When you are in Korea on vacation or touring, you won’t need to carry your passport with you at all times unless you know you’re going to need it for a specific reason like to verify your identity when exchanging money or checking into your hotel. 

Tea house in Korea - should i carry around my passport with me in korea?

Does Korea require you to keep your passport on you?

If you are stopped for immigration purposes, you could be asked for both your passport and visa or K-ETA (Korea Electronic Travel Authorization). 

They can detain you if they would like while they review your paperwork and situation. There are immigration checkpoints in Korea’s interior, including popular tourist destinations. These checkpoints are all over the country, not just at the border.

That being said, I typically leave my passport back at the hotel and I know lots of people who leave theirs at their hotel as well so as not to get their wallet or passport stolen or lose it somewhere. I have never been stopped by the police and asked to see my documents.

Tip – Also be aware that local authorities may check your ID credentials if you take photos of certain buildings, particularly government buildings and military installations.

Tips for traveling with ID in Korea

1. One thing you could do is keep a color paper copy of your passport and visa or K-ETA with you if that makes you feel better. Carry a color copy of the Bio/identity page and the latest entry stamp if you go this route.

I have a friend who was in Cancun for a break from the winter weather in Minnesota. One day, she went to breakfast with friends and she left her passport on the table at the restaurant. She realized she had left it just a few minutes after leaving and ran back but it was too late: her passport had been stolen.

video #1 Travelonthefly.com

2. Lock it up in the safe in your room. They are typically very safe and secure. Yes, I know they can be broken into if someone is really trying, but they typically are quite safe and unless you have someone who is really out for you, or you have done something to make the hotel staff really grumpy, you will be fine.

If you’re planning something, like swimming or a scuba dive where you feel like you won’t have a safe place to lock up your passport or keep it on you, you might want to leave it back at the hotel. I would.

Typically people that try to tell you hotel safes aren’t secure, are trying to sell you something… or are paranoid. Yes, even if it is a really legit website or a close friend.

It boils down to personal preference and how much risk you’re willing to take on for yourself and those traveling with you during your trip abroad.

So You Know – You might get hassled by your insurance company if you don’t lock up your ID or passport in the hotel safe.

3. You could carry copies of other forms of ID as well. If you were to lose your passport it could be hard to re-enter the US. It’s doable, but a bit of a hassle. Having additional copies will make this all go smoother.

4. Also, keep a digital copy of them all on your phone as well. This could come in handy, especially in combination with the paper copies.

If you need to, for any reason, be quickly admitted to the embassy of your country, (US consulates and embassies in Korea are listed below with contact information) then carrying something that can prove your citizenship can be very beneficial for you.

5. Don’t just leave it in your luggage! It is more likely to get stolen there.

6. Be careful if someone starts talking to you in the middle of a busy touristy spot. It might be fine, but it might not. It could be a distraction ploy by a pickpocket. They work in teams where one distracts, the other steals.

7. Be careful if a vendor of any kind requires you to leave your passport as security to rent a car boat or scooter! Feel the situation out and see if you can leave them your paper copy first. 

I just did that in Mexico to rent a scooter but they looked pretty legit, and I knew we weren’t going to be rally-driving the scooter so I felt the risk was pretty low. It turned out fine.

Though they could have scammed us by claiming that we damaged their vehicle… or kept it if we legitimately damaged it.

8. If you do get your passport or ID stolen, it’s important to notify the nearest Korean police authority immediately and file a police report with as much information as possible: The date, time, location (street address if possible), the vehicle’s color (if one was involved), license plate number, details of how you had your belongings (wallet or bag) open, etc.

General Travel Tip – Know where the closest embassy is. It might seem extreme, but if something were to happen, you may be very glad you took the time to know where it was beforehand. 

US consulates and embassies in Korea are listed below with contact information.

On domestic flights in Korea do you need to carry your passport?

Passports are not required for domestic flights, but they can be used. In fact, you may use any of the following for identification: driver’s license, ARC card, welfare card, or passport.

Do you have to carry your passport with you in Korea?

It boils down to personal preference and how much risk you’re willing to take on for yourself and those traveling with you during your trip abroad.

I can’t tell you what to do, but just let you know what Korean law is and what I do. You can go from there.

The law requires it, but people don’t carry their passports with them. I don’t know anyone who has been stopped and asked for their passport, but I have read online of folks who have, and they just called back to the hotel or resort and got things sorted out pretty quickly.

Should I carry my passport outside the resort in Korea?

You can carry your passport off the resort, but I don’t. I only ever take my passport out of the hotel safe if I’m going to the bank to exchange money, or checking out of the resort.

According to the law, you should keep it on you at all times.

TIP – Put a large paperclip inside the inside of the back cover of your passport book. They may issue you a receipt when you clear immigration in Korea, which you would need to submit to them upon your departure. Put this receipt under that paperclip. Doing it this way will reduce the risk of losing it, and you will have it right where you need it to show the immigration officers upon your return to the US.

Do you have to carry an ID in Korea?

The Korean authorities want you to carry your ID with you if you are in Korea, but you don’t have to. However, It could be helpful to carry photocopies of your passport and driver’s license with you though, just in case you get stopped and asked for some form of ID. 

One Last Tip – Double-check your passport’s “admit until” date stamped by the Filipino immigration authorities upon entering the country.  If you remain in the country beyond that date, you may be subject to fines and detention by the Philippine Bureau of Immigration.

Additional requirement for traveling into Korea after September 1, 2021

A visa or an approved Korea Electronic Travel Authorization (K-ETA) is required in addition to a valid U.S. passport to enter Korea. 

The K-ETA can be obtained by most holders of U.S. passports traveling to Korea for tourism or business purposes for less than 90 days.

You can apply for 10,000KRW on the K-ETA website. The fee cannot be refunded if you do not receive a response.

How long can you stay in Korea with a passport?

U.S. citizens with valid passports and a visa or K-ETA (Korea Electronic Travel Authorization) are allowed to visit Korea for tourism or for short-term visits for 90 days.

For entry into Korea, you will need a valid U.S. passport and a valid visa, or an approved Korea Electronic Travel Authorization (K-ETA).

What happens if you overstay in Korea?

Foreigners that overstay and are caught will be deported by Korean immigration officials. Furthermore, they will be barred from reentering for 5 years. That applies regardless of the length of the overstay.

US Consulates and Embassies in South Korea

U.S. Consulate in Busan

Lotte Gold Rose Building #612, Jungang-daero 993, Jin-gu

Busan 47209, Korea

Telephone: (+82) 51-863-0731

Email: [email protected]

U.S. Embassy Seoul

188 Sejong-daero, Jongno-gu,

Seoul 03141, Korea

Telephone: +(82) (2) 397-4114 – from within Korea, dial 02-397-4114 

DSN:721-4114

Fax: +(82) (2) 397-4101

Email: [email protected]

*Reference

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