What is the K-ETA? South Korea recently introduced a new travel authorization

ameya sathaye
By ameya sathaye August 19, 2021 15:12


After months of deliberation, the South Korean government has finally confirmed that it will begin a trial of the K-ETA. This travel authorization will be tested starting from May 2021 before fully rolling out in September.

Travelers who are eager to visit will be pleased to know that the new South Korea K-ETA makes traveling to the country easier, quicker, and more convenient.

There are currently 21 countries initially testing out this pilot program, but the South Korean government is planning to expand the K-ETA to more than 100 nations over the next few months.

Here is everything that you need to know about the K-ETA:

History of the K-ETA

Although the pandemic effectively halted tourism to virtually every country in the world, the quick rollout of the vaccine and an increase in tourism have prompted South Korea to rethink its border control.

To cope with a possible surge in inbound travelers, the government of South Korea, along with Korea Immigration Service, have launched the Korea Electronic Travel Authorization (K-ETA) program.

KIS Commissioner Cha Gyu-geun noted that “Under the new measure, passport holders from the list of visa-exempt countries must obtain authorization for their travel in advance (via the K-ETA program), for the safety of the country as well as for their own convenience.”

However, convenience and safety are just two of the benefits of the K-ETA. Let’s take a look at other advantages travelers can expect after they obtain this travel authorization.

What are the benefits of the K-ETA?

The K-ETA has a myriad of benefits for travelers.

To start off, eligible citizens who visit South Korea for short stays can use their K-ETA for a variety of purposes, including tourism, visiting family and friends, and business travel (i.e. attending expos, visiting international branches, and meeting clients).

Likewise, the South Korea K-ETA is a multiple-entry visa waiver, which means that individuals can enter the country multiple times without needing to re-apply for a visa every time they plan to travel. Holders of the K-ETA are allowed to stay in South Korea between 30 to 180 days per entry, depending on their nationality.

The K-ETA is valid for 2 years from the date it is approved. This is an excellent benefit for those who enjoy visiting the same country multiple times, or those who need to frequently travel for business. A two-year validity means there is less stress to constantly have to re-apply, unlike other similar travel authorizations.

Besides the multitude of benefits for tourists and business travelers, the K-ETA has a unique set of benefits for the government of South Korea. In fact, having a pre-filled travel authorization means that entry into the country is expedited. Border checkpoints that are typically congested will be loosened up and resources can be used elsewhere.

Likewise, the South Korean government can quickly pre-screen travelers who come from visa-exempt countries. This is especially important during the current pandemic, as the K-ETA can filter infectious diseases such as COVID-19 before they arrive into the country.

What countries are eligible for the K-ETA ?

At the moment, the K-ETA is available to nationals of 21 countries who are allowed to enter the country visa-free.

The list of 21 countries include Albania, Andorra, Barbados, Dominica, Guam, Guyana, Holy See (also known as the Vatican City State), Ireland, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, New Caledonia, Nicaragua, Palau, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Slovenia, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and Venezuela.

Starting in September 2021, three more countries will be added to the list of eligible nations to obtain a K-ETA. They include Australia, Austria, and the Russian Federation.

Although India is currently not eligible for the South Korea K-ETA, this may change in the future — especially since both countries have a strong diplomatic relationship and mutual goals.

How to apply for the K-ETA

Applying for the K-ETA is a very quick and efficient process. Individuals can obtain their travel authorization in under 15 minutes and do so from the comfort of their own home.

The individual will need to fill out the online application form, which consists of a questionnaire about the traveler’s information. There are questions regarding personal information (full name, date of birth), passport information (date of issue and expiry, nationality, passport number), and contact information.

There is also a separate section that has yes/no questions about the applicant’s criminal history and health details.

After answering the questions, applicants will be prompted to upload a recent passport-sized photo of themselves. Once the form is complete, the applicant will need to pay a processing fee in order to successfully submit the application.

In most cases, the K-ETA application is immediately approved and sent to the applicant’s email address. However, in rare cases it may take up to 24 hours to process during busy periods, such as peak tourist season.Since the K-ETA is still a pilot program, the South Korean government has plans to launch a K-ETA mobile application in the upcoming months.

ameya sathaye
By ameya sathaye August 19, 2021 15:12

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