Friday, March 25, 2011

Travel Notes: Arriving in Incheon, Korea

I've made several promises to update and post my Korean adoption travel notes. This post is the first in that series.

After my first trip to Korea in February 2004, I began making notes. I had never traveled Internationally before and decided to write down the things I wish someone had told me. I had such basic questions: What do I do when I get off the plane? How will I know where to go? What will it be like going through Immigration? I've now been to Korea six times, most recently in October of 2010. As a first-timer, I would have found this information reassuring:

The Entry Card
A few hours before your plane lands in Korea, the flight crew will give you an Entry Card to fill out stating your purpose for visiting & plans for your stay in Korea. If this is an adoption trip, whenever you are dealing with the Korean government, state the purpose for your visit as “adoption” including on this card. To answer the questions on the Entry Card, you will need the following in an accessible place in your carry on luggage:
  • your passport
  • your itinerary for travel dates & flight numbers
  • the address and phone number where you will be staying.
If you are staying at your agency’s guest house use the agency’s street address and phone number on the Entry Card. If you are staying in a hotel, you can use either the hotel's information, or the Agency’s. If you don't know where you are staying, use the Agency's address. This is on the advice of the immigration/visa office at Eastern. They said the point of this card is to give the government a way to contact you in an emergency and that the agency is going to know more than the hotel will if that need arises.

When You get off the Plane in Incheon
Follow the crowd and the signs to Immigration/Baggage claim. All signs are posted in English and if you keep looking for signs, you won’t get lost. Every person on your plane will have to go through Immigration, so you can follow the crowd. When you reach Immigration, there will be several lines, with designations posted on signs over each one. Stand in the line for foreign nationals and wait your turn behind the line on the floor. Hand the Immigration agent your passport and your Arrival card.Your progress through Immigration in Korea will probably be perfunctory if you have filled out your Entry Card completely.

From Immigration, follow the signs down the escalators/elevators to Baggage Claim. Luggage carts are free; take one on your way to the baggage carousel. Retrieve your bags and head toward the exit doors. But before you exit the luggage area, exchange your money for won.

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