Opening a bank account in South Korea

banking in South Korea
Updated 2021-07-20 12:45

There are several branches of international banks in South Korea, including Citibank global network and HSBC. Before moving to South Korea, it is recommended to find out if there are any existing partnerships between your usual national bank and a South Korean bank.

Most South Korean banks have English speaking staff, mainly in big branches and in bigger cities. If you stay in a smaller city, it is recommended to have a fluent Korean speaker to accompany you to the bank and help you set up an account. Most employers will also assist you with this.


The documents required for opening a bank account vary from bank to bank. Nevertheless, you will always have to bring your passport, work visa and your Alien Registration Card. Banks will probably make copies of these documents and keep them in their records.

Once you have opened your bank account, you will obtain a debit card, which can be used to withdraw money at ATMs and also for payments.

It can be quite difficult for foreigners to obtain the South Korean credit card. However, some banks offer cards with low credit limits to foreigners, while others may grant you a credit card provided you pay the equivalent or double of your credit limit on a deposit account. You are also able to bring foreign credit cards with you to South Korea and use them without any problems.

Good to know:

Sometimes, banks may also request a South Korean national's guarantee in case you do not pay for your outstanding loans. This guarantee will then have to pay on your behalf should you be unable to.


International money transfers are possible from and to South Korea. Note that foreign nationals holding temporary work visas in South Korea are limited to a transfer amount equal to 60% of their monthly salary to their country of origin. However, conditions vary from bank to bank. Your passport will be required for each transfer.

Online banking in South Korea

Most banks in South Korea offer the option of online banking, either via a computer or laptop or an application on your smartphone or tablet. Setting up your online banking can be quite overwhelming and often requires the help of a native speaker. However, KEP Bank seems to be one of the few foreigner-friendly banks that makes signing up for online banking very easy.

Due to South Korea's high-security banking system, you will have more than just one password for your online banking. In general, you will be equipped with a bankbook, a time OTP, a digital certificate on a small flash drive, and a security card. It is important to keep all these items in a safe place to enjoy South Korea's online banking services. Moreover, many banks also offer a convenient SMS service that sends you a text notification each time you use your card to remind you of your new balance.

Useful links:

Kookmin Bank
HSBC South Korea
Hana Bank
Citibank South Korea
Woori Bank
KEB Bank

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