The government requires that passports be good for 6 months past your date of arrival, so make sure your passport is up-to-date.
Allow plenty of time before your trip to apply for a passport; processing normally takes 3 weeks but can take longer during busy periods (especially spring). And keep in mind that if you need a passport in a hurry, you'll pay a higher processing fee.
See www.frommers.com/planning for information on how to obtain a passport. For other information, contact the following agencies:
For Residents of Australia -- Contact the Australian Passport Information Service at tel. 131-232, or visit the government website at www.passports.gov.au.
For Residents of Canada -- Contact the central Passport Office, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Ottawa, ON K1A 0G3 (tel. 800/567-6868; www.ppt.gc.ca).
For Residents of Ireland -- Contact the Passport Office, Setanta Centre, Molesworth Street, Dublin 2 (tel. 01/671-1633; www.irlgov.ie/iveagh).
For Residents of New Zealand -- Contact the Passports Office at tel. 0800/225-050 in New Zealand or 04/474-8100, or log on to www.passports.govt.nz.
For Residents of the United Kingdom -- Visit your nearest passport office, major post office, or travel agency, or contact the United Kingdom Passport Service at tel. 0870/521-0410 or search its website at www.ukpa.gov.uk.
For Residents of the United States -- To find your regional passport office, either check the U.S. State Department website or call the National Passport Information Center toll-free number (tel. 877/487-2778) for automated information.
A visa is not needed for most visitors staying for 30 days and under.
British, Australian, and New Zealand citizens can visit for up to 90 days without a visa. Canadian citizens can visit for up to 90 days without a visa and can extend their stay for up to 6 months.
U.S. and South African citizens visiting for fewer than 30 days do not require a visa. For trips up to 90 days, Americans need a C-3 short-term visitor visa. For short-term business trips (up to 90 days), you'll need a C-2 short-term business visa. Both are valid for multiple entries within a 5-year period (or until your passport expires). In order to get the visa, you'll need to file the application (available for download at www.mofat.go.kr), along with a photo and fee (generally $45 for U.S. citizens, though you should check the website to see if additional fees apply). Business travelers need an additional letter, invoice, or contract showing the nature of their business in South Korea. Submit visa applications by mail or in person to a South Korean embassy or consulate near you. I've listed many of those offices below.
South Korean Embassy & Consulate Locations
In the United States --
- Korean Embassy: 2320 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202/939-5663 or 202/939-5660; www.koreaembassyusa.org).
- Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in Atlanta: 229 Peachtree St., Suite 500, International Tower, Atlanta, GA 30303 (tel. 404/522-1611).
- Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in Boston: One Gateway Center, 2nd Floor, Newton, MA 02458 (tel. 617/641-2830).
- Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in Chicago: NBC Tower, Suite 2700, 455 N. City Front Plaza Dr., Chicago, IL 60611 (tel. 312/822-9485).
- Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in Honolulu: 2756 Pali Hwy., Honolulu, HI 96817 (tel. 808/595-6109).
- Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in Houston: 1990 Post Oak Blvd., #1250, Houston, TX 77056 (tel. 713/961-0186).
- Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in Los Angeles: 3243 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90010 (tel. 213/385-9300).
- Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in New York (Visa Section): 460 Park Ave. (57th St.), 6th Floor, New York, NY 10022 (tel. 646/674-6000).
- Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in San Francisco: 3500 Clay St., San Francisco, CA 94118 (tel. 415/921-2251).
- Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in Seattle: 2033 Sixth Ave., #1125, Seattle, WA 98121 (tel. 206/441-1011).
In Canada --
- Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in Vancouver: 1090 Georgia St., Suite 1600, Vancouver, BC V6E 3V7 (tel. 604/681-9581; http://can-vancouver.mofat.go.kr).
- Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in Ontario: 555 Avenue Rd., Toronto, ON M4V 2J7 (tel. 416/920-3809; www.koreanconsulate.on.ca).
- Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in Montreal: 1 Place Ville-Marie, Suite 2015, Montreal, Quebec, H3B 2C4 (tel. 514/845-2555; www.koreanconsulate.qc.ca).
In the United Kingdom --
- Korean Embassy: 60 Buckingham Gate, London, SW1E 6AJ (tel. 44-20-7227-5500.
In Australia --
- Korean Embassy: 113 Empire Circuit, Yarralumla ACT 2600 (tel. 61-2-6270-4100; http://aus-act.mofat.go.kr).
- Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in Sydney: Level 13, 111 Elisabeth St., Sydney NSW 2000 (tel. 61-2-9210-0200).
In New Zealand --
- Korean Embassy: 11th Floor, ASB Bank Tower, 2 Hunter St., Wellington 6011 (tel. 64-4-473-9073; http://nzl-wellington.mofat.go.kr).
- Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in Auckland: 10th Floor, 396 Queen St., Auckland 6011 (tel. 64-9-379-0818).
Additional visa information can be found on the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade website at www.mofat.go.kr (click on "Visa") or http://english.tour2korea.com (under "Entry Info").
What You Can Bring into South Korea -- If you are over 19, you can bring the following goods into South Korea without incurring a custom tax: 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars, or 250 grams of other tobacco products; one bottle (not exceeding 1 liter) of alcohol; 57 grams of perfume; gifts up to the value of W300,000. Expensive watches, cameras, jewelry, precious metals, and furs should be declared upon entry or there will be a tax upon departure (W8,000 per person). There is no restriction on how much currency you can bring into the country.
Prohibited items: Narcotics and drugs; fruit, hay, and seeds; printed material, films, records, or cassettes considered by the authorities to be subversive, obscene, or harmful to national security or public interests; and products originating from communist countries.
Restricted items: Firearms, explosives, and other weapons and ammunition, even for sporting purposes, unless prior police permission is obtained and items are declared on arrival; plants and plant products require a phytosanitary certificate issued by the plant quarantine office of the country of origin. In order to prevent the spread of hoof-and-mouth disease, if you're bringing any beef or pork into South Korea, you must declare it to Customs officials.
What You Can Take Home from South Korea -- The South Korean government is very strict about any cultural assets that may be exported from the country. Sculptures, painting, ceramics, and such have to be evaluated by the Art and Antiques Assessment Office (tel. 02/732-9442) before you leave. Items considered to be of cultural value will be retained by the government.
U.S. Citizens: For specifics on what you can bring back and the corresponding fees, download the invaluable free pamphlet Know Before You Go online at www.cbp.gov. (Click on "Travel," and then click on "Know Before You Go" for an online brochure.) Or contact the U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP), 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20229 (tel. 877/287-8667), and request the pamphlet.
Canadian Citizens: For a clear summary of Canadian rules, write for the booklet I Declare, issued by the Canada Border Services Agency (tel. 800/461-9999 in Canada, or 204/983-3500; www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca).
U.K. Citizens: For information, contact HM Customs & Excise at tel. 0845/010-9000 (from outside the U.K., 020/8929-0152), or consult their website at www.hmce.gov.uk.
Australian Citizens: A helpful brochure available from Australian consulates or Customs offices is Know Before You Go. For more information, call the Australian Customs Service at tel. 1300/363-263, or log on to www.customs.gov.au.
New Zealand Citizens: Most questions are answered in a free pamphlet available at New Zealand consulates and Customs offices: New Zealand Customs Guide for Travellers, Notice no. 4. For more information, contact New Zealand Customs, The Customhouse, 17-21 Whitmore St., Box 2218, Wellington (tel. 04/473-6099 or 0800/428-786; www.customs.govt.nz).
No immunizations are required for entry.