As the title suggests this post details the process of how to “Exchange a British Driving License for a Korean License”. For many people being able to drive is a necessity for many reasons and although the public transport system in Korea is very good and reliable it doesn’t always match up with everybody’s day to day lives.
Firstly the process is not easy and/or simple, although it’s possible to do it in a day you would need the whole day. However it does mean that you won’t have to take any driving tests and seeing as in the UK the road system is different and most people drive manual cars not automatics it’s maybe a less stressful way forward.
Guide to Exchanging a British License for a Korean License
PLEASE NOTE THIS INFORMATION IS CURRENT TO AUTUMN 2013 AND MIGHT HAVE CHANGED
Here is the 5 step process:
1 – Make sure that you have both your photo driving license and paper counterpart, without both it may not be possible to complete the process. You also require to have an ARC or Alien Registration Card.
2 – You need to visit the British Embassy in Seoul and get a letter confirming that your license is real. This letter will cost you ₩81,000 or £45 (price may change). At the same time you’ll need to complete a Drivers License Certificate Form.
*tip* Book an appointment before visiting and remember you can only go between 9am and 1pm weekdays (no weekends or holidays)
3 – The next step is to visit your local DLA, this can be a difficult step as the language barrier may become an issue at times. Also most of the forms are partly in Korean so if possible take a Korean speaking friend with you. You need to produce your British Licenses, Letter form the Embassy, application forms, Passport Sized Photos (at least 3) and fee around ₩4,000.
4 – You are then required to take a standard eye test. Cost around ₩3,000.
5 – If everything checks out you’ll have a Korean License in hand 5 minutes later.
*Note* You are exchanging your British license and if you want it back you’ll have to give back your Korean license. Then go though the whole process again if you wish to exchange for a second time.
The total cost is around ₩90,000 not including transport costs and time.
When you go to the DLA you need to visit this desk:
The Korean Driving License
Here is the finished Korea license which I received on the day.
We obviously blanked out a lot of the information for privacy and data protection reasons. To example the blanked out spaces we have color coded them:
Blue Frame = Key Numbers and Codes
Red Frame = Name
Yellow Frame = Address
Orange Frame = Dates
Black Frame = Photo
When going though this process I found these links very helpful:
If you have any questions please feel free to let us know and we’ll try our best to answer. Please note however that me don’t know if the process is the same for other European nations but we do know that other nations such as the USA have a different system.
You can connect us via email, Facebook or Twitter.
Thank you and have a nice day.
I have a US driving license and I’m hoping to exchange it very soon. Do you know if the process quite different for Americans?
Yes it’s different and from what I’ve heard more difficult. Without 1st hand experience I can’t comment of sure but I heard you need your license apostilled by the state your license was granted. The US embassy in Seoul will not do it like the UK one.
Ya, I figured this. Also, I have to wait until the US “Government Shutdown” is over anyway 😦
At this moment I’d guess it would be easier and quicker to just take the test. It’s available in English as well.
If your license expires say 2016, does the korean license only last 2 years or do they give you a full 10 years regardless? Once you’ve exchanged can you renew that Korean license again without going through the whole process again. I wonder if it’d be easier when visiting the UK just to take my Korean license and get an international permit for visits.
10 Years Regardless, I only had 2 months left on my British License at the time.
I’m pretty sure you can just renew your Korean License, maybe requiring a new eye test and photos.
If you’re just visiting the UK it might be easier, or not worry as if you’re in trouble (stopped by the police) they can access the central database which has your information.
Step 2 is now out of date. The embassy no longer issues notarization. if you’re already in Korea it’s much more cumbersome. You now need to get an apostille from the FCO legislation office…which can only be given once your driving licence is notarized in the UK. Not fun
Thanks for the update, sounds like it’s easier just to do the Korean test then. Shame.
Has anyone had experience apostilling their UK license? is it possible to do in Korea/did you send both parts of license?/how long did it take etc?
Regarding British licence exchange.
As of the 20th of January 2016, you require:
3 Passport photos
Card and paper licence
Apostille of your licence.
Additional to what I either missed, or was not included here, exchanging the lincence will mean their office will hold onto your UK card licence. Should you require it for a trip to the UK, you should return to the office with your flight tickets and they will return your UK card to you. You do not need to hand in your Korean licence, nor will you have to return you UK licence upon arrival back in Korea. When you return to Korea, you will keep both cards.
The Korean licence is good for 10 years.
I write after my personal experience yesterday left my fruatrated at further need for an apostille. Current quotes in Korea have turned up 250,000-350,000Won for the service. I suspect it is a con though.
For around 120,000won, you could post your card to the office in the UK and get it done. Of course the thieves in England offer a premium service for those in need of a speedy turnaround
Wow, things really have changed a lot in a little over 2 years. And not for the better. I seems like taking the test here is a better, cheaper and easier option.
Thank you for the update Matt.
Your information has been really helpful.
Actually, I’m Korean and I got my driver’s license in the UK a long time ago.
The information you provided was the most helpful while I was looking for information to change to a Korean driver’s license after returning home.
What I am curious about is that DVLA said that the ‘paper counterpart’ was abolished from 2015, but will the embassy continue to demand it?
I keep it, but my wife says she can’t remember where she put it. We can also find out about this by contacting the embassy.
Thanks again for your information.
Have a nice day
I doubt they require the paper counterpart, however I went through the process in 2013, so this post is out-of-date.
Try asking on the British Expats in Korea facebook group maybe?