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How To Buy a Car in South Korea [English Guide]

Jason Park
Published by: Jason Park
Last updated:

Looking to buy a car in South Korea as a foreigner?

Many foreign residents in South Korea often don’t know how and where to buy a car. After researching for more than 33+ hours, I finally decided to write a guide on how to buy a car in South Korea.

It’s important that you read this thoroughly because it’ll likely cost you at least $2000. And trust me, you don’t want to blow that in a few clicks without knowing what to do.

Let’s get started.

Documents required to buy a car:

  • Foreigner registration card
  • Copy of passport
  • Certificate of residence in Korea

Buying a New Car

Buying a new car in South Korea isn’t as hard as you might think. As long as you have a Korean residence you’re able to buy a car.

You can walk into any car dealership and go to the showrooms, there you can choose a car and get it. Now, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have to inspect and test drive the car.

Most people in Korea buy a used car.

You rarely see people buying new cars. The main reason is that it’s incredibly expensive and not worth the price.

The only few people that actually buy new cars are the “richer” people. Or higher middle class, because for them it’s not.

Keep in mind that prices may differ from dealer to dealer. There’s no set price for all dealerships, which you probably already know.

You’ll be able to fully customize your car.

These could be dashcams, window tint, navigation, etc. There are many options when it comes to new cars.

Plus, there are two options to get your car delivered. You can either pick it up yourself or get the car delivered to your house.

Now, once you’ve done that, make sure to get a vehicle registration certificate.

This is essential for foreigners when they’re buying a car. And trust me… you don’t want to get a fine when you just got your new car.

Some popular car dealerships in Korea that sell new cars are:

  • Seoul Auto Gallery Inc.
  • Lamborghini Seoul
  • McLaren Seoul

These are more for high-end cars. But they also have used cars, so you can get both.

Note: Negotiating a new car is very hard and almost impossible. (but you can always try)

Buying a Used Car

Here are the steps to buy a used car in South Korea.

Finidng The Car You Want

Buying a used car is something you should prepare for. As there are many sites you can buy a used car from.

Sites like Encar.com and Kbchachacha.com are very popular ones.

These are the go-to when it comes to buying used cars in Korea. However, many people say that Kcar.com is faster, cheaper, and has an overall better customer experience.

So, I went on the hunt and compared all three sites to find out which one was the best. After calling them and asking some questions about buying a car I found out that:

  • Kcar.com’s customer service is by far the best
  • User experience is similar on all three platforms
  • And the prices are most of the time cheaper on Kcar.com (depending on the car)

Now, all three platforms are great for buying a used car, but If I were you… Encar.com would be my pick.

They assure you that you’re getting the real deal.

There are no hidden fees, or long delivery times and it’s just an overall better experience.

Note: skip the sponsored listings (most of them are bad)

If you can’t read Korean, then visit the Foreigner Support Page

Click seen inventory and there you can browse through their entire inventory of used and new cars.

When you scroll down you can call the sales guy or read more information about the car itself. On the right side, you can choose to finance the car or directly purchase it off the site.

Inspecting the Car

Now when you’ve selected a car, it’s time to schedule a meeting with the dealership. This is essential when buying a used car because you don’t want to randomly buy a car online without actually inspecting it in real life.

So, pick up your phone and call the dealership. Or make an appointment online. 

If you’re not very knowledgeable about cars, then I would recommend you to take someone with you that is. Because the salespeople won’t tell you the issues with the car unless you’d ask them.

And most of the time you’ll notice it after you bought the car. 

However, there’s one thing that I love about Korea. There’s this Korean law that requires dealerships to give you a 30-day warranty. So, if anything happens with that car after you purchased it, you can get it fixed.

These could be things like:

  • Engine stops without any reason
  • Flat tire
  • Navigation stops working

This is great because it gives you a bit of insurance when buying a car. 

Now, it’s been known that used cars in South Korea are way cheaper than overseas. This is because the majority of the “wealthy’ people like celebrities often important German cars.

Imported cars are at least 40% above the market price.

Knowing this it’s recommended to go for a used car. For foreigners make sure the used car has some sort of English navigation. The ones that are most popular are:

  • Naver Map
  • Daum Map

These navigation apps are a must for foreigners in Korea. Without them… you would go nowhere.

So in short:

  • Check the navigation app
  • Car engine
  • Any scratches on the car
  • Airconditioning (if it’s available)
  • And finally, test drive the car

Price Negotiating

When you’ve decided to get the car you’d like. It’s time for negotiating the price baby!

Most people don’t even try to negotiate the car… but it’s a must in Korea.

Even if it’s just a few hundred dollars it’s better than nothing. Unless… you’re filthy rich. Which most people are not. 

Now, it’s important that you don’t lowball the salespeople, because they’ll most likely feel offended. So, try to offer about 20% below the asking price. 

Then they say 5%, and you say 10%. 

That’s it. You shake hands are there you go. (it’s really that simple)

Don’t overthink it and just go with the flow. Used cars are always negotiable, it doesn’t matter which country you’re in. You can always negotiate when it comes to used cars in Korea.

Takeaways when negotiating:

  • Always offer 20% less than they ask
  • Don’t low ball them by 90%
  • Negotiate politely

Financing The Car

You can finance a car if you have a stable income and good credit history. Financing a car in Korea is often 12, 24, or 36 months.

You do have to pay more for these, but it also comes with insurance. 

So, that’s the benefit. However, for most people that work a regular job like teaching English… it’s almost impossible.

Your base salary has to be at least $45,000.

However, there are exceptions when you have a very good credit score and are able to make a deal with the dealership.

If you are going to finance a car go with Shinhan.

But still, the best way is to buy a car with cash if you can afford it.

Car Taxes

When it comes to car taxes in South Korea, there are 3 different ones:

  • Registration tax which is 7% and needs to be paid within 15 days of purchase
  • Acquisition tax which is 2% and is calculated over the total price of the car
  • Government bonds are generally never kept till the redemption date. This is about 5% of the total bonds you need to buy, but some dealers that sell to foreigners don’t even mention this.

Selling Your Car

Selling your car in Korea can be used through the same platforms like Kcar and Encar.

These platforms make it very easy to sell your car, or you can go to a Korean dealership and sell your car there, but don’t expect too much of it.

Now, selling your car or getting into reselling cars in Korea is a huge hassle.

Especially for foreigners, it’s a no-go. First, you have to be fluent in Korean and most Koreans buy from Koreans.

There’s nothing you can do about that. It’s just as it is.

Documents required when selling a car:

  • Foreigner registration card
  • Copy of passport
  • Vehicle registration certificate
  • Vehicle tax payment certificate
  • Certificate of residence in Korea

Final Thoughts

Now, you know how to buy a new and used car in Korea. It’s not as hard as you think it is. And when buying a used car you can always negotiate the price.

As for new cars, it’s hard but sometimes you can get a % discount. I mean… if you never ask you’ll never know, so give it a try.

About The Author

Photo of author

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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