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How to Relocate Your Household & Pets to South Korea

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  • Vladimir Rostev

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What does it take to relocate to South Korea? It may surprise you to learn that moving to the peninsular country is actually quite simple as long as you have all of the right documents prepared.

This relocation guide will help you learn how to relocate to South Korea. For starters, did you know that you will not have to pay duty tax on an imported vehicle as long as it arrives within six months of your entry into the country? What about the required vaccines for yourself, your family, and your pets? Our guide walks you through each step of the relocation process so that you can arrive safe and sound in The Land of the Morning Calm, and focus on starting your new, exciting expat adventure.

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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.

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.

Home Goods Storage

Moving to South Korea and looking for long- or short-term storage? Whether you are moving to one of the country’s bustling cities or the countryside, you can find storage options everywhere. Storage facilities will range anywhere from single locker units to large storerooms that can hold home furnishings from multi-room houses.

Prices will vary depending on your needs and locations, but fees will generally start around 8,000 KRW (7 USD) per day to over 250,000 KRW (200 USD) per month.

Vaccinations and Health Requirements for South Korea

To keep you and your family healthy, you will want to know which vaccinations are required for South Korea. Korea is a highly modernized country with high-quality healthcare. In general, foreigners coming to the Asian country may not need any vaccinations at all as the ones that are required for South Korean immigration are the same that are required for many countries around the globe.

What Vaccinations do I need for South Korea?

The CDC and WHO both recommend the standard set of vaccinations before traveling or moving to South Korea:

  • measles, mumps, rubella;
  • covid-19;
  • tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis;
  • chickenpox;
  • shingles;
  • pneumonia;
  • meningitis;
  • polio.

It is also recommended to get a regular flu shot. In addition, expats who think they may spend some time in more rural areas throughout Korea should consider getting the Japanese encephalitis vaccine. Japanese encephalitis is not terribly common, but it is easily spread through mosquitoes.

Health Requirements for South Korea Immigration

There are no health requirements to enter Korea unless you are arriving from a country that has had a recent outbreak of a contagious disease. Expats who suffer from respiratory problems such as asthma should also practice some caution as the air pollution in South Korea can exacerbate these problems. While living in Korea, expats are advised to wear a medical mask to help lessen the pollution’s effects.

The tap water in South Korea is safe to drink. You may see foreigners and locals alike drinking bottled water, but much of this has to do with taste rather than health.

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Discover our welcoming community of expats! You’ll find many ways to network, socialize, and make new friends. Attend online and in-person events that bring global minds together.

Pet Relocation South Korea

Can you bring pets into South Korea? Yes, you can bring pets into South Korea, and they will not need to be quarantined as long as you fulfill the necessary requirements before moving to the Asian country. When taking your dog, cat, or ferret to South Korea, these animals will all have to meet similar requirements (listed below).


Dogs, cats, and ferrets will all need to be microchipped with an ISO 11784/11785 pet microchip number. This number must by 15 digits and be non-encrypted. If the microchip is not ISO 11784/11785 compliant, you must bring your own microchip scanner. If your scanner does not work upon your pet’s arrival in South Korea, they may have to be quarantined and start the whole process over again. The microchip must be implanted before a rabies vaccination is administered.


If your cat or dog has not had a rabies vaccination within a year before your relocation, they will need to be vaccinated at least 30 days before arriving in South Korea. Rabies shots that last more than one year are not recognized in South Korea. Likewise, if moving with a puppy or kitten, the animal must be at least three months of age when they receive their vaccine. You will be asked to present a certified veterinary certificate to customs agents showing when your pet received the vaccine.

Certified Health Certificate

In addition to a certified document proving your animal has received a recent rabies vaccine, you will also be required to submit a health certificate stating your animal’s overall wellbeing. This can only be completed by a certified veterinarian.

South Korea recognizes the following documents as certified health certificates:

  • United States: Veterinary Health Certificate for Export of Dogs and Cats from the United States of America to Korea;
  • Canada: CFIA International Health Certificate;
  • EU Pet Passport;
  • Singapore: AVA Export Health Certificate/Permit;
  • Thailand Export Health Certificate;
  • Australia: DAFF Export Permit/Health Certificate.

Rabies Titer Test

Pets moving from a non-rabies-free country will need to have a rabies titer test no more than 30 days before arrival. Be advised that pets from these countries will most likely be quarantined for 12 hours. Not completing the rabies titer test before arrival will require a longer quarantine period.

Please note, if you are moving with five or more cats, dogs, or ferrets, you will need to apply for an import certificate from South Korean Immigration officials.

Jun 30, 2024, 9:30 AM
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