South Korea to Ban Direct Overseas Purchases of Uncertified Products | Be Korea-savvy

South Korea to Ban Direct Overseas Purchases of Uncertified Products

South Korea will prohibit direct overseas purchases of products without safety certifications. (Image courtesy of Yonhap)

South Korea will prohibit direct overseas purchases of products without safety certifications. (Image courtesy of Yonhap)

SEOUL, May 17 (Korea Bizwire) – South Korea will prohibit direct overseas purchases of products without safety certifications for 80 items that could potentially affect public health and safety, the government announced on May 16.

At a meeting of ministers handling state affairs at the Incheon Airport Customs headquarters, Prime Minister Han Duck-soo unveiled measures to “strengthen consumer safety and enhance corporate competitiveness in response to the surge in direct overseas purchases.” 

While imported products distributed through official channels have been subject to safety verifications such as obtaining the Korea Certification (KC) mark, items obtained directly from overseas vendors have entered the country without separate safety checks until now. 

However, as direct overseas purchases from platforms like China’s AliExpress and Temu have skyrocketed recently, bringing an influx of potentially hazardous products, the government plans to tighten safety controls on directly purchased foreign goods.

Under the new rules taking effect next month, direct overseas purchases will be banned for 34 categories of children’s products used by those under 13, including strollers and toys.

Likewise, electrical and household items like electric heating mattress pads that lack KC certification, posing fire and electrocution risks, will be prohibited from direct import. 

The overseas purchase of 12 categories of household chemical products, such as humidifier disinfectants and preservatives, will also be restricted if they lack proper registration or approval. 

Even certified products containing harmful substances will face import restrictions.

Cosmetics and hygiene products directly contacting the skin will be tested for over 1,050 prohibited ingredients, and those found to contain hazardous components will be banned.

Jewelry, household chemicals, and other items exceeding hazardous substance limits will similarly be barred based on monitoring and inspections.

Incheon Airport Customs Logistics Center (Image courtesy of Yonhap)

Incheon Airport Customs Logistics Center (Image courtesy of Yonhap)

The crackdown extends to pharmaceuticals and medical devices already prohibited from direct overseas purchase. While only 678 illegal medical devices were detected in 2021, that figure ballooned to 6,958 cases last year. 

To clarify the ban, the government plans to revise the Pharmaceutical Affairs Act, explicitly prohibiting direct overseas purchases of drugs and animal medicines. For medical devices, intensified special and planned inspections will occur during customs clearance. 

Aiming to curb an influx of counterfeit goods through direct overseas channels, the government will enhance big data-based AI monitoring of foreign platforms this month.

It will also introduce a real-time blocking system integrating data from the Korean Intellectual Property Office and Korea Customs Service. 

Trademark law amendments planned for this year will establish grounds to penalize platforms failing to curb counterfeit sales. 

Amid concerns over personal data breaches by foreign platforms, the government intends to disclose findings from ongoing investigations into potential violations of personal information protection laws and undisclosed app access permissions. 

To ensure effective consumer protection and enforcement against overseas platforms, South Korea will legally mandate the designation of domestic representatives.

These representatives will handle consumer grievances, removing sales information for uncertified products, and blocking illicit and counterfeit merchandise distribution. 

The revamped Consumer24 website, launched May 16, will consolidate dispersed direct overseas purchase information from various agencies into a single consumer access point.

To boost competitiveness for domestic businesses facing opposition from direct imports, the government also plans to ease regulations limiting large stores’ operating hours, currently prohibiting operations from midnight to 10 a.m. and preventing dawn deliveries.

Measures are also being considered to prevent abuse of the small import duty exemption by intentionally splitting shipments to evade taxes. 

By 2026, South Korea aims to establish a customs clearance platform optimized to block the entry of hazardous items.

Ashley Song ( 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>