After you arrive in South Korea, you must report to the nearest Immigration office to apply for your Alien Registration Card (ARC) within 90 days of entering the country. This card is necessary for vital things like opening a bank account or cell phone service so it is advised that you get it as soon as possible. You must carry it with you at all times and it is also illegal if you stay over 90 days without being registered.
During the first few weeks of the semester in March and September, there are really long lines because all the arriving study abroad students go at once. However, since you need some documents from your host university, you can’t really go in advance to beat the crowds.
I applied for my ARC at the Seoul Immigration Office. Depending on where your university is located, you might have to go to a different immigration office. I went month after I arrived and it took three weeks for my ARC to be mailed to me.
It is important to note that you should not leave the country before applying for your ARC because once you depart from South Korea, your single-entry visa becomes invalidated and you can run into a lot of immigration problems. In addition, when you finally depart from the country, you must forfeit the ARC back to immigration officials or you might encounter problems entering South Korea in the future.
Documents and Items
- ARC Application
- In some cases, you may have to leave your passport with the immigration office. If this is the case, make your you have a photocopy to keep on hand with you.
- (2) Passport Photos
- Certificate of Registration
- Students typically get this form after their orientation at their host university.
- Medical Check-Up Report
- Students are required to get a medical check-up for tuberculosis and obtain a report clearing their health status.
- Application Fee
- 30,000 won
- If you don’t want to go back to pick up the ARC, you can have it mailed to you for an additional 4,000 won.
- Cash only
Once you are done, you should have your ARC in hand in a few weeks and be able to freely sign up for services such as banking or travel around neighboring countries!