Relocating to South Korea: Household Moving and More | InterNations

Moving and Shipping Household Goods

One of the most important parts of any international relocation is how to move household items and belongings to your new country. Luckily, for expats moving to Korea, you will find that customs and import regulations are very fair. You should be exempt from paying duty tax as long as the items are used, for personal use only, and arrive within six months of your entry into South Korea.

How to Ship Household Items and Belongings to South Korea

To move items and belongings to South Korea, you will need to either send them by plane or by cargo ship. The choice between the two is up to you and your needs. Shipping via air will be more costly, but also faster and your items can even arrive the same day as you do. Sending your items via cargo ship is cheaper but will also take several months.

If choosing to send your items by water, you will need to keep in mind the six-month deadline in which your items must arrive in order to not pay duty tax. You will need to list on your customs form when you will arrive in South Korea. When the cargo ship carrying your goods arrives, do not head straight down to the port to claim everything. South Korea imports many items via sea and there is often a backlog of cargo goods to get through. Wait until you receive a notification stating that your goods are ready for pick-up.

Custom Regulations for South Korea

Wondering what to pack when moving to South Korea? As stated before, your household items and goods should be allowed into the country duty-free as long as they are used (so remove any price tags), for personal use, and arrive within six-months of your entry into the Asian country. Large amounts of any item will be subject to inspection.

When packing for your international move, be sure to create an itemized list and keep a record of what is in each box. This is not mandatory for claiming your goods from Korean customs, but should there be any hiccups, it is best to have this list. The list does not have to be translated into Korean, but it should be in English. To claim expensive items such as computers, televisions, or other electronics, you will need to present your passport.

To ensure nothing goes awry when shipping and receiving your household belongings in South Korea, enlist the help of InterNations. We understand the complexities of international customs allowances and regulations, and we will ensure your items arrive safe and sound from your old home to your new one.

South Korea Customs Allowances

Customs allowances in South Korea are always subject to change. The Asian country is small and crowded, and prone to infectious disease outbreak if every precaution is not followed. Because of this, it is best to consult the South Korea Customs website to ensure you are still able to bring everything that you want to into the country.

Prohibited and Restricted Items in South Korea

Korea prohibits and restricts certain items from crossing their borders. If you are arriving from a country with a recent outbreak of a contagious disease, be prepared to have your goods inspected thoroughly, and possibly not allowed entry.

Prohibited items in South Korea include:

  • narcotics and drugs;
  • fruit;
  • hay;
  • seeds;
  • plants and plant products require a phytosanitary certificate issued by the plant quarantine office of the country of origin;
  • beef and pork must be declared to Customs agents;
  • items considered to be subversive, obscene, or harmful to national security or public interests (printed material, films, records, or cassettes);
  • products originating from communist countries;
  • foreign currency exceeding 10,000 USD.

Restricted items include:

  • firearms, explosives, and other weapons and ammunition;
  • recreational drugs such as opium, marijuana, cocaine, etc;
  • imported wildlife protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and products made from these animals, such as medicines, handbags, wallets, stoles, taxidermy, and ivory;
  • in addition to the animals protected by CITES, expats may also not bring items made from elephants, leopards, and alligators;
  • precious metals (not including gold rings or necklaces used daily);
  • goods that may threaten the quality of water sources and the growth of saplings.

Importing a Vehicle into South Korea

If you are planning to move to South Korea long-term, you may want to know if you can bring your own car or motorcycle into the country, or if you will have to buy one there. Luckily, if you do end up having to buy a vehicle in South Korea, you will have a wealth of options. The Asian country is the fifth largest producer of vehicles in the world, and it is the sixth largest exporter. Hyundai and Kia Motors are two of the largest international brands, but the country is also home to Daewoo and Renault Samsung, among many others.

It is possible to import your own vehicle into South Korea. To begin the import process, you must be able to prove that you intend to live in the country for at least one year. This can be proven by an employee contract or proof of a family member who already resides in Korea. You can only import small or medium-sized vehicles; mobile homes, trucks, and cars that seat ten or more people are not allowed. Japanese cars are also not allowed.

The car must have been owned for at least three months by the person importing it. If your car arrives within six months of your entry into South Korea, it will be considered part of your household items and therefore not subject to duty tax. If it arrives after the six months, it will be subject to inspection and tests for noise, safety, and emissions.

Claiming Your Car

To claim your car, you will need to present the following documents:

  • original certificate of registration;
  • proof of purchase;
  • passport of the person importing the vehicle;
  • proof of vehicle insurance;
  • completed customs declaration form;
  • work permit or employee contract of the person importing the car.

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