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How to open a bank account in South Korea
To avoid having to visit a local branch, look to online borderless options.
Major institutions like KB Kookmin Bank, Hana Bank, Citibank South Korea and Woori Bank let you walk into a branch without an appointment and set up an account on the same day. If you’re not able to do so, a borderless account can help you manage your money in the Republic of Korea.
What are my options for opening an account?
Your options for banking in the Republic of Korea depend on whether you’re living in the country or looking to conduct business from your own country.
Bring your passport, visa, South Korean residence card and a copy of your address in English and Korean
To open a more limited bank account in South Korea without a Korean address, you can look into an international account. Identity verification, such as a passport and proof of your US address, will still be required.
Another option is a foreign currency account, also known as a multicurrency account. Keep funds in US dollars, South Korean won (KRW) or a number of other currencies in one place.
Setting up a bank account if you have a South Korean address
It’s relatively easy to set up a bank account when you have a South Korean address. In big cities, you may find a designated foreign specialist at the bank you’re interested in who can translate services in English. But you’re required to visit a branch to open the account — you won’t be able to open it remotely.
After signup and approval, you’ll receive an ATM card for domestic use. If you want a debit card or online account services, you typically must request them.
Take the following documents with you to sign up:
- Passport or a valid form of South Korean ID, such as a driver’s license
- Visa — typically one for more than three months
- South Korean residency or alien registration card
- Your South Korean address written in English and Korean
Setting up an international bank account
Select major banks in South Korea offer international bank account options for nonresidents. Unlike international bank accounts in other countries, large opening deposits aren’t often a requirement.
Woori Bank provides nonresident currency deposit accounts. Like other South Korean bank accounts, you can choose an account without maintenance fees. To sign up, you must visit a local branch.
You’ll need to provide key documentation when you apply, such as:
- Valid US state ID
Depending on the nonresident account you choose, you may be able to withdraw funds in foreign currencies and South Korean won (KRW). If you don’t speak Korean, you may find that traveling to a branch in a major city is worth it.
Foreign currency accounts
Another way to bank in South Korea is through a foreign currency or multicurrency account. Accounts are typically online and designed to help you manage your account 24/7.
Borderless offshore business accounts are also an option if you’re looking to conduct transactions in KRW and aren’t interested or able to open a bank account in South Korea. These accounts are supported by online money transfer specialists, which tend to charge lower fees and offer stronger exchange rates than the typical bank.
How to transfer money to your new South Korean bank account
A bank wire transfer is a traditional way to send money to South Korea, but it may not be the least expensive. Online money transfer specialists typically have lower fees than banks, and you may find they can get your deposit there faster.
Find out more about your options for sending money to South Korea, including example transfers to cash-pickup locations.
What to watch out for
While South Korean bank accounts don’t often charge maintenance fees, keep an eye out for other types of fees that can crop up. One that can surprise you are fees for using an ATM outside of banking hours.
Other fees may arise from:
- Receiving your ATM card
- Using an ATM that’s out of your network
- Completing a transaction with a teller
South Korean bank accounts can often be opened in a day, and many big-city branches provide services in English. But you’ll likely need to open your account in person.
If you’re looking to get your money overseas before you arrive, compare international money transfer specialists to get the strongest rates, lowest fees and greatest flexibility for your needs..
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