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How to Get a License

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Between the buses and Nubija in Changwon, it is pretty easy to get around. However, if you are still in need of a transportation fix it is possible to buy a car or scooter. We’ll save details for how to buy a car in Changwon for a later post. In order to drive a car or even a scooter, you must have either an International or Korean driver’s license.

Two options exist. The first is an International license. There are a lot of different opinions, but according to our research, a person is only allowed to get an International license if they have been out of their home country for less than a year, and it is only valid for one year. There are some sites that claim you can renew for up to three years and others that say the International license is valid for 10 years. Google “International license” for many blogs and websites that give information on how to acquire an International license.

To get a Korean license you must jump through a few hoops. The advantage is that the license is valid for 10 years. It is also much easier to rent a car when you have a Korean license.
To get all the details, please refer to this website: http://www.koroad.or.kr/. This is the official English website for how to attain a Korean driver’s license.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • The first, and arguably the hardest part, is getting a confirmation from the embassy that the license you currently have is a valid license. This will be slightly different for each country, (I believe people from the UK do not need this, but people from Canada and the US do) so each person will have to refer to their home countries embassy for more information. Obviously, Busan has the closer embassies but the hours are different for each country, so you will need to do some research to find their operating hours.
  • Depending on your nationality, you may have to take a written driver’s test. This test is similar to the one back home. It is in English and the questions are not difficult.
  • You will have to exchange your license, which means they take your home country license from you. You can get it back by going to the DMV and presenting them with your airplane ticket home.
  • The DMV has 3 different buildings to visit. In typical beauracratic fashion, you must go from one to the other and back, and then to the other, and back again. Do not be surprised if you get lost, or need directions to complete the entire process. Things are not marked in English.
  • The DMV is really far away from everything which is frustrating, because, obviously, you cannot drive to get to it.
  • Bring two passport photos, and your ARC and your passport!

Here is the map.


View 마산 운전 면허 시험장 Changwon DMV in a larger map.

Bus options: Here are bus options from Changwon City Hall. You can modify the map by moving the red flag to where you are. It is possible to get the whole way by bus, but the 72, which takes you to and from the DMV only comes once every 1 hour and 20 minutes, so it can take up a lot  of your day. Better to take a bus to Kyungnam University in the southern part of Masan and then take a taxi from their.

Tell a taxi: “Masan OonCheon MyeonHuh SheHamChang Ga ChusayOh” or write this down, in large font for a taxi driver: 마산 운전 면허 시험장.
The taxi cost is 9,800 from Kyungnam University and the cost of the license exchange is about 10,000 won (not including the 50,000 won you have to pay to get your license verified by your embassy.)

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