Editor’s note: Thanks to Ryan for compiling this info for us. There is some general information on replacing a license and for getting a license if your home country doesn’t have a reciprocal license agreement with Korea. There’s also a more generalized answer in The Official Word, and some info on getting a motorbike license (necessary for bikes 250cc or higher).
By Ryan Griffiths
Those from The Great White North who may be interested in buying a car in Korea, or renting one on a vacation have two options available to them. The first is to turn in your Canadian driver’s license in exchange for a Korean license. The second is to apply for an International Driving License (IDL) which they can use while temporarily living in the country. Both methods are outlined below, and the information is current as of January 1st, 2013.
Exchanging your Canadian license for a Korean license.
There are a number of steps involved in exchanging your Canadian license for a Korean license. Fortunately, most of these steps are very simple. The most difficult requirement of this process is travelling to the Canadian Consulate in Busan to have your Canadian Drivers license certified. I will start with that process, and then move onto the simpler things from there.
The Canadian Consulate in Busan.
You’re going to want to get to the Intercity Bus Terminal located near Lotte Hotel in Samsandong in order to get to Busan. Once the bus arrives in Busan, you will find yourself at the Haeundai Bus Terminal, conveniently located directly beside the Haeundai Subway station, which is line 2 of the Busan Subway. Go down the stairs into the subway terminal and get yourself onto the train headed toward Seomyeon Station. The cost should be about 1,200 won (per person). Seomyeon Station is 16 stops from Haeundai and is a major ‘transfer’ terminal for other Subway lines, you shouldn’t miss it. From this station you need to transfer to Line 1 headed towards Sinpyeong Station. Sinpyeong is the last stop on this line and is 18 stops from Seomyeon. Take exit #4 from the Sinpyeong Station and head straight for about a half of a kilometer (500m). Take a left when you come to the corner with the LG (GS) Gas Station and the Canadian Consulate is 100m down the road.
Collecting your documents.
Once you have your Canadian Drivers License certified, you can collect the rest of your documents that you’ll need to get your Korean license. You will need:
- Valid Passport
- Valid Canadian Drivers License
- ARC Card
- Three 3x4cm colour photos. (passport size)
- Confirmation Letter from Canadian Consulate.
- $$$ Fees change often, but as of Jan. 1st, 2013 the cost is approx. 11,000 won. Bring $30,000 in cash just to be safe.
Exchanging your License
The next step is to head. to the Licensing Office in Eonyang to make the switch. To do this, you’ll want to get on the bus (1713 or 807 are your best choices from Ulsan, as they go closest to the office.) You’re looking for the Sangbuk Office stop, it’s the 3rd from last stop and it follows the Hyangsang Elementary School stop. You shouldn’t have a problem finding the Licensing Office from there, as the Sangbuk Office IS the Licensing Office.
Getting your International Driving Permit/License.
There are many ways to get your International Driving Permit (also called an International Drivers License). You can do it through a myriad of services online or you can do it through the Canadian Automobile Association via mail. If you choose to order your IDL through an online service prices can range from $25 to $80+. Be wary of this method though, as some services state on their website that their IDL can NOT be used to rent a car in many countries. Some are simply a translation of the information on your driver’s license into anywhere from 6 to 9 different languages. If you choose to order your International Drivers License through the CAA, then forms and instructions for doing so can be downloaded from this link. To save time, you may want to download the form and fill in the information, take a couple of pictures of the form as well as all other requirements outlined on the information page, and e-mail them to a family member to be printed and sent to the CAA. Once the IDL is sent to your family in Canada, they can send it on to you in Korea. This may be the easiest and quickest way to finish the process, as the alternative is for you to send it via mail from Korea and have CAA send the completed license directly to you.
International licenses: http://www.ididl.com/about_idl.php
Canadian international licenses: http://www.caa.ca/idp/