A Guide to Opening Your Bank Account in Korea

Opening Your Bank Account

One of the important tasks you’ll need to take care of when you start your teaching job in Korea is setting up a bank account. When I first moved, I had a lot of questions and didn’t know where to begin. But I’ve got you covered! I was surprised at just how easy it was to get things set up, so long as I had the right documents! Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about opening your bank account in Korea that will make your time as a teacher a lot easier in the months ahead.


A bankbook, check card, and OTP password device from KEB bank in south Korea

What Documents Will I Need?

First, keep in mind that document requirements can be updated at any time and may vary depending on the specific bank you apply at. While you can use this info as a general guide, I suggest that you have a friend or your school manager call ahead to ensure that you have everything you need when applying. Typically, you should prepare the following items:

  • A valid passport
  • A certificate of employment which you can get from your school
  • An Alien Registration Card (ARC) which is typically ready 4-6 weeks after you arrive in Korea

The bank may allow you to open your account using only your passport but it will depend on the location. In my experience, I opened my KEB Hana account with my passport and then went back to the bank a few weeks later to switch the account to my ARC when it was ready.

What Type Of Account Should I Open?

Korean banks offer a variety of account types but I recommend that you open a “Foreign Designated Account”. If you want to transfer your money abroad or use ATM services outside of Korea, you need to have foreign designated account. You should also keep in mind that there are limits on the amount you can transfer or withdraw per day based on your salary, so ask about this limit at the bank.


A native English teacher presenting an ATM card to make payment in South Korea.

What If I Can’t Speak Korean?

Most banks have at least one English-speaking staff, especially at large branches in major cities like Seoul or Busan. If you’re in a smaller city, there is a chance that no one will be able to speak English fluently. If that’s the case, you may want to bring a Korean speaker with you or have one on the phone to help. You will probably be just fine without one, but it might make things smoother. If you don’t know anyone who can help you, try calling the Korea Tourism hotline by dialing 1330 or the Foreign Immigration hotline by dialing 1345. They may be able to help you translate during the account setup.


Which Bank Should I Choose?

In my experience, the most foreign friendly bank is KEB Hana Bank (하나은행). They have great English phone support and an easy to use English bank application. That being said, all large banks in Korea like Shinhan (신한은행)Woori (우라은행), KB (국민은행), and Citibank also have full foreigner support. It may depend branch to branch, but you will not encounter any issues opening a bank account! 


A Wooribank branch in South Korea

Opening a bank account might seem daunting at first, but with the right information and a bit of preparation the process should be painless. Remember to gather all your necessary documents and before you know it you will be saving and spending in Korea with ease!

Michelle Duquette is from Toronto, Canada and moved to South Korea in 2015. She has a Bachelors in English literature and a Masters in ESL Education. Michelle has taught at Creverse campuses in Gangneung, Songpa, and Mokdong and currently works as a CDI and April Trainer. Michelle never set out to be a teacher but fell in love with Korean culture and the excitement of being in the classroom. Michelle lives in Seoul with her partner and two cats, Cherry and Frost.