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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.

2. Open an international bank account

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.

3. Open a foreign currency account

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:

  • Passport
  • Visa
  • 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

Our table lets you compare the services you can use to send money abroad. Compare services on transfer speeds and fees, then click Go to site when you're ready to send.
Name Product Filter Values Fastest Transfer Speed Fees (Pay by Bank Transfer) Learn More
OFX
24 hours
$0

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OFX has no maximum limit transfers, with competitive exchange rates for 45+ currencies.
Dunbridge Financial
Dunbridge Financial
24 hours
$0

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Dunbridge Financial offers competitive exchange rates and zero fees on transfers to more than 120 countries.
CurrencyTransfer
24 hours
$0
SPECIAL OFFER ✓ Minimum transfer of $1,000 for Finder readers (normally £5,000)

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Exclusive: Minimum transfer of $1,000 for Finder readers (normally $5,000).
CurrencyTransfer lets you shop around for the best exchange rate on its online marketplace.
XE
Within minutes
$3

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XE has fast transfers with low fees and a range of foreign currency tools.
WorldRemit
Within an hour
From $1.99

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New customers send USD 20 to Lebanon and use code ADD10 for a USD 10 discount. Valid till 7 November 2021. T&Cs apply.
WorldRemit sends money to 110+ countries for bank-to-bank deposits, cash pick-ups or mobile top-ups.
Wise (TransferWise)
Within an hour
From $2.26

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Wise uses the mid-market rate and transparent fees to help you send money in 45+ currencies.
Instarem
Within an hour
$1

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Exclusive: Use code GET60 to save 30 USD on each transaction over 200 USD. Valid for the first two transactions and till 30 November 2021. T&Cs apply.
Instarem offers zero transfer fees on all transfers.
Remitly
Within minutes
From $0
SPECIAL OFFER ✓ Free transfers and better exchange rates available for new customers

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Special offers like free transfers and better exchange rates available for new customers.
Remitly has quick, affordable transfers around the world, with both express and economy options.
Western Union
Within an hour
From $0

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Western Union sends money online to friends and family in 200+ countries around the world.
MoneyGram
Within an hour
From $0

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MoneyGram has fast cash pick-up transfers to more than 350,000 agent locations worldwide.
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Compare up to 4 providers

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

Bottom line

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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