How to export to South Korea

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Understanding South Korea's unique laws and regulations is crucial especially when you are looking to export products out of the Philippines there. While specific product requirements may vary, it's important to keep general considerations in mind. To help you navigate the process more easily, we have created a comprehensive guide to South Korea's export regulations in this article. 

Why export to South Korea

As the fourth largest economy in Asia and 10th in the world, South Korea is a major player in international trade and finance. Given this status, it's no surprise that the country joined the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a free trade agreement with 14 other Indo-Pacific countries that is the largest in history. The RCEP aims to provide preferential market access and reduce trade transaction costs for businesses, including those in ASEAN countries such as the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.

In December 2022, the Philippines saw a 22.4% increase in exports to South Korea, reaching a total of US$400 million, according to Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC) statistics. Among the top exports from the Philippines are electrical machinery and electronics, machinery, mechanical appliances, copper articles, as well as edible fruits, fruit peels, and nuts. According to a report by The Business Inquirer, the Philippines is also looking forward to implementing a free trade agreement (FTA) with South Korea next year, which is expected to benefit local exporters of bananas and processed pineapples through reduced tariffs. With this bilateral pact on the horizon, the already thriving trade relationship between the two countries is set to become even stronger.

For those searching for new export markets to explore this year, South Korea is worth considering. This exporting guide provides a comprehensive breakdown of the information you need to know before you export goods and shipment into South Korea. 

Important South Korean trade regulations and customs information

1. Essential customs and shipping documents

In accordance with the information on the International Trade Administration, commercial shipments entering South Korea must have a country of origin label. As of 2020, if you’re planning to export food products like, for example, bananas and rice to South Korea, you will need further labelling and documentation to meet the requirements laid out by respective government agencies. 

Other documentation required for shipment exports from the Philippines into South Korea include import declaration, commercial invoice, packing list, bill of lading, certificate of origin, and respective inspection certificates. 

The certificate of origin for your shipment should also include the following details in either English or Korean: 

  • Name and contact information for the certifying person 
  • The importer and exporter
  • The producer of the good
  • Harmonized System Tariff classification and description of the good 
  • Place of origin 
  • Quantity 
  • Date of the certification 

2. Sales tax

All exports into South Korea are subject to a flat 10% Value Added Tax (VAT), while certain luxury items and consumer goods have a special excise tax of 10 to 20%. Duties and taxes must be paid in Korean Won within 15 days after your shipment has cleared customs. 

However, under the Korea-ASEAN FTA, tariffs are either eliminated or reduced for 80% of exports from ASEAN countries like the Philippines. In addition, with the upcoming Korea-Philippines FTA, South Korea is looking to lift tariffs on 94.8% of export products from the Philippines. This FTA aims to secure market access further and facilitate a more stable trade environment. 

3. Prohibited and restricted imports

For successful export into South Korea, you must adhere to the country’s dangerous goods and customs regulations. Some of these prohibited and restricted items include: 

  • Any form of media or content that might harm public security
  • Counterfeit currency and goods
  • Weapons, including replicas and lookalikes
  • Narcotics
  • Pornography 
  • Goods that may threaten the welfare of South Korea’s natural environments 

Any attempt to export these goods into South Korea will result in heavy penalties especially since they violate customs laws. 

Enjoy a hassle-free export process with DHL Express 

Exporting your goods into South Korea can be rather daunting, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the country’s local laws as well as customs duties and taxes. Hence, besides familiarising yourself with South Korea’s export regulations, it is also best to choose a trusted logistics service provider to help with the direct exporting and delivery of your goods. 

DHL Express is a reliable trade partner with the experience and expertise to help businesses in the Philippines export their products to South Korea. With preferential rates and time-sensitive shipments to over 220 territories worldwide, we have a wide range of shipping solutions to streamline the delivery of your goods from the Philippines to South Korea. 

Register for a business account with us today to start your export journey.

¹ Reuters. February 2023

² Global PEO Services. 2022

³ Business Inquirer. October 2022

⁴ OEC. December 2022

⁵ Business Inquirer. October 2022

⁶ International Trade Administration. August 2022

⁷ Food Navigator Asia. April 2022

⁸ Customs Korea

⁹ Customs Korea on tax

¹⁰ Enterprise Singapore

¹¹ ASEAN Briefing. June 2022

¹² South Korea Visa