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International Travel

English

Country Information

South Korea (Republic of Korea)

Country Information

South Korea
Republic of Korea
Last Updated: September 19, 2017
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Embassy Messages
Quick Facts
PASSPORT VALIDITY:

Must be valid at time of entry

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:

One page per stamp

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:

None required for stays under 90 days or less

VACCINATIONS:

None

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:

None

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:

None

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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Seoul

188 Sejong-daero, Jongno-gu,
Seoul 03141, Korea
Telephone: +(82) (2) 397-4114 (from within Korea, dial 02-397-4114) 
DSN:721-4114
Fax: +(82) (2) 397-4101
Email: 

U.S. Mailing Address:
American Citizens Services
U.S. Embassy Seoul
Unit #9600
DPO AP 96209

 

U.S. Consulate in Busan

Lotte Gold Rose Building #612, Jungang-daero 993, Jin-gu
Busan 47209, Korea
Telephone: (+82) 51-863-0731
Email: BusanConsulate@state.gov

The Embassy and Consulate are closed on weekends and on American and Korean holidays. Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +82 (0)2-397-4114.

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Destination Description

See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on the Republic of Korea for information on U.S.-Republic of Korea relations.

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Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements
  • Passport valid at time of entry.
  • No visa required for stays less than 90 days for tourism or business.
  • Visa required for all other purposes, including employment, teaching English, and for stays longer than 90 days.

Exceeding your authorized stay or not possessing a valid visa may result in detention and fines.

  • In the event of an overstay, apply for a visa extension from the Korea Immigration Service (KIS) before attempting to leave the country.  Also consult with KIS regarding changes in visa category.

Military Personnel/DOD and their families on orders:

  • Consult DOD Foreign Clearance Guide, and follow all instructions.
  • Enter Korea with DOD identification and travel orders.
  • Do not transit other countries such as China without a passport and appropriate visas.
  • Family Members/Dependents of Military Personnel/DOD on orders must present upon arrival passports valid for a least six months and an A-3 SOFA visa.

U.S. Government Executive Branch personnel on official business and DOD personnel assigned to the U.S. Embassy (Including family members/dependents):

HIV/AIDS Restriction:  The Department of State is unaware of any such entry restrictions for visitors or foreign residents in Korea.

Visit the Embassy of Korea website for current visa information.  Please read our Customs Information page.

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Safety and Security

The  Pyeong Chang Winter Olympics and Paralympics are expected to draw significant numbers of visitors to the Olympic venues in PyeongChang and Gangneung from February 9-25 and March 9-18, 2018.  Visit the Embassy’s website here.   

Public Demonstrations:  Demonstrations and rallies are common in Korea, particularly near the U.S. Embassy, Seoul City Hall and areas surrounding military installations. You should avoid areas where demonstrations are taking place and exercise caution in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or rallies.  Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence.

North Korea (DPRK):  An armistice agreement, monitored by the United Nations, has maintained general peace on the Korean peninsula since 1953.  Tensions occasionally flare up because of provocative acts by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), including ballistic missile and nuclear tests and limited armed incursions into ROK-held territory.  Some provocations have escalated into geographically limited skirmishes.  The Republic of Korea routinely conducts military training exercises and civil defense drills.  The DPRK often issues strongly-worded and threatening messages, frequently in connection with these exercises.  Please see our Fact Sheet on North Korea.

Weather related Events:  Heavy rains and flooding may occur during the June – August monsoon season or the May - November typhoon season.  See general information about natural disaster preparedness at the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) website.

Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP):  To receive security messages by email and make it easier to locate you in an emergency, register in STEP. 

If the Embassy becomes aware of any specific and credible threat to the safety and security of U.S. citizens, we will inform you through our website, social media, and email.

Crime:  For most visitors, Korea remains a very safe country. Common crimes occur more frequently in major metropolitan areas, tourist sites, and crowded markets.

  • Take routine safety precautions.
  • Pay attention to your surroundings.
  • Report any concerns to local police.

Violent crime is not common; however, remain vigilant:

  • Exercise caution in crowded entertainment, nightlife, and shopping districts.
  • If traveling at night, consider traveling in groups.
  • Use legitimate taxis or public transportation only.

Victims of Crime:  Call 112 for emergency assistance or to report a crime to local authorities.  Call 02-397-4114 to contact the U.S. Embassy.  We can:

  • Help you find appropriate medical care;
  • Assist you in reporting a crime to police;
  • Contact relatives or friends on your behalf;
  • Explain Korean judicial procedures in general terms;
  • Provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution;
  • Help you find accommodations and flight arrangements to the United States;
  • Replace a lost or stolen passport.

Sexual Assault:  In 2015, the Embassy received 19 reports of sexual assault from U.S. citizens.  Most cases involved young women assaulted by acquaintances after drinking alcohol socially.  Specialized hospital units and police are available in Korea to assist victims.  

Women Travelers:  See our travel tips for Women Travelers.

Domestic Violence:  Victims may contact the Embassy, tel. (+82) 2-397-4114, for assistance.

Lost or Stolen Passports:  If your passport is stolen, file a report at the nearest police station.

Don't buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if widely available.  It is against Korean law to purchase these goods and against U.S. law to bring them into the United States.  The Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Division in the U.S. Department of Justice has more information.

Avoid fraud and scams:  See Department of State and FBI websites for more information.

For further information:

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Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties:  While in Korea, you are subject to local laws.  If you violate Korean laws, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.  Be aware that:

  • Immigration violations can lead to arrest, fines, and deportation.
  • There is little tolerance for illegal drugs.
  • If you mail illegal drugs to/ from Korea, you will be prosecuted.
  • Commercial disputes may lead to criminal charges being filed under local laws.

Be aware that some crimes are prosecutable in the United States, regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

Arrest Notification:  If you are arrested or detained, ask officials to notify the Embassy. See our webpage for further information.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES

Dual Nationality and Military Conscription:  Dual national males (including U.S. service members) may be subject to compulsory military service.  If you have family ties to Korea, consult the nearest Korean Embassy or Consulate or the Korean Military Manpower Administration regarding potential citizenship obligations before entering Korea.

Passport Seizures and Exit Bans:  If you are involved in a criminal investigation or commercial dispute, authorities may seize your passport and/or block your departure.  While we may reissue a passport, we cannot lift an exit ban.

Exit Permits:  Exit permits are not generally required.  However, if a parent requests a travel restriction on his/her child, Korean authorities may prevent that child from departing even when traveling with the other parent.

International Child Abduction:  See our website for information related to the prevention of international child abduction.

Teaching English:  The U.S. embassy Seoul consular website has detailed information about obtaining an E-2 visa to teach English.  Prospective teachers must submit a criminal records check (only FBI checks accepted) and a health certificate.  The Embassy does not provide criminal records checks or fingerprinting services and does not authenticate criminal records checks or health certificates.  Have these documents prepared before coming to Korea.

Complaints by English teachers:

  • Contract disputes, misrepresentation of benefits, no insurance
  • Working conditions/hours, living arrangements
  • Threats of arrest/deportation
  • Sexual harassment, racial prejudice

Complaints about English teachers:

  • Fraudulent applications/documents
  • Lack of professionalism
  • Use of illicit drugs

Working in the Republic of Korea:  If working, including teaching or modeling, you must enter with the appropriate work visa.  It is not possible to change your visa status without leaving the country.  If you begin work without the appropriate visa, you may be arrested, fined, and/or deported.  If you are working without a valid work permit and get into a contractual dispute with your employer, you have little legal recourse.

Students:  See ou Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

ROK National Security Law:  Authorities may detain, arrest, and imprison persons believed to have committed acts intended to endanger the “security of the state,” including statements deemed to praise the political system and/or officials of the DPRK.

Customs Regulations:  There is strict enforcement of regulations on importing and exporting items such as firearms, narcotics and prescription drugs, non-prescription health supplements, radio equipment, and gold.  Importation of materials deemed to be obscene, subversive, or harmful to the public peace is also restricted.

See the Korean Customs Regulations website for complete information.

LGBTI Travelers:  Consensual same-sex sexual activity is not criminalized.  Korea is a conservative country in regards to LGBTI issues. However, there are an increasing number of LGBTI-oriented clubs, festivals and NGOs advocating for LGBTI issues. The ROK National Human Rights Commission Act prohibits discrimination against individuals because of their sexual orientation, but there are no laws specifying punishment for persons found to have discriminated on this basis.  Same-sex marriages are not recognized. Korean citizens can legally change their gender identity.

See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of the Department of State's Human Rights report for further details.

Mobility Issues: Korean law mandates access to transportation, communication, and public buildings.  Cross walks typically have audio and visual signals.  Older buildings and streets are generally less accessible than modern ones. Metro cars and buses in Seoul offer priority seating for the disabled and most metro stations have elevators.  Metro platforms include Korean Braille information.  Contact individual bus companies and subway associations for specific information.  Foreign residents are eligible for disability assistance from local ward offices; assistance varies by ward.

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Health

Quality of Care:  Western-style medical facilities are available in most large cities.  However, not all doctors and staff, are proficient in English. A list of hospitals and medical specialists who speak English is available on our website. For emergency ambulance service dial 119. For information on medical evacuation from Korea, please see the State Department’s brochure on Air Ambulance/MedEvac/Medical Escort Providers.  

We do not pay medical bills.  Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas. Verify your health insurance coverage before traveling overseas. See our webpage for information on insurance providers for overseas coverage. In most cases, health care providers will require payment in advance of treatment or will not release a patient until hospital bills are paid. We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to include coverage for medical evacuation.

Medication:  Carry prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription. Most prescription medications, except psychotropic types, can be obtained at Korean pharmacies (brand names often differ). Local pharmacies will require a prescription from a Korean doctor.

Update vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For further health information go to:

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Travel and Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety: Roads are well-paved, traffic signals functional, and most drivers comply with basic traffic laws.  Korea has a significantly higher traffic fatality rate than the United States. Causes of accidents include excessive speed, frequent lane changes without signaling, running red lights, aggressive bus drivers, and weaving motorcyclists. It is recommended that you photo document any traffic accidents.

Be aware that motorcyclists may drive on sidewalks, and drivers do not always yield to pedestrians in marked crosswalks.

Traffic Laws include:

  • International driving permit (or ROK license) is required for all drivers.
  • Left-hand turns prohibited except with green arrow.
  • Seat belts and car seats are mandatory.
  • Motorcycle passengers must wear helmets.
  • Automobile drivers are presumed to have some fault in accidents involving pedestrians.
  • Expect long waits at police stations while police investigate any incidents.
  • Police may take your passport or detain you during an investigation.
  • Even if negligence is not proven, criminal charges may be filed.
  • Blood-alcohol content of 0.05% or higher is considered legally intoxicated.
  • Police regularly set up DUI checkpoints. Drivers are required to submit to breathalyzer tests; refusal can result in cancellation of your license.

For information about driver's permits, vehicle inspection, road tax, and mandatory insurance, refer to our Road Safety page. You may also visit the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) website.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of the Republic of Korea's Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of the ROK's air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA's Safety Assessment Page.

Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to South Korea should check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts at the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Security Communications with Industry WebPortal. Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website and as a broadcast warning on the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s website.

Hague Convention Participation
Party to the Hague Abduction Convention?
Yes
U.S. Treaty Partner under the Hague Abduction Convention?
Yes
What You Can Do
Learn how to respond to abductions FROM the US
Learn how to respond to abductions TO the US
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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Seoul

188 Sejong-daero, Jongno-gu,
Seoul 03141, Korea
Telephone: +(82) (2) 397-4114 (from within Korea, dial 02-397-4114) 
DSN:721-4114
Fax: +(82) (2) 397-4101
Email: 

U.S. Mailing Address:
American Citizens Services
U.S. Embassy Seoul
Unit #9600
DPO AP 96209

 

U.S. Consulate in Busan

Lotte Gold Rose Building #612, Jungang-daero 993, Jin-gu
Busan 47209, Korea
Telephone: (+82) 51-863-0731
Email: BusanConsulate@state.gov

The Embassy and Consulate are closed on weekends and on American and Korean holidays. Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +82 (0)2-397-4114.

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General Information

The Republic of Korea and the United States have been treaty partners under the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction Convention (Hague Abduction Convention) since November 1, 2013.

For information concerning travel to the Republic of Korea, including information about the location of the U.S. Embassy, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, entry/exit requirements, safety and security, crime, medical facilities and health information, traffic safety, road conditions and aviation safety, please see country-specific information for the Republic of Korea.

The U.S. Department of State reports statistics and compliance information for individual countries in the Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction (IPCA).  The report is located here.

 

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Hague Abduction Convention

The U.S. Department of State serves as the U.S. Central Authority (USCA) for the Hague Abduction Convention. In this capacity, the Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs, Directorate for Overseas Citizen Services, Office of Children's Issues facilitates the submission of applications under the Hague Abduction Convention for the return of, or access to, children located in countries that are U.S. treaty partners, including the Republic of Korea. Parents are strongly encouraged to contact the Department of State for assistance prior to initiating the Hague process directly with the foreign Central Authority.

Contact information:

U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children's Issues
SA-17, 9th floor
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Telephone:  1-888-407-4747
Outside the United States or Canada: 1-202-501-4444
Fax:  202-485-6221
Website

The Korean Central Authority (KCA) for the Hague Abduction Convention is the Ministry of Justice. The Ministry of Justice has an administrative role in processing Hague Abduction Convention applications. Once the KCA receives an application under the Convention, the Ministry of Justice will coordinate with the National Police Agency and the Korea Immigration Service to locate the child. Once the child has been located the KCA will reach out to the taking parent, if appropriate, to encourage a voluntary resolution. The KCA can be reached at:

Ministry of Justice
International Legal Affairs Division
Jungang-dong, Gwacheon Government Complex
Gwacheon City
427-720 Republic of Korea
Telephone:  +82 (2) 2110 3661 (or 3667)
Facsimile:   +82 (2) 504 1378

To initiate a Hague case for return of, or access to, a child in the Republic of Korea, a parent or legal guardian may review the eligibility criteria and instructions with the appropriate Department of State Country Officer and then complete, sign, and date the application form located at the Department of State website. Each document written in English must be translated into Korean. Please note, however, that certified translations are not necessary. The USCA is available to answer questions about the Hague application process, to forward a completed application to the KCA, and to subsequently monitor its progress through the foreign administrative and legal processes.

There are no fees for filing Hague applications with either the U.S. or Republic of Korea central authorities. Attorney fees, if necessary, are the responsibility of the applicant parent. Additional costs may include airplane tickets for court appearances and for the return of the child, if so ordered.

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Return

A parent or legal guardian may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for return to the United States of a child abducted to, or wrongfully retained in, the Republic of Korea. The U.S. Department of State can assist parents living in the United States to understand whether the Convention is an available civil remedy and can provide information on the process for submitting a Hague application.

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Visitation/Access

A person may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for access to a child living in the Republic of Korea. The criteria for acceptance of a Hague access application vary from country to country. The U.S. Department of State can assist parents living in the United States to understand country-specific criteria and provide information on the process for submitting a Hague application.

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Retaining an Attorney

The Republic of Korea process does not require parents to retain a private attorney in order to file a Hague Abduction Convention application with a court; however, the KCA recommends that parents have legal representation. Parents may hire a private attorney to assist them with their case and to advise them as to the best course of action for their individual circumstances. A privately hired attorney should contact the KCA and the USCA as soon as possible after the KCA receives the Hague Abduction Convention application. The U.S. Embassy in Seoul, Republic of Korea, posts a list of attorneys including those who specialize in family law.

This list is provided as a courtesy service only and does not constitute an endorsement of any individual attorney. The Department of State assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the following persons or firms. Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the lawyers.

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Mediation

The Korea Legal Aid Center for Family Relations offers mediation services for custody disputes.

Exercising Custody Rights

While travelling in a foreign country, you are subject to the laws of that country.  It is important for parents to understand that, although a left behind parent in the United States may have custody or visitation rights pursuant to a U.S. custody order, that order may not be valid and enforceable in the country in which the child is located.   For this reason, we strongly encourage you to speak to a local attorney when planning to remove a child from a foreign country without the consent of the other parent.  Attempts to remove your child to the United States may:

  • Endanger your child and others;
  • Prejudice any future judicial efforts; and
  • Could result in your arrest and imprisonment.

To understand the legal effect of a U.S. order in a foreign country, a parent should consult with a local attorney.  

For information about hiring an attorney abroad, see our section on Retaining a Foreign Attorney. 

Although we cannot recommend an attorney to you, most U.S. Embassies have lists of attorneys available online. Please visit the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate website for a full listing.

For more information on consular assistance for U.S. citizens arrested abroad, please see our website.

Country officers are available to speak with you Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.  For assistance with an abduction in progress or any emergency situation that occurs after normal business hours, on weekends, or federal holidays, please call toll free at 1-888-407-4747. See all contact information

DISCLAIMER: The information in this flyer is provided for general information only, is not intended to be legal advice, and may change without notice. Questions involving interpretation of law should be addressed to an attorney licensed in the relevant jurisdiction. 

 

Hague Convention Participation
Hague Adoption Convention Country?
No
Are Intercountry Adoptions between this country and the United States possible?
Is this country a U.S. Hague Partner?
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Hague Convention Information

The Republic of Korea (South Korea) is not party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention). Therefore, when the Hague Adoption Convention entered into force for the United States on April 1, 2008, intercountry adoption processing for South Korea did not change.

South Korea's law requires the use of an adoption agency for the overseas adoption of all Korean orphans, and requires that such agencies are authorized by The Ministry for Health, Welfare and Family Affairs. Please see the list of approved agencies in the "Contact Information" section of this website. More information is provided on each individual website regarding their counterpart agencies in the United States.

Please Note: U.S. citizens who are considering adoption in South Korea should be aware that the Korean government has expressed its intent to reduce the need for intercountry adoptions by encouraging domestic adoption of Korean orphans. In support of this policy, South Korea has established specific international adoption quotas that are currently being reduced each year. When an adoption agency reaches its quota, an agency is unable to submit emigration applications to the Korean government on behalf of a specific child. Prospective adoptive parents should consult carefully with their adoption service provider pertaining to quotas provided to each agency and current Korean adoption processing times. For important updates please visit U.S. Embassy Seoul's website.

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Who Can Adopt

To bring an adopted child to United States from South Korea, you must be found eligible to adopt by the U.S. Government. The U.S. Government agency responsible for making this determination is the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Read more on Who Can Adopt.

In addition to these U.S. requirements for adoptive parents, South Korea also has the following requirements for adoptive parents:

  • RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS: There are no residency requirements for South Korean intercountry adoptions. Please note in order to complete a full and final adoption in South Korea it is necessary for prospective adoptive parents to reside in Korea at the time of adoption. For prospective adoptive parents not resident in Korea it will be necessary to gain legal custody for the purpose of adoption and complete a full and final adoption in the United States. This process is explained below.
  • AGE REQUIREMENTS: Prospective adoptive parents must be between 25 and 44 years old. Korean authorities usually require both prospective intercountry adoptive parents be younger than 45 years old. The age difference between the couple can be no more than 15 years. Some considerations in waiving the age requirements exist if at least one parent is under 45 years old, the prospective adoptive parents have previously adopted a Korean child, and are willing to adopt an orphan with serious medical problems.
  • MARRIAGE REQUIREMENTS: Married couples must have been married at least three years. Single individuals are not eligible to adopt a child from South Korea.
  • INCOME REQUIREMENTS: The prospective adoptive parents must have an income higher than the U.S. national average and be sufficient to support the adoptive child.
  • OTHER REQUIREMENTS: The prospective adoptive parents cannot have more than five children, including the child(ren) to be adopted.
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Who Can Be Adopted

South Korea has specific requirements that a child must meet in order to be eligible for adoption. Under Korean law the "Special Law for Adoption Facilitation and Procedure" (amended in Feb. 2008) determines if a child is eligible for intercountry adoption. You cannot adopt a child in South Korea unless he or she meets the requirements outlined below.

In addition to these requirements, a child must meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. law for you to bring him or her back to the United States. Find out more about Who Can Be Adopted and these U.S. requirements.

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS:

WAITING PERIOD

There is currently a 5 month wait period before the child is eligible for intercountry adoption to ensure that the child cannot be placed through domestic adoption.

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How to Adopt

SOUTH KOREAN ADOPTION AUTHORITY

The Ministry for Health, Welfare and Family Affairs

THE PROCESS

The process for adopting a child from South Korea generally includes the following steps:

  1. Choose an Adoption Service Provider
  2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
  3. Be Matched with a Child
  4. Adopt the Child (or Gain Legal Custody) in South Korea
  5. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption
  6. Bring Your Child Home
  1. Choose an Adoption Service Provider:

    The first step in adopting a child from South Korea is usually to select a licensed agency in the United States that can help with your adoption. Adoption service providers must be licensed by the U.S. state in which they operate. Learn more about choosing the right adoption service provider here.

    Prospective adoptive parents are required to work with an adoption agency approved by the South Korean Government. Approved agencies are listed in the "Contact Information" section and further information regarding their partner agencies in the U.S. can be found through contacting them directly.

  2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt:

    To bring an adopted child from South Korea to the United States, you must apply to be found eligible to adopt (Form I-600A) by the U.S. Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Read more about Eligibility Requirements.

    In addition to meeting the U.S. requirements for adoptive parents, you need to meet the requirements of South Korea as described in the Who Can Adopt section.

  3. Be Matched with a Child:

    If you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, the central adoption authority in South Korea will provide you with a referral to a child. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of a particular child and provide a permanent family placement for the referred child. The child must also meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. law. Learn more about this critical decision.

  4. Adopt the Child (or Gain Legal Custody) in South Korea:

    The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in South Korea generally includes the following:

    • ROLE OF THE ADOPTION AUTHORITY: The Ministry for Health, Welfare and Family Affairs authorizes the adoption agencies. They also establish the criteria for selecting adoptive parents. The criteria are administrative policy guidelines and not legal requirements.
    • ROLE OF THE COURT: The South Korean courts grant legal custody to the prospective adoptive parents. Note: The prospective adoptive parents must complete various procedures (i.e., home visits, complete reports) before permission to adopt is granted. The adoption agency notifies the prospective adoptive parents when they can begin the adoption procedures in the United States.

      A child who is abandoned right after birth should acquire his or her own Korean identification card through the court. If a child is born out of wedlock and been registered under one of his or her biological parents' family certificate in order to qualify for intercountry adoption, the adoption service provider will need to receive guardianship of the child through the court.

    • ROLE OF ADOPTION AGENCIES: Prospective adoptive parents are required to work with an adoption agency approved by the South Korean Government. Approved agencies are listed in the "Contact Information" section.

      The adoption agency facilitates the pre-adoption counseling, submission of application for adoption, home study, child assignment, application for child's overseas adoption to the Korean Government, applications for child's passport and visa, and flies to the adoptive parents.

    • ADOPTION APPLICATION: The application for an intercountry adoption is filed with the Korean Government.
    • TIME FRAME: The time from when prospective adoptive parents apply for a child in South Korea and when the child arrives in the United States is approximately one to four years. Healthy infant adoptions take approximately three years and children with special needs can take approximately one year.
    • ADOPTION FEES: The cost for intercountry adoptions from South Korea is between $9,500 USD and $10,000 USD. This includes child care fees (including payment for foster mother), medical expenses, legal processing fees, administrative fees, social worker payment and counseling fees, and post adoption service fee.
    • DOCUMENTS REQUIRED: Most documents required by the Korean Government will be prepared by the adoption agencies. Some of the documents required include:
      • Home Study report
      • Form I-864,
      • Affidavit of Support
      • Copy of prospective adoptive parent(s) birth certificate(s)
      • Form I-797, Notice of Petition Approval

      NOTE: Additional documents may be requested. If you are asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic. Read more about Authenticating U.S. Documents.

  5. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption:
    After you finalize the adoption (or gain legal custody) in South Korea, the U.S Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) MUST determine whether the child is eligible under U.S. law to be adopted (Form I-600).

  6. Bring Your Child Home Now that your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child) there are a few more steps to take before you can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for several documents for your child before he or she can travel to the United States:

    • Birth Certificate: You or your adoption agency will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child, so that you can later apply for a passport.
    • South Korean Passport: Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or Passport from South Korea.
    • U.S. Immigrant Visa: After you obtain the new birth certificate, passport, and I-600 approval for your child, you or your adoption agency also need to apply for an U.S. visa from the U.S. Embassy for your child. After the adoption (or custody for purpose of adoption) is granted, schedule an appointment at the U.S. Embassy to obtain a visa for the child. U.S. visa regulations require that each child be brought to the U.S. Embassy for a personal appearance. Several of the approved adoption service providers request the adopting parents to personally bring their child in to the Embassy to meet this personal appearance requirement. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel to the U.S. As part of this process, the Consular Officer must be provided the "Panel Physician's" medical report on the child if it was not provided during the provisional approval stage. Read more about the Medical Examination.

CHILD CITIZENSHIP ACT

For adoptions finalized abroad: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your new child to acquire American citizenship automatically when he or she enters the United States as lawful permanent residents.

For adoptions finalized in the United States: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your new child to acquire American citizenship automatically when the court in the United States issues the final adoption decree.

* Please be aware that if your child did not qualify to become a citizen upon entry to the United States, it is very important that you take the steps necessary so that your child does qualify as soon as possible. Failure to obtain citizenship for your child can impact many areas of his/her life including family travel, eligibility for education and education grants, and voting. about the Child Citizenship Act.

Read more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

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Traveling Abroad

APPLYING FOR YOUR U.S. PASSPORT

A valid U.S. passport is required to enter and leave South Korea. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify United States passports.

Getting or renewing a passport is easy. The Passport Application Wizard will help you determine which passport form you need, help you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the form for you to print-all in one place.

OBTAINING YOUR VISA

In addition to a U.S. passport, a visa is required prior to entry when staying for more than 90 days or for any purpose other than tourism or business. A visa is an official document issued by a foreign country that formally allows you to visit. Where required, visas are attached to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation.

To find information about obtaining a visa for South Korea, see the Department of State's Country Specific Information.

STAYING SAFE ON YOUR TRIP

Before you travel, it's always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The State Department is a good place to start.

The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country of the world about various issues, including the health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.

STAYING IN TOUCH ON YOUR TRIP

When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to enroll with the Department of State.  Enrollment makes it possible to contact you if necessary.  Whether there is a family emergency in the United States or a crisis in South Korea, enrollment assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.

Enrollment is free and can be done online via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

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After Adoption

What does South Korea require of the adoptive parents after the adoption?

The Government of South Korea has no post-adoption requirements; however, adoption agencies do provide after-adoption services.

Korean adoption agencies provide "after adoption services" for 6 months beginning immediately following the legal grant of custody in Korea. Every two months a social worker from a partner agency in the United States will provide a report to the Korean agency on the status of the child. The Korean adoption agency will continue to perform after-adoption services on a less frequent basis pending the child's attainment of U.S. citizenship based on a full and final adoption in the United States.

Please note: Depending on the Korean adoption agency, all adopted children will be able to gain access to his or her records stored in the Korean Adoption Database once they reach the age of 13/15/18 (please note that each Korean adoption agency has different age requirements).

What resources are available to assist families after the adoption?

Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption. Take advantage of all the resources available to your family -- whether it's another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services.

Here are some good places to start your support group search:

Note: Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement of contents.

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Contact Information

U.S. Embassy in South Korea 
32 Sejongno, Jongno-gu
Seoul, Korea 
Tel: 011-82-2-397-4114
Fax: 011-82-2-738-8845
Email: https://kr.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulate/seoul/

Mailing Address: U.S. Embassy
Unit 15550
APO AP 96205-5550

South Korean Adoption Authority 
The Family Support Department
The Ministry for Health, Welfare and Family Affairs
th floor Hyundai Bldg.
#75 Yulgong-ro Jongro-gu Seoul KOR
Tel: 82-2-2023-8600
Fax: 82-2-2023-8611


Embassy of South Korea 
Consular Section
2450 Massachusetts Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20008
Tel: 202-939-5600
Internet: http://www.koreaemb.org

*South Korea also has consulates in Agana (Guam), Anchorage, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Detroit, Evanston (Illinois), Ft. Lauderdale, Honolulu, Houston, Kansas City (Kansas), Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Mobile, New Orleans, New York, Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland (Oregon), San Francisco, San Juan, Seattle and St. Louis.

Office of Children's issues
U.S. Department of State  
CA/OCS/CI  
SA-17, 9th Floor  
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Tel: 1-888-407-4747
E-mail: AskCI@state.gov
Internet: http://adoption.state.gov


U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) 

For questions about immigration procedures, call the National Customer Service Center (NCSC)

1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)

APPROVED ADOPTION AGENCIES IN SOUTH KOREA


EASTERN SOCIAL WELFARE SOCIETY, INC.

493, Changchun-Dong, Sudaemun-Ku, Seoul
Tel: 82-2-332-3941/5
Fax: 82-2-333-1588
http://www.eastern.or.kr

HOLT INTERNATIONAL CHILDREN'S SERVICES
382-14, Hapjong-Dong, Mapo-Ku, Seoul
Tel: 82-2-332-7501~4, 322-8102~3
Fax: 82-2-335-6319 or 334-5440
http://www.holt.or.kr

KOREA SOCIAL SERVICE
533-3, Ssangmun-Dong, Dobong-Ku, Seoul
Tel: 82-2-908-9191~3
Fax: 82-2-908-3344
http://www.kssinc.org

SOCIAL WELFARE SOCIETY, INC.
718-35, Yuksam-Dong, Kangnam-Ku, Seoul
Central Post Office Box 24, Seoul, Korea
Tel: 82-2-552-1015~8, 552-6227
Fax: 82-2-552-1019.
http://www.alovenest.com

Reciprocity Schedule

Select a visa category below to find the visa issuance fee, number of entries, and validity period for visas issued to applicants from this country*/area of authority.

Explanation of Terms

Visa Classification: The type of nonimmigrant visa you are applying for.

Fee: The reciprocity fee, also known as the visa issuance fee, you must pay. This fee is in addition to the nonimmigrant visa application fee (MRV fee).

Number of Entries: The number of times you may seek entry into the United States with that visa. "M" means multiple times. If there is a number, such as "One", you may apply for entry one time with that visa.

Validity Period: This generally means the visa is valid, or can be used, from the date it is issued until the date it expires, for travel with that visa. If your Validity Period is 60 months, your visa will be valid for 60 months from the date it is issued.

Visa Classifications
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
K
L
M
N
O
P
Q
R
S
T
U
V
Visa
Classification
Fee Number
of Entries
Validity
Period
A-1 None Multiple 60 Months
A-2 None Multiple 60 Months
A-3 1 None Multiple 24 Months
B-1 None Multiple 120 Months
B-2 None Multiple 120 Months
B-1/B-2 None Multiple 120 Months
C-1 None Multiple 120 Months
C-1/D None Multiple 120 Months
C-2 None Multiple 12 Months
C-3 None Multiple 60 Months
CW-1 11 None Multiple 12 Months
CW-2 11 None Multiple 12 Months
D None Multiple 120 Months
E-1 2 None Multiple 60 Months
E-2 2 None Multiple 60 Months
E-2C 12 None Multiple 24 Months
F-1 None Multiple 60 Months
F-2 None Multiple 60 Months
G-1 None Multiple 60 Months
G-2 None Multiple 60 Months
G-3 None Multiple 60 Months
G-4 None Multiple 60 Months
G-5 1 None Multiple 24 Months
H-1B None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-1C None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-2A None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-2B None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-2R None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-3 None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-4 None Multiple 60 Months 3
I None Multiple 60 Months
J-1 4 None Multiple 60 Months
J-2 4 None Multiple 60 Months
K-1 None One 6 Months
K-2 None One 6 Months
K-3 None Multiple 24 Months
K-4 None Multiple 24 Months
L-1 None Multiple 60 Months
L-2 None Multiple 60 Months
M-1 None Multiple 60 Months
M-2 None Multiple 60 Months
N-8 None Multiple 60 Months
N-9 None Multiple 60 Months
NATO 1-7 N/A N/A N/A
O-1 None Multiple 60 Months 3
O-2 None Multiple 60 Months 3
O-3 None Multiple 60 Months 3
P-1 None Multiple 60 Months 3
P-2 None Multiple 60 Months 3
P-3 None Multiple 60 Months 3
P-4 None Multiple 60 Months 3
Q-1 6 None Multiple 15 Months 3
R-1 None Multiple 60 Months
R-2 None Multiple 60 Months
S-5 7 None One 1 Month
S-6 7 None One 1 Month
S-7 7 None One 1 Month
T-1 9 N/A N/A N/A
T-2 None One 6 Months
T-3 None One 6 Months
T-4 None One 6 Months
T-5 None One 6 Months
T-6 None One 6 Months
TD 5 N/A N/A N/A
U-1 None Multiple 48 Months
U-2 None Multiple 48 Months
U-3 None Multiple 48 Months
U-4 None Multiple 48 Months
U-5 None Multiple 48 Months
V-1 None Multiple 120 Months
V-2 None Multiple 120 Months 8
V-3 None Multiple 120 Months 8
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Country Specific Footnotes

Enter text here.

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Visa Category Footnotes
  1. The validity of A-3, G-5, and NATO 7 visas may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the person who is employing the applicant. The "employer" would have one of the following visa classifications:

    • A-1
    • A-2
    • G-1 through G-4
    • NATO 1 through NATO 6

  2. An E-1 and E-2 visa may be issued only to a principal alien who is a national of a country having a treaty, or its equivalent, with the United States. E-1 and E-2 visas may not be issued to a principal alien if he/she is a stateless resident. The spouse and children of an E-1 or E-2 principal alien are accorded derivative E-1 or E-2 status following the reciprocity schedule, including any reciprocity fees, of the principle alien’s country of nationality.  

    Example: John Doe is a national of the country of Z that has an E-1/E-2 treaty with the U.S. His wife and child are nationals of the country of Y which has no treaty with the U.S. The wife and child would, therefore, be entitled to derivative status and receive the same reciprocity as Mr. Doe, the principal visa holder.  

  3. The validity of H-1 through H-3, O-1 and O-2, P-1 through P-3, and Q visas may not exceed the period of validity of the approved petition or the number of months shown, whichever is less.

    Under 8 CFR §214.2, H-2A and H-2B petitions may generally only be approved for nationals of countries that the Secretary of Homeland Security has designated as participating countries. The current list of eligible countries is available on USCIS's website for both H-2A and H-2B visas. Nationals of countries not on this list may be the beneficiary of an approved H-2A or H2-B petition in limited circumstances at the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security if specifically named on the petition.  

    Derivative H-4, L-2, O-3, and P-4 visas, issued to accompanying or following-to-join spouses and children, may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the principal alien.

  4. There is no reciprocity fee for the issuance of a J visa if the alien is a United States Government grantee or a participant in an exchange program sponsored by the United States Government.

    Also, there is no reciprocity fee for visa issuance to an accompanying or following-to-join spouse or child (J-2) of an exchange visitor grantee or participant.

    In addition, an applicant is eligible for an exemption from the MRV fee if he or she is participating in a State Department, USAID, or other federally funded educational and cultural exchange program (program serial numbers G-1, G-2, G-3 and G-7).

    However, all other applicants with U.S. Government sponsorships, including other J-visa applicants, are subject to the MRV processing fee.

  5. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canadian and Mexican nationals coming to engage in certain types of professional employment in the United States may be admitted in a special nonimmigrant category known as the "trade NAFTA" or "TN" category. Their dependents (spouse and children) accompanying or following to join them may be admitted in the "trade dependent" or "TD" category whether or not they possess Canadian or Mexican nationality. Except as noted below, the number of entries, fees and validity for non-Canadian or non-Mexican family members of a TN status holder seeking TD visas should be based on the reciprocity schedule of the TN principal alien.

    Canadian Nationals

    Since Canadian nationals generally are exempt from visa requirement, a Canadian "TN' or "TD" alien does not require a visa to enter the United States. However, the non-Canadian national dependent of a Canadian "TN", unless otherwise exempt from the visa requirement, must obtain a "TD" visa before attempting to enter the United States. The standard reciprocity fee and validity period for all non-Canadian "TD"s is no fee, issued for multiple entries for a period of 36 months, or for the duration of the principal alien's visa and/or authorized period of stay, whichever is less. See 'NOTE' under Canadian reciprocity schedule regarding applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality.

    Mexican Nationals

    Mexican nationals are not visa-exempt. Therefore, all Mexican "TN"s and both Mexican and non-Mexican national "TD"s accompanying or following to join them who are not otherwise exempt from the visa requirement (e.g., the Canadian spouse of a Mexican national "TN") must obtain nonimmigrant visas.

    Applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality, who have a permanent resident or refugee status in Canada/Mexico, may not be accorded Canadian/Mexican reciprocity, even when applying in Canada/Mexico. The reciprocity fee and period for "TD" applicants from Libya is $10.00 for one entry over a period of 3 months. The Iranian and Iraqi "TD" is no fee with one entry over a period of 3 months.

  6. Q-2 (principal) and Q-3 (dependent) visa categories are in existence as a result of the 'Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training Program Act of 1998'. However, because the Department anticipates that virtually all applicants for this special program will be either Irish or U.K. nationals, the Q-2 and Q-3 categories have been placed only in the reciprocity schedules for those two countries. Q-2 and Q-3 visas are available only at the Embassy in Dublin and the Consulate General in Belfast.

  7. No S visa may be issued without first obtaining the Department's authorization.

  8. V-2 and V-3 status is limited to persons who have not yet attained their 21st birthday. Accordingly, the period of validity of a V-2 or V-3 visa must be limited to expire on or before the applicant's twenty-first birthday.

  9. Posts may not issue a T-1 visa. A T-1 applicant must be physically present in the United States, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands or a U.S. port of entry, where he/she will apply for an adjustment of status to that of a T-1. The following dependents of a T-1 visa holder, however, may be issued a T visa at a U.S. consular office abroad:

    • T-2 (spouse)
    • T-3 (child)
    • T-4 (parent)
  10. The validity of NATO-5 visas may not exceed the period of validity of the employment contract or 12 months, whichever is less.

  11. The validity of CW-1 and CW-2 visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (12 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

  12. The validity of E-2C visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (24 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

 

 

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General Documents

Please check back for update.

Birth, Death, Burial Certificates

Available

Fees:  500 Won-1,000 Won

Document Name:  Sang Sae (Detailed) Gibon Jeungmyongseo (Basic Certificate) and Sang Sae (Detailed) Gajok Kwankye Jeungmyongseo (Family Relation Certificate) must both be submitted.

Issuing Government Authority:  Both certificates are issued by competent government offices, ward offices, city halls, Myun offices, Eup offices, and Dong offices throughout the country.

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format:  The certificates are generally printed electronically with an official seal of the chief of the issuing office on white paper; however,  green paper is used when issued from the Automatic Certificate Issuing Machine.  A computer-generated anti-fraud logo should be at the bottom of all certificates.

Issuing Authority Personnel Title:  The name and title of the chief of the issuing office is printed with his/her official seal.

Registration Criteria:  Korean nationals can register for a Gibon Jeungmyongseo (Basic Certificate)  by reporting an individual’s birth and the certificate is updated when there is a change to an individual’s personal status (name change, custody, death, etc.).  The Gajok Kwankye Jeungmyongseo (Family Relations Certificate) is registered when a Korean national’s birth is reported and it contains immediate family information (biological and adopted parents,, spouse, and children).  It is updated when there is a change to an individual’s family status.

Procedure for Obtaining:  Individuals and qualified family members (parents, spouse, children, siblings, etc) can apply for the issuance of these certificates with a Korean ID at an issuing office in person.  A third party can only apply with a power of attorney.  They are also issued through Automatic Certificate Issuing Machines if available at the issuing office; however, the individual must apply in person using his/her fingerprints.

Certified Copies Available:  Unavailable

Alternate Documents:  A person who lost Korean nationality prior to 2008 can submit a Jejeok Deungbon (Family Census Register) in lieu of a Gibon Jeungmyongseo (Basic Certificate) and Gajok Kwankye Jeungmyongseo (Family Relations Certificate).

Exceptions:  N/A

Comments:  Please note that the Sang Sae (Detailed) Gibon Jeungmyongseo (Basic Certificate) shows an individual's date of birth, place of birth, name changes, child custody, loss/restoration of nationality, and death. TheSang Sae (Detailed)  Gajok Kwankye Jeungmyongseo (Family Relations Certificate) shows the family relationships of spouses, parents (including adoptive parents), and children (including adopted children but excluding step children).

Death Certificate
 

Unavailable

Alternate Documents:  The Sang Sae (Detailed) Gibon Jeungmyongseo (Basic Certificate) provides information on an individual’s death.  The Jejeok Deungbon (Family Census Register) also provides information if the death was reported before January 1, 2008.

Exceptions:  N/A

Comments:  N/A

Marriage, Divorce Certificates

Marriage Certificates
 

Available:  Available

Fees:  500 Won-1,000 Won

Document Name:  Sang Sae (Detailed) Honin Kwankye Jeungmyongseo (Marriage Relation Certificate).

Issuing Government Authority:  Marriage certificates are issued by competent government offices, ward offices, city halls, Myun offices, Eup offices, and Dong offices throughout the country.

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format:  Certificates are generally printed electronically with an official seal of the chief of the issuing office on white paper; however, green paper is used when issued from the Automatic Certificate Issuing Machine.  A computer-generated anti-fraud logo should be at the bottom.

Issuing Authority Personnel Title: The name and title of the chief of the issuing office is printed with his/her official seal.

Registration Criteria:  A Honin Kwankye Jeungmyongseo (Marriage Relation Certificate)is registered when there is a change to marital status.  It contains all marriage and divorce records.  Certificates arealso available to people who have never been married and states that there is no record of marriage.

Procedure for Obtaining:  Individuals and qualified family members (parents, spouse, children, siblings, etc) can apply for the issuance of these certificates with a Korean ID at an issuing office in person.  A third party can only apply with a power of attorney.  They are also issued through Automatic Certificate Issuing Machines if available at the issuing office; however, the individual must apply in person using his/her fingerprints.

Certified Copies Available:  Unavailable

Alternate Documents:  N/A

Exceptions:  N/A

Comments:  N/A


Divorce Certificates
 

Unavailable

Alternate Documents:  
The Sang Sae (Detailed) Honin Kwankye Jeungmyongseo (Marriage Relation Certificate) provides information on marital status and also contains previous divorce information.  Jejeok Deungbon (Family Census Register) also provides divorce records if the divorce was reported before January 1, 2008.

Exceptions:  N/A

Comments:  N/A

Adoption Certificates

Available

Fees:  500 Won-1,000 Won

Document Name:  Sang Sae (Detailed) Yipyang Kwankye Jeungmyongseo (Adoption Relation Certificate).

Issuing Government Authority:  Adoption certificates are issued by competent government offices, ward offices, city halls, Myun offices, Eup offices and Dong offices throughout the country.

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format:  Certificates are generally printed electronically with an official seal of the chief of the issuing office on white paper; however, green paper is used when issued from the Automatic Certificate Issuing Machine.  A computer-generated anti-fraud logo should be at the bottom.

Issuing Authority Personnel Title: The name and title of the chief of the issuing office is printed with his/her official seal.

Registration Criteria:  Adoptions become effective when reported under the Act on the Registration of Family Relationship.  The report must be in writing with signatures of both adoptive parents and two adult witnesses from the competent government offices having custody over the child.  If the child is under fifteen-years old, a legal representative must consent to the adoption on behalf of the child.  A guardian can only give consent for adoption with  permission from the Family Court.

Procedure for Obtaining: Individuals and qualified family members (parents, spouse, children, siblings, etc.) can apply for the issuance of these certificates with a Korean ID at an issuing office in person.  A third party can only apply with a power of attorney.  They are also issued through Automatic Certificate Issuing Machines if available at the issuing office; however, the individual must apply in person using his/her fingerprints.

Certified Copies Available:  Unavailable

Alternate Documents:  N/A

Exceptions:  N/A

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Identity Card

National ID Cards
 

Available:  Available to any Korean nationals over 17 years old

Fees:  No fee for initial issuance and 5,000 Won for the reissuance

Document Name:  Jumindeungrokjeung (Resident Registration Card)

Issuing Government Authority:  It is issued by the Ward offices (Gun or Gu offices) and City halls throughout the country.

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format:  Jumindeungrokjeung is a plastic card containing individual’s photo, name, national ID number, address, issuance date of the card, and the title and seal of the chief of the issuing authority on the front side.  The individual’s address change information and his/her right thumb finger print on the back side.

Issuing Authority Personnel Title:  Title of the chief of the issuing office is printed with his/her official seal on the front side of the card.

Registration Criteria:  Any Korean nationals who are over 17 years old can be issued a card.

Procedure for Obtaining:  Individuals must apply in person at the Eup office, Myeon office, or Dong office of his/her residence for the initial issuance.  Fingerprints will be taken.  The card can be picked up at the office where the application submitted or received by mail.  One photo taken within 6 months is required.  The card can be reissued if it is lost or damaged.

Certified Copies Available:  N/A

Alternate documents:  N/A

Exceptions:  N/A

Comments:  The Jumindeungrokjeung certifies the individual is a resident of South Korea as a Korean national.  It is not required for the visa issuance purpose. 

 

Police, Court, Prison Records

Police/Prison Records

Available:  Available to anyone who physically resides in South Korea.

Fees:  No fee

Document Name:  Criminal (Investigation) Records Check Reply ‘For confirmation of investigation card materials (including lapsed criminal sentences)’ (Bomjoi-Soosakyongryeok Hoiboseo: Soosajaryopyo Naeyong Hwakinyong (Shilhyodoin Hyung Deung Poham))

Issuing Government Authority:  It is issued by any local Korean national police station throughout the country.

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format:  It is printed electronically with an official seal of the chief of the issuing police station on white paper.  A computer-generated anti-fraud logo should be at the bottom of the certificate.

Issuing Authority Personnel Title:  Commissioner General, Korean National Police Agency

Registration Criteria:  Criminal (Investigation) Records Check Reply ‘For confirmation of investigation card materials (including lapsed criminal sentences)’ provides an individual's criminal records including lapsed criminal sentences.  These certificates are also available to people who have never been arrested or convicted of any crime and will state that there is no record of an arrest or conviction.

Procedure for Obtaining: 

Foreign nationals, regardless of visa status, and Korean citizens must apply in person at a local Korean National Police station. The Korean National Police search a foreign national's records using the foreign national's Korean alien registration card or passport. Korean citizens must show their Korean identification card (Jumindeungrokjeung) or passport.

South Koreans and foreigners living outside Korea can obtain a police certificate at a Korean Embassy or Consulate.  The requestor should download the police certificate request application from the KNPA website at http://minwon.police.go.kr/#customerCenter/filedown and apply in person at a Korean Embassy/Consulate.  People who reside outside of Korea and far away from a Korean Embassy or Consulate can mail a request application to the Korean National Police  in Korea.  The mailing address and guidance are provided in the Korean National Police website at http://minwon.police.go.kr.  People who submit requests by mail should contact the Korean National Police by phone at 82-2-3150-2676 after mailing the application.

Certified Copies Available:  Unavailable

Alternate Documents:  N/A

Exceptions:  N/A

Comments:  Applicants must submit the criminal records check that includes lapsed sentences to satisfy U.S. immigration law.


Court Records
 

Available

Fees:  1,000 Won for the first 5 pages and 50 Won per additional page.  Fees for copies issued from National Archives of Korea may differ.

Document name:  Pangyeolmun (Judgment) or Yaksik Myeongryeong (Summarized order)

Issuing government authority:  It is issued by the district court or the public prosecutor’s office.

Special seal(s) / color / format:  Certified copies of the original judgment are issued with a red seal of the issuing office.

Issuing authority personnel title:  Chief of the service center of the district public prosecutor’s office, chief of the service center of the court, or chief of the Archives Information Center of the National Archives of Korea

Registration criteria:  Court records are registered by the judge.  For the closed cases, court records are also maintained at the district public prosecutor’s office.  The court records that are over 10 years old may be forwarded and archived at National Archives of Korea.

Procedure for obtaining:  Applications can be made in person by the individual or designee at the district public prosecutor’s office or court.  Internet application is also available for limited cases with authenticated certificates.  Court records can be picked up in person or mailed to the applicant and are generally issued within five business days. 

Certified copies available:  Available

Alternate documents:  N/A

Exceptions:  N/A

Comments:  Applicants should contact the service center of the court or the district public prosecutor’s office where judged or prosecuted their case to check the location of the court record.

Military Records

Unavailable.

Comments:  All Korean national males should perform military service according to the Constitution of the Republic of Korea and Military Service Act.  

Passports & Other Travel Documents

Types Available:  Regular passports are issuable to any Korean national.  Individuals can apply for either a multiple entry passport (PM) which is usually valid for 10 years for adults and five years for minors or a single entry passport (PS) which allows one overseas trip within one year.  A residential passport (PR) is issued to Korean nationals who have reported relocating overseas, obtained permanent resident status or immigrant visas from other countries, or been authorized for intercountry adoption and it is usually valid for 5-10 years with multiple entries.  Official passport (PO) and Diplomatic passport (PD) are issued to eligible government officials and diplomats under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and their dependents with a maximum validity of five years.

Note:  South Korea began issuing electronic passports (e-passport) in August 2008.  Former non-electronic passports can still be used through their validity. 

Fees:  Fees may vary depending on the type of passport.  Please refer to http://www.passport.go.kr/issue/commission.php for the fee details.

Document Name:  Yeo Kwon (Passport)

Issuing Government Authority:  Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA)

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format:  The Korean e-passport contains a hard biometric IC chip and antenna and it is machine readable.  A gold logo is inserted in the front page that complies with the standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).  Regular and residential passports have dark green covers, official passports have reddish brown, and diplomatic passports have dark navy covers.  The main identification page contains photo and personal information of the passport holders:  type of passport, issuing country, passport number, surname, given name, nationality, date of birth, date of issue, date of expiry, gender, name in Korean and also indicate the holder's resident registration number.

Issuing Authority Personnel Title:  The Minister of Foreign Affairs

Registration Criteria:  All Korean nationals are eligible to apply for a passport.  Individuals must apply in person unless they fall into the exceptional cases (e.g. minors, handicapped, etc.).  The application for the regular passport, official passport and diplomatic passport can be made at the ward offices or city halls throughout the country while the application for the residential passport should be submitted to the passport department of the MOFA.  The passport application offices are listed on http://www.passport.go.kr/issue/agency.php.  Korean nationals overseas can apply for their regular passports at the nearest Korean consulate.  The application form, photo and personal ID are basic requirements for the passport application.  Additional documents may be needed for males, minors, government officials, handicapped, resident passport applicants and official or diplomatic passport applicants.  Please find more information on required documents for the passport application at http://www.passport.go.kr.

Alternate Documents:  N/A 

Exceptions:  N/A

Comments:  A limited validity passport may be issued to a male applicant who is over 18 but did not complete his mandatory military service and applicants who are pending court action.  Residential passports are not required for immigrant visa applications.

Other Documents Available:  Travel certificate (PT) is issued to a stateless persons who are departing Korea, a person who is residing overseas but his/her passport has been lost or expired and cannot wait for the issuance of the new passport prior to travel, and to children who are eligible for intercountry adoption.  

Other Records

Not applicable.

Visa Issuing Posts

Post Contact Information

Embassy:  U.S. Embassy Seoul

Address:

APO/DPO:  U.S. Embassy Seoul, Unit 9600, BOX 9997 DPO, AP 96209-9997

Diplomatic Pouch:  9600 Seoul Pl Washington DC 20521-9600

Local Address:  188 Sejong-daero, Jongno-gu, Seoul 110-710 Korea

Phone Number:  (82-2) 397-4114

Visa Services

Visa Services:  U.S. Embassy Seoul processes all visa categories for South Korea.  It also processes immigrant visas for Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Foreign Consular Office Contact Information

Washington, DC (202) 939-5653 (202) 342-1597

Anchorage, AK (907) 339-7955 (671) 907-0411

Atlanta, GA (404) 522-1611 (404) 521-3169

Boston, MA (617) 641-2830 (617) 641-2831

Chicago, IL (312) 822-9485 (312) 822-9849

Dallas, TX (972) 701-0180 (972) 701-0183

Hagatna, GU (671) 647-6488 (671) 649-1336

Honolulu, HI (808) 595-6109 (808) 595-3046

Houston, TX (713) 961-0186 (713) 961-3340

Los Angeles, CA (213) 385-9300 (213) 385-1849

New York, NY (646) 674-6000 (646) 674-6023

San Francisco, CA (415) 921-2251 (415) 921-5946

Seattle, WA (206) 441-1011 (206) 441-7912

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Seoul
188 Sejong-daero, Jongno-gu,
Seoul 03141, Korea
Telephone
+(82) (2) 397-4114
Emergency
+(82) (2) 397-4114
Fax
+(82) (2) 397-4101
South Korea Country Map

Learn about your destination
Additional Information for Reciprocity

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.

Country Information

South Korea
Republic of Korea
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Embassy Messages
Quick Facts
PASSPORT VALIDITY:

Must be valid at time of entry

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:

One page per stamp

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:

None required for stays under 90 days or less

VACCINATIONS:

None

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:

None

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:

None

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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Seoul

188 Sejong-daero, Jongno-gu,
Seoul 03141, Korea
Telephone: +(82) (2) 397-4114 (from within Korea, dial 02-397-4114) 
DSN:721-4114
Fax: +(82) (2) 397-4101
Email: 

U.S. Mailing Address:
American Citizens Services
U.S. Embassy Seoul
Unit #9600
DPO AP 96209

 

U.S. Consulate in Busan

Lotte Gold Rose Building #612, Jungang-daero 993, Jin-gu
Busan 47209, Korea
Telephone: (+82) 51-863-0731
Email: BusanConsulate@state.gov

The Embassy and Consulate are closed on weekends and on American and Korean holidays. Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +82 (0)2-397-4114.

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Destination Description

See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on the Republic of Korea for information on U.S.-Republic of Korea relations.

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Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements
  • Passport valid at time of entry.
  • No visa required for stays less than 90 days for tourism or business.
  • Visa required for all other purposes, including employment, teaching English, and for stays longer than 90 days.

Exceeding your authorized stay or not possessing a valid visa may result in detention and fines.

  • In the event of an overstay, apply for a visa extension from the Korea Immigration Service (KIS) before attempting to leave the country.  Also consult with KIS regarding changes in visa category.

Military Personnel/DOD and their families on orders:

  • Consult DOD Foreign Clearance Guide, and follow all instructions.
  • Enter Korea with DOD identification and travel orders.
  • Do not transit other countries such as China without a passport and appropriate visas.
  • Family Members/Dependents of Military Personnel/DOD on orders must present upon arrival passports valid for a least six months and an A-3 SOFA visa.

U.S. Government Executive Branch personnel on official business and DOD personnel assigned to the U.S. Embassy (Including family members/dependents):

HIV/AIDS Restriction:  The Department of State is unaware of any such entry restrictions for visitors or foreign residents in Korea.

Visit the Embassy of Korea website for current visa information.  Please read our Customs Information page.

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Safety and Security

The  Pyeong Chang Winter Olympics and Paralympics are expected to draw significant numbers of visitors to the Olympic venues in PyeongChang and Gangneung from February 9-25 and March 9-18, 2018.  Visit the Embassy’s website here.   

Public Demonstrations:  Demonstrations and rallies are common in Korea, particularly near the U.S. Embassy, Seoul City Hall and areas surrounding military installations. You should avoid areas where demonstrations are taking place and exercise caution in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or rallies.  Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence.

North Korea (DPRK):  An armistice agreement, monitored by the United Nations, has maintained general peace on the Korean peninsula since 1953.  Tensions occasionally flare up because of provocative acts by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), including ballistic missile and nuclear tests and limited armed incursions into ROK-held territory.  Some provocations have escalated into geographically limited skirmishes.  The Republic of Korea routinely conducts military training exercises and civil defense drills.  The DPRK often issues strongly-worded and threatening messages, frequently in connection with these exercises.  Please see our Fact Sheet on North Korea.

Weather related Events:  Heavy rains and flooding may occur during the June – August monsoon season or the May - November typhoon season.  See general information about natural disaster preparedness at the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) website.

Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP):  To receive security messages by email and make it easier to locate you in an emergency, register in STEP. 

If the Embassy becomes aware of any specific and credible threat to the safety and security of U.S. citizens, we will inform you through our website, social media, and email.

Crime:  For most visitors, Korea remains a very safe country. Common crimes occur more frequently in major metropolitan areas, tourist sites, and crowded markets.

  • Take routine safety precautions.
  • Pay attention to your surroundings.
  • Report any concerns to local police.

Violent crime is not common; however, remain vigilant:

  • Exercise caution in crowded entertainment, nightlife, and shopping districts.
  • If traveling at night, consider traveling in groups.
  • Use legitimate taxis or public transportation only.

Victims of Crime:  Call 112 for emergency assistance or to report a crime to local authorities.  Call 02-397-4114 to contact the U.S. Embassy.  We can:

  • Help you find appropriate medical care;
  • Assist you in reporting a crime to police;
  • Contact relatives or friends on your behalf;
  • Explain Korean judicial procedures in general terms;
  • Provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution;
  • Help you find accommodations and flight arrangements to the United States;
  • Replace a lost or stolen passport.

Sexual Assault:  In 2015, the Embassy received 19 reports of sexual assault from U.S. citizens.  Most cases involved young women assaulted by acquaintances after drinking alcohol socially.  Specialized hospital units and police are available in Korea to assist victims.  

Women Travelers:  See our travel tips for Women Travelers.

Domestic Violence:  Victims may contact the Embassy, tel. (+82) 2-397-4114, for assistance.

Lost or Stolen Passports:  If your passport is stolen, file a report at the nearest police station.

Don't buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if widely available.  It is against Korean law to purchase these goods and against U.S. law to bring them into the United States.  The Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Division in the U.S. Department of Justice has more information.

Avoid fraud and scams:  See Department of State and FBI websites for more information.

For further information:

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Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties:  While in Korea, you are subject to local laws.  If you violate Korean laws, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.  Be aware that:

  • Immigration violations can lead to arrest, fines, and deportation.
  • There is little tolerance for illegal drugs.
  • If you mail illegal drugs to/ from Korea, you will be prosecuted.
  • Commercial disputes may lead to criminal charges being filed under local laws.

Be aware that some crimes are prosecutable in the United States, regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

Arrest Notification:  If you are arrested or detained, ask officials to notify the Embassy. See our webpage for further information.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES

Dual Nationality and Military Conscription:  Dual national males (including U.S. service members) may be subject to compulsory military service.  If you have family ties to Korea, consult the nearest Korean Embassy or Consulate or the Korean Military Manpower Administration regarding potential citizenship obligations before entering Korea.

Passport Seizures and Exit Bans:  If you are involved in a criminal investigation or commercial dispute, authorities may seize your passport and/or block your departure.  While we may reissue a passport, we cannot lift an exit ban.

Exit Permits:  Exit permits are not generally required.  However, if a parent requests a travel restriction on his/her child, Korean authorities may prevent that child from departing even when traveling with the other parent.

International Child Abduction:  See our website for information related to the prevention of international child abduction.

Teaching English:  The U.S. embassy Seoul consular website has detailed information about obtaining an E-2 visa to teach English.  Prospective teachers must submit a criminal records check (only FBI checks accepted) and a health certificate.  The Embassy does not provide criminal records checks or fingerprinting services and does not authenticate criminal records checks or health certificates.  Have these documents prepared before coming to Korea.

Complaints by English teachers:

  • Contract disputes, misrepresentation of benefits, no insurance
  • Working conditions/hours, living arrangements
  • Threats of arrest/deportation
  • Sexual harassment, racial prejudice

Complaints about English teachers:

  • Fraudulent applications/documents
  • Lack of professionalism
  • Use of illicit drugs

Working in the Republic of Korea:  If working, including teaching or modeling, you must enter with the appropriate work visa.  It is not possible to change your visa status without leaving the country.  If you begin work without the appropriate visa, you may be arrested, fined, and/or deported.  If you are working without a valid work permit and get into a contractual dispute with your employer, you have little legal recourse.

Students:  See ou Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

ROK National Security Law:  Authorities may detain, arrest, and imprison persons believed to have committed acts intended to endanger the “security of the state,” including statements deemed to praise the political system and/or officials of the DPRK.

Customs Regulations:  There is strict enforcement of regulations on importing and exporting items such as firearms, narcotics and prescription drugs, non-prescription health supplements, radio equipment, and gold.  Importation of materials deemed to be obscene, subversive, or harmful to the public peace is also restricted.

See the Korean Customs Regulations website for complete information.

LGBTI Travelers:  Consensual same-sex sexual activity is not criminalized.  Korea is a conservative country in regards to LGBTI issues. However, there are an increasing number of LGBTI-oriented clubs, festivals and NGOs advocating for LGBTI issues. The ROK National Human Rights Commission Act prohibits discrimination against individuals because of their sexual orientation, but there are no laws specifying punishment for persons found to have discriminated on this basis.  Same-sex marriages are not recognized. Korean citizens can legally change their gender identity.

See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of the Department of State's Human Rights report for further details.

Mobility Issues: Korean law mandates access to transportation, communication, and public buildings.  Cross walks typically have audio and visual signals.  Older buildings and streets are generally less accessible than modern ones. Metro cars and buses in Seoul offer priority seating for the disabled and most metro stations have elevators.  Metro platforms include Korean Braille information.  Contact individual bus companies and subway associations for specific information.  Foreign residents are eligible for disability assistance from local ward offices; assistance varies by ward.

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Health

Quality of Care:  Western-style medical facilities are available in most large cities.  However, not all doctors and staff, are proficient in English. A list of hospitals and medical specialists who speak English is available on our website. For emergency ambulance service dial 119. For information on medical evacuation from Korea, please see the State Department’s brochure on Air Ambulance/MedEvac/Medical Escort Providers.  

We do not pay medical bills.  Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas. Verify your health insurance coverage before traveling overseas. See our webpage for information on insurance providers for overseas coverage. In most cases, health care providers will require payment in advance of treatment or will not release a patient until hospital bills are paid. We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to include coverage for medical evacuation.

Medication:  Carry prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription. Most prescription medications, except psychotropic types, can be obtained at Korean pharmacies (brand names often differ). Local pharmacies will require a prescription from a Korean doctor.

Update vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For further health information go to:

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Travel and Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety: Roads are well-paved, traffic signals functional, and most drivers comply with basic traffic laws.  Korea has a significantly higher traffic fatality rate than the United States. Causes of accidents include excessive speed, frequent lane changes without signaling, running red lights, aggressive bus drivers, and weaving motorcyclists. It is recommended that you photo document any traffic accidents.

Be aware that motorcyclists may drive on sidewalks, and drivers do not always yield to pedestrians in marked crosswalks.

Traffic Laws include:

  • International driving permit (or ROK license) is required for all drivers.
  • Left-hand turns prohibited except with green arrow.
  • Seat belts and car seats are mandatory.
  • Motorcycle passengers must wear helmets.
  • Automobile drivers are presumed to have some fault in accidents involving pedestrians.
  • Expect long waits at police stations while police investigate any incidents.
  • Police may take your passport or detain you during an investigation.
  • Even if negligence is not proven, criminal charges may be filed.
  • Blood-alcohol content of 0.05% or higher is considered legally intoxicated.
  • Police regularly set up DUI checkpoints. Drivers are required to submit to breathalyzer tests; refusal can result in cancellation of your license.

For information about driver's permits, vehicle inspection, road tax, and mandatory insurance, refer to our Road Safety page. You may also visit the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) website.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of the Republic of Korea's Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of the ROK's air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA's Safety Assessment Page.

Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to South Korea should check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts at the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Security Communications with Industry WebPortal. Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website and as a broadcast warning on the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s website.

Hague Convention Participation
Party to the Hague Abduction Convention?
Yes
U.S. Treaty Partner under the Hague Abduction Convention?
Yes
What You Can Do
Learn how to respond to abductions FROM the US
Learn how to respond to abductions TO the US
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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Seoul

188 Sejong-daero, Jongno-gu,
Seoul 03141, Korea
Telephone: +(82) (2) 397-4114 (from within Korea, dial 02-397-4114) 
DSN:721-4114
Fax: +(82) (2) 397-4101
Email: 

U.S. Mailing Address:
American Citizens Services
U.S. Embassy Seoul
Unit #9600
DPO AP 96209

 

U.S. Consulate in Busan

Lotte Gold Rose Building #612, Jungang-daero 993, Jin-gu
Busan 47209, Korea
Telephone: (+82) 51-863-0731
Email: BusanConsulate@state.gov

The Embassy and Consulate are closed on weekends and on American and Korean holidays. Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +82 (0)2-397-4114.

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General Information

The Republic of Korea and the United States have been treaty partners under the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction Convention (Hague Abduction Convention) since November 1, 2013.

For information concerning travel to the Republic of Korea, including information about the location of the U.S. Embassy, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, entry/exit requirements, safety and security, crime, medical facilities and health information, traffic safety, road conditions and aviation safety, please see country-specific information for the Republic of Korea.

The U.S. Department of State reports statistics and compliance information for individual countries in the Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction (IPCA).  The report is located here.

 

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Hague Abduction Convention

The U.S. Department of State serves as the U.S. Central Authority (USCA) for the Hague Abduction Convention. In this capacity, the Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs, Directorate for Overseas Citizen Services, Office of Children's Issues facilitates the submission of applications under the Hague Abduction Convention for the return of, or access to, children located in countries that are U.S. treaty partners, including the Republic of Korea. Parents are strongly encouraged to contact the Department of State for assistance prior to initiating the Hague process directly with the foreign Central Authority.

Contact information:

U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children's Issues
SA-17, 9th floor
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Telephone:  1-888-407-4747
Outside the United States or Canada: 1-202-501-4444
Fax:  202-485-6221
Website

The Korean Central Authority (KCA) for the Hague Abduction Convention is the Ministry of Justice. The Ministry of Justice has an administrative role in processing Hague Abduction Convention applications. Once the KCA receives an application under the Convention, the Ministry of Justice will coordinate with the National Police Agency and the Korea Immigration Service to locate the child. Once the child has been located the KCA will reach out to the taking parent, if appropriate, to encourage a voluntary resolution. The KCA can be reached at:

Ministry of Justice
International Legal Affairs Division
Jungang-dong, Gwacheon Government Complex
Gwacheon City
427-720 Republic of Korea
Telephone:  +82 (2) 2110 3661 (or 3667)
Facsimile:   +82 (2) 504 1378

To initiate a Hague case for return of, or access to, a child in the Republic of Korea, a parent or legal guardian may review the eligibility criteria and instructions with the appropriate Department of State Country Officer and then complete, sign, and date the application form located at the Department of State website. Each document written in English must be translated into Korean. Please note, however, that certified translations are not necessary. The USCA is available to answer questions about the Hague application process, to forward a completed application to the KCA, and to subsequently monitor its progress through the foreign administrative and legal processes.

There are no fees for filing Hague applications with either the U.S. or Republic of Korea central authorities. Attorney fees, if necessary, are the responsibility of the applicant parent. Additional costs may include airplane tickets for court appearances and for the return of the child, if so ordered.

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Return

A parent or legal guardian may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for return to the United States of a child abducted to, or wrongfully retained in, the Republic of Korea. The U.S. Department of State can assist parents living in the United States to understand whether the Convention is an available civil remedy and can provide information on the process for submitting a Hague application.

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Visitation/Access

A person may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for access to a child living in the Republic of Korea. The criteria for acceptance of a Hague access application vary from country to country. The U.S. Department of State can assist parents living in the United States to understand country-specific criteria and provide information on the process for submitting a Hague application.

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Retaining an Attorney

The Republic of Korea process does not require parents to retain a private attorney in order to file a Hague Abduction Convention application with a court; however, the KCA recommends that parents have legal representation. Parents may hire a private attorney to assist them with their case and to advise them as to the best course of action for their individual circumstances. A privately hired attorney should contact the KCA and the USCA as soon as possible after the KCA receives the Hague Abduction Convention application. The U.S. Embassy in Seoul, Republic of Korea, posts a list of attorneys including those who specialize in family law.

This list is provided as a courtesy service only and does not constitute an endorsement of any individual attorney. The Department of State assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the following persons or firms. Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the lawyers.

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Mediation

The Korea Legal Aid Center for Family Relations offers mediation services for custody disputes.

Exercising Custody Rights

While travelling in a foreign country, you are subject to the laws of that country.  It is important for parents to understand that, although a left behind parent in the United States may have custody or visitation rights pursuant to a U.S. custody order, that order may not be valid and enforceable in the country in which the child is located.   For this reason, we strongly encourage you to speak to a local attorney when planning to remove a child from a foreign country without the consent of the other parent.  Attempts to remove your child to the United States may:

  • Endanger your child and others;
  • Prejudice any future judicial efforts; and
  • Could result in your arrest and imprisonment.

To understand the legal effect of a U.S. order in a foreign country, a parent should consult with a local attorney.  

For information about hiring an attorney abroad, see our section on Retaining a Foreign Attorney. 

Although we cannot recommend an attorney to you, most U.S. Embassies have lists of attorneys available online. Please visit the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate website for a full listing.

For more information on consular assistance for U.S. citizens arrested abroad, please see our website.

Country officers are available to speak with you Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.  For assistance with an abduction in progress or any emergency situation that occurs after normal business hours, on weekends, or federal holidays, please call toll free at 1-888-407-4747. See all contact information

DISCLAIMER: The information in this flyer is provided for general information only, is not intended to be legal advice, and may change without notice. Questions involving interpretation of law should be addressed to an attorney licensed in the relevant jurisdiction. 

 

Hague Convention Participation
Hague Adoption Convention Country?
No
Are Intercountry Adoptions between this country and the United States possible?
Is this country a U.S. Hague Partner?
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Hague Convention Information

The Republic of Korea (South Korea) is not party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention). Therefore, when the Hague Adoption Convention entered into force for the United States on April 1, 2008, intercountry adoption processing for South Korea did not change.

South Korea's law requires the use of an adoption agency for the overseas adoption of all Korean orphans, and requires that such agencies are authorized by The Ministry for Health, Welfare and Family Affairs. Please see the list of approved agencies in the "Contact Information" section of this website. More information is provided on each individual website regarding their counterpart agencies in the United States.

Please Note: U.S. citizens who are considering adoption in South Korea should be aware that the Korean government has expressed its intent to reduce the need for intercountry adoptions by encouraging domestic adoption of Korean orphans. In support of this policy, South Korea has established specific international adoption quotas that are currently being reduced each year. When an adoption agency reaches its quota, an agency is unable to submit emigration applications to the Korean government on behalf of a specific child. Prospective adoptive parents should consult carefully with their adoption service provider pertaining to quotas provided to each agency and current Korean adoption processing times. For important updates please visit U.S. Embassy Seoul's website.

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Who Can Adopt

To bring an adopted child to United States from South Korea, you must be found eligible to adopt by the U.S. Government. The U.S. Government agency responsible for making this determination is the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Read more on Who Can Adopt.

In addition to these U.S. requirements for adoptive parents, South Korea also has the following requirements for adoptive parents:

  • RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS: There are no residency requirements for South Korean intercountry adoptions. Please note in order to complete a full and final adoption in South Korea it is necessary for prospective adoptive parents to reside in Korea at the time of adoption. For prospective adoptive parents not resident in Korea it will be necessary to gain legal custody for the purpose of adoption and complete a full and final adoption in the United States. This process is explained below.
  • AGE REQUIREMENTS: Prospective adoptive parents must be between 25 and 44 years old. Korean authorities usually require both prospective intercountry adoptive parents be younger than 45 years old. The age difference between the couple can be no more than 15 years. Some considerations in waiving the age requirements exist if at least one parent is under 45 years old, the prospective adoptive parents have previously adopted a Korean child, and are willing to adopt an orphan with serious medical problems.
  • MARRIAGE REQUIREMENTS: Married couples must have been married at least three years. Single individuals are not eligible to adopt a child from South Korea.
  • INCOME REQUIREMENTS: The prospective adoptive parents must have an income higher than the U.S. national average and be sufficient to support the adoptive child.
  • OTHER REQUIREMENTS: The prospective adoptive parents cannot have more than five children, including the child(ren) to be adopted.
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Who Can Be Adopted

South Korea has specific requirements that a child must meet in order to be eligible for adoption. Under Korean law the "Special Law for Adoption Facilitation and Procedure" (amended in Feb. 2008) determines if a child is eligible for intercountry adoption. You cannot adopt a child in South Korea unless he or she meets the requirements outlined below.

In addition to these requirements, a child must meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. law for you to bring him or her back to the United States. Find out more about Who Can Be Adopted and these U.S. requirements.

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS:

WAITING PERIOD

There is currently a 5 month wait period before the child is eligible for intercountry adoption to ensure that the child cannot be placed through domestic adoption.

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How to Adopt

SOUTH KOREAN ADOPTION AUTHORITY

The Ministry for Health, Welfare and Family Affairs

THE PROCESS

The process for adopting a child from South Korea generally includes the following steps:

  1. Choose an Adoption Service Provider
  2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
  3. Be Matched with a Child
  4. Adopt the Child (or Gain Legal Custody) in South Korea
  5. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption
  6. Bring Your Child Home
  1. Choose an Adoption Service Provider:

    The first step in adopting a child from South Korea is usually to select a licensed agency in the United States that can help with your adoption. Adoption service providers must be licensed by the U.S. state in which they operate. Learn more about choosing the right adoption service provider here.

    Prospective adoptive parents are required to work with an adoption agency approved by the South Korean Government. Approved agencies are listed in the "Contact Information" section and further information regarding their partner agencies in the U.S. can be found through contacting them directly.

  2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt:

    To bring an adopted child from South Korea to the United States, you must apply to be found eligible to adopt (Form I-600A) by the U.S. Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Read more about Eligibility Requirements.

    In addition to meeting the U.S. requirements for adoptive parents, you need to meet the requirements of South Korea as described in the Who Can Adopt section.

  3. Be Matched with a Child:

    If you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, the central adoption authority in South Korea will provide you with a referral to a child. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of a particular child and provide a permanent family placement for the referred child. The child must also meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. law. Learn more about this critical decision.

  4. Adopt the Child (or Gain Legal Custody) in South Korea:

    The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in South Korea generally includes the following:

    • ROLE OF THE ADOPTION AUTHORITY: The Ministry for Health, Welfare and Family Affairs authorizes the adoption agencies. They also establish the criteria for selecting adoptive parents. The criteria are administrative policy guidelines and not legal requirements.
    • ROLE OF THE COURT: The South Korean courts grant legal custody to the prospective adoptive parents. Note: The prospective adoptive parents must complete various procedures (i.e., home visits, complete reports) before permission to adopt is granted. The adoption agency notifies the prospective adoptive parents when they can begin the adoption procedures in the United States.

      A child who is abandoned right after birth should acquire his or her own Korean identification card through the court. If a child is born out of wedlock and been registered under one of his or her biological parents' family certificate in order to qualify for intercountry adoption, the adoption service provider will need to receive guardianship of the child through the court.

    • ROLE OF ADOPTION AGENCIES: Prospective adoptive parents are required to work with an adoption agency approved by the South Korean Government. Approved agencies are listed in the "Contact Information" section.

      The adoption agency facilitates the pre-adoption counseling, submission of application for adoption, home study, child assignment, application for child's overseas adoption to the Korean Government, applications for child's passport and visa, and flies to the adoptive parents.

    • ADOPTION APPLICATION: The application for an intercountry adoption is filed with the Korean Government.
    • TIME FRAME: The time from when prospective adoptive parents apply for a child in South Korea and when the child arrives in the United States is approximately one to four years. Healthy infant adoptions take approximately three years and children with special needs can take approximately one year.
    • ADOPTION FEES: The cost for intercountry adoptions from South Korea is between $9,500 USD and $10,000 USD. This includes child care fees (including payment for foster mother), medical expenses, legal processing fees, administrative fees, social worker payment and counseling fees, and post adoption service fee.
    • DOCUMENTS REQUIRED: Most documents required by the Korean Government will be prepared by the adoption agencies. Some of the documents required include:
      • Home Study report
      • Form I-864,
      • Affidavit of Support
      • Copy of prospective adoptive parent(s) birth certificate(s)
      • Form I-797, Notice of Petition Approval

      NOTE: Additional documents may be requested. If you are asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic. Read more about Authenticating U.S. Documents.

  5. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption:
    After you finalize the adoption (or gain legal custody) in South Korea, the U.S Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) MUST determine whether the child is eligible under U.S. law to be adopted (Form I-600).

  6. Bring Your Child Home Now that your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child) there are a few more steps to take before you can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for several documents for your child before he or she can travel to the United States:

    • Birth Certificate: You or your adoption agency will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child, so that you can later apply for a passport.
    • South Korean Passport: Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or Passport from South Korea.
    • U.S. Immigrant Visa: After you obtain the new birth certificate, passport, and I-600 approval for your child, you or your adoption agency also need to apply for an U.S. visa from the U.S. Embassy for your child. After the adoption (or custody for purpose of adoption) is granted, schedule an appointment at the U.S. Embassy to obtain a visa for the child. U.S. visa regulations require that each child be brought to the U.S. Embassy for a personal appearance. Several of the approved adoption service providers request the adopting parents to personally bring their child in to the Embassy to meet this personal appearance requirement. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel to the U.S. As part of this process, the Consular Officer must be provided the "Panel Physician's" medical report on the child if it was not provided during the provisional approval stage. Read more about the Medical Examination.

CHILD CITIZENSHIP ACT

For adoptions finalized abroad: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your new child to acquire American citizenship automatically when he or she enters the United States as lawful permanent residents.

For adoptions finalized in the United States: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your new child to acquire American citizenship automatically when the court in the United States issues the final adoption decree.

* Please be aware that if your child did not qualify to become a citizen upon entry to the United States, it is very important that you take the steps necessary so that your child does qualify as soon as possible. Failure to obtain citizenship for your child can impact many areas of his/her life including family travel, eligibility for education and education grants, and voting. about the Child Citizenship Act.

Read more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

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Traveling Abroad

APPLYING FOR YOUR U.S. PASSPORT

A valid U.S. passport is required to enter and leave South Korea. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify United States passports.

Getting or renewing a passport is easy. The Passport Application Wizard will help you determine which passport form you need, help you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the form for you to print-all in one place.

OBTAINING YOUR VISA

In addition to a U.S. passport, a visa is required prior to entry when staying for more than 90 days or for any purpose other than tourism or business. A visa is an official document issued by a foreign country that formally allows you to visit. Where required, visas are attached to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation.

To find information about obtaining a visa for South Korea, see the Department of State's Country Specific Information.

STAYING SAFE ON YOUR TRIP

Before you travel, it's always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The State Department is a good place to start.

The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country of the world about various issues, including the health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.

STAYING IN TOUCH ON YOUR TRIP

When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to enroll with the Department of State.  Enrollment makes it possible to contact you if necessary.  Whether there is a family emergency in the United States or a crisis in South Korea, enrollment assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.

Enrollment is free and can be done online via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

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After Adoption

What does South Korea require of the adoptive parents after the adoption?

The Government of South Korea has no post-adoption requirements; however, adoption agencies do provide after-adoption services.

Korean adoption agencies provide "after adoption services" for 6 months beginning immediately following the legal grant of custody in Korea. Every two months a social worker from a partner agency in the United States will provide a report to the Korean agency on the status of the child. The Korean adoption agency will continue to perform after-adoption services on a less frequent basis pending the child's attainment of U.S. citizenship based on a full and final adoption in the United States.

Please note: Depending on the Korean adoption agency, all adopted children will be able to gain access to his or her records stored in the Korean Adoption Database once they reach the age of 13/15/18 (please note that each Korean adoption agency has different age requirements).

What resources are available to assist families after the adoption?

Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption. Take advantage of all the resources available to your family -- whether it's another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services.

Here are some good places to start your support group search:

Note: Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement of contents.

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Contact Information

U.S. Embassy in South Korea 
32 Sejongno, Jongno-gu
Seoul, Korea 
Tel: 011-82-2-397-4114
Fax: 011-82-2-738-8845
Email: https://kr.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulate/seoul/

Mailing Address: U.S. Embassy
Unit 15550
APO AP 96205-5550

South Korean Adoption Authority 
The Family Support Department
The Ministry for Health, Welfare and Family Affairs
th floor Hyundai Bldg.
#75 Yulgong-ro Jongro-gu Seoul KOR
Tel: 82-2-2023-8600
Fax: 82-2-2023-8611


Embassy of South Korea 
Consular Section
2450 Massachusetts Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20008
Tel: 202-939-5600
Internet: http://www.koreaemb.org

*South Korea also has consulates in Agana (Guam), Anchorage, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Detroit, Evanston (Illinois), Ft. Lauderdale, Honolulu, Houston, Kansas City (Kansas), Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Mobile, New Orleans, New York, Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland (Oregon), San Francisco, San Juan, Seattle and St. Louis.

Office of Children's issues
U.S. Department of State  
CA/OCS/CI  
SA-17, 9th Floor  
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Tel: 1-888-407-4747
E-mail: AskCI@state.gov
Internet: http://adoption.state.gov


U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) 

For questions about immigration procedures, call the National Customer Service Center (NCSC)

1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)

APPROVED ADOPTION AGENCIES IN SOUTH KOREA


EASTERN SOCIAL WELFARE SOCIETY, INC.

493, Changchun-Dong, Sudaemun-Ku, Seoul
Tel: 82-2-332-3941/5
Fax: 82-2-333-1588
http://www.eastern.or.kr

HOLT INTERNATIONAL CHILDREN'S SERVICES
382-14, Hapjong-Dong, Mapo-Ku, Seoul
Tel: 82-2-332-7501~4, 322-8102~3
Fax: 82-2-335-6319 or 334-5440
http://www.holt.or.kr

KOREA SOCIAL SERVICE
533-3, Ssangmun-Dong, Dobong-Ku, Seoul
Tel: 82-2-908-9191~3
Fax: 82-2-908-3344
http://www.kssinc.org

SOCIAL WELFARE SOCIETY, INC.
718-35, Yuksam-Dong, Kangnam-Ku, Seoul
Central Post Office Box 24, Seoul, Korea
Tel: 82-2-552-1015~8, 552-6227
Fax: 82-2-552-1019.
http://www.alovenest.com

Reciprocity Schedule

Select a visa category below to find the visa issuance fee, number of entries, and validity period for visas issued to applicants from this country*/area of authority.

Explanation of Terms

Visa Classification: The type of nonimmigrant visa you are applying for.

Fee: The reciprocity fee, also known as the visa issuance fee, you must pay. This fee is in addition to the nonimmigrant visa application fee (MRV fee).

Number of Entries: The number of times you may seek entry into the United States with that visa. "M" means multiple times. If there is a number, such as "One", you may apply for entry one time with that visa.

Validity Period: This generally means the visa is valid, or can be used, from the date it is issued until the date it expires, for travel with that visa. If your Validity Period is 60 months, your visa will be valid for 60 months from the date it is issued.

Visa Classifications
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
K
L
M
N
O
P
Q
R
S
T
U
V
Visa
Classification
Fee Number
of Entries
Validity
Period
A-1 None Multiple 60 Months
A-2 None Multiple 60 Months
A-3 1 None Multiple 24 Months
B-1 None Multiple 120 Months
B-2 None Multiple 120 Months
B-1/B-2 None Multiple 120 Months
C-1 None Multiple 120 Months
C-1/D None Multiple 120 Months
C-2 None Multiple 12 Months
C-3 None Multiple 60 Months
CW-1 11 None Multiple 12 Months
CW-2 11 None Multiple 12 Months
D None Multiple 120 Months
E-1 2 None Multiple 60 Months
E-2 2 None Multiple 60 Months
E-2C 12 None Multiple 24 Months
F-1 None Multiple 60 Months
F-2 None Multiple 60 Months
G-1 None Multiple 60 Months
G-2 None Multiple 60 Months
G-3 None Multiple 60 Months
G-4 None Multiple 60 Months
G-5 1 None Multiple 24 Months
H-1B None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-1C None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-2A None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-2B None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-2R None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-3 None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-4 None Multiple 60 Months 3
I None Multiple 60 Months
J-1 4 None Multiple 60 Months
J-2 4 None Multiple 60 Months
K-1 None One 6 Months
K-2 None One 6 Months
K-3 None Multiple 24 Months
K-4 None Multiple 24 Months
L-1 None Multiple 60 Months
L-2 None Multiple 60 Months
M-1 None Multiple 60 Months
M-2 None Multiple 60 Months
N-8 None Multiple 60 Months
N-9 None Multiple 60 Months
NATO 1-7 N/A N/A N/A
O-1 None Multiple 60 Months 3
O-2 None Multiple 60 Months 3
O-3 None Multiple 60 Months 3
P-1 None Multiple 60 Months 3
P-2 None Multiple 60 Months 3
P-3 None Multiple 60 Months 3
P-4 None Multiple 60 Months 3
Q-1 6 None Multiple 15 Months 3
R-1 None Multiple 60 Months
R-2 None Multiple 60 Months
S-5 7 None One 1 Month
S-6 7 None One 1 Month
S-7 7 None One 1 Month
T-1 9 N/A N/A N/A
T-2 None One 6 Months
T-3 None One 6 Months
T-4 None One 6 Months
T-5 None One 6 Months
T-6 None One 6 Months
TD 5 N/A N/A N/A
U-1 None Multiple 48 Months
U-2 None Multiple 48 Months
U-3 None Multiple 48 Months
U-4 None Multiple 48 Months
U-5 None Multiple 48 Months
V-1 None Multiple 120 Months
V-2 None Multiple 120 Months 8
V-3 None Multiple 120 Months 8
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Country Specific Footnotes

Enter text here.

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Visa Category Footnotes
  1. The validity of A-3, G-5, and NATO 7 visas may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the person who is employing the applicant. The "employer" would have one of the following visa classifications:

    • A-1
    • A-2
    • G-1 through G-4
    • NATO 1 through NATO 6

  2. An E-1 and E-2 visa may be issued only to a principal alien who is a national of a country having a treaty, or its equivalent, with the United States. E-1 and E-2 visas may not be issued to a principal alien if he/she is a stateless resident. The spouse and children of an E-1 or E-2 principal alien are accorded derivative E-1 or E-2 status following the reciprocity schedule, including any reciprocity fees, of the principle alien’s country of nationality.  

    Example: John Doe is a national of the country of Z that has an E-1/E-2 treaty with the U.S. His wife and child are nationals of the country of Y which has no treaty with the U.S. The wife and child would, therefore, be entitled to derivative status and receive the same reciprocity as Mr. Doe, the principal visa holder.  

  3. The validity of H-1 through H-3, O-1 and O-2, P-1 through P-3, and Q visas may not exceed the period of validity of the approved petition or the number of months shown, whichever is less.

    Under 8 CFR §214.2, H-2A and H-2B petitions may generally only be approved for nationals of countries that the Secretary of Homeland Security has designated as participating countries. The current list of eligible countries is available on USCIS's website for both H-2A and H-2B visas. Nationals of countries not on this list may be the beneficiary of an approved H-2A or H2-B petition in limited circumstances at the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security if specifically named on the petition.  

    Derivative H-4, L-2, O-3, and P-4 visas, issued to accompanying or following-to-join spouses and children, may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the principal alien.

  4. There is no reciprocity fee for the issuance of a J visa if the alien is a United States Government grantee or a participant in an exchange program sponsored by the United States Government.

    Also, there is no reciprocity fee for visa issuance to an accompanying or following-to-join spouse or child (J-2) of an exchange visitor grantee or participant.

    In addition, an applicant is eligible for an exemption from the MRV fee if he or she is participating in a State Department, USAID, or other federally funded educational and cultural exchange program (program serial numbers G-1, G-2, G-3 and G-7).

    However, all other applicants with U.S. Government sponsorships, including other J-visa applicants, are subject to the MRV processing fee.

  5. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canadian and Mexican nationals coming to engage in certain types of professional employment in the United States may be admitted in a special nonimmigrant category known as the "trade NAFTA" or "TN" category. Their dependents (spouse and children) accompanying or following to join them may be admitted in the "trade dependent" or "TD" category whether or not they possess Canadian or Mexican nationality. Except as noted below, the number of entries, fees and validity for non-Canadian or non-Mexican family members of a TN status holder seeking TD visas should be based on the reciprocity schedule of the TN principal alien.

    Canadian Nationals

    Since Canadian nationals generally are exempt from visa requirement, a Canadian "TN' or "TD" alien does not require a visa to enter the United States. However, the non-Canadian national dependent of a Canadian "TN", unless otherwise exempt from the visa requirement, must obtain a "TD" visa before attempting to enter the United States. The standard reciprocity fee and validity period for all non-Canadian "TD"s is no fee, issued for multiple entries for a period of 36 months, or for the duration of the principal alien's visa and/or authorized period of stay, whichever is less. See 'NOTE' under Canadian reciprocity schedule regarding applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality.

    Mexican Nationals

    Mexican nationals are not visa-exempt. Therefore, all Mexican "TN"s and both Mexican and non-Mexican national "TD"s accompanying or following to join them who are not otherwise exempt from the visa requirement (e.g., the Canadian spouse of a Mexican national "TN") must obtain nonimmigrant visas.

    Applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality, who have a permanent resident or refugee status in Canada/Mexico, may not be accorded Canadian/Mexican reciprocity, even when applying in Canada/Mexico. The reciprocity fee and period for "TD" applicants from Libya is $10.00 for one entry over a period of 3 months. The Iranian and Iraqi "TD" is no fee with one entry over a period of 3 months.

  6. Q-2 (principal) and Q-3 (dependent) visa categories are in existence as a result of the 'Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training Program Act of 1998'. However, because the Department anticipates that virtually all applicants for this special program will be either Irish or U.K. nationals, the Q-2 and Q-3 categories have been placed only in the reciprocity schedules for those two countries. Q-2 and Q-3 visas are available only at the Embassy in Dublin and the Consulate General in Belfast.

  7. No S visa may be issued without first obtaining the Department's authorization.

  8. V-2 and V-3 status is limited to persons who have not yet attained their 21st birthday. Accordingly, the period of validity of a V-2 or V-3 visa must be limited to expire on or before the applicant's twenty-first birthday.

  9. Posts may not issue a T-1 visa. A T-1 applicant must be physically present in the United States, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands or a U.S. port of entry, where he/she will apply for an adjustment of status to that of a T-1. The following dependents of a T-1 visa holder, however, may be issued a T visa at a U.S. consular office abroad:

    • T-2 (spouse)
    • T-3 (child)
    • T-4 (parent)
  10. The validity of NATO-5 visas may not exceed the period of validity of the employment contract or 12 months, whichever is less.

  11. The validity of CW-1 and CW-2 visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (12 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

  12. The validity of E-2C visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (24 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

 

 

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General Documents

Please check back for update.

Birth, Death, Burial Certificates

Available

Fees:  500 Won-1,000 Won

Document Name:  Sang Sae (Detailed) Gibon Jeungmyongseo (Basic Certificate) and Sang Sae (Detailed) Gajok Kwankye Jeungmyongseo (Family Relation Certificate) must both be submitted.

Issuing Government Authority:  Both certificates are issued by competent government offices, ward offices, city halls, Myun offices, Eup offices, and Dong offices throughout the country.

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format:  The certificates are generally printed electronically with an official seal of the chief of the issuing office on white paper; however,  green paper is used when issued from the Automatic Certificate Issuing Machine.  A computer-generated anti-fraud logo should be at the bottom of all certificates.

Issuing Authority Personnel Title:  The name and title of the chief of the issuing office is printed with his/her official seal.

Registration Criteria:  Korean nationals can register for a Gibon Jeungmyongseo (Basic Certificate)  by reporting an individual’s birth and the certificate is updated when there is a change to an individual’s personal status (name change, custody, death, etc.).  The Gajok Kwankye Jeungmyongseo (Family Relations Certificate) is registered when a Korean national’s birth is reported and it contains immediate family information (biological and adopted parents,, spouse, and children).  It is updated when there is a change to an individual’s family status.

Procedure for Obtaining:  Individuals and qualified family members (parents, spouse, children, siblings, etc) can apply for the issuance of these certificates with a Korean ID at an issuing office in person.  A third party can only apply with a power of attorney.  They are also issued through Automatic Certificate Issuing Machines if available at the issuing office; however, the individual must apply in person using his/her fingerprints.

Certified Copies Available:  Unavailable

Alternate Documents:  A person who lost Korean nationality prior to 2008 can submit a Jejeok Deungbon (Family Census Register) in lieu of a Gibon Jeungmyongseo (Basic Certificate) and Gajok Kwankye Jeungmyongseo (Family Relations Certificate).

Exceptions:  N/A

Comments:  Please note that the Sang Sae (Detailed) Gibon Jeungmyongseo (Basic Certificate) shows an individual's date of birth, place of birth, name changes, child custody, loss/restoration of nationality, and death. TheSang Sae (Detailed)  Gajok Kwankye Jeungmyongseo (Family Relations Certificate) shows the family relationships of spouses, parents (including adoptive parents), and children (including adopted children but excluding step children).

Death Certificate
 

Unavailable

Alternate Documents:  The Sang Sae (Detailed) Gibon Jeungmyongseo (Basic Certificate) provides information on an individual’s death.  The Jejeok Deungbon (Family Census Register) also provides information if the death was reported before January 1, 2008.

Exceptions:  N/A

Comments:  N/A

Marriage, Divorce Certificates

Marriage Certificates
 

Available:  Available

Fees:  500 Won-1,000 Won

Document Name:  Sang Sae (Detailed) Honin Kwankye Jeungmyongseo (Marriage Relation Certificate).

Issuing Government Authority:  Marriage certificates are issued by competent government offices, ward offices, city halls, Myun offices, Eup offices, and Dong offices throughout the country.

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format:  Certificates are generally printed electronically with an official seal of the chief of the issuing office on white paper; however, green paper is used when issued from the Automatic Certificate Issuing Machine.  A computer-generated anti-fraud logo should be at the bottom.

Issuing Authority Personnel Title: The name and title of the chief of the issuing office is printed with his/her official seal.

Registration Criteria:  A Honin Kwankye Jeungmyongseo (Marriage Relation Certificate)is registered when there is a change to marital status.  It contains all marriage and divorce records.  Certificates arealso available to people who have never been married and states that there is no record of marriage.

Procedure for Obtaining:  Individuals and qualified family members (parents, spouse, children, siblings, etc) can apply for the issuance of these certificates with a Korean ID at an issuing office in person.  A third party can only apply with a power of attorney.  They are also issued through Automatic Certificate Issuing Machines if available at the issuing office; however, the individual must apply in person using his/her fingerprints.

Certified Copies Available:  Unavailable

Alternate Documents:  N/A

Exceptions:  N/A

Comments:  N/A


Divorce Certificates
 

Unavailable

Alternate Documents:  
The Sang Sae (Detailed) Honin Kwankye Jeungmyongseo (Marriage Relation Certificate) provides information on marital status and also contains previous divorce information.  Jejeok Deungbon (Family Census Register) also provides divorce records if the divorce was reported before January 1, 2008.

Exceptions:  N/A

Comments:  N/A

Adoption Certificates

Available

Fees:  500 Won-1,000 Won

Document Name:  Sang Sae (Detailed) Yipyang Kwankye Jeungmyongseo (Adoption Relation Certificate).

Issuing Government Authority:  Adoption certificates are issued by competent government offices, ward offices, city halls, Myun offices, Eup offices and Dong offices throughout the country.

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format:  Certificates are generally printed electronically with an official seal of the chief of the issuing office on white paper; however, green paper is used when issued from the Automatic Certificate Issuing Machine.  A computer-generated anti-fraud logo should be at the bottom.

Issuing Authority Personnel Title: The name and title of the chief of the issuing office is printed with his/her official seal.

Registration Criteria:  Adoptions become effective when reported under the Act on the Registration of Family Relationship.  The report must be in writing with signatures of both adoptive parents and two adult witnesses from the competent government offices having custody over the child.  If the child is under fifteen-years old, a legal representative must consent to the adoption on behalf of the child.  A guardian can only give consent for adoption with  permission from the Family Court.

Procedure for Obtaining: Individuals and qualified family members (parents, spouse, children, siblings, etc.) can apply for the issuance of these certificates with a Korean ID at an issuing office in person.  A third party can only apply with a power of attorney.  They are also issued through Automatic Certificate Issuing Machines if available at the issuing office; however, the individual must apply in person using his/her fingerprints.

Certified Copies Available:  Unavailable

Alternate Documents:  N/A

Exceptions:  N/A

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Identity Card

National ID Cards
 

Available:  Available to any Korean nationals over 17 years old

Fees:  No fee for initial issuance and 5,000 Won for the reissuance

Document Name:  Jumindeungrokjeung (Resident Registration Card)

Issuing Government Authority:  It is issued by the Ward offices (Gun or Gu offices) and City halls throughout the country.

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format:  Jumindeungrokjeung is a plastic card containing individual’s photo, name, national ID number, address, issuance date of the card, and the title and seal of the chief of the issuing authority on the front side.  The individual’s address change information and his/her right thumb finger print on the back side.

Issuing Authority Personnel Title:  Title of the chief of the issuing office is printed with his/her official seal on the front side of the card.

Registration Criteria:  Any Korean nationals who are over 17 years old can be issued a card.

Procedure for Obtaining:  Individuals must apply in person at the Eup office, Myeon office, or Dong office of his/her residence for the initial issuance.  Fingerprints will be taken.  The card can be picked up at the office where the application submitted or received by mail.  One photo taken within 6 months is required.  The card can be reissued if it is lost or damaged.

Certified Copies Available:  N/A

Alternate documents:  N/A

Exceptions:  N/A

Comments:  The Jumindeungrokjeung certifies the individual is a resident of South Korea as a Korean national.  It is not required for the visa issuance purpose. 

 

Police, Court, Prison Records

Police/Prison Records

Available:  Available to anyone who physically resides in South Korea.

Fees:  No fee

Document Name:  Criminal (Investigation) Records Check Reply ‘For confirmation of investigation card materials (including lapsed criminal sentences)’ (Bomjoi-Soosakyongryeok Hoiboseo: Soosajaryopyo Naeyong Hwakinyong (Shilhyodoin Hyung Deung Poham))

Issuing Government Authority:  It is issued by any local Korean national police station throughout the country.

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format:  It is printed electronically with an official seal of the chief of the issuing police station on white paper.  A computer-generated anti-fraud logo should be at the bottom of the certificate.

Issuing Authority Personnel Title:  Commissioner General, Korean National Police Agency

Registration Criteria:  Criminal (Investigation) Records Check Reply ‘For confirmation of investigation card materials (including lapsed criminal sentences)’ provides an individual's criminal records including lapsed criminal sentences.  These certificates are also available to people who have never been arrested or convicted of any crime and will state that there is no record of an arrest or conviction.

Procedure for Obtaining: 

Foreign nationals, regardless of visa status, and Korean citizens must apply in person at a local Korean National Police station. The Korean National Police search a foreign national's records using the foreign national's Korean alien registration card or passport. Korean citizens must show their Korean identification card (Jumindeungrokjeung) or passport.

South Koreans and foreigners living outside Korea can obtain a police certificate at a Korean Embassy or Consulate.  The requestor should download the police certificate request application from the KNPA website at http://minwon.police.go.kr/#customerCenter/filedown and apply in person at a Korean Embassy/Consulate.  People who reside outside of Korea and far away from a Korean Embassy or Consulate can mail a request application to the Korean National Police  in Korea.  The mailing address and guidance are provided in the Korean National Police website at http://minwon.police.go.kr.  People who submit requests by mail should contact the Korean National Police by phone at 82-2-3150-2676 after mailing the application.

Certified Copies Available:  Unavailable

Alternate Documents:  N/A

Exceptions:  N/A

Comments:  Applicants must submit the criminal records check that includes lapsed sentences to satisfy U.S. immigration law.


Court Records
 

Available

Fees:  1,000 Won for the first 5 pages and 50 Won per additional page.  Fees for copies issued from National Archives of Korea may differ.

Document name:  Pangyeolmun (Judgment) or Yaksik Myeongryeong (Summarized order)

Issuing government authority:  It is issued by the district court or the public prosecutor’s office.

Special seal(s) / color / format:  Certified copies of the original judgment are issued with a red seal of the issuing office.

Issuing authority personnel title:  Chief of the service center of the district public prosecutor’s office, chief of the service center of the court, or chief of the Archives Information Center of the National Archives of Korea

Registration criteria:  Court records are registered by the judge.  For the closed cases, court records are also maintained at the district public prosecutor’s office.  The court records that are over 10 years old may be forwarded and archived at National Archives of Korea.

Procedure for obtaining:  Applications can be made in person by the individual or designee at the district public prosecutor’s office or court.  Internet application is also available for limited cases with authenticated certificates.  Court records can be picked up in person or mailed to the applicant and are generally issued within five business days. 

Certified copies available:  Available

Alternate documents:  N/A

Exceptions:  N/A

Comments:  Applicants should contact the service center of the court or the district public prosecutor’s office where judged or prosecuted their case to check the location of the court record.

Military Records

Unavailable.

Comments:  All Korean national males should perform military service according to the Constitution of the Republic of Korea and Military Service Act.  

Passports & Other Travel Documents

Types Available:  Regular passports are issuable to any Korean national.  Individuals can apply for either a multiple entry passport (PM) which is usually valid for 10 years for adults and five years for minors or a single entry passport (PS) which allows one overseas trip within one year.  A residential passport (PR) is issued to Korean nationals who have reported relocating overseas, obtained permanent resident status or immigrant visas from other countries, or been authorized for intercountry adoption and it is usually valid for 5-10 years with multiple entries.  Official passport (PO) and Diplomatic passport (PD) are issued to eligible government officials and diplomats under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and their dependents with a maximum validity of five years.

Note:  South Korea began issuing electronic passports (e-passport) in August 2008.  Former non-electronic passports can still be used through their validity. 

Fees:  Fees may vary depending on the type of passport.  Please refer to http://www.passport.go.kr/issue/commission.php for the fee details.

Document Name:  Yeo Kwon (Passport)

Issuing Government Authority:  Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA)

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format:  The Korean e-passport contains a hard biometric IC chip and antenna and it is machine readable.  A gold logo is inserted in the front page that complies with the standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).  Regular and residential passports have dark green covers, official passports have reddish brown, and diplomatic passports have dark navy covers.  The main identification page contains photo and personal information of the passport holders:  type of passport, issuing country, passport number, surname, given name, nationality, date of birth, date of issue, date of expiry, gender, name in Korean and also indicate the holder's resident registration number.

Issuing Authority Personnel Title:  The Minister of Foreign Affairs

Registration Criteria:  All Korean nationals are eligible to apply for a passport.  Individuals must apply in person unless they fall into the exceptional cases (e.g. minors, handicapped, etc.).  The application for the regular passport, official passport and diplomatic passport can be made at the ward offices or city halls throughout the country while the application for the residential passport should be submitted to the passport department of the MOFA.  The passport application offices are listed on http://www.passport.go.kr/issue/agency.php.  Korean nationals overseas can apply for their regular passports at the nearest Korean consulate.  The application form, photo and personal ID are basic requirements for the passport application.  Additional documents may be needed for males, minors, government officials, handicapped, resident passport applicants and official or diplomatic passport applicants.  Please find more information on required documents for the passport application at http://www.passport.go.kr.

Alternate Documents:  N/A 

Exceptions:  N/A

Comments:  A limited validity passport may be issued to a male applicant who is over 18 but did not complete his mandatory military service and applicants who are pending court action.  Residential passports are not required for immigrant visa applications.

Other Documents Available:  Travel certificate (PT) is issued to a stateless persons who are departing Korea, a person who is residing overseas but his/her passport has been lost or expired and cannot wait for the issuance of the new passport prior to travel, and to children who are eligible for intercountry adoption.  

Other Records

Not applicable.

Visa Issuing Posts

Post Contact Information

Embassy:  U.S. Embassy Seoul

Address:

APO/DPO:  U.S. Embassy Seoul, Unit 9600, BOX 9997 DPO, AP 96209-9997

Diplomatic Pouch:  9600 Seoul Pl Washington DC 20521-9600

Local Address:  188 Sejong-daero, Jongno-gu, Seoul 110-710 Korea

Phone Number:  (82-2) 397-4114

Visa Services

Visa Services:  U.S. Embassy Seoul processes all visa categories for South Korea.  It also processes immigrant visas for Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Foreign Consular Office Contact Information

Washington, DC (202) 939-5653 (202) 342-1597

Anchorage, AK (907) 339-7955 (671) 907-0411

Atlanta, GA (404) 522-1611 (404) 521-3169

Boston, MA (617) 641-2830 (617) 641-2831

Chicago, IL (312) 822-9485 (312) 822-9849

Dallas, TX (972) 701-0180 (972) 701-0183

Hagatna, GU (671) 647-6488 (671) 649-1336

Honolulu, HI (808) 595-6109 (808) 595-3046

Houston, TX (713) 961-0186 (713) 961-3340

Los Angeles, CA (213) 385-9300 (213) 385-1849

New York, NY (646) 674-6000 (646) 674-6023

San Francisco, CA (415) 921-2251 (415) 921-5946

Seattle, WA (206) 441-1011 (206) 441-7912

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Seoul
188 Sejong-daero, Jongno-gu,
Seoul 03141, Korea
Telephone
+(82) (2) 397-4114
Emergency
+(82) (2) 397-4114
Fax
+(82) (2) 397-4101
South Korea Country Map

Learn about your destination
Additional Information for Reciprocity

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.