A short post on getting a Korean driver’s license and buying a car.
If you already have a South African driver’s license the whole process will go pretty fast. Follow these easy steps and you should have your license in no time at all (two weeks max).
- Send your South African license to the Embassy to verify it. To do this you have to write a short cover letter requesting verification. You then have to post the license, letter and a registered return envelope via registered post to the embassy. Double check the address on the registered return envelope and phone the embassy after two days to confirm receipt. Tel : + 82-2 – 2077-5900
South African Embassy, Seoul
104 Dokseodang-ro (Hannam-dong)
- Once you’ve received back your license and the verification letter you have to go to the Driver’s license center. You can check your closest one on the KoRoad website. Try to go during the week, as most centers are only open on one Saturday per month. Take the following with you: At least 60 000Won in Cash, 6 ID photos, Your ARC, the verification from the Embassy along with your South African license and your passport.
- Once you’ve entered the DMV building, get a ticket and wait to be called. It’s not unlikely that you will be shown to a different desk depending on the person’s English speaking abilities. Once you reach the right counter you will get some forms to complete. They will be in English and are pretty straight forward. Remember to glue your photos one the form. After completing the forms you will undergo a medical and eye examination.
- The medical and eye examination should not take long and will be located in or very close to the examination center. You have to pay for it in cash, and the Doc will sign and stamp the previously mentioned forms. Take all of it back to the person who gave it to you in the first place.
- Payment and verification. At this point, your ARC, passport, and license will be verified. It takes about 30 minutes, so be patient. After this step is complete you will be sent to the exam hall.
- The exam is a computerized multi-choice exam, with mostly the same questions as the South African learner’s permit test. It takes 20-40 minutes to complete. After failing/passing you will get a stamp from the officer in charge and then have to go back to the first person (again).
- Now you will pay a second fee, this is for your license card, and give them the remaining ID photo. The printing of the card is done right there and should not take more than 30 minutes.
- Lastly- your photo’s will get edited at some point of this process. Enjoy the Koreanized version of yourself…your family will probably not recognize you 🙂
Buying a car
It’s way easier for the buyer than the seller, trust me on this. Before actually getting your hopes up, make sure that the seller has all his/her ducks in a row. After that’s sorted here’s what you need to do.
- Insurance: Yes, this is weird. You have to buy the insurance before buying the car. That makes no sense, but it’s the law. To buy insurance is fairly easy. You don’t have to do this in person and with a couple of emails you’d be good to go.
- You need the following to buy insurance: Car’s details, your ARC number, address, phone number, and nationality. If you can provide proof of having car insurance back home you can get a discount.
- You well get an email with three different quotes from various companies. Choose your options and make a schedule for payments.
- Buy the actual car. You need to accompany the seller to the Vehicle Registration Office. Here you will complete some documentation and minor payments. At this point, you’ll have to provide proof of insurance. So pay the company before going to the DMV so that you can provide them with the letter. This letter can also be faxed to the DMV, they have machines available for public use. Just get the number from the reception.
- Pay the transfer fee, the road tax, and other fees. Depending on the age of your car this should not be more than 100,000Won.
- You will receive a certificate of ownership and the deal will be done.
- Here is the guy I use for insurance (he is just the agent/middleman between you and the company you’ll end up choosing). He is really amazing, speaks fluent English and already assisted me with some minor car related things without hesitation: David’s auto insurance.
- Tada! This is our little Ginni. She’s already been utilized for traveling and giving co-workers driving lessons.
Happy driving in Korea! Remember on which side to drive 🙂