Tax Refund After Plastic Surgery in Korea



Tax Refund After Plastic Surgery in Korea




Korea is renowned for its advanced medical technology and high-quality cosmetic surgery procedures, making it a global hub for medical tourism. Many people from around the world travel to Korea to undergo various plastic surgery procedures, not only for the quality of care but also for potential cost savings. Korea’s tax-free system is divided into two main categories: “Duty-Free” and “Tax Refund”. In duty-free stops, no taxes, including VAT (Value added tax) and individual consumption tax, are applied to the prices of the items. These shops are typically operated by large department stores such as Lotte, Shinsegae, Shilla, and Hyundai and are located within the downtown area and in airports.

On the other hand, the tax refund system allows shoppers to purchase items at full price, including taxes, and then apply for a refund on the taxes paid before leaving the country. Generally, tax refunds can be obtained by submitting the relevant receipts at designated tax refund booths or kiosks before departure. Since January 1, 2016, tourists have been able to receive an immediate tax refund up to a certain limit when shopping at certified stores. This immediate tax refund system was first implemented in department stores and supermarkets, and now even applies to tax-refund affiliated clinics or hospitals for plastic surgery.

Understanding Tax Refund for Plastic Surgery

What is a VAT refund? VAT stands for value-added tax, which is a consumption tax that is levied at a rate of 10% on the supply of goods and services. After cosmetic surgery in Korea, tax can be refunded only at tax-refund-affiliated clinics or hospitals.

Eligibility Criteria for Tax Refund

People: Nonresidents in Korea who have received plastic surgery worth at least 15,000 KRW.

  • Foreign tourists who have stayed less than 6 months
  • Overseas Koreans who have resided at least 2 years abroad or less than 3 months in Korea
  • Departing Korea within 3 months after undergoing cosmetic surgery

Type of Procedures: The following procedures are subject to tax refund:

  • Rhinoplasty
  • Eyelid surgery
  • Facelift
  • Facial contouring
  • Liposuction
  • Breast surgery
  • Dermatology procedures (skin whitening, antiaging, acne treatment, etc)
  • Hair transplant
  • Dental procedures
  • Tattoo, piercing
  • Others

Licensed Medical Facilities: The procedure must be performed at a licensed medical facility and by a certified medical professional. Unlicensed clinics or non-certified practitioners’ services will not be eligible for tax refunds. Here is a list of medical institutes that are available for Tax refund.

Receipt and Documentation: Detailed receipts must be provided. This documentation is essential for claiming a tax refund.

Steps to Claim a Tax Refund

1. Consult with Your Medical Provider

Before undergoing surgery, discuss with your medical provider whether the procedure may qualify for a tax deduction. They can often provide necessary documentation or guidance on what is needed to make a claim. All of Docfinderkorea’s partnered clinics are licensed clinics that are available for tax refunds. 

2. Collect Receipts and Medical Reports

Ensure you collect the detailed receipts and what procedures you have received. The clinic/hospital will provide you with this information.

3. Refund Method

Airport: You can get your tax refund at the airport before your departure. Go to the tax refund kiosk or refund counter. You will need your passport and receipt. To get a tax refund, the total payment should be 30,000 KRW or more.

Downtown: Before you go to the airport, you can get your tax refund at certain clinics or department stores. You will need your passport, receipt, and credit card. To get a tax refund, the total payment should be more than 30,000 KRW and less than 5 million KRW. Once you get your refund from downtown booths or kiosks, you have to report it to the customs office or refund counters at the airport before departure. Downtown tax refund booths only offer refunds offered by their respective companies, while airport tax refund counters for purchases regardless of the company.


Main refund locations at Incheon International Airport

Refund counters:

  • Terminal 1: 3F Duty-Free Zone near Gate 28
  • Terminal 2: 3F Check-in counters D & E / 3F Duty Free Zone near Gate 253

Refund Kiosk:

  • Terminal 1: 3F Concourse near the central pharmacy / 3F Duty Free zone near Gate 28
  • Terminal 2: 3F Duty-Free zone near Gates 250 & 253


Obtaining a tax refund after plastic surgery in Korea can significantly reduce the overall cost of the procedure, making it an attractive option for eligible individuals. Understanding the eligibility criteria, ensuring proper documentation, and seeking professional advice are crucial steps in successfully claiming a tax refund. By following the guidelines outlined in this article, you can navigate the process more effectively and potentially benefit from tax savings on your medical expenses in Korea.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Can tourists claim a tax refund for plastic surgery in Korea?

Yes, as long as you are a foreign tourist who is staying for less than six months, you can get a tax refund.

2. Where can I apply for Tax Refund?

The easiest method is to go to the airport. All Korean International Airports have a tax refund kiosk or service operator where you can apply for all your tax refunds. However, if the total is less than 5 million KRW, then you can go to a department store where there is a dedicated tax refund assistant. (Specific locations are stated above)

3. How long does the tax refund process take?

The duration can vary, but it typically takes 1 to 2 months after the tax refund request has been processed successfully.

4. What percentage can I expect to get back?

You can get approximately 7~8% back of the total surgery cost.