Severity: Warning Alert

Exit/Entry: Countries and territories in Northeast Asia maintaining travel restrictions as of Sept. 15 due to coronavirus disease.

Alert Begins 15 Sep 2020 11:24 AM UTC
Alert Expires 29 Sep 2020 11:59 PM UTC

  • Incident: Travel restrictions
  • Location(s): Northeast Asia (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Entry bans, transport disruptions, longer immigration wait times; possible quarantine

Governments in Northeast Asia continue to enforce travel restrictions put in place to prevent the transmission of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Measures vary throughout the region; as of Sept. 15, the following restrictions are in effect:


  • Mainland China: Authorities continue to bar most foreign nationals from entering the country, and most travelers, regardless of nationality, are banned from entering or exiting land border checkpoints. However, exceptions are in place for specific traveler groups, including South Korean workers and students, nationals from 36 European and 13 Asian countries with valid Chinese resident permits, skilled workers with invitation letters from municipal or provincial governments, diplomatic personnel, and C visa holders. Officials are permitting essential business travel from Singapore and South Korea under fast-track arrangements. Travel is possible between Singapore and Guangdong, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Chongqing, Shanghai, and Tianjin. Business travelers from South Korea can travel to 10 Chinese locations, including Shanghai, Liaoning, Shandong, Jiangsu, and Anhui. Companies or government agencies can apply for special passes for essential business visitors, who must test negative for COVID-19 within 48 hours of their departure from Singapore and within 72 hours of their departure from South Korea and obtain a visa. Passengers will undergo COVID-19 testing again upon arrival in China and isolate at designated facilities (usually hotels) until their results are available. Singapore travelers must also adhere to a preplanned itinerary, refrain from using public transport (except for private hire vehicles) for the first 14 days, and download and use a health pass while in the country. Arriving passengers testing positive for COVID-19 will undergo health treatment at their own expense. China requires inbound travelers from 145 countries to take a nucleic acid COVID-19 test at designated facilities in their country of origin within three days of departure. Foreign nationals must apply for a health certificate via the local Chinese diplomatic mission before travel. Chinese citizens must update their information through WeChat to obtain a health code before boarding flights. Most international travelers must quarantine for 14 days, and officials generally allow nonresident passengers to stay in government-designated hotels at their own cost. However, some governments in border areas require inbound travelers to self-quarantine and undergo medical observation for two additional weeks. Macau locals can enter mainland China without quarantine, provided they do not have any COVID-19 symptoms and have not traveled outside the territory in the previous two weeks. Guangdong authorities require a negative COVID-19 test result for travelers from Hong Kong, who must quarantine for 14 days unless exempted.


  • Hong Kong: The government is maintaining a ban on all nonresident foreign nationals. Travelers from Macau, Taiwan, and mainland China can enter Hong Kong, provided they have no recent travel history elsewhere. Authorities have designated Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, South Africa, and the US as high risk due to COVID-19 transmission. Permitted passengers from these locations must provide several documents, including evidence of a negative COVID-19 result from a test taken within 72 hours of departure and a hotel reservation for the entire quarantine period before boarding flights. All arriving travelers must undergo COVID-19 testing upon arrival and self-quarantine for two weeks; officials may quarantine symptomatic passengers or people testing positive for COVID-19 at government-designated facilities. Authorities have permitted some mainland Chinese teachers and students, as well as businesspeople whose activities officials deem economically beneficial to the territory, to enter without having to undergo quarantine. Hong Kong continues to restrict land border crossings with mainland China at the Shenzhen Bay checkpoint and along the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge. Authorities continue to impose quarantine requirements for sea and air crewmembers in the territory. Under the requirements, ships without cargo cannot exchange crews. On other ships, workers are no longer allowed to enter the territory and must travel directly to the airport after disembarking if completing their service onboard. Inbound ship crews and flight crew members will have to obtain a negative COVID-19 test result within 48 hours of departure for Hong Kong.


  • Japan: Authorities continue to ban entry for most foreign nationals with a travel history to 159 countries and territories, including China, India, Pakistan, South Korea, the US, Australia, and the EU. Authorities are permitting foreigners with student or work visas, permanent residents, long-term resident visa holders, and spouses and children of Japanese nationals and permanent residents to enter, regardless of their departure date from the country. Eligible foreign nationals must get a Reentry Confirmation Letter from the nearest Japanese diplomatic mission and provide documentation of a negative COVID-19 test result obtained within 72 hours of departure, to enter the country. Officials are only accepting polymerase chain reaction (PCR), loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) method, or chemiluminescence enzyme immunoassay (CLEIA) antigen tests. Authorities require all passengers to undergo a PCR COVID-19 test upon arrival. Inbound travelers must quarantine for 14 days; isolation may take place at a designated facility or at home. Japan will allow essential business and official travel from Singapore beginning Sept. 18 with limited quarantine time. Permitted travelers must take a COVID-19 test before departure and after arrival in Japan, provide authorities with a copy of their itinerary, limit time spent in public, and remain in contact with health officials during the first 14 days of their visit. All inbound travelers, including business track visitors, must refrain from using public transportation for two weeks and download the government-supported contact tracing mobile phone application.


  • Macau: Authorities continue to ban nonresident foreign nationals from entering the territory. Macau residents and locals from Hong Kong, Taiwan, and mainland China can enter the special administrative region provided they have not traveled to other countries or territories within 14 days. Travelers from mainland China, except for high-risk areas, can enter Macau without quarantine or medical certificates that prove negative COVID-19 status, though health screenings continue. Passengers with a travel history to designated high-risk areas of mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and foreign countries within 14 days of arrival must undergo mandatory quarantine at designated hotels. Officials require arrivals to pay for quarantine fees of USD 700; locals are exempt from the fees for their first entry but must pay for subsequent quarantine periods unless traveling for select purposes.


  • Mongolia: The government has effectively banned international travel through at least Oct. 31. Land border closures are ongoing with Russia and China, though some commercial transport is occurring. Commercial flights connecting Mongolia with Russia, Kazakhstan, China, Japan, South Korea, and Turkey remain suspended, though the government is organizing repatriation flights from some locations. Authorities are placing arriving Mongolian citizens under a 21-day quarantine at their own expense, but officials have ended a requirement for a subsequent 14-day self-quarantine.


  • North Korea: Authorities have effectively suspended inbound travel by most foreign nationals. Officials are conducting increased health screenings and have imposed quarantine periods on foreign nationals, along with North Koreans arriving in Pyongyang.


  • South Korea: Visa-free and visa-waiver programs remain suspended with countries that have banned entry for South Korean citizens, impacting travelers from 90 countries. Long-term visa holders resident in South Korea must obtain permits before departing the country and present medical screenings with proof of a negative COVID-19 test result before reentry. Authorities have suspended visa-free entry for foreign sailors, who must obtain visas and provide a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) COVID-19 test result issued within 48 hours before departure to enter the country. The government is limiting visas and flight capacity for passengers from Bangladesh, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Pakistan, the Philippines, and Uzbekistan. Officials also require a medical certificate confirming that inbound travelers received a negative PCR COVID-19 test result within 48 hours of departure. Diplomats and people on urgent business travel from these high-risk countries are exempt from the restriction. Authorities allow "fast track" entry for essential business trips and official travel from Singapore, mainland China, UAE, and Indonesia. Under the agreements, inbound travelers must provide a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 96-72 hours, depending on the country, and a health certificate. Travelers must also take another COVID-19 test upon arrival, await the result before entering South Korea, and continue to abide by health surveillance procedures. Most incoming travelers must undergo COVID-19 testing within three days of arrival. Mandatory screenings are ongoing for international arrivals at all ports of entry nationwide, and testing is almost certain for symptomatic passengers. Authorities in Seoul require all inbound passengers staying in the city to undergo COVID-19 tests upon arrival. Officials will screen travelers with COVID-19 symptoms immediately and transport other passengers from Incheon International Airport (ICN) to designated testing facilities in Seoul. A 14-day self-quarantine requirement remains in place for all international travelers, regardless of testing outcomes. Officials will quarantine foreigners who do not have a residence in South Korea at government facilities at the traveler's expense.


Governments could expand or extend travel restrictions in the coming weeks, particularly if COVID-19 activity increases. The measures may lead to immigration delays, especially for passengers from locations with significant COVID-19 activity. Government flight bans and airline flight reductions are likely to continue in the near term due to decreased demand. The operational status of flights can change without notice.

Consider deferring travel if affected by the restrictions. Follow all official instructions. Allow additional time for immigration and health screenings. Consider delaying travel if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays.

Exercise basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

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