All expats living in Korea for more than 90 days must apply for an alien registration card and obtain an identification number. In order to obtain an alien card, you will need to go to the Immigration Office in Seoul after you have obtained your visa and have arrived in Korea. Registration is due within 90 days of entering the country. The Seoul Immigration Office can be found at this website: http://www.immigration.go.kr/indeximmeng.html and is located in Sinjeon 6-dong, Yangcheon-gu (telephone: 2650-6211-6215). It can take anywhere from one hour to seven days to process, and it is best to phone ahead for an appointment to avoid a lengthy wait.
Once your registration is complete, you don’t need to register for anything else. This card will last as long as your visa lasts. If you extend your visa, the immigration officials will simply stamp a new expiry date on your card, but if you need a new visa you will have to obtain a new alien card. After obtaining this card, you can leave your passport at home. It will become your new all-purpose photo ID which also states your nationality and your birthday. It is useful in all situations where you would need to show proof of these things. It is important to note, however, that you will still need your passport to make any overseas remittances from a bank teller. In all other situations, your ARC number card will suffice.
This type of registration is required for all visas except “A” visas (diplomatic and political visas) and the short term “C” visas.
You will need the following to apply for alien registration:
- A recent passport photo
- A valid passport
- A completed application form for foreigner registration (can be found here: http://www.hikorea.go.kr/pt/CvlapplInfoDetailR_en.pt?cvlapplCd=127000000FR&locale=en&cvlapplGbSeq= )
- Processing fees (about 10,000 won)
- For E-2 and E-1 visas you will need to bring with you the results of your health check to the immigration office. The health check can be obtained very easily at any hospital and the cost is usually around 90,000 won.
After you apply for your ARC card you have two options of retrieving it. One is to go back to immigration to pick it up in person. This can be a daunting thought depending upon your proximity to Mokdong and your personal level of interest in spending heaps of time at the immigration office. The second option is to have it mailed to your place of residence or your place of employment. This seems easy enough except in order to do this, you have to have already purchased an official stamp (2,000 won) from a booth (sometimes in the basement, sometimes on the fourth floor) before even sitting down with the immigration officials. If you do not already have this stamp then you must put your application on hold, locate and purchase the stamp, and then wait in line again to finalize your application. If you plan to have your ARC card mailed to you then it would be in your best interest to ask the friendly gentleman at the front desk where you can purchase the stamp before even beginning your appointment or taking a number to wait in line.