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Driving in Incheon

International Driver’s License

Korea is one of over 150 countries that recognize International Driving Permits (IDP) (sometimes erroneously referred to as International Driver’s Licenses). An IDP is a booklet that provides authorized translations of a driver’s home license into several international languages and allows an individual to drive a private motor vehicle in another nation. It is not, however, valid on its own and must be accompanied by a valid license from a driver’s home country. Please con?rm that Korea recognized IDPs from your home country before acquiring an IDP.
It is recommended that drivers obtain IDPs from motoring organizations or government motoring agencies in their home country, as Korea requires at least three years of residence before one quali?es for an IDP.
IDPs are valid for one year. Once expired, an IDP cannot be renewed, but must instead be converted into a Korean license.

Countries you are allowed to drive using Korea issued IDP under the Geneva agreement are :

Asia, Oceania
Australia, New Zealand, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Fiji, India, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Korea, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand
Argentina, Barbados, Canada, Chile, Cuba, Paraguay, Republic of Dominica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Peru, U.S.A., Venezuela
Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Vatican City, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxemburg, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Georgia, Turkey, England, Serbia, Montenegro, Kyrgyzstan
Middle East, Africa
Algeria, Benin, Botswana, Central African Republic, Senegal, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ghana, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Kingdom of Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Malta, Morocco, Namibia, Rwanda, Republic of South Africa, Syria, Togo, Tunisia, Sierra Leone, Niger, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, the United Arab Emirates

Countries you are allowed to drive using Korea issued IDP under the Vienna agreement are :

Asia, Americas
Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tazakistan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Philippines, Guyana, Bahamas, Brazil, Uruguay, Cuba, Peru
Albania, Armenia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Moldova, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, Yugoslavia
Middle East, Africa
Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Iran, Israel, Kenya, Kuwait, Morocco, Niger, Senegal, Seychelles, Republic of South Africa, Zimbabwe, Liberia, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates

Exchanging a Foreign License

Foreigners who wish to exchange their foreign driver’s license for a Korean license must meet a certain set of prerequisites to qualify for a Korean license. Applicants must be residents in Korea; those with tourist visas or lacking a residence card cannot apply for a license. Applicants must also provide a valid license from their home country; temporary, provisional, probationary, or motorcycle licenses, permits or certificates cannot be exchanged into a Korean license. Finally, applicants must provide proof of residency for at least 90 days in the country from which the driver’s license was issued.

Applicants must submit the following to Incheon’s Driver’s License Examination Of?ce to do so:

  • Foreign driver’s license. You can retrieve your original license when departing from Korea by surrendering your Korean licenseand presenting your passport and airline ticket as proof of departure.
  • Embassy certificate. Foreigners with licenses issued from the following countries are not required to provide embassy certi?cates : Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Poland, Spain, the UK and the US.
  • A translated and notarized copy of your foreign driver’s license. The date of issue and expiration date of the foreign license mustbe included on the copy.
  • Passport
  • Alien registration card. Those who do not have a registration card must wait until they obtain one to proceed with their application for a driver’s license.
  • Three photos (3 x 4 cm)
Associated fees are KRW5,000 for a physical exam to test that you are physically capable of operating a vehicle (different from the driving aptitude test) and KRW6,000 for the actual license.
Those holding a driver’s license issued from a country that recognizes Korean driver’s licenses are exempt from all tests except the physical exam. Those holding a driver’s license issued from a country that doesn’t recognize Korean driver’s licenses are exempt from all tests except the physical exam and written test. The written test is available in English, Chinese and Korean.

Countries which recognize Korean driver’s licenses under the Notification from the National Police Agency (as of Dec. 01, 2012) are :

Nepal, Taiwan, East Timor, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Brunei, Samoa, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Australia, India, Japan, Cambodia, Kiribati, Thailand, Tonga, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Hong Kong
Antigua And Barbuda, Guatemala, Granada, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Commonwealth of Dominica, Brazil, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Haiti, Antigua and Barbuda, El Salvador, Ecuador, Uruguay, Chile, Canada, Costa Rica, Panama, Barbados, Saint Kitts And Nevis, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, USA[Maryland, Massachusetts, Texas, Washington, Virginia, Florida, Oregon, Michigan, Idaho, Alabama, West Virginia, Iowa] * For Oregon and Idaho, you must take a simple written test.
Georgia, Greece, Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Russia, Rumania, Lativia, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Montenegro, Moldova, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cyprus, San Marino, Serbia, Swiss, Spain, the Slovak Republic, Iceland, Ireland, Albania, the United Kingdom, Ukraine, Italy, the Czech Republic, Kazakhstan, Croatia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Portugal, Poland, France, Finland, Hungary, Austria, Macedonia, Bulgaria
※ Austria, For the holders of Korean driver's license issued after 97.1.1 Austria exempt exams, treat Korean license as theirs.
Middle East
Lebanon,Libya, Morocco, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Oman, Jordan, Yemen, Qatar, Kuwait
Ghana, Gabon, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Namibia, Nigeria, the Republic of South Africa, Niger, Lesotho, Rwanda, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Swaziland, Sierra Leone, Angola, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Republic of Uganda, Zambia, Equatorial Guinea, the Central African Republic, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Chad, Comoros

* Source : dl.koroad.or.kr(K/E/C/J)

Getting a Korean Driver’s License

Earning a new driver’s license requires slightly more steps than the aforementioned methods of obtaining approval for driving. However, it does prove the most secure and lasting con?rmation of eligibility.
The age minimum for a Class 1 and Class 2 standard driver’s license is 18, while the age minimum for Class 2 small vehicle and motorcycle licenses is 16. Procedure ofobtaining a driver’s license consists of two steps: the written exam and the aptitude test.
One must ?rst prepare the following documents to apply for a new driver’s license :
  • Alien Registration Card
  • A copy of one’s passport
  • Three photos
  • KRW11,000. This covers the costs for the physical exam (KRW5,000) and the license itself (KRW6,000)
The written exam includes of 50 multiple choice questions that test for the applicant’s knowledge of vehicle and road traf?c laws and the structure and management of vehicles. The entire test takes about 50 minutes.Applicants must pass the written exam within one year of the initial application date.

The aptitude or road test must be successfully completed within one year of passing the written exam. The test can be administered in English, French, German, Japanese, Chinese and Vietnamese. In order to take the aptitude test, an applicant must present the following documents:

  • Passport or alien registration card
  • Three photos
  • Proof that the applicant has had at least 10 hours of road practice with an experienced driver
There is also a KRW15,000 application fee to take the aptitude test, which includes KRW5,000 for a physical exam and KRW10,000 stamp of payment.The aptitude test course is more than 5 kilometers in length and consists of several types of terrain that the applicant will be graded on, including bends, intersections, parallel parking spaces, railroad crossings, pedestrian crossings and inclines. Test takers are graded on a total of 39 topics, which also include gear changes, emergency braking and whether the test can be completed within a designated time limit.

Do note that drivers can be failed immediately for committing any of the following mistakes: being unable to start the car within 30 seconds; failure to drive along an incline, bend or curve; failure to change directions or gears; failure to parallel-park; standing within an intersection for at least 30 seconds; causing a safety accident; and/or driving off the road.

The test is computer-based and produces an automatic grading system. Applicants for Class 1 licenses for large vehicles and Class 1 and 2 licenses for standard vehicles must score above 70 points to pass. Applicants for Class 2 small vehicles and motorcycles must score above 90 points to pass.

Licenses are valid for seven years, although holders 65-years old and older of Class 1 driver’s licenses must renew their licenses every ?ve years.

Applicants can obtain a copy of the Korean Driver’s Manual at the local Driver’s License Agency in Incheon. The manual is also available for download in English, French, German or Japanese on the Agency website at dl.koroad.or.kr.

The Incheon License Examination Office has programs for foreigners. It is located in 1247, Ahahm-daero, Namdong-gu, Incheon (tel: 032-810-2300~2).