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If you plan on visiting South Korea anytime soon, you may be wondering if you need to get a special visa to enter the country.  Unless you are planning to move to Korea, or have a reason to stay for longer than 3 months, you will probably only need to have your passport to enter the country.  But what precautions will you need to take with your passport before planning your trip?  Here are a few things to keep in mind to relieve stress you may feel about your visit to Korea.

Double Check Entry Requirements For Your Country

You should check with the Republic of Korea’s Consulate that is in charge of your area to make sure that a valid passport is the only documentation that you will need.  If a visa is required, you will need to check with the consulate to see how long it will take to process the visa and how long it will be valid for before you buy your plane ticket.  This will prevent you from having trouble entering the country or having to change your plans at the last minute.

Make Sure You Have Your Passport Early

For some airlines, including airlines that have cheaper deals to Seoul, you are required to enter  your passport number at the time that you purchase your ticket.  Other airlines will ask for your passport info sometime after you get your ticket.  This is to make sure that if you cannot enter the country due to not having proper documentation, that it  is not the airlines fault.  It is best to make sure you have your passport before you buy your plane ticket.

Check the Expiration Date of Your Passport

If your passport will expire within 3 months of you arriving in Korea, you may be denied entry into the country.  Make sure that you passport will be valid for longer than that so you don’t have any problems.

Make Sure You Have the Right Passport

If you live in the United States, you have 3 options for a passport.  You can get a passport book, a passport card or both.  The passport card is only for land travel through North America.  You will need the passport book to travel overseas.  Make sure you have the book and that there are plenty of  room to get your passport stamped when you arrive in Seoul.  If you need to apply for a passport book, it usually take around 4-6 weeks to get from the time that you apply for it.  If you apply during a the holiday season, it may take longer.  If you are in a rush, you can get your passport application processed faster, but you will have to pay for it.

Keep Your Passport in a Safe Place

Your passport can be used as a picture ID when going through airport security.  Using it for that purpose is a safe way to make sure you have it with you.  When boarding a flight to another country, you may be asked to show your passport, along with your boarding pass, before you enter the plane.  After you leave, make sure it is always in a safe place and that  you have copies of it in case it’s needed.  Many travel sites suggest that you keep it with you at all times.  But if you feel it may fall out of your pocket, or that you may be in an area with many thieves, you may want to keep it locked away in a safe place.  Keep the passport and the copies in a different location so if you lose one, you won’t lose all of it.

If you have any questions about your passport, check with you local government office.  In the United States, the Post Office is a location where you can send in your application for your passport.  Check with the post office in your area about when they process passport applications.  Some will only process them until 3:00 p.m., or some only have 1 person who can process passport applications.  So if they are at lunch, you’ll have to wait for them to come back.

The key is to process everything early.  The more prepared you are, the less stress you will have.  I hope this is helpful to you in planning your trip to Korea.  If there are any other suggestions that you have, please share them in the comment section below.  And as always, if you have any questions, please feel free to #askthewaygookin.

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