Tariffs and regulations

Tariffs and duty rates are constantly revised and are subject to change without notice. Austrade strongly recommends you reconfirm these prior to selling to the ROK.

For further information please visit the Korea Customs Service website.

Tariffs and non-tariff barriers

The Korean-Australia Free Trade Agreement (KAFTA) entered into force on 12 December 2014.  Tariffs were immediately eliminated on a number of goods and services, with additional tariff reductions to come into force over several years. 

A guide for Australian exporters on how to get the most out of KAFTA is available on the Austrade website and DFAT’s FTA Portal is a useful guide to determine if your product or service qualifies under KAFTA.    

For more detailed information on tariffs, visit ROK’s Tariff Schedule.

Methods of quoting and payment

Unless otherwise specified, price quotes are often made in US dollars, however it is acceptable to quote in Australian Dollars. Payment is usually made in US dollars. Settlements can be based on irrevocable letter of credit, document against payment (D/P), document against acceptance (D/A) or telegraphic transfer (T/T). 

Companies may also be able to seek letters of credit from banks.

Labelling

Labels on most foods must show:

  • product name (generic and trade)
  • type of product
  • dates of manufacture
  • expiry dates
  • methods of preservation
  • ingredients in descending order of composition
  • weights or quantities
  • manufacturer's name
  • importer's name, address and phone number
  • places where the product can be returned or exchanged.

Imported food and pharmaceutical products must show the above information in Korean on the original retail packaging. Labels can be either printed or applied via adhesive stickers, provided they are in place prior to customs clearance.

Labelling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is required for genetically modified agricultural products and processed foods which contain soybean, corn, cottonseed, rapeseed, sugar beet (or its sprouts) as main ingredients; which is defined as up to the fifth largest ingredient in the products contents.

More information on the ROK food labelling regulation can be found on the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (in English).

Documentary requirements

Pro-forma invoice

Pro-forma invoices may be required in order for importers to conveniently open a letter of credit.

Commercial invoice

No special forms are prescribed in the ROK, however, standardised forms are widely used by importers. Commercial invoices may be printed on a company’s letterhead, but it must be issued and signed by the seller and show the unit cost of each article and if necessary other costs. These invoices should also be sent under separate cover to the consignee.

Bill of lading/Airway bill

These bills should be made out to the Order of L/C Opening Bank. The bills could be required to bear the name and address of the consignee.

Packing list

A minimum of two copies of the packing list is required; one copy to be included in the relative package and one copy to be sent to the negotiating bank. It must also contain a full description of the contents of the shipment.

Certificate of origin

To qualify for preferential tariff treatment under the Korean-Australia Free Trade Agreement (KAFTA) a Certificate of Origin (COO) for your goods must be completed. 

The COO should be prepared by the exporter or the producer (self-certification). Australian exporters also have the option of obtaining a COO from an authorised body; the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) or the Australian Industry Group (Ai Group).

More information on COO documentation is available in the guide to using KAFTA to export and import goods.

Waiver of Certificate of Origin

A Certificate of Origin (COO) will not always be required. For certain goods, Australia or ROK have waived the requirement altogether. Neither country requires a COO for goods where the total customs value is less than A$1,000 for Australia or the equivalent of USD $1000 for the ROK. KAFTA allows both countries to raise this threshold as required. You should check with ROK Customs Service website for more up-to-date information.

Other certificates required

Agricultural products

A Certificate of Bovine Free Declaration (BSE Free) is required for foods and food additives containing ruminants and by-products of ruminants (except for milk and dairy products and collagen casing). More information on the BSE Free certificate is available from ROK Ministry of Food and Drug Safety. 

An Organic Certificate is required for all imported foods labelled as organic. Australian Certified Organic (ACO) is currently the only certification body to gain accreditation to the ROK organic standard, holding accreditation for both raw and processed food certification. The accreditation means ACO can provide organic certification in accordance with ROK regulations administered by the ROK Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA).

Pharmaceutical products

A safety and efficacy test report is required for registration of pharmaceutical products.

Exceptions include non-biological products that are:

  • included in the ROK pharmacopoeia and national formulary authorised by Minister of MFDS
  • included in the ROK herbal medicine codex
  • pertinent to the MFDS manufacture standards
  • pertinent to the test standards and methodology separately notified by the Minister of MFDS
  • manufactured by the same manufacturers as previously registered products.

A test standards and methodology report is also required for registration of pharmaceutical products.

Certificates of manufacture and free sales are required for registration of pharmaceutical products (Source: ROK Pharmaceutical Traders Association, Regulations on safety of pharmaceuticals).

Medical devices

Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (formerly known as Korea Food Drug Administration) requires the submission of 'Technical Documents' for the certification and approval of medical devices.

ClassⅠ&Ⅱ devices are certified by 'Medical Device Information and Technology Assistance Centre (MDITAC) and some Class Ⅱ(new devices) and Class Ⅲ & Ⅳ devices are approved by MFDS. 

1. Technical Document 
Documents related to quality of medical devices, such as functions, safety, etc.
Includes information on raw materials, structure, purpose of use, instruction for use, principles of functions, precautions for use, test standards, etc.

2. Technical document classification
The technical document is consisted of application form and supportive documents and is divided into two different types: (1) General technical document review; and (2) clinical test review.

2.1 General Technical Document Review
Devices substantially equivalent to previously approved products MFDS does not request clinical study reports.

2.2 Review of Technical Documents Review for Safety and Efficacy Review (SER)
Review of Technical Documents Review for Safety and Efficacy Review (SER).
Scope: Significant difference affecting safety and efficacy - New developments, new performance, new structure, new purpose for use clinical test reports are essential. 

3. Pre-market Approval
Class I (Notification)
Class II (Certification, Approval)
Class III, IV (Approval)

(Source: Medical Device Approval Process, Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, December 2016).

Health foods

Accompanying documents including ingredient specifications, manufacturing procedures and a certificate of analysis issued by the manufacturer are required for health foods being imported into the ROK.

A BSE Free Certificate for products in gelatine capsule form imported from non-BSE countries may be required. A Certificate of Free Sales may also be required for some health foods.

Health food packaging requires labelling in Korean. An original copy of test reports or test certificates should also be provided.

Information on the location and layout of the manufacturing facility may also be required (Source: Health Functional Food Act, Korean Ministry of Government Legislation, 11 February 2015).

Public health requirements

Imports of livestock must be accompanied by a current quarantine certificate issued by the appropriate government agency in the country of origin. In Australia, this is the Department of Agriculture. All permitted plant and vegetable products require health and phytosanitary certificates. 

Plant quarantine laws ban the import of most Australian fresh fruit and vegetables with the exception of:

  • shelled nuts
  • oranges
  • mangoes
  • cherries (only from Tasmania)
  • table grapes
  • potatoes (except from WA and VIC)
  • carrot (only from Tasmania)
  • onions, shallots
  • asparagus, brussel sprouts
  • truffles.

Certificates of authority to manufacture, issued by the appropriate authority in the exporting country, are required for shipments of pharmaceuticals, medical instruments, sanitary materials and cosmetics. Only licensed pharmaceutical companies may import pharmaceutical products, subject to the approval of the Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety.

Detailed information on current requirements for export of livestock, horticulture products and livestock products to the ROK is available in the Manual of Importing Country Requirements (MICoR) updated by The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

Insurance

It is normal commercial practice to be insured. In the case of a CIF contract (Incoterms 1990), the policy must cover 110 per cent of the invoice value, be endorsed by the exporters and expressly state that claims are payable in the currency of the draft. The policy should name an insurance agent as the correspondent in the ROK for the settlement of any claims.

Certificate of insurance

A certificate of insurance must be provided if insurance is arranged by the exporter.

Weights and measures

The metric system is used in the ROK.