Logistic and forwarding services in South Korea

Sud Korea

Capital City

National languages
50 Mio.


Won (KRW)

Gross national product (GNP)
USD 1’221,6 Mrd.

GNP per person
USD 24’329

Financial exports to Switzerland
USD 0,9 Mrd.

Financial imports from Switzerland
USD 2,7 Mrd.

Bilateral relations Switzerland–South Korea

Switzerland maintains good and increasingly close relations with South Korea. The country is an important trading partner that is attractive for Swiss investors, and cooperation in the field of science and research is also gaining in importance.

Economic cooperation

Since the free-trade agreement between the European Free Trade Area (EFTA) and South Korea came into force in 2006, trade with Switzerland has become more extensive. The Embassy in Seoul has been supplemented by a Swiss Business Hub since November 2010, which promotes trade and investments between the two countries.
Following the 2009 crisis, the volume of bilateral trade in 2010 and 2011 reached record levels. In 2014, exports grew by 5.6% (watches and watch parts, pharmaceutical products, machinery), and more than 50 Swiss companies are operating in South Korea today. In Asia, South Korea is Switzerland’s fifth largest sales market and the ninth largest exporter to Switzerland.


Business language


Dimensions and weights

Metric system.


National currency 1 Won = 100 Chon.
ISO code: KRW

Customs tariff

Harmonised system. Customs clearance based on the transaction value.

Import control

Imports liberalised. The three-category product classification system for imports has been revoked. There is still a “negative list” of goods, the import of which is banned or subject to authorisation (e.g. weapons, narcotics, counterfeit money, hazardous waste, meat, milk).
For goods which are semi-restricted (SR), the application to the commercial banks for import must be accompanied by recommendations from official bodies. A “Free Sales Certificate” legalised by the consulate is required for cosmetics and a “Manufacturer’s Certificate” is required for pharmaceuticals. The US safety and emissions standard apply to passenger cars. Medical devices are subject to special licensing regulations. Further free trade areas are determined (“Yellow Sea Zone”, more information available from
In accordance with the Law on Product Liability, importers are liable to an unlimited extent to damage caused by their products. Korea has lifted most of the restrictions on foreign currency transactions for the private sector.
The WON is not freely convertible. Amounts from 10.000 USD are to be declared on arrival and departure. Foreign currency transactions crediting foreigners are permitted.
State export guarantees are only provided after a check has been carried out on the creditworthiness of orders and guarantors.
Electronic letter of credit system under constructions by the KITA (Korea International Trade Assosiation).
Standard VAT rate: 10% (reduced rate 0%).


Imports are subject to controls from USD 2.500. The certificate number must be communicated to the shipping or air freight agents before loading.

Terms of payment and tenders

Based on letters of credit, documents against payment (D/P) only in special cases. Invoices in USD and EUR are standard.
Twenty percent of the value must be deposited in cash when the letter of credit is opened. Tenders based on international practice (preferably CIF to Korean ports).

Designations of origin

Comply with the regulation on designations of origin for imported goods. Where possible, the “Made in …” marking must be on the product itself, ask the importer where applicable. Extensive marking for packages (freight forwarders, chambers of industry and commerce).


Contact the South Korean authorities for information on the labelling regulations.


Very good sea packaging as unloading into light boxes is in very high demand under certain circumstances. ISPM 15 since 01/06/2005, treatment and labelling required for reuse. Each package must be marked as follows:

  1. Main mark: indicate the name of the recipient/importer in a symbol (e.g. a triangle);
  2. Case number;
  3. Port mark (port name);
  4. Origin mark. Packaging made of metal, glass, paper and plastic must have a Korean recycling logo.


Product samples

Commercial samples can be imported duty free up to a value of 250 USD provided the customs authorities actually recognise them as “samples”. In special cases, even samples without a retail value must be processed through customs if the customs authorities assess the samples as “valuable”. Samples can also be imported on deposit of the customs amount and the amount deposited given back by the authorities on re-export. Samples brought by travelling salesmen which are subject to duties can be imported temporarily if the customs duties are deposited or left as a security. The import duties will be paid back re-export.
Use of the ATA Carnet for the temporary import of professional equipment, exhibition and trade fair goods and samples is possible.

Shipping and accompanying documents

Where a legalised pro forma is required it is standard for this to be certified by the Chamber of Industry and Commerce in advance and:

a) Commercial invoices, number as required, in English, signed, with all standard units and licence number, letter of credit number, country of origin, payment method etc.

b) Certificates of origin only on request. In the case of Swiss goods indicate “Swiss” or “European Union” as the origin depending on the case; CIC (Chamber of Industry and Commerce), certificates of origin.

c) Only a “declaration of origin” on the invoice with the prescribed text is permissible as evidence of preferential origin. From a value of goods of more than 6.000 EUR this can only be issued by an “authorised exporter” Other movement certificates (EUR.1) are not permissible. EU is to be indicated as the country of origin in the declarations of origin on the invoice as evidence of preferential origin.

d) Bills of lading uncertified; order bills of lading are possible if a notify address is given.

e) Packing lists for each package (freight forwarder).

f) Postal items: maximum weight 20 kg, 1 international dispatch note, 1 customs declaration.