Import Requirements and Documentation for South Korea

A Hot Tip about Trade Policy and Regulations in South Korea

Posted on: 5 Jan 2010

For companies exporting to the Republic of Korea the following shipping documents are required to clear Korean Customs:


COMMERCIAL INVOICE: An original invoice and two copies must be presented with the shipping documents and must include total value, unit value, quantity, marks product description and shipping from/to information.


CERTIFICATE OF ORIGIN: A Certificate of Origin in duplicate may be required. Exporters are encouraged to discuss shipping document requirements with their respective importer. Once the respective parties ratify the Korean-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, certificates of origin would be the basis for confirming and extending preferential duties (duty free) to U.S. exporters as noted in the KORUS-FTA.


PACKING LISTS: Two copies are required.


BILL OF LADING: A clean bill of lading identifying the name of the shipper, the name and address of the consignee, the name of the port of destination, description of the cargo, a price list of freight and insurance charges (CIF), and attestation of carrier’s acceptance on board for the goods is sufficient. There are no regulations pertaining to the form of the bill of lading nor the number of bills of lading required to clear customs. As bills of lading are for ocean and overland cargos, the airway bill of lading replaces the bill of lading for air cargo shipments.


MARITIME INSURANCE: Under the Incoterms (shipping terms) agreed to by the parties in a transaction, if the exporter is responsible for insurance, a marine insurance policy or insurance certificate is required.


Special Documentation

SANITARY/PHYTOSANITARY CERTIFICATES: Sanitary and phytosanitary certificates are required for shipments of live animals, animal products, plants, and plant products. The United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) issues inspection certificates indicating conformity of health and sanitary standards of the destination country.


WHOLESOMENESS CERTIFICATES: Meat and poultry products require a certificate of wholesomeness.


AGRICULTURE EXPORT CERTIFICATES: Meat (beef and beef products), poultry and poultry meat, pork meat, sheep and goat meat, requires certification.


The Government of Korea suspended the import of all U.S.-origin beef on 5 October 2007 awaiting negotiation and agreement of a new import health protocol between the two nations. The resumption of U.S.-origin beef imports to Korea could occur within first quarter of 2008.


Additional detail on the maximum residue limits allowed by Korean food authorities and reports on import requirements for organic products are also available on the FAS website. Exporters of organic products should also review the FAS report on Korean regulatory requirements for transgenic content in organic processed food products.


Current information on which U.S. livestock and poultry products are eligible for export to the Korean market can be found on the website of the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This website also provides guidance on the documents Korea requires for livestock product shipments destined for Korea.


Free Sales Certificates: Imports of pharmaceuticals, medical devices and cosmetics require a free sale certificate issued by an authority of the exporting country reflecting that the product in question are in free circulation in the country of export


All commodities, except rice, can be freely imported, subject to special registrations and import approvals for categories like pharmaceuticals medical devices, and cosmetics. The Government of Korea has stipulated requirements and procedures for importing certain products including registration, standards and safety and efficacy testing to ensure the protection of public health and sanitation, national security, safety, and the environment. Typically, health or safety related products, such as pharmaceuticals and medicines, require additional testing or certification by recommended organizations before clearing customs. Medical device and pharmaceutical exporters must have their products registered with the Korea Food and Drug Administration and can only be imported by licensed importers that have been certified by a KFDA authorized body. In addition, special items defined by the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy (MOCIE) in its Annual Trade Plan require approval by the Minister of MOCIE. In most cases, the supplier’s qualified local agent completes the registration process.




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Posted: 05 January 2010

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