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Joint Bank Accounts

Joint Bank Accounts

Korea does not have joint bank accounts for spouses or life partners.
In Korea, bank accounts can only be opened in one person's name. This requirement is the result Korea's Real Name Law, which was enacted in the 1990's. It is this regulation that also requires that many transactions be done in person, as opposed to via fax, phone or online as allowed in some other countries. This is also the reason why spouses canot have 'joint' accounts here. Both spouses may use the same account, but it can only be in oner person's name.

Here are some of the options available to couples:
1. Share the account. The working partner opens the account in her/his name and 'shares' it.
Some banks will give you two ATM cards. If your bank limits you to one ATM card, you have a number of options including:
a. ask for a debit (check) card as well;
b. if you are given a bank book (which most foreign account holders receive) request that it be used to withdraw funds, and
c. if a credit card has been issued on that account, it can be used as an ATM card as well.
NOTE: one of the drawbacks if both of you are using the same account is if something happens to the card (the magnetic strip is damaged or you've made a mistake with the PIN number 3 times in a row - not necessarily on the same day - without having inputted the correct PIN in between) only the official account holder will be able to correct these situations. Also, if there is a problem with the PIN number on an ATM card (3 failed attempts) all cards on that account, including credit cards, will be frozen. The only person who can get them 'unfrozen' or rescussitate the account in any way is the account holder. Should the account holder fall ill or suffer an accident, or should the relationship terminate, the spouse using the account can find him/herself unable to access money in Korea.

2. Each of you can have your own bank account. The only charges (fees) on your account are for transactions, so there is no additional cost to having more than one bank account. The earning spouse can arrange for automatic transfers to the non-working spouse's account, even if it's not in the same bank. (In Korea one only pays for the services one actually uses, so if you deposit W10,000 in January in your account and you never do anything, other than maybe checking the balance for six months, you will still have W10,000 in June ).

3. Both spouses can have credit cards on the one account (dependents card) but the credit limit remains the same. For example, if the credit limit is W3,000,000, the total that can be charged is W3,000,000. If the account holder spends W2,5000,000, the spouse has only W500,000 left. If something happens to the account or to the credit card, only the account holder can resolve the matter (in person at the bank). This option applies even if the non-working spouse has a bank account of her/his own since only the working spouse can be issued a credit card.

Joint bank account for social clubs and informal organisations
There is a form of 'joing' account available in Korea for social clubs, etc. This type of account requires that both parties be present, in person, at the bank for each and every transaction. No ATM or Check card is issue with this type of account, since all transactions, including deposits and withdrawals must be done, by both, at the same time, in the bank.

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 info@korea4expats.com.

Last Updated on 2011-10-15

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