Renting a Car in Korea

Category : Surviving in Korea / Travel/Events
Nov 28, 2014

Driving in Seoul (or any Korean city) is a whole new experience. The roads are jam-packed, traffic rules are ignored, horns honk constantly, and buses and taxis act like kings of the road prepared to mow down anything in their path (that’s an exaggeration). The thought of driving a car in some places (read: the labyrinth of narrow and winding roads that make up most of Korea’s urban centers) can be a little daunting, and with reason! However, in the case of making a cross-country road trip, or spending a weekend somewhere a little less chaotic like Jeju Island or nother rural areas, renting a car can be an enjoyable experience. To boot, renting a car in Korea isn’t that hard. You don’t need to have a Korean person to help you; you can drive the car yourself and there are plenty of English-speaking rental car companies. There are a few requirements to be a driver and you might want to consider your options before you hit the open (or not so open) roads.

 

If you’re now interested in renting a car in Korea, read through these requirements and tips to see if you will qualify.

 

To rent a car, you must:

  • Have more than one year's driving experience
  • Be over 21 years of age
  • Hold a valid International Driving Permit (IDP) or a Korean driving license
  • Have a valid passport or Alien Registration Card (ARC)
  • Possess a credit card

 

Things to remember:

  1. If you have a valid International Driving Permit, you must also show your valid driver’s license from your home country in order to rent a car in Korea.
    • Learn how to get an International Driving Permit in the article, Obtaining an International Driver’s Permit in Korea.
  2. The same applies if you have had your Korean license for less than one year. You must verify more than one year of driving experience.
    • Visit the articles about Applying for a Korean Driver’s License to learn more.
  3. Most dealers only accept credit card payment, but some can make exceptions. Make sure to call the dealership ahead to inquire about accepted methods of payment.

 

Reservations

You don’t need to jump through hoops to make a reservation. Some sites (listed below) have an English online reservation system that allows customers to make reservations as little as six hours in advance and as far as three months ahead. The same goes for making reservations over the phone. Making a reservation ahead ensures that you will get the car you want and you don’t need to pay until you actually pick up the vehicle. You’ll only be charged 10% of the rental fee if you cancel less than 24 hours ahead!

 

Of course you can go directly to the rental dealership and pick up a car in person without a prior reservation. While drop-ins are usually not a problem during seasonally slow periods, advance reservations are strongly advised for weekends in the summer or during holidays. Renting vehicles in Korea is popular. People living in the city don’t need cars until they want to take a vacation.

 

àNote: Rental places have special promotions all the time. Sign up as a member online and you’ll receive as much as 30-50% off future rentals. Booking online, rather than over the phone or in person, is also a good way to get discounts.

 

Fees

Prices are slightly higher in Korea than in other countries for car rentals, but not significantly so to discourage doing it. Prices always include insurance. However, prices do not include a collision damage waiver (CDW). This insurance covers the cost of repairs to the car if you cause an accident. You can pay extra for the CDW when you pick up the vehicle. Mention that you want CDW coverage when you make a reservation or when you arrive. In Korea, you are expected to pay for your own gas and return it at the same level as it was rented to you.

 

Prices are usually around 100,000 KRW per day on a regular weekend for a small compact size vehicle. Of course, prices vary depending on the size and brand of the car, and the month and date of rental. There is no rental fee for additional drivers. You just need to pay for extra insurance and the second driver needs to meet the requirements listed above.

 

Before you sign on the dotted line…

  • Inspect your car carefully prior to signing the rental consent form. Indicate any scratches or dents that may already be present. Korean rental car services are very picky so even the slightest mark unaccounted for will result in you paying for it.
  • If the car looks old or has multiple marks already, ask for it to be switched before you take it. It’s best to rent a car with no scratches at all.

 

Services

Dealerships offer more than just your basic car rentals. Most places offer vehicle rental services, chauffeur services and car leasing. Other places specialize in certain services.

 

Here is what you might find:

  1. Vehicle Rental: Your standard rent-a-car service.
  2. Chauffeur Services: Try this out if you don’t want to do the driving.
  3. Leasing Availability: Great for expats who want a car during your year in Korea.
  4. Corporate Services: You can get good prices if you’re renting often for business
  5. Luxury: Try out a luxury car for the first (and maybe last) time in your life!
  6. Oversized Vehicles: Go for a big car if there is a group of you.
  7. Camping Van Rentals: Get a camping van instead of roughing it in a tent.
  8. Area Specialization: Some companies specialize in Jeju island rentals.
  9. Special Events/Promotions: Some companies are known for great online deals.

 

Companies

The companies listed in this chart offer services in English and have an English online reservation system. There are other Korean only companies not mentioned.

 

Company

Website

Phone

Rental Information

Car Rental

Chauffer Service

Leasing Available

Other Services

KT Kumho

Website

82-2-797-8000

YES

YES

YES

Camping Van rentals, Jeju Island rentals

Hertz Korea

Website

02-6711-1040

YES

YES

NO

Airport Transfers

Avis Korea

Website

080-900-0015/ 1544-1600/ 02-862-2847

YES

YES

YES

Specializes in Jeju Island Rentals

National Korea

Website

02-732-7721

YES

NO

NO

Specializes in corporate service

Welcome-to-Korea

Website

07-7893-1100

YES

YES

NO

Specializes in luxury rentals and oversized vehicles

 

 

Tags : Rent. Car. License.

Lindsey lived and worked in Seoul, South Korea for over 5 years. While there, she dabbled in different areas of work and explored the culture. She spent time teaching elementary students, business English to adults and high school students about college preparation. She also studied Korean, wrote blogs and tasted as many foods as she possibly could including fermented skate fish. Over the years, Lindsey developed a love for Korea and the culture. She is keen to share her knowledge of Korea with others and she will always consider Korea a second home.

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