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Can Foreigners Drive in Korea?

Jason Park
Published by: Jason Park
Last updated:

Yes, foreigners can drive in Korea. A foreigner can get an international driving permit for one year. It’s not available for visitors, and you must live or study in Korea to get one.

When you apply for an international driving permit, it takes about a month to get it. First, your documents like an embassy certificate need to be reviewed by government officials.

They may require additional documents if they’re unsure about why you’re staying in Korea.

It took me 3 weeks to get my permit because I had to send them additional documents, which includes the address of my university and information about the applicant’s school admission.

In addition to the documents, you also need to do an aptitude test (health check). and a writing examination.

The last thing you need to do is to get insurance for your car. Those are the most important things you need to do when getting an international driving permit.

Can You Drive with International License in Korea?

No, you must obtain a driver’s permit or license in Korea. You can not drive with an international driver’s license in Korea. You also need insurance, so you can’t drive here with an international license alone.

Driving in Korea is very different from the driver’s license you have. It’s very important to get a driver’s license in Korea if you’re driving here.

In Korea, the people drive on the right side while some other countries like the United Kingdom drive on the left. Driving in Korea is safe but can be frustrating for a foreigner who drives on the opposite side of the road of what he/she usually does.

The driving style is different too because Korean people drive much more slowly than foreigners used to do at home.

From my own experience, it’s less fun to drive in Korea than in other countries. Everything is very strict, and we cannot do simple things like using the horn.

Driving in Korea is very safe, so don’t worry about breaking any laws and enjoy a relaxed driving experience.

Can a Foreigner Buy a Car in South Korea?

Yes, foreigners can buy a car in Korea. They can buy either a new or used car. However, the car must be registered within 15 days of purchase.

Buying a car in Korea isn’t as hard as you might think. Foreigners buy cars all the time in Korea, but it is a bit more expensive than in the U.S.

When I was planning to buy a car in Korea, it took a couple of weeks to get my documents ready. In Korea, Kia’s and Hyundais are very popular, while in other countries, BMW’s and Mercedes cars are seen more often.

This is probably because the cars need to be imported into Korea, which makes them more expensive. So, if you’re planning to buy a car in Korea, make sure to save some money or buy a used car.

Used cars in Korea aren’t that expensive. However, the majority of students don’t need cars in Korea. Traveling by train or metro stations is very cheap and easy. Driving a car to school is not necessary either, so foreign students in Korea don’t usually buy cars.

But if you’re planning to buy one anyway, it’s possible for you. Be prepared though because driving a car here is much more difficult than in other countries. Driving in Korea requires a lot of patience and practice time.

Should You Buy a Car in Korea?

You should only buy a car in Korea if you’re planning to live there for at least 3 to 5 years. Buying a car in Korea isn’t a necessity, and most people don’t have a car because they either live near the city or take the bus.

Only buy a car if you really need it. Many of my friends bought a car but never used it because they don’t travel too far places and the transportation system in Korea is good.

If you’re going on a road trip, it would be better to rent a car for a day. This is way cheaper, and you get to enjoy the outside of Korea.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Drivers License in Korea?

The government gives you two days to get your driver’s license. You have to know the traffic rules and regulations to get your license. Driving schools in Korea give classes for a few weeks up to a few months before the test.

Getting ready for a driving test will cost you about KRW 25,000 (22 USD). You also need to get a written examination which will cost you about KRW 7,000 (6 USD).

It’s not a lot compared to other countries, but the written examination is pretty hard if you can’t read Korean.

Make sure to study for the test before taking it. Driving schools in Korea can help by giving you a book of the traffic rules and an English translation of the book.


All in all, you should be aware of the fact that public transportation is very efficient in Korea. For most people driving here is not as fun and easy as it might seem to you at first glance.

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    About The Author

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    Jason Park

    Jason has been living in Seoul for over 4 years, and during that time, he has experienced many of the city's hidden stores. He loves to write about his experiences and share them with others. Jason has been quoted and referenced by different major media companies like Mashed, Distractify, ThePrint and TastingTable. In his free time, he likes to watch Korean dramas and learn more about Korean culture.

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