, I don’t want to go through all the hassle of going to Manila just to get a Visa when we can just enter Jeju Visa-free. What’s the best thing to do? Anyone here who has visited Jeju without a Visa this year? Thanks!

  15. Hi Betchay,
    I am transitting via Incheon, have 10 years US visa and 6 years Canada visa. Can i go out of the Airport during transit duration without taking tourist visa in advance?

  16. Hi,
    I am an Indonesian student currently studying in America. I hold an F1 student visa. I’m going home for Christmas break and I plan to leave from San Fransisco to Incheon, and then stay in Seoul for about 3 days before departing to Jakarta. I read in several websites that an American visa holder is allowed to stay in Korea for less than 30 days with a departing ticket to another country. Do I still need to get a Korean visa?

  17. Hi our colleagues are traveling to japan and they will in transit in korea
    But they have to change their airports from Incheon and then take airplane from Gimpo, will they have a problem because they did’nt get korean visa?

  18. HI ms.betchay,
    Miguel po.I live in Dubai.
    I’m going to Mongolia for 15 days via Dubai-incheon. 3 hrs Lang ang stay ko sa airport then fly from incheon to mongolia naman. Kelangan ko prin po bang kmuha ng transit visa dto sa Dubai or no need na since 3 hrs Lang Nman.
    Really need your reply ASAP po. Thanks.

  19. Hi good morning ms betchay! Im mary from ph, currently working in hong kong. Im planning to visit korea for 5 days only. Ive read your post about the reqs in acquiring the tourist visa. My problem is that i dont have an employment cert and an ITR. is there any other option that would qualify me to get the tourist visa even without those2 reqs that i have mentioned? I hope you can help me. Thank you vry much!
    Ps. Really love your blog! Godbless and more power!

    1. Hi Mary Jane! If you’re an OFW, you will need to get a certificate of tax exemption from the BIR since OFWs are not required to file ITRs. You can also make a copy of a document proving that you’re an OFW.
      Good luck sa ‘yo.

      1. Thank you very much ms betchay for your asap reply!
        I will keep in touch with you as i process my tourist visa for korea!
        Really appreciated your infos!
        Good luck to you and dont get tired of updating us about korea!
        Thank you very much!

  20. Hello Ms. Betchay! Imiss travelling from US back to Philippines but I have a 14hrs layover in Incheon, it’s overnight, do I need to get a transit visà when I go out to the airport and get a hotel for a night stay? Thank you!

    1. Correct! You don’t need to get a visa anymore but you might need to fill in an arrival card and just write “connecting flight” in the address.

      1. Mam im going for a vacation to philippines and im travelling from doha to korea incheon via qatar airways then manila via cebu i need to get visa?thnk u in advace…

        1. You don’t need to get a visa if you’re not staying in Korea. It’s just a transit and Incheon Airport has wonderful facilities for transit passengers.

          1. Hello, May US visa po ako, and plan ko po magtransit sa S. Korea to visit some of my friends, Pwede po ba kahit Busan Airport? ilang days po pwede magstay?

      1. Ms. Bethay,
        So pwede po pala bilhin ko ticket e from Philippines to S. Korea, then Busan to L.A?
        then pwede po ako magstay sa Korea for up to 30 days. basta ang third distination ko e US?

        1. Yes, pwedeng ganun pero yung days na iga-grant sa ‘yo depende pa rin sa immigration official pero sabi sa link up to 30-days na pwedeng visa free basta may ticket sa destination.

  21. hello ms betchay 🙂
    I have flight from manila – seattle tomorrow, but ill have 1 hour layover to incheon before heading USA, Do i still need visa for Korea? Sana po makapag reply kayo. I have a US Tourist Visa only. My flight had been cancelled today, because original ticket ko meron ako layover sa vancouver, need ko daw ng visa sa canada, so hindi ako nka alis, I got ticket na manila – incheon, then incheon – seattle kaya im wondering kung sa korea ba kailangan ko pa ng visa nilla?
    sana mkpagreply ka

    1. If it’s just one hour layover, you will be directed straight to the transit area. You don’t need a visa. The layover is too short for you to get out of the airport.

      1. Hi ms betchay! I am planning to visit korea for only 24 hours next year before going to philippines, im from jeddah will go to korea then booked another flight from korea to philippines can i avail that transit visa? Salamat!

  22. Hi Ms. Betchay!
    I am a Filipina OFW working in Dubai.
    REF TO: – Seoul stopovers under 72 hrs are visa-free starting May 1.
    I’m planning to lay over for 3 days in Korea for sightseeing then fly home to Philippines.
    what is this transit tour program, where can we avail this program?
    Thank you so much. Best Regards!

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  24. Hello po! If i have a more or less 3 hour layover in korea, but im not planning naman po to leave the airport and explore the city, do i still need to have a visa? Thank you!

    1. You don’t need a visa as long as you don’t go out the immigration area. There are lots of things you could do inside the airport. Three hours is short 😀

  25. i am in the US now.. and plan to go home to the philippines on dec 10,2015. do i need a visit visa if i planned to see korea for a couple of days?

      1. idont have a us visa po.. philippine visa lang.. pwede ba aq pumasok sa korea ng ilang araw na hindi magjojoin sa touring agency? i got a friend kc in korea.. and willing sya to accompany me.

  26. Hello miss Betchay i am from Philippines working here in Dubai as housemaid i am planning to go home for good this coming December but i am planning to drop by in Korea for 3 days do I need to get visa? My ticket will be Dubai to Korea, Korea to philippines.i am waiting for your reply the soonest.thanks

    1. Hi! It is better if you try to get a visa. Visa-free transit is dependent on the discretion of the immigration official.

      1. What are the requirements I need to provide here in Dubai? Do i need
        to provide statement of account (bank certificate)& supporting letter of my employer?

  27. Hi Mis Betchay,uwi po ako this coming December sa Pilipinas,may Canada Visa ako gusto ko mag stay sa Korea for a week then uwi sa Pilipinas kailangan ko pa ba ng visa to enter the country?

    1. Hi Melysen! Sa bagong issue na bulletin ng Korean Embassy, yung mga papunta lang ng Canada, Australia, USA at UK ang pwedeng mag-transit ng walang visa. Pero mas maganda tanong mo sa Korean Embassy sa Canada para sure.

  28. Hi, I am planning to travel from Shanghai, China to Delhi, India through Asiana Airlines. Have one transit in Seoul (ICN) for 2 hours hault. Do I need to pay ant transit fee / Visa fee?
    Please confirm over the email.

    1. Hi! There is no need for a transit visa. You won’t be able to leave the airport though since your layover is only for 2 hours.

  29. Hi,
    I booked Air ticket
    PVG pudong —> Incheon Airport –> New Delhi (India)
    New Delhi –> Incheon Airport Seoul (South Korea)–> Gimpo Airport Seoul (South Korea)—> PVG pudong
    So my question:
    Do i need to have transit Visa ,if i travel to Incheon Airport –> Gimpo Airport.
    From above i understand no Visa if i stay in Incheon

  30. hi ms betchay…. ask ko lang ko possible bang makapasok ako nang korea. nag tour kasi ako sa russia, ngayon stop over ako nang incheon, pwede ba akong makapag apply nang visa kahit ilang days lang?

  31. hello Ms.Betchay..We have a convention to attend in Jeju Korea.Our Itenerary from manila to incheon then Gimpo to Jeju.Do we need to get a transit Visa in Incheon so we can go to Gimpo Airport?Thank you

  32. Hello ms bechay Merun kmi convention in jeju Korea.yung ticket namin Manila to incheon then lalabas kmi ng airport going to gimpo airport then to jeju.Need po ba kukuha ng transit visa????

  33. Merun po ba ibang route hndi na kailangan visa going to jeju?f kukuha kami visa ano po ung requirements?

    1. Fly Cathay Pacific Manila-HongKong-Jeju or PAL (Manila-Busan) then KAL/Jeju AIr (Busan-Jeju) but it’s more expensive

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