Updated: August 2022
Required export documents
1. Commercial invoice (in English)
In addition to the usual commercial information, the invoice must contain the following:
- HS code and country of origin
- Number and type of packages
- Precise description of goods
- Information on the type of transport
- Terms of delivery and payment
2. Packing list
The shipment must be accompanied by a packing list containing an overview of the details and contents of the packages, including their dimensions and quantity.
3. Declaration of origin
For goods of preferential origin according to the agreements of the EFTA-South Korea Free Trade Agreement, a declaration of origin must be included on the invoice. This can be done regardless of the value of the goods and the status of the approved exporter. An EUR 1 movement certificate may not be used.
4. Marking of goods
For many products (e.g. foodstuffs or clothing), labeling with the country of origin is mandatory. The country of origin on the goods/packaging should match the information on the commercial documents.
Depending on the product group, further information may need to be affixed.
Detailed information on the import formalities in South Korea applicable to your products is also available in our free customs database.
Sanctions / embargoes / export controls
At the time of writing, no sanctions or embargoes were in place against South Korea. However, this can change at any time, which is why we recommend you check whether corresponding measures have been imposed prior to each export.
Certain products and product groups, such as dual-use goods, require an export permit even for delivery to non-sanctioned countries.
Core values such as hierarchy, seniority, trust, “face[24t1] ,” respect and group harmony play an important role in business relationships in Korea. These aspects are based on Confucian principles and thus have a far-reaching influence on relationships in everyday business life.
An overly emotional demeanor is generally not appreciated in everyday business, and you should avoid making too much of a show about your own success (you shouldn’t brag). Modesty, in turn, is viewed positively. If possible, harsh refusals or a clear “no” should be avoided. You should not expect a definitive answer from the Korean side to a seemingly clear question, as the answer has often already been given in the context. A “yes” therefore often only means that you have understood the other person; it doesn’t mean that you agree. So it’s worth reading between the lines.
Generally, it is important to maintain active business relations. Important discussions often take place outside official office hours, e.g. during a dinner.
For more information on South Korean business culture, please see our webinar “Insights into Korean Business Culture.”
In principle, all Incoterms clauses can be used for deliveries to South Korea. When negotiating the contract, bear in mind that certain Incoterms clauses should only be used for sea transport, which means they should be adapted to the chosen means of transport. Even if, for example, your customer in South Korea wants the CIF (Cost, Insurance and Freight) clause for a delivery by air freight.
Terms of payment
Getting paid can be difficult, frustrating and time-consuming. It is therefore advisable to find a compromise with the South Korean company beforehand. A letter of credit, for example, does indeed incur fees but is nevertheless less expensive than possible court proceedings.
All information in this article is provided for guidance only and is neither exhaustive nor legally binding.