It is no problem for a foreigner to drive in Korea with an international driver’s license. But Korean government considers only 1 year as the validity of the international driver’s license. As a result, many people exchange their home country driver’s license to Korean driver’s license. The advantage of exchanging to Korean driver’s license is to have 10 years of validity, not 1 year.

The required documents and the process for exchanging to Korean driver’s license are not complicated and difficult. So the requirements are straight forward and people just need to visit a nearest driver’s license with required documents.

There are health check such as eyesight test and written examination. However, if you have a driver’s license issued by the Acknowledged Countries, the written examination can be exempted. The acknowledged countries are listed below.

Asia New Zealand, Nepal, Taiwan, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Vanuatu, Vietnam, Brunei, Samoa, Sri Lanka, Australia, India, Japan, Uzbekistan, Cambodia, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Thailand, Tonga, Papua New Guinea, Palau, Fiji, Philippines, Hong Kong
America Guatemala, Nicaragua, Rep. of Dominique, Commonwealth of Dominique, Mexico(Aguascalientes, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Tlaxcala), Bahamas, Brazil, Saint Kitts-Nevis, Haiti, Antigua and Barbuda, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Chile, Canada, Costa Rica, Panama, Peru, USA(Maryland, Virginia, Washington, Massachusetts, Texas, Florida, Oregon, Michigan, Idaho, Alabama, West Virginia, Iowa, Colorado, Georgia, South Carolina, Arkansas, Tennessee, Hawaii, Pennsylvania)

◊For Oregon and Idaho, you must take a simple written exam.

Europe Greece, Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Latvia, Rumania, Luxemburg, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Moldova, Malta, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cyprus, San Marion, Serbia, Switzerland, Spain, Slovakia, Ireland, Azerbaijan, Albania, England, Austria, Italy, Georgia, Czech Rep, Croatia, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Portugal, Poland, France, Finland, Hungary
Middle East Lebanon, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Iraq(Arbil), UAE, Algeria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Oman, Jordan, Qatar, Kuwait, Iran, Israel
Africa Gabon, Guinea, Guinea Basau, Namibia, Nigeria, Niger, Liberia, Libya, Rwanda, Mdagascar, Mali, Morocco, Mauritius, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Swaziland, Angola, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Uganda, Zambia, Equatorial Guinea, Zimbabwe, Central African Republic, Chad, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Republic of the Congo, Tunisia

Although you have the driver’s license not issued by the acknowledge countries, you can be exempted from the written examination if you hold following visas.

  • A-1, A-2, A-3, D-7, D-8, D-9, E-1, E-3, E-4, E-7, F-4

Let’s see the required documents

  1. Original foreign driver’s license
  2. Original passport
  3. Original Alien Registration Card
  4. Three(3) photos taken within 6 months
  5. Embassy certificate (confirmation) of the driver’s license
  6. Certificate of the facts of the entry and exit
  7. Processing fee

The Required Document: Embassy Certificate

Please note that not all embassies in Korea are issuing the certificate. The US embassy, British embassy and Finish embassy no longer issue the certificate. Those who have driver’s license from those countries need to get an Apostille regarding their driver’s license from their home country (or the country issued the license).

Taking a Photo at The Driver’s License Center

If you do not have the photos, you can take the photo at a photo machine in the driver’s license center.

Getting the Home Country’s License Back

The driver’s license center will keep your home country driver’s license. But if you bring a flight itinerary leaving Korea for any countries, the officer will return your home country driver’s license back to you. Please note that the flight should be leaving in a month. In addition, it is ok to bring the flight itinerary when you exchange the driver’s license and you can get your home country driver’s license back with a Korean driver’s license. After coming back to Korea, you do not need to bring back your home country driver’s license to the license center. You can keep both driver’s licenses.

You can also visit the driver’s license center website here, Drier’s License Examination Office.

Driving to east coast of Korea will be very fun enjoying mountains and sea. You can find out about east side of Korea from our post here, Travel to East Side(coast) of Korea.