If you are planning to travel to Seoul for any number of reasons (to look for a job, to look for apartments, to get a feel for the city) before you decide to relocate permanently, most countries can enter Korea without a visa for 30 to 90 days – depending on your home country.
Passport holders from the following countries can stay in Korea for up to 90 days without a visa: United States, all member states of the European Union (except Italy), Australia, Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Commonwealth of Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Estonia, Grenada, Haiti, Hong Kong, Iceland, Israel, Jamaica, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Morocco, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Peru, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Singapore, Suriname, Switzerland, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago and Turkey.
Passport holders from Canada can stay in Korea for up to six months without a tourist visa.
Passport holders from Lesotho and Italy can stay in Korea for up to two months without a tourist visa.
Passport holders from most other countries can stay in Korea for 30 days without a tourist visa: Albania, Argentina, Brunei, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Fiji, Guam, Guatemala, Honduras, Japan, Kuwait, Latvia, Lithuania, Macau, the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Monaco, New Caledonia, Oman, Palau, Paraguay, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Swaziland, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Vatican City, Venezuela and Yemen.
All other passport holders will be required to obtain a tourist visa, or a B2 visa. This visa can take anywhere from a day to two weeks to process, so make sure you apply early. You will have to apply at your nearest Korean embassy and will require a valid passport, passport photos and a completed application form. In some cases, officials at the embassy may ask for proof of onward travel or proof of sufficient funds to last throughout your stay in Seoul. This may vary according to country. There is also a visa fee depending on your country of origin and your intended length of stay in Seoul.
Generally, if your country of residence is exempt from needing a tourist visa, proof of onward travel is required. While it is wise to obtain proof of onward travel, if you are not sure when you will be leaving Korea it is rarely a problem if you don’t have proof – many foreigners get their stamp at the airport without it. Again, while it is highly unusual for officials to ask for proof of onward travel, it is still wise to have it.
Citizens of Canada, Australia, Japan and New Zealand may be interested in the 12 month working holiday visa (H-1). This is a good idea if you want to come and get a feel for Seoul while working part time to fund your trip. It is intended to help you supplement your expenses while enjoying your time in the Republic of Korea, so working at any one place for longer than three months is prohibited. It is intended for young people and is only available to the citizens of the aforementioned countries between the ages of 18 and 30. You also need to show proof that you can generally support yourself while here and proof of onward travel. There are certain jobs that you are not permitted, such as teaching ESL, and working in any branch of the entertainment industry. This visa can be nice if you are thinking about moving to Korea in the future and want to see what it would be like to live and work here; it can help you experience closer contact with the local community, more so than a short visit.
For more information on obtaining your visa visit: