If you’re flying outbound from Incheon Airport, you’ll most likely need to get your hands on negative COVID-19 test results in English within 72 hours before boarding the plane. The following are my suggestions on where to take your COVID-19 PCR test in Seoul, South Korea. Of course, good luck and safe travels!
Check Airline, State, and Country Restrictions
Don’t forget to check airline and state/country restrictions. For example, the state of Hawaii is only accepting test results from the following four hospitals in Korea in order to by-pass the state’s 10-day traveler quarantine: (1) Yonsei University Health System Severance Hospital (Seoul), (2) Kangbuk Samsung Hospital (Seoul), (3) Asan Medical Center (Seoul), and (4) Inha University Hospital (Incheon). If you’re flying to Hawaii, you can read more about the testing restrictions on Hawaiian Airlines and the Hawaii State website.
There is some mixed news about Korean Air and Asiana airlines potentially accepting results in Korean rather than English for boarding their airline. This article, “대한항공·아시아나 한글 ‘코로나 음성확인서’ 허용” (Korean Air and Asiana allow ‘corona negative confirmation’ in Korean), from Korea Daily on June 30th, 2021, states that “As of the 30th of last month, Korean Air and Asiana Airlines, respectively, through their websites, specify that the ‘COVID19 PCR negative confirmation certificate’, which is a required document for entering the United States, can be written in Korean as well as English.” Please double-check with your airline to see whether or not Korean test results will be valid ahead of time, but if so, the costs of testing may be cheaper than finding a place to issue an English medical certificate.
Expect to Pay for Your Test Results (When Leaving Korea)
As far as I know, PCR tests for international flights with results in English are not completely covered by insurance, so expect to pay between 110,000 to 400,000 KRW for PCR test results. Unfortunately, the free COVID-19 testing centers — like public health centers — in Seoul do not offer certificates that are required for flying.
Side Note: Just to clarify, this does not apply to those flying into South Korea. If you’re looking for information about taking a COVID-19 test to satisfy quarantine requirements when arriving from overseas into South Korea, you can look at My Self-Quarantine Experience in South Korea and Everything I Know About Travel Restrictions in South Korea in 2020 and 2021. Visitors arriving at Incheon Airport — depending on their visa status and if they must quarantine — will most likely either be taken to a quarantine facility for short-term visitors (tourists) or are allowed to quarantine at home (long-term visa-holders, Korean nationals, and those eligible for quarantine exemption for business purposes, family reasons, etc).
For those quarantining at home, you will be assigned a case officer in most cases and will generally have to walk to a local public health center or screening center within the first day or two of arrival. In that case, your test will most likely be covered by the Korean government. The information is constantly changing, so I would recommend contacting your local Korean embassy to see what is required upon arrival in South Korea.
Taking an Antigen Test Instead for the United States
If you’re flying to the United States, you may just need an antigen test which is considerably cheaper than a PCR test. For example, at the Incheon Airport COVID-19 Test Center, the antigen is only 24,180 KRW.
According to the CDC (Center of Disease Control, US), “passengers must be tested with a viral test that could be either an antigen test or a nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT).” Please check your airline and/or local embassy for specific requirements.
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Where can I get a PCR test in Seoul, South Korea?
For the most accurate information, you can call 1339 to find the nearest COVID-19 screening center. There are many, many places to take the test, so this list is not the end-all, be-all but merely suggestions. You can also take a look at hospitals and clinics that offer COVID-19 tests by going to the Ministry of Health and Welfare in Korea.
If there are any other places that you’d like to add or have had positive (or negative) experiences at, please leave a comment down below and share the wealth of information for future travelers!
And if you want to read up on the latest travel restrictions to/from South Korea, visit the post, Everything I Know About Travel Restrictions in South Korea in 2020 and 2021.
Update (10/14/2021): I have heard some chatter that it may be possible to get a PCR test at a local public health center for free and then presenting the text message with negative results to a local hospital to get an English certificate for 20-30,000 KRW as a way of saving money.
However, I DO NOT recommend this method as there are hospitals that may refuse you or the results may end up not being valid for travel. As test results need to be done within a 48-72 hour period before your flight, this could end up being a very expensive mistake. In my case, I would rather shell out the money to pay for a test that I know will fulfill the exact requirements of the airline and country that I am flying to.
Definitely, look ahead at the country’s requirements for testing. Many countries only require a negative antigen test as proof which has a short turnaround and is much less expensive than PCR tests.
Incheon Airport COVID-19 Test Center
The Incheon Airport COVID-19 Test Center is available by appointment only and opens on weekends. The PCR test at Incheon Airport costs 120,990 KRW (without Korean health insurance) and the certificate issuance fee is 30,000 KRW. In order to get the test results on the same day, you must take the test early in the day. The Incheon Airport COVID-19 Test Center operating hours are between 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on weekdays and 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on weekends (lunch break is between 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.)
Take note that if you have Korean health insurance such as NHIS, you will be paying the same price as the locals or Korean nationals.
You can call the center at 032-741-9000 to make an appointment. Online registration is also available. The Incheon Airport COVID-19 Test Center is located at the parking lot on the west side of the 1st basement floor of Terminal 2 (in front of the pass issuance office).
Please do not wait until the last minute to book your appointment! Appointment slots are limited and are often booked at LEAST a week or so ahead. And obviously, bring your passport with you.
Incheon Medical Center
If you’re already in Incheon, you can take the PCR test with an English medical certificate at the Incheon Medical Facility (not the airport.) The cost of testing will be approximately 160,000 won to 200,000 won according to an old notice from 2020 on their website, however, I’ve heard more recently that the cost of the PCR test is about 80,000 won, the English certificate is 20,000 won with an additional fee of 1,000 won. Definitely call ahead to check the price when making an appointment. One Korean traveler also noted being able to take the PCR test for flying on a Sunday at Incheon Medical Center’s emergency room.
The Incheon Medical Center is located at 217, Bangchuk-ro, Dong-gu, Incheon, Republic of Korea. Incheon Medical Center is open on weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For more information, you can call them at 032-580-6148 (English/Vietnamese), 032-580-6149 (Chinese), 032-580-6152 (Korean/English). There are several international staff members that you can email directly at email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, and email@example.com.
National Medical Center
The National Medical Center is located at 245, Eulji-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul (Naver Map). The total cost of PCR testing with English results at the National Medical Center should be about 205,710 KRW. The PCR test will cost 185,710 won and the English medical certificate will cost an additional 20,000 won. You can also call them at 02-2260-7114 for more information.
I’ve attached a medical notice from the National Medical Center regarding PCR testing for overseas travel below and ran it through Yandex translator. The translation is not the best, but you get the idea. Most importantly, the National Medical Center is open on weekends and holidays.
Chung-Ang University Hospital
The PCR test with English test results should cost about 157,000 won in total. This price includes the COVID-19 PCR test cost of about 117,000 won, a medical fee of about 20,000 won, and the English certificate fee of 20,000 won. The hospital is located at 102, Heukseok-ro, Dongjak-gu, Seoul, Korea, and there is an International Healthcare department for Russian, English, Mongolian, Chinese and Japanese translation. You can call Chung-Ang University Hospital at 02-6299-3023/3025 or email them directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Seoul Sacred Heart Hospital
It’s been reported that Seoul Sacred Heart Hospital also offers English PCR test results for traveling and will cost you around 115,000 KRW in total. The COVID-19 test fee is 95,000 won, the English medical certificate costs 20,000 won, and there’s an optional doctor’s note for an additional 20,000 won if necessary. Seoul Sacred Heart Hospital is located at 259 Choui-ro, Cheongnyangri-dong, Dongdaemun-gu, Seoul. You can reach them by calling them at 02-966-1616 or by emailing them directly at email@example.com.
Seoul Children’s Hospital
The total cost of the PCR test with an English certificate is 103,860 KRW. The PCR test fee is approximately 92,860 won and the English confirmation certificate issuance fee is about 11,000 won. You can call the Seoul Children’s Hospital at 02-570-8000 for more information.
The Seoul Children’s Hospital address is 260 Heolleung-ro, Seocho-gu, Seoul (서울 서초구 헌릉로 260 서울시립어린이병원, Naver Map) You do not need a reservation prior to visiting, according to those that have recently visited. Their visiting hours for COVID-19 screening are Monday to Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
It will take approximately 24-48 hours from start to finish to receive the test results in English, and if you test in the morning, you’ll receive your English certificate in the afternoon the following day. If tested on a Friday, documents are issued on Monday. You will have to pick up the results in person and bring your passport again.
Soonchunhyang University Seoul Hospital
One of the cheaper options in Seoul, you can also take the COVID-19 PCR test at Soonchunhyang University Seoul Hospital (59 Daesagwan-ro, Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul). Their phone number is 02-709-9058. The cost of the PCR test at Soonchunhyang University Seoul Hospital will be between 120,000-140,000 KRW depending on whether you hold Korean insurance. The COVID-19 test cost is 76,940 won, the medical fee is about 22,370 won, and the cost of issuing a medical certificate in English is 20,000 won. You can read more about the test certificate on their website. You must bring your passport and ARC (if you have one.)
Gangnam Severance Hospital
You can head to Gangnam Severance Hospital (211 Eonju-ro, Dogok 1(il)-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul) to take a PCR test with English results ready for you the next day. You won’t need to make an appointment, but you’ll need to bring your identification (ARC and passport) as well as your flight information.
Some people have said that getting their results from Gangnam Severance Hospital can cost up to around 400,000 KRW, so definitely check out smaller hospitals and clinics if possible. If you have the time, shop around.
The International Clinic at Yonsei Severance Hospital
The International Health Care Center at Yonsei Severance Hospital (50-1 Yonsei-ro, Sinchon-dong, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul) also offers PCR testing for international flights with results that can usually be picked up after 5 p.m. and an English certificate ready the next day. The cost of the PCR test may cost up to 284,970 KRW depending on whether you have Korean health insurance.
The International Clinic’s reception is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and 9:30 a.m. to noon on Saturdays. You can call the International Clinic in English at 02-2228-5800.
The pre-screening clinic for a COVID-19 test is open by appointment from Monday to Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 10:50 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 3:20 p.m. You can make an appointment directly on their Korean website, Hawaii Visitor Pre-screening Program.
Kangbuk Samsung Hospital
The PCR COVID-19 test for travel at Kangbuk Samsung Hospital (29 Saemunan-ro, Gyonam-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul) will cost around 111,000 KRW — the COVID-19 PCR test priced at 110,000 won and the test result certificate at 1,000 won — according to my latest inquiry with the International Health Services department on May 14th, 2021. I’m assuming there may also be taxes added on, and additionally, it is not covered by health insurance. The International Health Services department can be contacted by phone at 02-2001-5100 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also make an online reservation. Operating hours are between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays only.
Samsung Medical Center
Samsung Medical Center (81 Irwon-ro, Irwon-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul) also offers the COVID-19 test with English results. After speaking with a staff member there on May 14th, 2021, she informed me that the cost of the test itself is 328,000 KRW (weekdays) or 380,090 KRW (weekends). Test results are sent via email on the following day. For tests done on Fridays or Saturdays, the results will be sent by email on the following Monday. For a medical statement, you have to see the doctor, and the consultation costs will be 70,000 KRW. So, the total cost will be at least 398,000 KRW. To speak to hospital staff in English, you can call 02-3410-0200 or e-mail the International Health Services at email@example.com. You can also fill out their online form.
Where can I get a rapid antigen test in Seoul, South Korea?
When looking for rapid antigen tests (신속항원검사는) in South Korea, I’ve heard that your best bet would be to find otolaryngology clinics instead of big hospitals which usually offer only PCR testing. The benefit of only needing an antigen test is that the documents and the testing can be prepared the same day and usually within the hour. They’re also significantly cheaper than PCR testing albeit not as accurate.
Again, these are only quick suggestions on where to go if you need an antigen or PCR test in South Korea, however, if you want to find something closer to your location, I highly recommend looking at this list of screen clinics on the Ministry of Health and Welfare website. You can use the Google Translate plugin on the Chrome browser to switch the language from Korean to English. The contact information for the hospital or clinic is provided as well as hours and location. Public Health Centers cannot give you a free PCR or antigen test with English certificates for traveling, and you will have to pay for your test results. Major hospitals are also often more expensive. If you only need an antigen test, look for an ENT or otolaryngology clinic.
Seocho St. Mary’s E.N.T. Clinic
If you only need an antigen test — for a flight to the United States, for example — you can try going to the Seocho St. Mary’s E.N.T. Clinic (Seocho Sungmo Otolaryngology Clinic or 서초성모이비인후과의원). The clinic is located at 3, Banpo-daero 21-gil, Seocho-gu, Seoul (Naver Map). The antigen test itself will only take about half an hour and the cost will be 59,100 KRW.
Min’s Otolaryngology Clinic
Again, if you need rapid antigen testing done, check your local otolaryngology (ears/throat) clinic. Min’s Otolaryngology Clinic (민이비인후과의원) is located on the 2nd floor, Seongbo Building, 10 Teheran-ro 26-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul (Naver Map). The cost of rapid antigen testing is 69,100 KRW here.
Jongno Yonsei Otolaryngology Clinic
You can take an antigen test at Jongno Yonsei Otolaryngology Clinic (종로연세이비인후과의원) for around 55,000 KRW. The clinic is located on the 3rd floor, 57 Sambong-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul (Naver Map), near Jonggak and Gwanghwamun Station. The results will be issued within 20-40 minutes. Appointments can be made in advance, and operating hours are between 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays, 9 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.
Dana’s Department of Otolaryngology and Internal Medicine
Seolleung Dana Ivy Throat Clinic (선릉다나아이비인후과의원) also provides antigen and PCR testing with English results. For PCR tests, the website says that the PCR test costs around 120,000 KRW with English results available the next day. The antigen cost is about 70,000 KRW.
One of the reasons why I recommend this clinic? It is one of the few clinics in Gangnam that is actually open on weekends, including Sundays. I was able to book an appointment for an antigen test way ahead of time by messaging them on Naver Talk in English. I know well how stressful it is to find a clinic that is open on Sundays in South Korea. It ain’t easy — especially as a foreigner.
The Seolleung Dana Ivy Throat Clinic is located on the third floor of 310, Teheran-ro, Gangnam-gu, Seoul (서울 강남구 테헤란로 310, Naver Map).
According to Naver, their hours are:
- Weekdays 09: 00-20: 00 (Lunch break 13: 00-14:00)
- Saturday 09: 00-18:00 (Lunch break 13: 00-14:00)
- Sunday 10:00 17:00 (Lunch break 13: 00-14: 00)
- Public holidays 10:00-17: 00 (Lunch break 13: 00-14:00)