US Military: Getting Your Foreign Registration Card (FRC) in South Korea

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While this blog is to help US Military members and their families get a Foreign Registration Card, this is not a US Military affiliated blog. South of Seoul independently researches and documents situations related to different foreign groups in Korea. We do not speak for the US government or the Korean government. We speak to what is happening in real-time and the information provided to us by professional sources. For more information that might be of use to US Military service members and their families check out our US Military Welcome Packet.

About the Foreign Registration Card (FRC)

The Foreign Registration Card (FRC) used to be known as the Alien Registration Card (ARC). South Korea changed from ‘Alien’ to ‘Foreign’ in 2020. Any time you see ARC in this blog or other publications, ARC is interchangeable with FRC. The FRC allows foreign residents living in South Korea to easily access many different aspects of Korean social systems such as officially registered phone number which links to banking and health systems.

A list of things that can be done with an Foreign Registration Card. Online shopping, paying for parking garages, Coupang Eats, booster vaccines, QR code check-in, and vaccine registartion.

Having a Foreign Registration Card (FRC) and a registered phone number (not a disposable phone) means residents can:

  • Easily open a Korean Bank account
  • Signup for online banking
  • Use local food delivery apps
  • Order from shopping sites
  • Easily access money across Korea with a local bank account
  • Book lodging on cheaper local websites
  • Purchase tickerts online for events
  • Register your foreign vaccinations with the COOV app
  • Become eligible for vaccine booster shots in South Korea
  • So much more!

One might say that once you have an ARC and phone number linked to your ARC, life in Korea goes on easy mode. Almost everything you could need is a few digital clicks away.

The Reason US Military Personnel Are Not Required to Have the FRC

US Military personnel live in Korea under the South Korean Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). Under SOFA, the South Korean government does not require US Soldiers to register in Korea as residents of the country. This means that many US Military personnel do not enter into Korean social systems such as phone, banking, or health care since they have no Alien Registration Card (ARC).

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Over the last decade, South of Seoul volunteers have watched US Military personnel increasingly struggle with the mounting inconveniences associated with living without an FRC.

Life with No FRC Causes Many Issues for US Military Personnel

Due to not having an FRC, the US Military members regularly experience inconveniences related to their non-resident living status. Such inconveniences, in the past, have primarily included issues related to banking, shopping locally, and using Korean payment systems. Although many US Military personnel find such issues highly frustrating, they could be managed during a one-year deployment.

However, with COVID, many new challenges related to living without and FRC began to develop. In late 2021, with the adaptation of COOV (an electronic vaccine verification system across South Korea) the US Military personnel (who did not choose to voluntarily apply for an ARC) found themselves inconvenienced in new ways.

With the increased reliance on digital systems, businesses across South Korea began denying entry to US Military personnel as government regulations related to vaccine verification increased and US Military do not have their vaccines registered in the Korean systems. Confusion about vaccine verification ensued. US Military found their ability to live comfortably in South Korea heavily impacted by two key factors: 1) inability to verify their family lived at the same address and 2) foreign vaccinations not registered in South Korea.

Additionally, many US Military personnel did not have clear, easy-to-understand information on how to apply for FRCs or how applying for an FRC could positively impact their lives.

South of Seoul volunteers decided to aggregate actionable information based on interviews with US Military personnel who had successfully acquired FRCs for their families and create a blog to support other US Military personnel searching for solutions.

How USFK Can Apply for a Foreign Registration Card in South Korea

Make an Appointment with Immigration

All Foreigners, including USFK, must schedule an appointment online with HiKorea. HiKorea is the official South Korean immigration website and they have an English language website. Appointments are often booked 4-6 weeks in advance. US Military personnel interested in living more comfortably in South Korea may want to consider scheduling their Korean Immigration appointments upon arrival in South Korea.

Important Note: Military with two passports. You need to make the appointment with the passport you used to enter the country. The same passport used for your SOFA visa. If you use the wrong passport you may see the following error: No Result Found

Important Note: The website does not work with all browsers. If you are using Chrome and are getting an error message, try using Microsoft Edge.

Sample error message from the HiKorea website if the wrong passport number is used, if a DOD ID number should be used, or if a different browser should be used.
Sample of Error Message

Important Note: An appointment must be scheduled for each person in the family who needs to register and attend the application process.

Registering every member of the family for their FRCcould be recommended for the following reasons:

  • To verify everyone lives at the same address so that large families may eat together during certain restricted times.
  • All members of the family can register their vaccinations in South Korea
  • All members of the family can be elidgable or boosters and vaccinations
  • Children can register in Korean pre-schools and elementary schools
  • And so much more…

Important Note: Sometimes when making an appointment for the service member their passport number won’t work and they need to use their DOD ID number or possibly SSN

Sourced from a US Military personnel Interview

1345 Korean Immigration Hotline

If you have issues making your reservation with Korean immigration call 1345 (82-1345 from outside Korea) and wait until you are prompted to press 3* for English. The hotline is usually open from 9am to 10pm and they can help problem solve the system.

Paperwork US Military Personal Need to Apply for a FRC

My appointment for the FRC was a breeze. Had all of the right documents, thanks to you all. I was in and out of that place within 15 minutes. Mahalo!

Camp Humphreys Spouse

The paperwork required to apply for an FRC is minimal. As of 2021 multiple US Military personnel confirmed that they needed the following information to successfully and smoothly acquire their FRC:

  1. Passport (including the SOFA stamp) for each person applying for their FRC
  2. 1 Color ‘Passport’ Photo (3.5cm X 4.5cm) of each person applying for their FRC
  3. Application Fee: FREE FOR USFK (Seriously, so lucky)
  4. Lease agreement (NOTE for those living On a US Militry Base: It has been reported that you need ‘proof of residency’ from the housing)
  5. Orders
  6. Letter of employment (For civilians associated with US military).
  7. ‘Application Form (Report Form)’ for each erson applying for their FRC (more info below)

Korean immigration confirmed that the following form can be used by US military living on post to verify their address in Korea:

Proof of residency form required for obtaining a  Foreign Registration Card if living on base.
A Sample of the Address Verification Paper US military living on post can use to apply for an FRC

The ‘Application Form (Report Form)’

You will need to complete the ‘Application Form (Report Form)’ for each person applying for the FRC. Such a form can be found on HiKorea or at Korean Immigration on the day of application. If applying for a large family, consider completing all paperwork prior to arrival at Korean immigration. This is the same form used by all foreign residents in South Korea.

Complete the items highlighted in the following image:

Application form (report form) required to be filled out for a Foreign Registration Card

Photo Machine Available at Immigration

Immigration has a photo machine with correctly sized images. It will cost 10,000 per person for such photos. You must have the exact amount of cash in KRW. The photo machine does not take cards.

Copy Booth at Immigration

If you need copies, don’t worry. On the 2nd floor of the immigration office is a small booth where they will make copies for you. Make sure to have some won on hand to pay for copies that might be needed.

3-4 Weeks Later, Pickup Your New FRC Cards

It will take 3-4 weeks for the paperwork to process. Immigration does not mail FRC to US Military Personnel.

SOFA Base FRC Expiration Date

The FRC issued to SOFA-related personal will likely not have an expiration date and will not need to be renewed. Upon leaving Korea for the final time (not during holidays or temporary travel), the FRC card must be turned over to immigration.

Hurdles US Military Personnel May Face in Acquiring a Foreign Registration Card

  • Scheduling all the appointments for one large family on one day
  • Difficulty getting an appoinment in less than 3-4 weeks
  • Sometimes when making an appointment for the se on HiKorea a service member found their passport number won’t work and they need to use their DOD ID number or possibly SSN

Choosing to Live in South Korea without a Foreign Registration Card is Choosing to Live with Many Inconveniences

US Military personnel do NOT need an FRC to live legally in South Korea, however, some US Military personnel may find that living legally does not always equal living comfortably.

South of Seoul wishes to state the following disclaimers

South of Seoul volunteers have a commitment to well-researched and informed blogs. We need your help in making sure all information is accurate and complete. Always let us know if our words are confusing, you have additional information that could improve the blog, something is not correct, etc. It takes a village to stay current on all information. Additionally:

  • The choice for US Military perssonael to live without an FRC and embrace the inconveniences is also normal and acceptable. We pass no judgement.
  • This blog does not exist to pressure anyone to make a decision for or against a life with an FRC.
  • The intention of this blog is to clearly inform readers of how the FRC impacts US Military personnel living in South Korea and how to acquire the FRC if they so desire.
  • The information contained in this blog represents a moment in time in 2021 and all information could change at any moment based on decissions by either the USFK or South Korea.
  • South of Seoul volunteers have compiled this information based off of personal experieces of US Military personnel.

Pyeongtaek Immigration Office and Parking

Suwon Immigration Songtan Branch

Suwon Immigration Songtan Branch3

031-8024-9600

Copy and paste phone numbers into Naver Maps to get directions

Hangul Address

경기 평택시 경기대로 1375

*You need an appointment which can only be booked on HiKorea. You MUST use internet explorer and the website WILL tell you that the government website is malicious. You must IGNORE these warnings and continue.

(Listing information provided by the South of Seoul app)

The best parking for immigration is the Pyeongtaek City Parking lot. The for city hall still takes Korean won cash. Have a few thousand won available to pay for making. If you can have 500 and 100 won coins as well so you can pay in exact change.

Songtan City Hall

Songtan City Hall0

031-8024-6000

Copy and paste phone numbers into Naver Maps to get directions

Hangul Address

경기도 평택시 경기대로 1366

You can pay: - Parking tickets - Speeding tickets - Car registration

(Listing information provided by the South of Seoul app)

Contact 1345 Korean Immigration with Questions

During COVID, contacting 1345 (Korean Immigration hotline) has been hectic. However, Korean Immigration does have a foreign language support hotline. Feel free to contact immigration with questions related to your FRC.

More Blogs About Syncing Your FRC with Korean Systems

Coming soon…. we are writing these as fast as we can and still be accurate with information.