ESL South Korea

Alien Registration Card

Your Alien Registration Card is your national identification card that proves you are legally allowed to work and live in the Korea.  It provides you with special privileges such as opening a bank account (though it is possible to open an account with just a passport as well) or registering for medical insurance.  Things that you can’t do when on a tourist visa.

The Alien Card contains your Alien Registration number which is the foreigner’s version of a Korean’s government-issued ID number.  The Alien Registration number serves the same purpose as a Social Security number in the States, or a National ID Number in South Africa.

Alien Cards are issued by the Korean Immigration service and you’ll need your card within 90 days after you’ve landed in Korea to avoid becoming a illegal alien.  The card application process is normally something your employer will help you with and entails visiting a Korean Immigration office in your city with the following documents:

– Your Passport
– 2x Passport Photos
– 10,000 Administration Fee
– Your employers company registration certificate.  Your school will provide this.

Alien Cards should be kept on your person at all times during your stay in Korea, since they serve as as identification documents.  Alien cards are surrendered to customs when you leave Korea at the end of your contract.

Limitations of the Alien Card

Unfortunetaly, there are certain limitations you’ll encounter with an Alien card and despite the fact that it’s supposed to be the Foreigners’ version of a Korean ID card, certain government initiated restrictions are imposed upon the Alien card.

The most obvious of these will manifest when you need to enter your Alien Registrations number to use a service on a Korean website.  Since Korea is a digitally charged country with an Internet literate population, everything from movie tickets to Pizzas are booked and paid for online.  Makes life very convenient, but there’s a hiccup.  Any Korean using these online services need to enter their 13 digit National ID number (in compliance with Korean Internet-anonymity laws).  But when a foreigner does the same with his number, it doesn’t work…

It’s almost never accepted and usually rejected as unrecognized or erroneous.  The reason for this is found in the difference between the final digits of the numbers.  A Korean’s registration number ends in 1 or 2 (to indicate male of female), but a foreigners number ends in 5 or 6.

Korean ID numbers are still required on most websites, even for services targeting foreign residents and visitors. A few sites do, however, now accept foreign ID numbers or have eliminated the requirement.

A simple issue that the Korean Government could easily address and fix.  It’ll make life easier for the thousands of English Teachers and US Military personnel in Korea.  They just haven’t got to it yet 🙁