Get useful expat articles, health and financial news, social media recommendations and more in your inbox each month - free!

We respect your privacy - we don't spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

±Compare Expat Providers

Expat Health Insurance Quotes

Foreign Currency Exchange Quotes

International Moving Quotes

We're very social! Follow Expat Focus on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+

Expat Focus Facebook PageExpat Focus on TwitterExpat Focus Pinterest PageExpat Focus Google+ Page

Notify me when new content is added about a country

±Expat Focus Partners


South Korea - Banking

There are a number of procedures to follow when opening a bank account in South Korea. An account must be opened in person at the bank and cannot be done over the internet. The account holder must be in possession of an alien registration card (ID card for expats) and you will need to complete an application form. There are some banks that may require expats to have been in the country for a minimum period of three months before they are allowed to open an account but this is a regulation which is gradually being phased out. There have been several regulations regarding foreign nationals banking in South Korea but the rules are being relaxed, possibly to encourage foreign workers to move to the country.

Couples are not able to have joint accounts, so each person has to have an account in their own name. There is not normally a minimum deposit required to open the account but some banks do have regulations about the length of time you must wait before being able to use an ATM. For most banks this used to be a period of three months, but this is being relaxed and some banks no longer request this. Some banks may charge to give you your ATM card in the first place before you can begin using it, but this will vary from bank to bank.

A current account is the most common type of bank account. This may also be called an ordinary deposit account, on-call deposit account, an instalment deposit account or a time deposit account. They may slightly different features but basically offer very similar services. They all act as a day to day account and are used for paying bills, cash withdrawals and for depositing salaries. These types of accounts rarely pay interest. Savings accounts are a better option if you do not need to access your money regularly.

Online banking is not often an automatic feature of a South Korean bank account. Online access can be granted if you request it. The bank will explain the access process and any time limits that may apply. These will be different for each bank. Telephone banking is also an option but again will have to be set up for you by the bank.

There are no fees attached to accounts other than any transaction charges that may be applicable. Some ATM transactions are not charged for but there may be charges for those for using the ATMs of another bank. Transfers of money from one bank account to another or internationally may incur fees. Money from a salary or other source of income can be deposited by cash, cheque or bank transfer. It is unlikely that an expat will be able to get an overdraft facility through a small Korean bank, though if you are an existing customer of an international bank and have a good record with them you may be able to apply for credit with them.

If expats choose to travel abroad they may find that they are unable to access their Korean accounts. Some banks can issue account holders with an international access card so that funds can be withdrawn in other countries. To obtain a card you must agree to only use it in the ATMs of certain banks. If international access is a factor then you may need to shop around to find a bank that is happy to provide this quite readily.

There are several international banks with a presence in South Korea and if international access to your funds is important then you may be well advised to talk to one of these banks first. Local banks are more likely to expect you to stay local and conduct only day to day business in Korea. This is ideal for those who do not expect to be doing too much travelling, but staff at a small bank are unlikely to speak English and you may need some help with your transactions.

Banks are open during normal working hours and those which have telephone banking services may have customer service departments that are open outside of these hours. ATM machines can be used round the clock and these are usually situated outside the banks or in shopping areas.

Read more about this country

Expat Health Insurance Partners


Our award-winning expatriate business provides health benefits to more than 650,000 members worldwide. In addition, we have helped develop world-class health systems for governments, corporations and providers around the world. We want to be the global leader in delivering world-class health solutions, making quality health care more accessible and empowering people to live healthier lives.


Health is your number one priority. At Aviva we understand this, which is why we’re focused on helping you and your family access high quality healthcare at home or overseas. Our award winning medical insurance will help you get the treatment you need or simply provide guidance and advice wherever you are, 24/7.

Bupa Global

At Bupa we have been helping individuals and families live longer, healthier, happier lives for over 60 years. We are trusted by expats in 190 different countries and have links with healthcare organisations throughout the world. So whether you're moving abroad for a change of career or a change of scene, with our international private health insurance you will always be in safe hands.


Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.