* This post is written by Dorothea Suh, one of the Korea Blog’s Worldwide Korea Bloggers.
If you are a foreigner who will be studying or working in South Korea (with proper visa of course) you will need the Alien Registration Card (ARC) and a Korean bank account. Some employers will help you set up the bank account, some won’t – and if you are a student you will have to take care of it by yourself. Here are the steps for getting settled in Seoul, Korea (some info might get updated later). I will use the KEB bank as an example, but you are free to use any other bank!
1. Be sure to prepare enough passport photos upon arrival.
2. Upon arrival at Incheon Airport look out for the KEB branch. It’s located in the first basement level of the airport. Use exit 6 on the first or third floor, and take the escalator on the right side. Once you’re on the first basement floor, you’ll see Inha University Hospital; the branch is located right next to the hospital.
3. Go inside the KEB branch and tell them that you want to open a KEB account for expats and get the KEB check card and KEB passbook.
4. If you haven’t gotten your ARC yet, tell them you want to open your account with your passport and that you will request the ARC in the next days.
5. Fill out the documents. If the documents are not in English ask for help! You might want to add the transportation service, which means that you can use the KEB check card in the metro or bus as a payment method (the money will be taken from your KEB account). You can add this feature later if you are not sure about it.
6. Sign, finish! Your account is set up and fully functional (receiving money from your domestic scholarship or employer).
7. If you need English Internet banking and online banking you have to come back (any KEB branch is fine) and show them your ARC.
8. Next step, getting your ARC. Be sure to get an appointment at hikorea.go.kr 1 month before you want to go there. This way you will save a lot of time. If you go without an appointment you might have to wait for hours. Be sure to have your passport photos, visa and other documents (Official Acceptance letter from your university, employer or research institute) ready! For your “other documents” you should make copies and ask the official if they need the original or the copies, sometimes you won’t get the documents back.
9. Take the subway to get to the Seoul Immigration Office, take exit 7 out of 오목교 Omokgyo Subway Station (purple line 5). Walk straight for about 10 minutes. If you are inside the building, go downstairs and purchase a W10,000 stamp for your application, then go back up the stairs and into the room on your left. Since you have an appointment you don’t need to take a number; just locate the booth with “online appointments” and wait before the booth until it’s your time.
10. You have to wait for ~10 days until your card is ready for you. To pick it up go back to the office and press button 4 on the machine. I chose the way to open a bank account first and getting the ARC later because you have to leave your passport at the Immigration Office for at least 10 days. Therefore it might be wiser to do everything you need a passport for before getting the ARC! I hope this post will help you getting you settled in Seoul!