A Guide to Importing Goods into South Korea
Released On 3rd Nov 2021
Importing goods into South Korea (known officially as the Republic of Korea) can be a complex process. Our guide will help you prepare for success.
South Korea is one of the most modern and diverse countries in the world. A country where green rolling hills and Buddhist Temples meet Seoul, the capital city, which boasts the latest advances in technology aided by a plentiful population of almost 10 million people, which accounts for around 20% of the country’s entire population.
South Korea is a developed country, ranked as the seventh-highest country on the Human Development Index (HDI) in the Asia and Oceania region. Its economy ranks as the world's tenth largest by nominal GDP. Its citizens enjoy one of the world's fastest Internet connection speeds and the densest high-speed railway network. The country is the world's fifth-largest exporter and eighth-largest importer. (Source Wikipedia)
South Korea is one of the most important and innovative industrial nations in the world. In order to gain market access, many products that are imported to the Korean market are required to be tested and certified.
This can be a complex process, but navigating it successfully will avoid problems with the Korean authorities, delays and unnecessary costs.
KC Certification, or Korea Certification, is a product certification which is mandatory for many products. It exists to ensure that goods comply to Korean safety standards. As with other countries we have written articles about, this country-specific certification is in place to protect the health and safety of Korean users, and to reduce impact on the environment.
The certification is very similar to the European CE mark and is valid for 730 different products, spanning automotive parts, machines and anything electronic.
The manufacturer of the goods is the responsible party for getting their goods tested and certified with the KC mark.
In order to obtain the KC certificate, manufacturers must go to the Korean Agency for Technology and Standards (KATS) in South Korea. KATS is part of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE), and it is responsible for the regulatory framework for the market launch of different consumer goods to compliance with consumer safety standards.
Detailed Steps of the KC Certification:
- Preparation of application documents and application
- Registration at the Korean certification authority
- Factory inspection (only for Korea Safety Certificate)
- Product tests in an accredited test lab
- Checking of all documents and issuance of the KC Mark Certificate
KC Certification application documents:
The following application documents are needed to apply for the KC Mark Certification – all documents must be in Korean:
- Application form
- Business license
- Complete contact details of the Korean importer and the production plant
- Product descriptions and/or user manuals
- List of critical components
- KC or CB certificates of critical components
- Circuit diagrams (only for electronic products)
- Example for the marking
- If available, CB certificate and test report of the products according to IEC standard, that includes 220V (AC) 60Hz
After submission, all these documents are reviewed and then, crucially, the products are tested for safety by an internationally recognized testing institute. These tests are carried out in accordance with national and international standards.
If CB certificates and test reports according to IEC standards are available, the certification and testing process for the respective products can be simplified and shortened. However, an important requirement is that the CB certificate must include the Korean voltage of 220V (AC) / 60 Hz.
Manufacturers of safety products also have to undergo a factory inspection, and will continue to have follow-up audits and product testing at regular intervals.
The KC Certification process can usually be completed within 3-6 months, although products requiring factory inspections may take longer. This includes the preparation of the application documents, assuming that all required information is available.
Products that have succeeded in getting KC-certified must display the KC Mark label, along with other product information (Korean is mandatory, English is optional).
Once goods have a KC licence, they can be imported into Korea, but it is important that the licence is available before the goods are shipped to be imported. If a consignment enters Korean customs without a KC licence, they will simply reject the shipment.
Minimum shipping documents required
As a minimum, the following shipping documents must be sent along with the shipment:
- Commercial invoice
- Packing list
- Data Sheet(s)
- KC Licence
Duties are assessed on a Cost-Insurance-Freight (CIF) basis. The main mode of customs evaluation is the transaction value method. Other methods under the WTO appraisement hierarchy may be used if there are doubts about Korean Customs valuation methods on the stated value.
A Value Added Tax rate of 10% is applied on imports based on customs plus duties.
15 June 2021