The idea of going to the immigration office in a foreign country can be a nail-biter for many. But fear not, as we’ve prepared this guide for all of you to make the process of applying for a Residence Card (former Alien Registration Card) as smooth as possible. So take a deep breath, read ahead, and make those brave steps to the immigration office.
*Details are subject to change so please double-check the details with the immigration office.
What is the Residence Card?
– Residence Card is a Korean national identification card, essentially a form of ID and social security for foreigners. You’ll need it to sign up for services like cell phone plans, internet, banking, and health insurance.
– Residence Card is formerly ARC, which is short for Alien Registration Card. The term “alien” has been continuously criticized over its negative connotation toward foreigners. Therefore, the Ministry of Justice announced a revision to replace the name of the “alien registration card” with a more neutral one by removing the word “alien”. ARCs issued from January 2021 are marked as “Residence Cards” instead of “Alien Registration Cards”.
– All foreigners intending to stay for more than 90 days must register and apply for one (not applicable for tourist visas).
*Holders of A-1, A-2, and A-3 visas are exempt from this requirement*
– Going along with this, you must register for one within 90 days of your arrival, or you’ll be in trouble.
– Once you get your Residence Card, you’re free to leave and re-enter Korea as many times as you want, for as long as your visa is valid (6 months for student visas).
– You can leave the country in the process of making your Residence Card if you have a multiple entry visa as well as your passport, but we advise against this unless absolutely necessary. Contact the Korean Immigration Office before you intend to leave to ensure that re-entry is allowed.
*If you are under the age of 17, you can get a Residence card on your own or simply get recorded on your parent’s card.
The Application Process
As of April 4, 2016, you must make a reservation online for anything to do with the immigration office.
Head to the immigration homepage and book a date and time.
– Make sure you know which immigration office district you are in. Districts in Korea are characterized by “gu”, for example, “Mapo-gu” or “Seodaemun-gu”. You will most likely go to the Seoul Immigration Office (Omokgyo Station Exit 7) as it hosts two office branches in the same building.
– Make your booking as early as possible since spots fill up quickly (especially during months like February and August when many new teachers and students come to Korea). Without a booking, you could be waiting for over 3 hours which you definitely don’t want!
– The process of registering is not difficult, but you may have some issues because of the internet. It’s an ongoing mystery that the country with the fastest internet still has websites optimized for Internet Explorer. The immigration site is no exception. If you try and access it using Chrome, you’ll probably be denied access as they deem it unsafe for you to enter.
We recommend installing Explorer or using a friend’s computer, but you’ll be relieved to know that most computers at schools or dorms will have it installed.
Preparing the Necessary Documents
– 3.5mm x 4.5mm color passport photo with a white background
– Application form (available at the immigration office)
– Proof of Residence
– 30,000 KRW (for Residence Card pick-up in person) or 33,000 KRW (if you want your Residence Card mailed to you) in the exact amount
– Optional only to those applicable*: 1 sealed medical test result (including TBPE and HIV test).
*Medical check-up record for tuberculosis
- People from any of the 19 countries: China, Sri Lanka, Russia, Uzbekistan, Thailand, Vietnam, India, Nepal, East Timor, Indonesia, Pakistan, Mongolia, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Myanmar, Cambodia, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, and Laos are required to submit the medical check-up report including the examination for tuberculosis issued from a neighborhood public health center.
Note: Additional paperwork may be required depending on the visa type. Please ask your center’s admin staff to help you prepare the necessary paperwork.
- Professor (E-1): University’s Business Registration Certificate
- Foreign Langauge Instructor (E-2): University’s Business Registration Certificate, A health check for employment including drug tests from a medical institution specified by the minister of justice
- Study (D-2): Certificate of Enrollment
- Language Training (D-4): Certificate of Enrollment, Training Center Establishment Related Certificates
*University’s Business Certificate is provided by the OIA (Office of International Affairs) or your department/college/school.
*For those who need these additional documents, you have to visit your appropriate Immigration Office with these required documents, which takes approximately 6 weeks to process the application. Please be aware that you must leave your passport with the Immigration Office during the entire application procedure.
Locations of Immigration Offices:
1) Seoul Immigration Office: Covers Gwanak-gu, Gwangjin-gu, Gangdong-gu, Dongjak-gu, Songpa-gu, Seongdong-gu, Seocho-gu, Yongsan-gu, Seognam-si, Hanm-si, Gwacheon-si
Address: 151, Mokdongdong-ro, Yangcheon-gu, Seoul, Korea
Opening Hours: 9:00 – 18:00 (only on weekdays)
Contact Number: +82-2-2650-6214
(About 15 mins by foot from Subway Line #5 Omokgyo Station Exit #7)
2) Seoul Immigration Office Sejongno Branch: Covers Jongno-gu, Jung-gu, Eunpyeong-gu, Dongdaemun-gu, Jungnang-gu, Dobong-gu, Seongbuk-gu, Gangbuk-gu, Nowon-gu
Address: SK Hub Bldg. 2F, 89-4, Gyeongundong, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Opening Hours: 9:00 – 18:00 (only on weekdays)
Contact Number: +82-2-731-1799
(About 5 mins by foot from Subway Line #1 Jonggak Station Exit #5,6 / Line #2 Euljiro-1-ga Station Exit #2 / Line #5 Gwanghwamun Station Exit #5)
3) Seoul Southern Immigration Office: Covers Seodaemun-gu, Mapo-gu, Gangseo-gu, Yangcheon-gu, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Guro-gu, Geumcheon-gu
Address: 48 Magokseo-1ro, Gangseo-gu, Seoul
Opening Hours: 9:00 – 18:00 (only on weekdays)
Contact Number: +82-2-6280-4813
(About 5 mins by foot from Subway Line #5 Magok Station Exit #1)
Once You Arrive At the Immigration Office
1. Pay the 30,000 KRW fee using the ATM to the left of the reception as soon as you walk in.
- Select “English” on the screen, then select the option of paying the Residence Card fee.
- Place your passport on the scanner.
- Choose between the options of paying 30,000 KRW for picking up the Residence Card in person once it’s ready, or 34,000 KRW if you want it mailed to you.
- Put the exact amount of money in the machine and take the receipt (make sure you keep this as you will need it later!!!)
2. Head to the right floor.
- First floor: Regular Seoul Immigration Office (Anyang-si, Dongjak-gu, Gangdong-gu, Gangnam-gu, Gwacheon-si, Gwanak-gu, Gwangjin-gu, Hanam-si, Seocho-gu, Seongdong-gu, Seongnam-si, Songpa-gu, Yongsan-gu)
- Third floor: Southern Seoul Immigration Office (Gangseo-gu, Mapo-gu, Geumcheon-gu, Seodaemun-gu, Guro-gu, Yangcheon-gu, Yeongdeungpo-gu)
*Second floor is for Chinese citizens only.
3. You will see desks with TV monitors displaying the number called, usually followed by a “ding” noise. Head to the desk promptly once you hear your number.
- Be attentive as they tend to skip through numbers quickly if you don’t respond promptly.
- Fill out your paperwork in the pen while you wait.
- Don’t forget to glue your photo to the application.
4. Once your number is called and you arrive at the desk, hand over your paperwork, prepared documents, passport, and receipt from the ATM. If you chose the option of picking up your card in person, you will receive a document telling you the day your Residence Card will be ready for pick-up (usually a little less than a month).
Picking Up Your Residence Card
If you chose to pick up your card at the immigration office, return it on the date listed on the form. No reservation is necessary.
Head to the second floor and give the person seated at the desk the form. They will then put you on a waitlist. Once your number is called, you will (finally) receive your Residence Card.
Sample of a Residence Card
*Residence Cards that are issued from January 2021 won’t contain the word “alien”.
1. Registration Number : First six digits(birthdate) – last seven digits(personalized number)
2. Name: Name as it appears on the passport
3. Nationality: Nationality as it appears on the passport
4. Status of Stay: Type of Visa
5. Date of Issuance
6. Office of Issue: Office that Issued Residence Card
1. Period of Stay: Date of Permission and Date of Expiry
2. Residence: Address in Korea
“Help! I Lost My Residence Card!”
If you lose your Residence Card, you must report it to the Immigration Services Office within 14 days or you will be fined.
Prepare the documents listed below and submit them to the relevant Immigration Services office.
- Application Form
- One-color photo (3.5 cm x 4.5 cm) with white background
- Application fee of 30,000 KRW
- Proof of residency
It will usually take around three to four days for you to receive a new one.
Reporting Changes in Residence Card
If you have any information to be updated such as your name, passport number, place of residency, or workplace, you must do so within 14 days of the occurrence of the change.
Bring the below documents to your local community office to report the changes:
- Application form
- Residence Card (Former Alien Registration Card)
- Any other documents related to the change
You’re all set! Now that you have your Residence Card, hop on over to Trazy.com, Korea’s #1 Travel Shop, to discover all the latest exciting things to do in South Korea.
- Hi Korea Official Homepage
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Ewha Womans University Office of International Affairs