South Korea - Country Commercial Guide
Import Requirements and Documentation

Includes import documentation and other requirements for both the U.S. exporter and foreign importer.

Last published date: 2022-08-02

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: Prior to implementation of the KORUS FTA, a Certificate of Origin, in duplicate, was required for some products. Exporters are encouraged to discuss shipping document requirements with their respective importer. 
  • An importer may claim preferential treatment under the KORUS FTA in order to receive the lower tariff. The importer can do this by providing written or electronic certification to Korean Customs from the manufacturer, the exporter, or the importer. The manufacturer, exporter or importer is required to retain all documents (i.e., bill of materials, manufacturing process documentation, etc.) demonstrating that the good qualifies as a U.S.-origin good, for five years.
  • Self-certification of origin by the producer or exporter is normally the basis for deciding that the good qualifies for preferential tariff rates. A certification may be made for a single shipment or for multiple shipments of identical goods, for up to twelve months, by specifying this in the certification. The importer submits the certification to Korean Customs, in writing or electronically, including at least the following information:
  1. Name and contact information for the certifying person
  2. The importer
  3. The exporter
  4. The producer of the good
  5. Harmonized System Tariff classification and description of the good
  6. Information demonstrating that the good originates from the United States. This can be satisfied by either:
  7. The producer’s written or electronic certification that the product meets KORUS FTA origin requirements; or
  8. The producer’s or exporter’s knowledge that the good meets KORUS FTA origin requirements.
  9. Date of the certification
  • In the case of a blanket certification, the period that the certification covers.
  1. Please note that the U.S. exporter may be required to authenticate the Certificate of Origin at some later date by Korean Customs. Penalties will be incurred if documents are not provided to Korean Customs.
  2. To learn about what is required, please refer to Chapter 6 (Rules of Origin) of the KORUS FTA text.
  • 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.
  • IMPORT DECLARATION: An import declaration, normally prepared by the importer in Korean, is required to clear customs.
  • SPECIAL DOCUMENTATION: Information related to the need of special documentation for food and agricultural commodities, including sanitary-phytosanitary certificates and other agricultural documentation, can be found on the USDA/Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) website at:

An overview of Korean import requirements for food is contained in the FAS Korea annual agriculture export guide  

Additional detailed information about import requirements and documentation needs for agricultural and food products (including biotechnology products) are included in the USDA import requirements report at:

FAIRS Country Report

The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) provides information on maximum residue levels and import procedures on the MFDS website

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.

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 the relevant organizations before clearing Customs. Medical device and pharmaceutical exporters must have their products registered with the Korea Food and Drug Administration (KFDA) and can only be imported by licensed importers which have been certified by a MFDS authorized body. In addition, special items defined by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) in its Annual Trade Plan require approval by the Minister. In most cases, the supplier’s qualified local agent completes the registration process.