Travel Requirements to East Asia

  • By Bamaejuri Sohkhlet
  • on 02 Apr 2021
  • Categories : Destinations, Tips Advices, Travel

The information provided below was updated on 30 March 2021. The regulations and travel restrictions of these East Asian countries are not constant and so it is important to update yourself regularly on the current policies from the official government websites. 

As the virus sees a decrease in some parts of the world, East Asian countries have relaxed their travel restrictions in their region, although foreigners are still prohibited from entering their borders. 

China

Now with the availability of vaccines worldwide and a decline in the number of cases in the country, China is expected to see some of its regulations relax and its borders open by October this year.

But in order to maintain this decline in the number of cases, China still has some restrictions in place. These restrictions include an entry restriction to foreign travellers with visas that were issued before the 28th March 2020 and foreign nationals with a residence permit or APEC Business Travel Cards.

The only travellers allowed to enter mainland China right now are those with a valid Chinese Residence Permit if you hold diplomatic, service, courtesy or C visas, and those with a valid visa issued after 28th March 2020. 

Figure 1. Huangshan Shi, China (Source: Pexels)

All visa-free transit services have been suspended and the only visas that you can apply for at the moment are for work (Z visa), for business (M visa) and for family visits (Q1 and Q2 visas). Those holding the APEC Business Travel Cards can apply for the M visa by presenting the original valid APEC business travel card and the invitation card issued by the inviting party in mainland 2.

The visa needed for an applicant to complete an internship in China is the X2 visa. It is granted to applicants who wish to stay in China for less than 6 months. Currently, this visa cannot be issued to students or anyone wishing to intern in China.

South Korea

The covid situation in South Korea seemed to initially be under control. However, in the past month, there has been a spike in the number of cases in the country and the government has begun imposing stricter regulations.

In regards to travel, nationals from Japan who do not have a Korean visa issued after 9th March 2020 are not allowed to enter the country. Passengers who are in transit in the South Korean airport should have a connecting flight within 24hrs.

The people allowed into the country are South Korean citizens, permanent residents, spouses and direct family members, those who hold a Korean Alien Registration Card with a re-entry permit, passengers with a re-entry permit and a negative COVID-19 medical certificate in English issued within 48hrs before departure and an E-9 cardholder.

Figure 2. Seoul, South Korea (Source: Pexels)

Short-term visas issued before 5ht April 2020, visa-free entry and visa waiver programs are temporarily suspended. The exceptions are long-term visas like A, D, E, F, G, H and the short-term employment visa C4. Foreign nationals who hold the visa types: B-1, B-2, C-1, C-3, C-4, G-1, H-2 and F-4 are required to quarantine at a facility designated by the Korean government and paid for by the customer upon arrival.

From 27 February 2021 until further notice, passengers arriving from Myanmar will be exempt from pre-departure COVID-19 PCR test requirements. All passengers travelling from Hong Kong or Macao will be required to travel with a functional mobile phone and a contactable phone number. This contact number will be verified by the local quarantine or immigration officials. If the verification process is unsuccessful, the passenger will be denied entry into Korea.

To complete an internship in Korea, you can apply for either a tourist or a WHP. When applying for a WHP or an H-1 visa, the documents needed to apply for this visa are:

  • Valid passport with at least 6 months validity and at least 2 blank visa pages
  • A recent passport picture (taken within the last 3 months)
  • A completed application form for visa
  • Proof of round-trip airline tickets
  • Proof of financial support or other documentation that shows that you have sufficient funds to support yourself
  • A detailed schedule of your trip
  • Medical exam (Australia, Canada, France, New Zealand)
  • Criminal Record (Canada, France, New Zealand)
  • An official transcript or a copy of your diploma as proof of higher qualification (Japan, U.S.)

The required documents may vary among the countries’ embassies and so it is advised to contact your nearest embassy or consulate for more information.

Upon arrival in Korea, all travellers have to undergo 14 days of quarantine upon entry. They must also present a medical certificate that was conducted within 72 hrs before departure and showing a negative COVID-19 PCR test. The certificate can be presented either electronically or in written format. This certificate must be issued by a medical institute that is designated by the diplomatic offices of ROK.

If foreign nationals fail to provide the requested documents, they will not be permitted to enter the country. Passengers must also complete a health declaration form prior to their arrival in Korea.

Hong Kong

Usually, if you are looking to complete an internship in Hong Kong, you would travel with the visa type WHP. In Hong Kong, this is visa type ID(E) 940A. However, this visa type has been suspended until further notice due to COVID-19. For the latest arrangements and information, you can check your countries’ respective immigration websites.

Figure 3. Hong Kong (Source: Pexles)

Currently, only Hong Kong residents and foreigners that hold the following permits and visa types are allowed to enter:

  • Hong Kong Permanent Identity Card or Hong Kong Identity card that bears the “asterisk”, “A” or “R” code, the “C” code with a valid work or student visa and the “U” code which is subject to approval from the Hong Kong Immigration prior to acceptance at check-in
  • Hong Kong SAR passport holders
  • Hong Kong document of identity
  • Passengers travelling from mainland China, Taiwan or Macao and have not been to any other country in the past 21 days
  • Diplomatic/Official passport holders The spouse and children of a Hong Kong resident
  • Local government personnel Personnel approved by the Hong Kong SAR government to carry out anti-epidemic work
  • Passengers holding new entry visas to work, study, establish or join any business or take up residence in Hong Kong

Additional restrictions have been placed on a number of countries under which the Hong Kong government has placed into 3 groups according to their risk level:

  • Group A (Extremely high risk): The countries included in this group are Brazil, UK, South Africa and Ireland. Passengers who have stayed or transited through any of these countries for more than 2 hrs in the last 21 days will not be allowed to enter Hong Kong.
  • Group B (Very high risk): Up to 20 countries are included in this group like Bangladesh, Belgium, Canada, Ecuador, Ethiopia, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Romania, Russia, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, and the U.S.
  • Group C (Medium to High risk): In this group, all countries are included except China (Mainland, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan).

Passengers from all three groups are required to undergo quarantine for 21 days in one of the designated hotels by the government. who have stayed in these countries for more than 2 hrs in the past 21 days are not permitted to enter Hong Kong.

Once you have attained the required visa, the next step is to present documentation proof of the COVID-19 testing and hotel reservation:

Test report

  • It must show that the passenger has taken the nucleic acid test for COVID-19The test was taken within 72 hrs of the scheduled time of departure
  • The results of the test must be negative
  • It should be written in English or Chinese and can be presented in paper or electronic format

Documentary Proof

  • This is to show that the laboratory or healthcare institution is ISO 15189 accredited or the healthcare institution is recognized and approved by the relevant authority of the government of that place
  • The proof can be in English or in Chinese
  • It can be in the form of a copy of “Certificate of Accreditation” or “Certificate of Compliance” or it can be printed out from an official government website

Hotel reservation confirmation

  • Passengers will have to confirm a hotel booking in one of the designated hotels in Hong Kong for at least 21 days
  • This confirmation can be printed in either English or Chinese
  • Passengers who have a home in Hong Kong will also have to undergo the 21-day quarantine at a hotel if they have recently travelled

Please note that upon check-in, passengers will have to complete and present a health declaration form either by showing the online QR code or it can be printed out.

Japan

In Japan, the restrictions have strengthened and the government has made a number of changes since the start of 2021 in order to reduce the risk of COVID-19.

On 18 March 2021, the Government of Japan announced the suspension of the “Business Track” and the “Residence Track” with all the countries covered under the framework until further notice. The new entry of foreign nationals will also not be permitted under these two tracks.

Moreover, the relaxation of restrictions on movement during the 14-day quarantine through the “Business Track” will no longer be permitted for both Japanese nationals and foreign nationals with a residence status for the time being.

Figure 4. People at the Setsubun Festival in Japan (Source: Pexels)

Currently, no foreign nationals are permitted to enter Japan. If you are a foreign national who wishes to travel to Japan at this time will need a new visa issued by the Embassies/Consulates/Consular Office of Japan, depending on the purpose of entry. The only people allowed to enter Japan right now are:

  • Nationals of Japan
  • The spouse or children of a Japanese national
  • Holders of Japanese resident status

All passengers will be subject to a 14-day quarantine period in a designated location and passengers are not allowed to use public transportation. For foreign nationals, single and multiple-entry visas issued before 8 March 2020 by Japanese embassies have been suspended until further notice.

Before you travel:

COVID-19 test

  • All passengers are required to present a negative COVID-19 test result i.e. RT-PCR/ Nucleic Acid Amplification test (LAMP)/ Antigen test (CLEIA). The test must be taken within 72 hrs before departure.

Health Declaration

  • All passengers must complete a health declaration form. Since this form requires a seat number, it is recommended that passengers check-in online within 48 hrs before departure.

Mobile app

  • All passengers (age 13+) travelling to Japan are required to install several mobile apps before going through immigration. 

The Work Holiday Program has also been suspended with the closure of the Business Track and the residence Track. Therefore, students who want to do an internship in Japan are currently not permitted to enter the country. However, with the situation changing all the time, travelling to Japan may be possible soon. 

Taiwan

With the new mutated strain of COVID-19, Taiwan has updated their travelling restrictions and their regulations have been adjusted. Currently, the passengers allowed to enter Taiwan are:

  • Overseas students returning from Hong Kong and Macao
  • Hong Kong and Macao residents entering for the following reasons

       - Special humanitarian reasons

       - Emergency situations

        - To fulfil contractual obligations

        - For commercial and trade exchanges

        - A spouse or child of a Taiwan national

        - Holding a Taiwan Resident Certificate

  • Foreign nationals for reasons other than tourism
  • Residents of TaiwanDiplomatic or official visa holders
  • Foreign nationals with special permission to enter

On 24 February 2021, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced that the Fall-Winter COVID-19 Prevention Program will be continued until further notice. However, the entry regulations have been adjusted and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has made a few changes concerning the entry of foreign nationals into Taiwan. From 1 March 2021, foreigners who wished to travel to Taiwan for reasons other than tourism and regular social visits can apply for a special entry permit with a R.O.C. overseas mission by submitting the required documents.

The entry of foreign students is still based on the regulations of the Ministry of Education. Right now, the only students allowed to enter Taiwan are those holding formal degree programs in Taiwan and recipients of the MOFA Taiwan scholarship attending the Mandarin Language Enrichment Program. Completing an internship in Taiwan right now is tough, but with the continued improvement in the country, we may see a more lenient travel policy to Taiwan soon. 

Figure 5. Taiwan (Source: Pexels)

Visa on arrivals and online applications have been suspended for passport holders from Hong Kong SAR and Macao SAR.

Pre-departure Departments:

  • All passengers are required to present a health certificate in English or Chinese issued within 3-working days before departure, showing a negative COVID-19 report. The test can be done in PCR, RT-PCR, RT-qPCR, NAA (nucleic acid amplification), NAAT, NAT, LAMP, COVID-19 RNA test, SARS-CoV-2 RNA or molecular diagnostics. The test can be presented in paper or electronically.
  • All passengers are required to complete a health declaration form prior to their arrival
  • Passengers must submit where their place of stay will be during the 14-day quarantine either through the online form or fill in the paper form at the time of check-in.

Russia

As of 28 March 2021, Russia has confirmed 8,711 new covid cases and 293 deaths. Fortunately, the Ministry of Health has approved the Sputnik Light vaccine, the single-shot version of the Sputnik V jab. Russia has also introduced its third registered covid vaccine, CoviVak, for general use.

As for international travelling, Russia still has restrictions in place. And those who are allowed into the country will have to present additional documents as proof that they have been tested negative for covid.

Figure 6. Russia (Source: Pexels)

On 18 March 2020, Russia imposed travel restrictions on almost all foreign travellers to enter the whole country. Now in 2021, the countries allowed into Russia are:

  • Russian citizens and their spouse and children
  • Members of diplomatic/ official missions
  • Nationals from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Cuba, Egypt, Ethiopia, Germany, Greece, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Seychelles, Singapore, Switzerland, Serbia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Turkey, the United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, and Venezuela

On 21 December 2020, Russia announced the suspension of flights between the UK and Russia and on 16 March 2021, this suspension was extended to 16 April 2021. E-visas have also been suspended until further notice. If you are planning to do an internship in Russia in the near future, please visit the official websites for the latest updates. 

Travel requirements:

  • Travelling entering or transiting through the Russian Federation must have a printed negative COVID-19 PCR test issued at least 72 hrs prior to departing. It can be presented in Russian or English. (Note: This does not apply to residents of Russia)
  • If you show any symptoms, a necessary 14-day quarantine is required.

It's time to get ready for an internship!

Now that you are up to date with the visa requirements and travel restrictions to the SEA destinations, you can start your internship journey with AIP in the near future! AIP provides internships that help a student grow professionally and also exposes them to diverse cultures.

By starting an internship with us, you have a chance of improving your professional skills and experiencing a diverse culture in the country of your choosing. These skills will benefit you in your professional and personal life for a long time.

The aim of AIP is to ensure students, who complete an internship with us, have an all-around learning experience and self-growth during their time interning with AIP. For more information, visit our website and stay updated on our programs and packages!

About author

A Social Science graduate from Mahidol University International College in Thailand. Passionate about writing, specifically on social and economic issues.

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