Getting a Mobile Phone in Korea

Most of us are so dependent on our mobile phones that we feel lost without it (me included :P) So when you come to Korea you’d be dying to get a mobile phone! But don’t get too excited yet, because there are certain requirements you have to fulfill before that.

1. Alien Registration Card

This is absolutely the most important. Without it, you can only get a prepaid service at best. If you want to sign for a Korean line, make sure you apply for your ARC asap!! More information on applying for ARC here

2. Bank account information

If you’re using a Korean bank, you have to make sure that the bank account type is that with an ARC number. Now you see the importance of the ARC 😛

3. Age

Yes, I’m serious. You have to be 20 years old (21 in Korean age) to be able to apply for a phone service, whether it’s prepaid or postpaid service. If you are below 20 you will need a legal guardian (ie your parents) to be there to sign the contract for you.

There are 3 major telecom service providers in Korea, namely KT Olleh, SKT and LG U+. All offer plans at about the same price, but SKT requires foreigners to pay the device fee upfront. Usually, you will be able to pay for the device fee in installments, but SKT requires foreigners to pay the device fee at one go. So if you’re getting a Samsung Galaxy S II for example, you’ll need to pay W900,000 all at once if you’re signing with SKT. With KT or LG, they allow you to pay by installments. (I’ve heard that the law changed in late 2013, but I’m not too sure yet.)

So what if you’re a minor and can’t get a mobile phone by yourself?

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Getting the Alien Registration Card

Nope, we’re not aliens (:

The Alien Registration Card (ARC) is for foreigners staying in Korea for more than 90 days. It’s something like an identity card you would have in your country.

So how do you apply for it?

Basically you just have to go down to the immigration office nearest to your place of residence within 90 days of arrival in Korea. So if you’re living in Seoul, go down to the Seoul Immigration office. If you’re living in Incheon, go down to the Incheon Immigration Office.

List of Immgration Offices in Korea here

The documents you would need (if you’re holding a student visa):

  1. Certificate of Admission – the school would have sent it to you even before you arrive in Korea
  2. Certificate of Enrollment – you can only obtain it from your school after you start the school term in Korea
  3. Proof of Tuition Fee Payment/Proof of Scholarship receipt – you’ll have to get it from your administration office
  4. 1 passport sized photo – You can take it at the immigration office itself if you don’t have one already
  5. Application form – You can get it from the immigration office
  6. W10,000 application fee

Note that the staff at the immigration office don’t really speak English T_____T

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