I went through a bit of a complicated process getting my Canadian passport renewed in Korea, so I figured I would write a quick guide as to how to do it. This guide is for any Canadian currently living in Korea who just needs a replacement passport. For anything else (as well as updated information) consult the embassy website here.
Finding The Embassy
When renewing a passport in Korea you have two options – mail in your application, or complete it in person. I chose the latter after my experiences with the Korean post turned out to be unsatisfactory. I wanted to know exact dates, and wanted my passport in my hands the entire time, so I paid a visit to Seoul’s Canadian Embassy, located here. If you’re interested in doing the process by mail – visit the embassy website above for details.
For those not living in Seoul, there appears to be a consulate in Busan, but I’m not 100% on the services that they offer.
Completing Your Application In Person
With your application printed off and filled out, it’s time to take a trip to the embassy. Passport services were only done in the mornings, so be sure to get there bright and early (their hours are posted online). Before dropping off your application at the embassy, you’ll need a photo.
Getting Your Photo Taken
The embassy recommends a place just down the road (located on the second floor) to get your photo done. Make sure to say you’re applying for a Canadian passport, and mention “no photoshop / no retouch” as Canadian passport photos do not allow any alterations of images. Korea on the other hand, seems to allow retouching to the point of disguise.
The whole process took no more than 10 minutes from photo to print, and cost me about 15,000 won (17 Canadian dollars). Just make sure not to do what I did, and wear a T-shirt with French profanity written on it.
Dropping Off Your Application
Photos in hand, it’s time to drop off your application, old passport, photos, and money at the embassy. Head on in, go through security, and take a number. You’ll then be assessed by a consular officer, and instructed to pay a fee. The easiest way to pay I found was by credit card – so bring one from home if you can, otherwise you’re looking at more complicated methods of payment.
The entire process for me took exactly 20 working days, so I was able to pick up my passport exactly a month later. Leaving without a passport felt a little strange – so make sure you take care of any bank transfers before you part ways with your ID – as they likely won’t let you transfer money without it.
Picking Up Your Passport
This one is easy enough. Head on in to the same place you dropped it off with the form they gave you. They’ll check to make sure it’s the right date, and hand you your new passport (and your old one, if you requested it). This is important – keep the receipt that says when your passport was due to be picked up.
Informing Korean Immigration
Here’s where it gets complicated. If you’re on an E2 visa, you will need to inform Korean immigration of the change. They give you a two-week grace period to tell them the updated number, but unfortunately, you won’t receive your passport until two weeks after the two week grace period.
The easiest way to let them know is to call them, and fax in your information. Pick up your cell phone and call the number 1345 – it will connect you (eventually) to English speaking immigration services, who can inform you of exactly what to do.
They will tell you to download and fill out a specific form from their website (good luck). With that form filled out, you can fax it in (with a scanned copy of your passport, and a scanned copy of the front and back of your Alien Registration Card) to the number they provide you with.
Now remembering the receipt I told you to keep – send that in too, with the date of pick up highlighted in some way. Make sure to clarify that you were unable to pick up your passport until that date. I had to have a Korean friend call immigration and explain, as they originally told me I’d need to come in to their office and pay a fee. Anyone who’s been to Korean immigration knows the fee is bad, but the office is worse – so getting it taken care of by phone would be ideal.
The entire process took me a little over a month, but was generally pretty easy to do – and now I’ve got a brand new passport to show for it. Time to fill it up with stamps.