(Case) I am a foreigner wanting to receive medical treatment in Korea. I understand that there is a medical tourist visa available for foreign patients. How can I get a medical tourist visa and what documents do I need to prepare to apply for the visa?
(Answer) There are three ways to apply for a medical tourist visa (C-3-3, G-1-10).
① First, a patient can apply for a visa directly at a diplomatic office.
- Since a patient directly applies for his or her visa application in person, the patient can provide his or her medical information and circumstances more accurately. However, there is an inconvenience for the patient to visit the embassy when applying for and receiving the visa. .
② Second, an organization providing medical tourism services to foreign patients can apply for a visa on behalf of a patient by submitting a “Certificate of Visa Issuance.”
- The visa application is reviewed in Korea (Immigration Office under the Ministry of Justice) rather than at the embassy of the patient’s country and the result is sent to the embassy. Then, the embassy attaches the visa to the patient’s passport.
- The patient does not need to visit an Immigration Office. When the application and attached documents are submitted online, the Ministry of Justice reviews them and sends the results of review online to the respective embassy.
- However, since the embassy attaches the visa to the patient’s passport, the patient does need to visit the embassy.
③ Lastly, the patient can apply for an electronic visa.
- Unlike the “Certificate of Visa Issuance,” an electronic visa is a complete visa. Patients do not need to visit a diplomatic office of their respective countries. They can simply print out the electronic visas issued to them.
- However, only organizations with excellent records of medical tourism services to foreign patients as designated by the Ministry of Justice can apply for an electronic visa.
(Case) I am working for an institute that provides medical tourism services to foreign patients. I wonder if we can apply for a visa on behalf of a foreign patient.
(Answer) In the case of an electronic medical tourist visa, which is issued by the Ministry of Justice, the “organizations with excellent records of medical tourism services to foreign patients” can apply for the visa on behalf of their foreign patients. If your company is categorized as an organization with an excellent record of medical tourism services to foreign patients, you can apply for an electronic visa on behalf of your foreign patient.
- The Ministry of Justice examines the rate of illegal stays, invitation performances and other details (medical tourism induction records, business plans and excellent attracting cases) and selects “organizations with excellent records of medical tourism services to foreign patients”.
- Then, the Ministry of Justice authorizes the selected organizations to apply for an electronic visa.
- Submission of evidential documents relating to the patient’s financial abilities can be omitted.
- In addition, benefits including conferment of a certificate of designation as a skilled physician by the Justice Minister (in five languages) are provided. To find out if your company qualifies as an organization with an excellent record of medical tourism services to foreign patients, check out Announcement -> Notice menu in the Hi KOREA website (www.hikorea.go.kr).
(Case) I am a foreign national who came to Korea for the purpose of receiving medical treatment. I heard that there is an alien registration system. I'd like to know who needs to register and if it also applies to the foreigners who came to Korea with a medical visa. If I'm required to register, where can I do this? I would also like to know if I can receive health insurance benefits after alien registration.
1. Alien registration is a system to administer the overall matters regarding foreign nationals who are staying in the Republic of Korea for longer than 90 days such as their (Immigration Control Act)
2. Specifically, those who intend to stay in Korea for more than 90 days from the date of their entry or intend to do so by changing their status of sojourn are required to submit the alien registration no later than 90 days (or the date when their status change was approved in case of changing their status of sojourn) from the date of their entry to the Korea Immigration Service or immigration office of their residence.
- Note, however, that alien registration shall not apply to those who perform duties in terms of diplomatic/official agreement, their family members, and others who are deemed to be exempted from alien registration by the Ministry of Justice.
- This strictly applies to foreign nationals who entered Korea with a Medical Visa (C-3-3 or G-1-10) for the purpose of receiving medical treatment. If you plan to stay in Korea for 90 days or longer, you must complete alien registration.
3. Those who complete alien registration are considered eligible to be insured by Korean health insurance. This does not apply to foreign patients who entered Korea for the purpose of receiving medical treatment (C-3-3 or G-1-10).
(Case) I am planning to use a skin care /cosmetic surgery service in Korea during vacation, but the specific fees tend to vary between medical institutions and. In particular, there is a difference in fees between what my Korean friend told me and what I was offered. Am I being charged more because I'm a foreigner? If so, isn't it unfair to discriminate against foreign nationals compared to residents in Korea?
1. You are not a Korean national or a registered foreigner who is eligible for national health insurance of Korea. This means that you are not covered by the benefits of national health insurance, hence the application of additional medical fees.
2. The medical costs charged out to foreign patients who are not insured by national health insurance are not predetermined by lists containing medical fees or information brochures. This means it is at the respective medical institution's sole discretion to decide the fees as they desire.
- Note that the medical fees for skin care / cosmetic surgery services are one of the medical fields not covered by national insurance and are subject to value-added taxes. So there are many variables that affect the medical expenses of skin care / cosmetic surgery services (e.g., land value of the medical institution's location, difference in the quality of the facility/standards of equipment and medical staff, treatment material being applied, difficulty level of surgical treatment/surgical operation, etc.).
3. In other words, the medical institutions have the right to decide the medical fees according to their standards on foreign nationals who don't possess national health insurance.
4. For your information, please refer to the medical fees posted on the homepage of medicalkorea website regarding skin care/cosmetic surgery. The data posted here pertain to the range of medical expenses according to eight body parts and 45 fields, descriptions about surgical procedures, required period and recovery period according to review by the Korean Society of Plastic Surgeons. * Check the medical expense guide on skin care / cosmetic surgery services for foreign patients.
(Case) I am a Chinese who is visiting Korea for cosmetic surgery. I heard that a 10% of VAT included in the medical fee can be refunded from the 1st of April in 2016. Is this applicable for all medical institutions in Korea?
In Korea, 10% VAT is imposed on cosmetic surgery, but starting from the 1st of April in 2016, a 10% VAT refund system is being implemented for foreign tourists. However, not all medical institutions in Korea are eligible for a refund, and medical institutions that are able to refund VAT must satisfy all of the following requirements.
First, the institution must be registered at the Ministry of Health and Welfare as a medical institution that can treat foreign patients.
Second, the institution must sign a contract with a business which operates a refund counter designated by the National Tax Service to provide necessary equipment such as terminals in the medical institution.
How to check whether the institution is a VAT refundable medical institution for foreign tourists is to visit the medical facility beforehand and check the sign or notice placed inside. Please make sure to check with the health care provider to see if you can get a VAT refund.
You can check if one’s a VAT refundable medical institution before visiting by looking up on the Medical Korea’s website (www.medicalkorea.or.kr) or contacting the Medical Korea’s support center (1577-7129).
(Case) I was born with a congenital malformation of the nose. I intend to have plastic surgery in Korea. Would I be able to get a VAT refund in such case?
Unfortunately, VAT is not currently imposed on a reconstructive surgery for congenital anomalies, which means that it is not a tax-exempt medical treatment, and therefore, there will not be any VAT to be refunded.
Even if you have undergone surgery in a plastic surgery clinic or a dermatologist, you can only get a VAT refund if the medical treatment is a VAT taxed item. If you want to check whether you can get a refund, please contact the medical center or Medical Korea’s support center (1577-7129).
(Case) I am planning to leave Korea in 2 weeks after getting a Botox treatment from a dermatology clinic in Gangnam. How can I get VAT refund?
Before you get the Botox treatment, check whether the VAT refund is available at the medical institution. Visit your medical institution with your passport on the day of treatment, and request the issue of medical service confirmation (refund slip) from the medical institution after payment. The staff will guide you the process.
Please keep the refund slip issued by the medical institution safely, and submit it along with your passport to the refund counter located at the airport on the day of departure.
If the total amount of payment including VAT is less than 2 million won, you can also get the refund at the city center refund counter. However, please make sure that you check with the medical staff first, as there may be a difference in the availability of refund for each medical institution.
Please also note that you must request and receive VAT refund within 3 months after the treatment. VAT refund will not be available if you do not leave Korea for more than 3 months after the treatment.
If you have more questions regarding the VAT refund method, please contact the Medical Korea’s support center (1577-7129).
(Case) I’m a foreigner in Korea and I’m on business here for a long term. While I have been visiting medical institutes a few times so far, I have realized that I have been charged more for the same examinations or treatments than Koreans are. On my recent visit, I have made a complaint about the reason why they treat me differently and they told me that (almost all) Korean patients are insured by the national health insurance for Korean citizen and I am not. However, the problem is that Korean hospitals charge foreigner patients like me, more fees even for medical treatments that are not covered by the national health insurance. Even worse, one of my friends has witnessed that some hospital has applied higher charges on such treatments not covered by the national health insurance than what is clearly stated on their websites. For the uninsured criteria, shouldn’t they not charge more consultation fees being so discriminative?
○ Firstly, the explanation from the hospitals are right that they charge you more fees because you are not covered under the national health insurance for Korean citizen.
○Republic of Korea has been not only accomplishing the national health insurance for all Korean citizen but also has the door relatively wide open even for foreigners.
- In case you are employed by a place of business that covers their employed members’ insurance or employed as a public servant or a educational personnel in Korea.
- Or in case you have stayed in Korea for over 3 months, you are eligible to become a ‘local member’.
○Even a foreigner, if they become a national health insurance member, you will only be charged as the same as the Korean citizen.
○Nextly, we would like to introduce you to ‘non-deductible’ treatments. By the medical laws, each medical institution is obliged to present the list of ‘non-deductible’ treatments on brochures or websites and it is prohibited for them to overcharge for the treatments.
○Such obligation duty for notification and regulations for overcharges also are applied only to the members covered by the national health insurance and hence, they are not obliged to notify foreigners that are not a joint member of the national health insurance.
○ Therefore, the cost for treatments for non-registered foreigners can be set by each medical institutions and it is not subject to be pre-notified by any lists, booklets, or bills
(Case) I’m a patient from China. I had a plastic operation in a plastic surgery in Myeongdong and was overcharged with the consultation fee without any pre-notifications. I would like to get a refund for some of the overcharged consultation fee and what should I do for such case.
○ Apart from the result of the treatment/operation, if you are overcharged by the institution, you need to demand for the exact breakdown and request refund.
○ But in case the institution refuses to pay, you can be advised by By Fair Trade Commission Customer Service by dialing 1372 or visiting www.ccn.go.kr.
(Case) I requested for the refund slip for VAT refunds after a double eyelid operation and they are refusing saying that medical institutions cannot provide one. What do you suggest?
○ Firstly, you need to check if the medical institution is a medical institution that can provide VAT refunds.
○ If the institution is not registered as a medical institution for foreign patients and is not approved by the Minister of Health and Welfare, the institution cannot provide the refunds. - Not all medical institutions in Korea are covered by the tax refund and there are requirements for medical institutions to provide VAT refunds, as follows. - First, the institution must be registered as a medical institution for foreign patients and approved by the Minister of Health and Welfare. - Second, the institution must have a franchise agreement contract with a business operator approved by National Tax Service, and have the required equipments such as terminal equipment, purchased and prepared in the facility.
○ On the other hand, if the medical institution is registered as a medical institution for foreign patients but is not yet prepared with the required equipments such as terminal equipment, the medical institution can be advised to have the system prepared as soon as possible and the patient can re-visit the medical institution before you leave the country and claim for the refund slip.
○ If you experience any conflicts over VAT refunds with a medical institution, please inquire Medical Korea Support Center by 1577-7129.