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I am a Vietnamese citizen. I am planning to buy a round-trip flight ticket from Taipei to Los Angeles (America) and I will transit in Seoul airport.

Do I need a visa if I want to enter Seoul (not over 72 hours)?

My first route is TPE-ICN-LAX, do I need a visa if I stay one night in Seoul?
My second route is LAX-ICN-TPE, do I need a visa if I stay one night in Seoul?

Of course, I have a valid US visa, and onward ticket that I booked.

  • Thank for your answers. Do i need to apply any documents before my trip ? Or i just pass the immigration on the day of arrival in Seoul? Thanks, – Jonathan Oct 1 '16 at 9:18
  • You just show your onward e-ticket to immigration and answer their questions, if they ask any. To make it quicker, when approaching the officer have the passport open at the US visa page – Crazydre Oct 1 '16 at 14:55
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From http://www.immigration.go.kr/HP/IMM80/imm_04/imm_p01/vm2.jsp:

Visa-free Entry for tour and transit

Nationals of the countries below can enter Korea without a Korean visa for a stay of up to 30 days, if their purpose of visit is tour or transit

Asia

MACAO, BRUNEI, SAUDI ARABIA, U.A.E, YEMEN, OMAN, JAPAN, QATAR, TAIWAN, H.K(90days), KUWAIT
※ Only Diplomatic·Official passport : INDONESIA, LEBANON

North America

U.S.A, CANADA(6months)

South America

GUYANA, GUATEMALA, VENEZUELA, ARGENTINA, ECUADOR, HONDURAS, URUGUAY, PARAGUAY

Europe

MONACO, Vatican, BOSNIA HERCEGOVINA, Cyprus, SAN MARINO, Serbia & Montenegro, SLOVENIA(90days), ANDORRA, ALBANIA, CROATIA

Oceania

GUAM, NAURU, NEW CALEDONIA New Caledonia, MICRONESIA, SAMOA, SOLOMON IS, KIRIBATI, FIJI, AUSTRALIA(90days), MARSHALL IS, PALAU

Africa

SOUTH AFRICA, Mauritius, Seychelles, SWAZILAND, EGYPT

(Note that Vietnam is not on the list.)

Visitors meeting the following requirements also can enter Korea without a Korean visa for a stay of up to 30 days, if their purpose of visit is transit

Note) Nationals of Cuba,Macedonia ,however, must apply for korean visa, even if they meet these requirements

  • Holding a visa or a re-entry permit of the U.S. Japan, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand (5 countries)

  • Travelling from either of the five countries to a third country via Korea, or travelling from a third country to either of the five countries via Korea

  • Holding a confirmed onward flight ticket for departure within 30 days

  • No Immigration offence records, while in the five countries

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

Note) However, this facility for frequent visitors is not applicable to nationals of "China (P.R.C)", "Cuba" , "Macedonia"

It appears that you are eligible for transit without visa if you have no past immigration offences in any of the five countries.

  • I am curious how an airline agent would be able to verify whether someone has visited Korea "more than 10 times in total" for the purpose of deciding whether to allow someone without a visa. – Zach Lipton Sep 30 '16 at 4:55
  • @ZachLipton perhaps if the traveler brings the old passports to show the entry stamps, the airline agent could look at those. Timatic says simply "Visa required, except for Passengers who have previously entered Korea (Rep.) at least 4 times within the last 2 years or at least 10 visits in total." – phoog Sep 30 '16 at 5:07
  • 1
    It's a strange list you quote -- especially the Europe part which omits many of the countries that have visa-free access to South Korea according to Wikipedia. Ordinarily one would think a government website more reliable, but it really sounds hard to believe they would give visa-free access to Albanians and San Marinese, but not to either Italians, French, Gernmans or Brits. Did they have a falling-out with the EU or what? – Henning Makholm Oct 1 '16 at 10:42
  • @HenningMakholm It's because EU citizens (other than Cypriot and Portuguese) can enter under a separate, better Regime (for 90 days to be exact). I agree, the Website is very poorly constructed – Crazydre Oct 1 '16 at 15:00
  • @Crazydre but the existence of a list of countries with more permissive terms means that the absence of Vietnam from this list doesn't imply that Vietnamese need visas. Unfortunately I probably won't have time to fix this answer over the weekend. – phoog Oct 1 '16 at 15:45
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Airline agents go by Timatic, which states:

Passengers with a visa issued by Australia, Canada, New Zealand or USA to nationals of any country except for China (People's Rep.), Cuba, Iran, Macedonia (FYROM), Sudan and Syria, only if in transit through Korea (Rep.): -holding confirmed onward tickets on flights departing within 30 days; when arriving from a third country, departing to the country that issued the visa (e.g. DEL-ICN-YVR); or arriving on a direct flight from the country that issued the visa (a visa that expired on departure from that country is accepted), departing to a third country (e.g. YVR-ICN-DEL).

In other words: yes, you can enter Seoul and spend one night there. However, print this site to show the Airline agent just in case

  • i wonder why Timatic does NOT mention Japan. I feel the need for realtime sync and transparency via some kind of easy-to-use global tool accessible to the public on the internet. – computingfreak Aug 26 '17 at 7:26
  • @computingfreak Because they've stopped accepting Japanese visas. Asked the Timatic Team to double check with their Korean sources – Crazydre Aug 26 '17 at 8:41
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According to Timatic:

Visa required, except for Holders of onward tickets transiting Seoul Incheon (ICN), for a max. transit For details time of 24 hours.

So as long as your transit is under 24 hours and you're transiting through Seoul you don't need a visa regardless of your nationality or destination.

  • This would work if staying in the transit area. Not sure about this since OP wants to stay in a hotel. – krubo Apr 17 at 17:54

protected by Community Dec 28 '17 at 15:00

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