Immigration. Travel. Living.

South Korea: citizenship

Flag of South Korea

The government creates optimal conditions for foreigners to open a business in South Korea and the inflow of foreign investment in general. Jobs in Seoul and other major cities are in great demand. Moreover, Korea can offer the biggest level of salary in the world. In fact, the standard salary of Korean workers is the same as most developed European countries. 

How to get South Korean citizenship?

The rapid development of the industry over the past decade has searched for work in South Korea a dream of tens of thousands of labor migrants, and as it becomes more difficult to obtain a work visa every year, many foreigners began to think about obtaining citizenship.

The legal provisions governing obtaining a South Korean passport are detailed in the local Citizenship Law. You have two ways to obtain citizenship in Korea:

  • Birth
  • Naturalization

South Korean citizenship by birth

You can automatically obtain South Korean citizenship by birth in the following cases:

  • When the child was born his/her mother or father was in South Korea.
  • Abandoned children found in South Korea.

South Korean citizenship by naturalization

There are three types of naturalization in South Korea – general, simplified, and special. Let’s consider the conditions of each of the options.

General naturalization in South Korea

Obtaining South Korean citizenship through general naturalization is suitable for foreigners, who have never previously held a South Korean passport and have no kinship with Koreans.


Permanent residence in South Korea for at least 5 consecutive years. In some cases, a temporary stay outside the country is allowed for a period not exceeding a month. The person who wants to obtain a residence permit should have a permanent address, legal work, and foreign registration card.

Legal majority under South Korean civil law. A foreigner must be at least 20 years old.

No criminal record or serious violations of South Korean laws.

Sufficient financial security for living in the country at the expense of their funds or the income of family members.

Basic knowledge of the Korean language, knowledge of local culture and traditions on an equal basis with residents.

people walking between tall buildings

Simplified naturalization in South Korea

A South Korean passport can be obtained under a simplified procedure for persons who meet all the requirements for general naturalization, except for the period of permanent residence, which is reduced to 3 years.


One of the foreigner’s parents held a South Korean passport until his death. The applicant had previously renounced their South Korean passport in favor of another citizenship. The mother or father of the applicant should be born in the country.

Adopted minor children (under 20 years of age) of South Korean citizens are eligible to obtain a South Korean passport.

Make sure that the husband/wife of a South Korean citizen holder can get citizenship after three years of marriage and at least one year of residence in South Korea. If the marriage lasts only two years, then to obtain a passport, you must legally live in South Korea all this time.

Special naturalization in South Korea

There is a special naturalization procedure. If the children have Chinese or Korean roots or the biological child of foreigners who has already been naturalized in the country. There are different circumstances and in each case, specific requirements are imposed on the candidate, while the period of residence, age, and financial security of the applicant do not matter much.

Dual citizenship in South Korea

Since 2011, it is necessary to refuse a foreign passport for Less than 360 days after naturalization, otherwise, South Korean citizenship will be revoked. Foreigners with dual citizenship who were acquired before the age of 20 are required to determine and apply to renounce the citizenship of South Korea or another country before the age of 22.

Under certain conditions, people can retain their previous citizenship and obtain a South Korean passport:

Certain categories of “talented” foreigners make a significant contribution to the development of South Korea.

Koreans born abroad, for example, when parents studied or worked in another country, as well as children from multicultural families in South Korea, who took a special oath before the age of 22, which obliges not to use the rights of a foreign city while staying in South Korean territory.

Koreans over 65 have returned to South Korea permanently after taking a similar path.


Economic opportunities, democratic institutions, a comfortable climate, exquisite cuisine, ancient history, and culture contribute to the fact that many foreigners seek to obtain South Korean citizenship and stay in this country forever. The passport of South Korea gives you an opportunity to travel without visas around the world. 

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