While most Westerners think of exotic Asian cities full of bicycles – Seoul is just the opposite. Almost everyone in Seoul has at least one car, and driving in Seoul can be both practical (especially if you commute) and annoying (the traffic is often unbearable) at the same time. However, if you are considering buying a car in Korea it is possible and relatively simple.
As an expat, if you have an alien registration card, a valid passport, and a valid driver’s license for Korea, you can buy a car. While you’re able to buy foreign made cars at certain dealerships, it is much more practical and less expensive to buy a Korean car (ie. Hyundai or Kia). Buying a brand new car in Korea will cost at least 20 to 30 million won, while buying a simple used vehicle could be as inexpensive as 1,500,000 won. Overall, the prices are comparable to those in Western countries or a bit less expensive.
Most car dealerships have at least one English speaking staff member who can assist you and answer any questions you might have.
Wherever you go in Seoul, you will find car dealerships. Most are Hyundai or Kia dealerships, but you can also find Volkswagon, Volvo and Japanese makes such as Toyota or Honda throughout Seoul.
If you’re looking for a used car you can check out these websites for expats:
There are also some websites (in Korean) for used car dealerships – if you don’t speak Korean, get a friend or coworker to help you with these:
While buying a car in Korea is relatively easy, you must remember to register your car within fifteen days or pay a 500,000 won fine. If you’re buying a new car, the dealership will usually register the vehicle for you. The registration fee is 5% of the value of your vehicle. You will need the following documents in order to register your car:
- A valid alien registration card
- A valid passport
- A completed vehicle registration application
- A temporary tag number for your car (so you can drive while your registration is being processed)
- A vehicle certificate
- Proof of vehicle insurance
- Proof of ownership
- An inspection sticker
You have fifteen days to register your vehicle after you buy, but you need to apply for registration before ten days after you buy the car. Remember, you can get the car registered at the dealership and the salespeople will be there to walk you through the process. If you don’t register at the car dealership, you will have to go to your local DMV (there are many throughout Seoul – for the one closest to you, call the Seoul tourist information line at 02-1330) with the above documents and register the vehicle. Those working at the DMV will also be able to help you with the process.
If you’re buying a used vehicle in Seoul, make sure that you get all the proper registration documentation from the previous owner. Once the deal is closed and the contract/agreement has been made, you need to register the vehicle. When obtaining the documents from the previous owner/dealer, you should have the following:
- A car registration certificate
- A certificate of inspection
- A transfer registration certificate
- A certificate of transfer
Once you have all of these documents it is possible to register the car as yours. Again, you have fifteen days to register your car. If you buy the used car from a dealership, the car salesman can register it for you. If not, you can go to your nearest DMV, fill out the required forms, and they will help you with the process. To register your vehicle you need all the documents listed above as well as the following:
- Alien registration card
- Transfer of ownership form
- A certificate of liability insurance and public bonds
Please note that all documentation and temporary tags can be obtained at the DMV in your area of Seoul, or your car dealership can help you obtain these documents.