Foreign drivers can drive in South Korea with their International Driving Permits for one year from the date of entered to the country. They can only drive the type of vehicles specified in their International driving permits. The International Driving Permits is not available for driving business-purpose cars.
The head of the local police department has the right to prohibit a foreign driver from driving with the International driving permit for up to 1 year, if the driver:
- has not taken or failed a regular aptitude test;
- has produced a traffic accident by intent or as a result of carelessness;
- has violated the Korean road traffic rules.
Any driver may recover the prohibited International driving permit upon the elapse of the prohibition period or upon departing from Korea during the prohibition period.
If a foreign driver drives a car without International driving permit or with an expired International driving permit, he will be fined or even imprisoned for up to one year.
In the center of the major cities, road signs are written in both English and Korean nationwide languages. Parking is often a serious problem since too many automobiles in Korean cities.
Main traffic rules are:
- Driving is on the right side of the road.
- Speed limit and distance are shown in kilometers.
- Right Turns on red are allowed after coming to a complete stop; at many large intersections, drivers can turn to right on a specific right turn light.
- Left turns are generally prohibited except where there is a left-turn light.
- In city roads, the right hand lane is indicated by a blue line and is the "Bus Only Lane"; cars with less than six persons are prohibited to use this lane. On expressways, bus lines are indicated by a blue line and can be used only by buses and 9-passenger vans having at least 6 passengers on weekends and holidays.
- In Seoul, median bus line marked in red may only be used by buses.
- The minimum driving age for cars is 18 years, for motorbikes – 16.
- Speed limits are generally: on expressways – 100 km/h (60 mph); on highways – 80 km/h (50mph); on rural roads – 60 km/h (40 mph); in urban areas – 50 km/h (30 mph).
- Set-belts are mandatory; drivers are responsible to have all passengers wear seat belts.
- Children may be ridded in the front seat only with a seat belt or in an appropriate child car seat.
- Police phone number is 112.
- The legal blood-alcohol level is 0.05%.
- At intersections without “Stop” / “Yield” signs: the first vehicle in the intersection is allowed to go ahead; if two drivers reach an intersection at the same time, the vehicle on the right has the right-of-way.
- When a pedestrian is in a crosswalk, vehicles must stop completely.
- It is prohibited to pass a school bus when it is used to receive/deliver passengers and indicated by flashing lights. Vehicles traveling in either direction of a stopped school bus must stop.
- In designated areas of major cities, using of horns is prohibited.
- While driving, drivers may only use cellular phones with hands-free devices.
- It is prohibited to park vehicle within 9 meters (30 feet) of any flashing, stop, yield, or traffic control signals located at the side of the roadway. It is also prohibited to park vehicle within 6 meters (20 feet) of a fire hydrant, crosswalk, bus stop, or intersection.
- Warning devices (including a red reflective triangular warning sign or a flashing light) must be in a car at all times.
Driver’s Assistance Request
Korean Road Traffic Signs
Driving Overseas - Short Information