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Buying and Registering a Car, Korea

Buying and Registering a C...

It is possible for foreign residents to buy either new or used cars. Since foreign models are generally extremely expensive in Korea, a domestic model may be your most affordable option.  

Whether you purchase a new or used car, it must be registered within 15 days of purchase. The cost of the registration will vary depending on the model. 

You can drive the car as long prior to registration as long as you have car insurance. There are some insurance agencies near used car markets. You may want to purchase your insurance policy when you sign the contract if you want to drive your car right away. 

NOTE re car part prices: The Transport Ministry announced in August 2014 that the prices of parts for domestic and foreign cars must be publicly disclosed on the car manufacturers' websites. The domestic car makers that are subject to the disclosure of price information include Hyundai Motor Co., Kia Motors Corp., GM Korea Co. and Renault Samsung Motors’ Co. Imported car brands include BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Audi and Lexus.

Registering a used vehicle:
Tips for buying a used car
  1. Check the original automobile registration at the appropriate TrafficAdministration section of the gu office to confirm that any car loan has been fully paid off.
  2. Check with the Car Registration Section of the gu-office to make sure that there are no outstanding installment payments and/or taxes due on the vehicle.
  3. Check the vehicle carefully and test drive it.
  4. Get as much information as possible about the car’s history – ask a lot of questions – just as you would in your home country.
  5. Check to see if there are any outstanding fines against the vehicle.
  6. Clarify the closing date as well as the expected delivery date in the sales agreement/contract. 
Registering the car (must be done within 15 days of purchase):
Obtain the car registration certificate from the previous owner (the car inspection certificate), the certificate of transfer and the certificate of the owner’s registered seal impression to register the transfer of ownership. Failure to register the car within 15 days of purchase, will result in a fine (~W500,000).

Registration must be in the buyer's district of residence (as per her/his alien registration card). Registration centers are open during weekday business hours only (government hours).
  1. Required documents:
    a.Car registration certificate
    b.Used car transfer contract (the legal form for the certificate of transfer) and alien registration card (or a certificate of alien registration). For those who have not yet acquired an alien registration card, two Korean sponsors and a certificate of entry will be acceptable in lieu.
    c.Certificate proving you have purchased a liability insurance policy and public bonds.

  2. Registering a new vehicle: The car dealership will register your new purchase if you wish – the dealer may charge a fee for performing this service (although some don't), so you may want to find out how much it will be. The registration fee itself will be 5% of the cost of the vehicle.
    Required documents
    a. Application for registration – you must apply for the registration no later than 10 after the temporary period begins. (Note: There is a fine of up to W100,000 for diving past the specified temporary period).
    b. A temporary tag number (license plate) that allows you to drive the vehicle for about 10 days 
    c.  v
    ehicle (car manufacturer) certificate or import documentation
    d. inspection sticker
    e. alien registration card or residence certificate + passport
    f. proof of valid vehicle liability insurance
    g. ownership certificate if you cannot prove ownership with the vehicle certificate.
  3. Registering an imported vehicle:
    Documents required:
    a. Imported vehicle certificate (Note: if you cannot prove ownership 
       with the imported vehicle certificate, you must show proof of ownership)

    b. Certified copy of both alien registration card and passport
    c. Permit for temporary driving and temporary tag number
    d. Receipt showing payment of registration fee and government securities

    e. Noise and pollution inspection certificate
  4. Taxes due:
    a. Registration Tax (5%) as explained above
    b. Acquisition tax (2% of the acquisition price/the price you paid for the vehicle)
    c. Government bonds - the cost of purchasing these wil vary from 4% to 20% of the cost of the car depending on the 'piston displacement', size and model of the vehicle.
    d. Automobile Taxes must be paid every three months. You can make your payment at any bank. You will then receive a sticker that must be displayed in the car window. The year and make of your car will determine the amount you have to pay. 

  5. Disposing of a car requires going to a licensed auto junkyard. You must bring a copy of the following documents with you: vehicle registration certificate and the vehicle’s original registration issued within the last three days as well as a certificate of ownership (with owner’s seal impression) and your alien registration car. The yard should pay you for the iron scraps and should not charge you any kind of disposal fee.
  6. Checking on outstanding fines can only be done by the owner. A dealer purchasing the car will ask if there are any outstanding fines against the vehicle; if you are buying a used car you should do the same.
    To check fines, you need to create an ID at the government website (http://etax.seoul.go.kr).  Choose the English option and proceed with an ID creation. NOTE:  You will first need a sign-in certificate (the one used for on-line banking meaning you will also have to download Active-X) in order to create an ID. That done, simply sign-in. You can check for outstanding fines and if there are any, pay them on-line through this website.
  7. Inspections and Maintenance are the responsibility of the owner.
  8. An Inspection every two years is required for vehicles under ten years old. The inspection must be conducted by a designated (government approved) garage, which will want to see a current insurance policy.
  9. Garages or Repair Centers can be found all over the city and, although the mechanics don’t often speak English, most can read it. Repairs on domestic vehicles can be done quickly and relatively cheaply. You usually have to go to a garage to have air put in your tires.
  10.  Change of Address on your vehicle registration is now done automatically when you register your new address. (in the past, foreign vehicle owners had to do this separately but that is no longer the case).

    K4E Editor: The information on this page was updated July 2009.
    We try to make the information on Korea4Expats.com as complete and accurate as possible, so if you notice any errors or omissions in the content above, please let us know at info@korea4expats.com.

Last Updated on 2020-09-01

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