Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, South Korea changed many of its entry requirements, including that for seafarers who dock and stay temporarily. Previous to the outbreak, South Korea gave waivers to some seafarers from trading partners, for example, the Philippines. However, this is no longer the case as the world is still battling a raging pandemic.
As of the time of writing, all seafarers cannot enter without the necessary documents. And the entry policies at the ports are still subject to change as new variants of the virus emerge and threaten public safety.
The information provided in this article is based on guidelines of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries available from August 27, 2021. As South Korea updates the visas and entry requirements regularly, it is advisable to check with the relevant authorities on the latest guideline.
General entry procedures
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (CDC) has prepared a guideline for three types of categories for all ports.
- An “entrant”, a person who wishes to enter the country for a crew shift change.
- A “liberty man” or “man on leave”, who has permission to land.
- A “re-embarking national”, a Korean national who embarks on his or her ship again without going through a passport check.
All categories must receive a COVID-19 test upon entry. They must stay onboard their ships for the test and can only disembark when the result is out.
If the test result is negative, “entrants” can move onward to clear the passport check stage. Thereafter, those with long-term visas are to quarantine for 14 days at their accommodations and to install a government-run mobile application (app) to report their health conditions to officials.
Those with short-term visas are to quarantine for 14 days at a government facility and to install the app. Those who are exempt from any visa requirements are also to self-isolate for 14 days and to report their health status via the app.
If the test comes out positive, all categories of seafarers, regardless of their entry type and visa status, will be transferred to a nearby clinic or a residential treatment center.
Seafarers with long-term visas are expected to be vaccinated. They also need to submit their PCR test results. If a vaccinated person fails to show a negative test result, his or her entry will be not be permitted.
While the government does not state whether short-term visa holders also need to be vaccinated, it makes clear that they also need to show a negative PCR test result.
Since last July, South Korea has required all incoming seafarers to apply for a visa, the C-3-11, for a stay of up to 30 days. It takes about 14 business days to obtain one from an embassy. To apply for the visa, the following documentation are required.
- Seafarer’s Book. To provide both the original and printed copy.
- Notification of Scheduled Entry and Exit at ports in South Korea. This form is available on the Korean Immigration System. To print out the form, the applicant’s ship has to be pre-registered in the system. The applicant also needs to gain approval regarding the expected entry into the country in the system.
- Contract of Employment. The applicant must submit a printed copy of the contract.
- Ship’s Certificate of Registry. To provide a printed copy.
- Facility Quarantine Agreement (for applicants with short-term visa). As mentioned, those with short-term visa are required to stay in a government facility and they have to fill out and submit this agreement. They should expect to pay 2.1 million won (US$1,8000, correct as of June 2021) for the stay.
- Those with long-term visa should submit the consent form for quarantine instead of the facility quarantine agreement.
Those who need more information on the entry requirements can contact embassies that correspond to their nationalities or call CDC’s immigration control team, +82-043-719-9212 (operated in Korean).