What is the difference between an International Driving Permit (IDP) and an International Driving License (IDL)?
An International Driving Permit is a small grey booklet marginally larger than a passport containing a translation of your original driving license in 10 languages, including English, French, Russian, Chinese, Arabic, and Spanish. It is recognized by 141 countries worldwide and is valid for one year.
In comparison, an International Driving License is not a legal document and cannot be used to drive in foreign countries or instead of an IDP.
How does an IDP work in South Korea?
No foreigner can drive in South Korea without an International Driving Permit to serve as a complimentary translation of your original license. You may also use your IDP as an identification document while traveling. If your valid driving license is in a foreign language, an IDP can be used as a translation of your license.
How do you apply for an IDP in South Korea?
You can apply for your IDP through our website by filling in the application form and necessary documentation.
How long does it take to get an IDP?
When applying for an IDP for your trip to South Korea, it is best to allow yourself 30 days, as the delivery time can take between 2 and 30 days. When you apply online, you will receive a digital copy of your International driving permit in your email after around 2 hours.
If you are in a hurry to get your IDP, you can apply for the express service and receive your digital IDP within 20 minutes.
United Nations Agreements on Road Traffic
The United Nations had motor traffic conventions in Paris (1926), Geneva (1949), and Vienna (1968). There were many contracting countries for each of them, and contracting countries recognized IDPs as valid documents.
Benefits of Carrying an IDP in South Korea
Functionality as an ID
You can use your IDP as an identification document without a passport or national ID. It can also be used as a translation of your particulars if your other identification documents are not in an internationally recognized language such as English. Many people prefer to use their IDP as an ID to keep their passports in a safe location for security.
Quicker traffic authority stops
Traffic police in foreign countries will find it hard to decipher information on your traffic license if it is not in an internationally recognized language. This causes prolonged traffic stops and longer processing times for other administrative processes. An international driver’s permit allows all your particulars to be gleaned from an internationally recognized document. Even if your travel country doesn’t require an IDP for driving, your interactions with law enforcement authorities will be smoother. It is most useful in emergencies like a car accident.
Car rental companies
Car rental agencies might be a little reticent to rent a vehicle out to an international driver with a foreign driver’s license. As the United Nations recognizes an international driver’s permit, car rental companies often rely on an IDP. You can save on precious vacation time by carrying an IDP to the rental agency.
Laws requiring an IDP
South Korea was contracted to the Vienna and Genea Motor Traffic Conventions in 1968 and 1949. It recognizes international driver’s permits for 1 and 3 years. However, you can only drive for one year after entering South Korea using your foreign driving license and an international driving permit.
Driving Requirements for Non-Citizens in South Korea
Short-term visitors vs. residents
You are not allowed to use a foreign driving license after becoming a resident of South Korea, and you should apply to exchange your driver’s license for a South Korean driving license. To be considered a South Korean resident, you should have lived for 183 days a year. As South Korean residency is in high demand, the South Korean government has decided that foreigners should invest $80,375 (100 million won) in their own business or $241,000 (300 million won) in someone else’s business. Another option is to invest $401,878 (500 million won) in South Korean real estate.
How long can I drive with a foreign driving license?
You are permitted to drive with a foreign driving license on a short-term visa that is not a residence visa. You can go with a foreign driver’s license for one year from entry to South Korea.
When should I get a South Korean Driver’s License?
Suppose you have a valid international driver’s permit. In that case, the traffic stops and regulatory administration concerning licensing will be pretty quick. However, if you plan on making South Korea your second home, you should consider getting a South Korean driving license. You must legally get a South Korean driving license after becoming a resident.
Renewing Your IDP or Original Driver’s License While in South Korea
Renewing your International Driver’s Permit
You can renew your IDP through our website.
Renewing your original driver’s license
Sometimes, you might require renewing your driver’s license while abroad. You must renew your driver’s license using the licensing authority in the country that issued it. Most countries have an online platform to assist expatriates with the process. However, suppose the issuing country needs either a medical or vision report. In that case, you might have to return home for the renewal process. The driving license renewal process differs widely from country to country, so ensure you keep enough time for the procedure.
Car Rental in South Korea
Requirements for car rental
You are required to be 21 to rent a vehicle in South Korea. Drivers under 25 will have a surcharge from car rental agencies. You should have a valid foreign driver’s license and an international driver’s permit. Most car rental companies will require you to present a passport with a valid visa. They will also need a credit card in the name of the driver. Some rental companies will accept debit cards, but there will be a surcharge and a higher deposit requirement.
Deposit and costs
The deposit charged by rental companies in South Korea range from $200 to $1,000 for a short-term rental. Long-term car rental deposits can go as high as $5,000. You will be charged between $20 to $80 daily for a four-door sedan rental, and a week’s rental should be about $250. A long-term rental can be as low as $350 a month, though the rental deposit will be significantly higher.
Vehicle insurance is compulsory for all vehicles above 50 ccs. Supplemental Liability Insurance (SLI), or third-party insurance, is the minimum insurance coverage accepted on South Korean roads. Third-party insurance covers damage to people, animals, and property in an accident. You are recommended to get Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) and third-party insurance to cover damage to the driver and the rental vehicle. The highest level of CDW is the Super Collision Damage Waiver (SCDW), which absolves the driver from any costs incurred in an accident.
The crime rate in South Korea is low compared to other developed countries. However, getting travel insurance before your trip is always a good idea. Some things to remember when assessing different travel insurance options are given below:
- Whether the insurance covers expenses incurred during hospital stays.
- Whether cancellation fees and lost deposits are covered for trips with multiple stops.
- Whether costs incurred due to lost or damaged baggage are covered.
- Whether the insurance covers excess payments not covered by rental car insurance.
- Whether the insurance cover includes expenses from sudden dental surgeries.
- Whether the insurance covers the cost of a funeral.
Driving and Safety in South Korea
Brushing up on road rules before getting behind the wheel is a wise thing to do. Some laws to keep in mind are:
- People drive vehicles on the right side of the road
- You should be 21 to drive on South Korean roads as a tourist
- Children under six should be secured in a car child seat
- You may use a credit card or a Hi-Pass card when using toll roads. Blue lanes are reserved for motorists using an automated payment device
- You should not use a mobile phone unless you use a hands-free device
- When driving, you should have your passport for identification and your IDP.
- The Korean GPS is advantageous and uses the phone number of your destination to give you directions
- It is illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol.
- The speed limit is 60 km/h (38 mph) on most roads in built-up and urban areas, 60 km/h on two-lane roads
Top 3 Destinations to Visit in South Korea
Seoul is the largest city in South Korea. The population is over ten million, 2 million of which are non-citizens. It is the home to South Korea’s culturally significant K-Pop scene and serves as a cultural melting pot for lovers of South Korean culture from around the world. There are various historical sights to visit in the country’s capital, and tourists usually start with some of its many palaces. Make sure you visit the incredible Gyeongbok-gung and Changdeok-gung palaces close to 500 years old. You will also find an abundance of beautiful temples, shrines, parks, and shopping malls to enjoy on your visit.
Gyeongju is South Korea’s ancient capital and the center of the long-standing Silla Kingdom. It served as a South Korean cultural center for over 2,000 years. There are temples to visit that will immerse you in the ancient architecture of this historical city. You should start your tour with Bulguksa Temple, which dates back to the 8th century. The Seeokguram Grotto will provide more insight into Korea’s ancient Buddhist culture. On your trip, you should visit the bustling Covered Market, where you can buy everything from Silla to South Korea’s famous street food.
DMZ (De-Militarized Zone)
South Korea is at war with North Korea. However, the leaders of both nations agreed to work towards a peace treaty during their meeting in 2018. The border between North and South Korea is called the demilitarized zone (DMZ). Tourists and other visitors can only view this zone’s Joint Security Area (JSA), where both countries oversee its administration and security. There is a point where you are allowed to stand in North Korea in a building that houses South Korean soldiers. You should visit the North Korean gift shop that sells stamps, wine, and North Korean currency. You can only see this area by booking a guided tour.
Am I required to have an IDP in South Korea?
While some countries will accept a foreign license for a while, many will require you to have an IDP.
Can I drive a vehicle with a foreign license in South Korea?
You can drive in South Korea for 12 months with a foreign driver’s license as long as you possess an IDP.
Can I use my EU driver’s license in South Korea?
Yes, you may use your EU license in South Korea for 12 months with an IDP.
How long will my international driving permit be valid in South Korea?
As South Korea was contracted to the Geneva and Vienna Motor Traffic Conventions in 1949 and 1968, you may use your IDP for 1 or 3 years.
How long will transferring my license to a South Korean one take?
You can exchange your license for a South Korean one within a month.
On which side do you drive in South Korea?
In South Korea, vehicles drive on the right side of the road.
Do you need a foreign license printed in English to drive in South Korea?
When driving in South Korea, you must have an IDP and a valid driver’s license. An IDP is an internationally recognized translation of a driving license.