Opening a Bank Account in Korea
OPENING A PERSONAL BANK ACCOUNT
- You must visit the bank in person to open your account and bring your alien registration card (you many also be asked for your passport). If you do not have an alien registration card yet, bring your passport. (limits may be imposed if you do not have an ARC).
- You will be asked to fill out a form giving your ‘real’ name (the one on your passport), your residential and/or business address and telephone number.
- There are no joint-accounts in Korea, so if you are married, you must each open your own account.
- If you are opening an account for an association or club, you will have to open it in your name.
- There is no charge for opening an account.
- There is no minimum deposit required, although it’s a good idea to put in W10,000 or so at the beginning (~$10.00).
- There is a small fee (W2-3,000) to get your ATM card from some banks. Most banks only allow you to have one ATM card. Note: the number on your ATM card is not your bank account number. Since you will often need to give/know your account number, you may want to write it on the back of the ATM card – below your signature.
Some banks allow only registered foreign residents, with 3 months residency, to open a bank account. (see more details below*). Many banks allow new arrivals who don't yet have their ARC to open an account, but services are limited including, often, ATM access, meaning all transactions must be conducted via a teller.
Types of Accounts:
1. Current, ordinary deposit, on-call deposit, time deposit and installment deposit – when opening an account ask about the different option available to you. If no one speaks English, as often happens even in ‘foreign-designated’ areas, either bring a Korean friend/colleague/staff person with you or contact BBB 1588-5644 for help from a Korean volunteer who speaks English.
2. Regular bank accounts pay almost no interest. If you have funds you don’t have to drawn on right away and on which you want to earn a more generous interest, ask your bank about term deposits. The longer the term, the higher the interest. To earn more interest request a savings account.
3. If you wish Internet access to your Korean bank account, you must request it. Make sure the bank explains the process and time limits (if any exist as this varies from one bank to the other) of registering on Internet and use requirements if you plan on using the Internet account to withdraw or transfer money.
4. Telephone access is also possible.
5. If you have not registered for an Internet account, you will be given a passbook that you can either bring to a teller or insert in your bank’s ATM machine to get a print-out of your bank transactions.
6. To find out what services and account options are available when you open your account, check with the bank's website (some are in English)
7. Banks offer a number of check (debit) card options. Check their website or ask the teller (if s/he speaks English) what the options may be. Each type carries it's own reward points and discounts.
Maintenance/Admin Account fees: Korean banks do not charge a monthly fee on your account. You pay only for those services you use, in other words, only for the transactions you’ve made.
ATM charges: some banks have accounts whereby you don't pay ATM charges ever. But if you don't have such an account, you will generally pay nothing if you use your bank's ATM during banking hours (any branch of your bank). Using another bank's ATM or your bank's for a transfer to another bank, generally costs a little more.
Teller service: using the tellers generally results in slightly higher service charges.
*Restrictions on foreigners opening a bank account: As part of the fight against (voice mainly) phishing, Korean banks announced that beginning September 2007, foreigners would not be allowed to open a bank account for at least three months after obtaining their alien registration card. Further, foreign account holders are to be limited to over-the-counter transactions and not allowed to use the ATM's for their banking for three months after they have opened their new account. However, this policy is no longer applied by most bank branches although it does pop-up on occasion. But these appear to be exceptions and it's worth visiting other branches of the same bank or to contact customer service.
Overseas Access via ATM to Korean Bank Accounts by Foreign Account Holders can be blocked by the banks so that foreigners cannot access their Korean bank account from outside the country. To send money overseas, it is necessary to designate a specific bank as the one you will use for these transactions (if you have an account in more than one bank). There is a specific form you must sign to do so. It is possible and relatively simple to change your designated bank. You'll need to inform the original bank (in person) and then sign the required document in the bank you now wish to use. Note that not all banks (or branches of the same bank) will provide international access to all foreign account holders, while others will do so without requiring you to sign any exclusivity agreement. Shop around, ask questions and then decide.
Overseas Remittances are permitted for both foreign residents and visitors. Foreign residents can send out up to USD50,000 in a given year - this amount includes currency exchanges, credit card charges outside Korea as well as overseas remittances. It is possible to exceed the cap by providing the designated bank with documentation, such as an income statement, proving the money has been earned legally. An individual cannot take out more than USD10,000.
To send money overseas, it is necessary to designate a specific bank as the one you will use for these transactions. There is a specific form you must sign to do so. It is possible and relatively simple to change your designated bank. You'll need to inform the original bank (in person) and then sign the required document in the bank you now wish to use.
Overseas Internet Banking is now available for foreign nationals residing in Korea with some banks. You will have to register with a specific bank in order to access this service - same as for overseas remittances. Once you've done so, you'll be eligible to move money from your designated Korean foreign exchange bank (08) for international transactions. Note that all IT transfers will count toward your USD50,000 cap, just as credit card transactions and direct remittances are.
See the FX and International Banking page for more details.
SHOP AROUND - NOT ALL BANKS ARE THE SAME
Branches of the same bank don't always offer the same quality of service and sometimes don't seem to have the same policies although the administration of banks has become more centralised since the economic crisis of the late 1990s.
K4E Editor: We try to make the information on Korea4Expats.com as complete and accurate as possible, so if you notice any errors or omissions in the content above, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org
Last Updated on 2014-03-19
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