|Travelers enter Korea at Incheon International Airport Terminal 1, Tuesday. Yonhap|
By Yi Whan-woo
Korea will no longer require international arrivals ― both Korean and foreign nationals ― to fill out customs forms starting in May if they are not carrying dutiable goods, the Korea Customs Service (KCS) said Thursday.
The customs agency said the plan was initially scheduled to be implemented in July but will be brought forward by two months in line with the government's strategy to spur domestic spending.
Announced on Wednesday, the strategy is aimed at increasing the number of international tourists, aiming to hit 10 million this year, and boosting consumption weakened by persistently high inflation.
With eased restrictions on international travel, the government wants foreign travelers to come and spend money here in a bid to revitalize the ailing economy without causing further price increases.
Under the circumstances, filling out a mandatory customs declaration form on arrival was considered an obstacle for tourists, which if removed could boost tourism, the KCS explained.
It noted that 98.8 percent of the total 43.56 million international arrivals in 2019, including 16.55 foreign nationals, reported that they had no dutiable goods to declare.
In particular, 99.93 percent of the foreign nationals reported having nothing to declare.
"Correspondingly we have been recommended to scrap the current customs declaration policy for the convenience of international visitors," the KCS said, adding the United States and multiple EU member countries have been asking international arrivals to fill out customs forms only when they have dutiable goods.
The KCS speculated that up to 215,000 hours are anticipated to be saved by streamlining the customs declaration process.
"We will make sure that foreign travelers can enter the country as conveniently as possible while being strict on any attempts to bring in illegal goods or evade tax," the KCS said.
Those who have dutiable goods meanwhile will need to fill out a customs declaration form on paper or via mobile phone.
Dutiable goods include those exceeding $800 in value, more than two bottles of liquor or more than 60 milliliters of perfume.
The KCS seeks to expand mobile customs declarations beginning in the second half of the year to Incheon International Airport Terminal 1, Gimhae International Airport, Daegu International Airport, Muan International Airport, Cheongju International Airport and Jeju International Airport.
The service is currently available only at Incheon International Airport Terminal 2 and Gimpo International Airport.