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Working in South Korea

Canadians going to the Republic of Korea to work, teach or model (part-time or full-time, paid or unpaid) must enter the ROK using the appropriate work visa. Changes of status from any other visa status to a work visa are not granted within the country. Any foreigner who begins work without the appropriate visa is subject to arrest, costly fines and deportation. Persons working without a valid work-permit, who have a contractual dispute with his/her employer, have little or no entitlement to legal recourse under South Korean law.

Anyone who wishes to work as an ESL teacher in Korea must provide a criminal record check from Canada and a degree to obtain the visa (E-2) and should be notarized by the Korean missions in Canada. For more information, you may refer to the following link: CRC or you may wish to refer to the Korea Immigration Service website.

Alien registration

Under Article 31 of the Immigration Act, if a Canadian intends to stay in the Republic of Korea for more than 90 days from the date of entry, he/she is required to file for alien registration with the Regional Immigration Service which has jurisdiction over the place of his/her stay within 90 days from the date of entry into Korea. This requirement is not applicable to Canadians with visitor status in Korea.

Report of changes

Under Article 35 & 36 of the Immigration Act, registered Canadians are required to report changes in Alien Registration matter including his/her name, gender, date of birth, nationality, passport information, and place of stay to the regional immigration office which has jurisdiction over the place of his/her stay within 14 days.      

For passport, mandatory reporting period is calculated starting 30 days after the issue date of a passport, so the change of passport information should be reported within 44 days from the issue date of a new passport.

More information is available at the Korea Immigration Service website : (


For Canadians seeking information on teaching in Korea, you may also wish to consult Global Affairs Canada (GAC)’s publication entitled Teaching English in Korea, available on the internet, at travel.

Criminal penalties

While in a foreign country, a Canadian citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in Canada and may not afford the protections available to the individual under Canadian law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in Canada for similar offenses. Persons violating South Korean laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, fined or imprisoned. People arrested in South Korea, even for minor offenses, will in all likelihood be held in detention during the investigative and legal proceedings.

Travellers should also be careful to adhere to Korean Government regulations regarding currency exchange and customs declarations.


Differently from Canada, possession, use, or trafficking of any type of drugs in South Korea is illegal and penalties are strict. Convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences, heavy fines and then deportation with entry ban. 

Passport seizures/exit bans and commercial disputes

The Government of the Republic of Korea sometimes seizes the passports and blocks the departure from the country of foreigners involved in commercial disputes. If this happens to you, please notify the Consular Section of the Embassy.


According to the agreement on Social Security between Canada and Korea effective May 1, 1999, Canadians working in Korea have to join the Korean National Pension Plan. The contributions you make will be reimbursed when you leave the country. For more detailed information, please refer to the website Pensions and benefits & Foreigners and Lump-sum Refund or contact National Pension Service in Korea at 02-2176-8712 from Korea and 82-2-2176-8712 from abroad.

For up-to-date information on security/safety conditions, health questions and entry requirements to Korea, you may consult the Travel Report on this country, published by Global Affairs Canada (GAC). The report is available on the internet, at travel and GAC publication "Bon Voyage, but...".


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