*Starting January 2021, the word “alien” was removed and the ARC is now officially called “Residence Card”.
What is an Alien Registration Card?
In order to legally stay in South Korea for a period of more than 90 days, every foreigner is required to apply for a visa and obtain an identity card called a Residence Card, formerly known as Alien Registration Card (ARC). The residence/alien registration card must be applied for within the first 90 days of entry upon arrival in Korea. In addition, renewal of the residence/alien registration card is mandatory for those who wish to extend their stay or change their visa.
Not sure how to go about the process? Here is a step-by-step guide to registering for the ARC/residence card in South Korea, followed by a guide to renewing the ARC/residence card.
How to Register for your Alien Registration Card in South Korea
Step 1. Create an account on hikorea.com.
Immigration offices do not usually accept walk-in visits (and on the rare occasion that they do, the waiting time is terribly long so it is not recommended). Make sure you have Internet Explorer installed on your computer if you’re making an appointment on your computer instead of your phone. Many Korean Government websites are quite old so using a newer web browser like Google Chrome may cause you to have issues with the website.
To make an appointment for a visit, first, create an account on hikorea by clicking the “login” button at the top of the website. You can adjust language preferences by clicking the “language” button at the top right hand corner of the site. Next, click on “Reserve visit ” and then “Online reservation”.
Step 2. Make an online reservation
Once you click on “Online reservation,” you should be directed to the reservation page. Choose the immigration office that corresponds to the area that you live in. You can use the “Detailed Search” option to locate the relevant immigration office. Under “Booth category”, you can choose between Chinese visitors and non-Chinese visitors. Choose accordingly based on your nationality.
By clicking on “Date of visit,” a pop-up window [shown in the image below] will appear. Choose your preferred time and date for your visit to the immigration office and then click “Close”. The pop-up window will then close and you will be brought back to the previous screen.
Click “Apply” and you will be brought to the confirmation page. You can then print out the confirmation page or take a picture of it to take to your appointment. At the bottom of the confirmation page is a download button for an application form. Download and print the form.
Step 3. Complete the application form and prepare the necessary supporting documents.
The application form is available in both English and Chinese. Choose one version and complete it. At the top of the form, choose the “Alien Registration” option.
Depending on your purpose of stay in Korea and visa type, the necessary documents you need to prepare are different. The most common documents to prepare are as follows:
1 color passport photo (3.5mm x 4.5mm) on white background (They have photo booths at the immigration offices to take the photo but it is better to be prepared)
In addition, you can also call the Immigration Contact Center at 1345 to check what documents are required before making your visit to the Immigration Office. The service is free and they have staff who speak in multiple languages.
Step 4. Visit the Immigration Office
Visit the designated Immigration Office at your reserved date and time. The application venue for Chinese and non-Chinese visitors may be on different floors so it might be a good idea to arrive early and check what floor your appointment will be on.
Once you arrive at the right level, check your call number on the list of reserved appointments that is printed and pasted on the wall near the entrance. Wait for your number to be called.
Once you’re called up, the officer will check your application and direct you to pay the processing fee of KRW 30,000 using the ATM machines in the building (note: they may be located on a different floor). If you would like the ARC to be delivered to your address, you will have to top up an additional KRW 3,000.
Pay the fees by inserting cash into the ATM machine (there are usually staff members situated next to the ATM machines to assist you). Once this is done, bring up your receipt to the officer who previously checked your document. If all goes well, he or she will inform you that your residence card/alien registration card (ARC) is being processed and that you will receive the card in about 3-5 weeks (to your address if you opted for delivery and to the Immigration Office if you declined the delivery option).
Step 5. Wait for the arrival of the card
For those who opted to have your Residence Card/ARC delivered, you will receive the card in your mailbox. For those who opted out of the Residence Card/ARC delivery, you will receive a notification that your card is ready for pickup at the same Immigration Office that you went to register for the card. Call the Immigration Contact Center at 1345 to inquire whether a reservation is necessary to retrieve your Residence Card/ARC from the office.