Banking as a foreigner

Opening a bank account in South Korea

Banking as a foreigner

The process of opening up a bank account in Korea may be easier than what you would have to go through in your home country! The bank will require you to fill out a short application, verify your documents, and assuming there are no problems, you will walk out with a new bank account!

Opening a local bank account is quite easy to do in South Korea whether you are a foreigner or not. Since many of the bigger banks have previously worked with foreigners, they are sensitive to your needs and some even have translators on-site or documents in languages other than Korean. However, if you do have a friend who can speak Korean, it may prove to be very helpful to have him/her accompany you, just in case.

19 banks are operating in South Korea; the “Big Four” - Kookmin Bank, Shinhan Financial Group, Woori Financial Group and Hana Bank - control 70 per cent of the market. With the exception of Woori, three of the top four banks are majority-owned by foreigners.

Citibank Korea, Korea Exchange Bank, Woori Bank, and Hana Bank are just a few exceptional banks that have experience with foreign clients. Such foreigner-friendly banks may even let you use the currency of your choice.

As a foreigner, it is vital to have a bank account if you plan on making money or spending a lot of it. Also, if you want to transfer your earnings to your home bank, it is more efficient to use local banking services rather than going through companies such as Western Union or MoneyGram.

Opening a bank account

Luckily, most banks do not place any restrictions on foreigners who want to open up a bank account. The bigger banks provide many services and documents in English and other languages as well. You may be required to present your passport each time you make a transaction or be limited to the amount of money you can transfer home. However, other than those few restrictions, your banking experience should not differ from those of any Korean citizen.

When applying for a local bank account, you may be required to present some or all of the following documents:

  • Passport
  • Certificate of Alien registration
  • Visa

Further reading

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