Below is an outline of all of the administrative tasks EPIK teachers will need to accomplish in order to enjoy a comfortable, fiscally sound and legal stay in Korea. The outline attempts to give the best and most accurate information for current and future Guest English Teachers. Tasks may vary according to your exact circumstances, so it is important to check with the appropriate authority for more information regarding the exact details and requirements.
|Timeline||Task||Who can help?||Where to go|
|1. Apply for Residency Certificate (only if applicable)||Your National Tax Authority||Your National Tax Authority|
|Week 1||2. Health Check (if not completed at Orientation)||A Co-Teacher||A large, certified hospital that can provide all the necessary tests|
|Week 1||3. Open a Bank Account (only if applicable)||A Co-Teacher||A bank close to your school for convenience. Call ahead to see if an ARC is necessary.|
|4. Alien Registration Card (ARC)||A Co-Teacher||The local Korean Immigration Service office in your province or district|
|5. National Health Insurance Card||A Co-Teacher/ School Administration Office||A Co-Teacher/ School Admini-stration Office|
|Week 4||6. Receive Your First Pay Check!||A Co-Teacher/ School Administration Office||Your main school will administer your pay.|
|7. Receive the Entrance Allowance||A Co-Teacher/ National EPIK Office||If you have not received your Entrance Allowance of 1.3 million won by the end of the first month, please contact your MOE/POE.|
|Anytime||8. Register with Your National Embassy||Your National Embassy||The website of your national embassy may offer details.|
|Anytime||9. Get a Cell Phone||A Kind Co-Teacher (not part of their duties)||A reputable cell phone dealer|
|Anytime||10. Get Internet Access in Your Home||A Kind Co-Teacher (not part of their duties)||Any major Internet service provider|
|Month 2||11. Thank Your Co- Teacher(s) for Their Help!||Your First Pay Check||A favorite pizza place, bakery, fruit stand, etc.|
|12. Decide to Renew, Reapply, or Complete Your Contract||
A Co-Teacher, School’s Administrative Office,
and the Metropolitan/
Provincial Office of Education
|The appropriate level of administration according to your decision: School, MOE/POE, or National EPIK Office|
|Month 11||13. Prepare to Transfer Funds and Ship Belongings Back Home||
|Ask your bank how to transfer funds once you have departed the country.|
|Month 12||14. Apply for a Pension Lump-Sum Refund (if applicable)||
|Month 13||15. Receive Your Severance Pay and Your Exit Allowance||A Co-Teacher/School Administration Office||Your main school (the one that administers your pay)|
Currently, of the seven English speaking countries EPIK recruits from, only Canadian or Irish citizens are not eligible to claim exemption from Korean taxes. To claim exemption from Korean taxes, you must provide the necessary documentation that you are a permanent resident of a country that has negotiated a tax treaty with Korea. You are responsible for obtaining what is known as a “Certificate of Residency” from the appropriate tax authority in your home country and must present this document to your school’s administrators to be tax exempt in Korea. An individual’s tax residency is determined according to their tax information from the year prior to submitting their application. Please check with your National Tax Authority for more information on the Certificate of Residency.
A clear health check is mandatory to obtain an Alien Registration Card. While EPIK teachers do not have to submit the results to the Korean immigration office, your Office of Education must have this on file. After you receive the results, you must submit it to your Office of Education. These tests can all be obtained from a large hospital certified by the Ministry of Justice.
Banks are only open during normal business hours (Monday-Friday, 9:30am-4:00pm). This means that you may need to do most of your banking during the school day. Your passport and ARC (Alien Registration Card) are required to open your bank account.
You can have your Korean bank transfer money to a bank in your home country. In this case, you would need to provide your Korean bank with the swift code of your home bank. The fee for this kind of transfer will vary from bank to bank.
In terms of transfers, you can transfer money by visiting your bank and completing the transaction in person, or you can ask your bank if they have a special foreigner remittance program. If so, the bank will set up a separate account in Korea that is directly connected with your bank account in your home country. Once this is done, you can simply put money into this special account (using internet banking, ATM, passbook, etc.) and it will automatically be exchanged and transferred to your home-country account. There is often a standard service charge from your Korean bank for each transfer made. A fee from your home country's bank may also apply, so you should contact them for more information. For more detailed information in regards to this process, you should visit your bank in person or call their English customer service number.
The Alien Registration Card (ARC) is your identification card for your legal stay in Korea. You must apply for your ARC as soon as possible after your arrival. You will apply for the ARC at your local Korean Immigration office (출입국관리사무소). Most provinces have only one such office. To avoid waiting in line at the immigration office, you can schedule an appointment online at www.immigration.go.kr | English | On-Line Service | Reservation
* Required Documents: Please have your co-teacher call your local office to find out exactly what documents you will need. However, you will likely need:
- Your passport
- 1 color passport photos (3 cm x 4 cm)
- Proof of Employment (provided by your school)
- The POE Business Registration Number (provided by your school)
- The application form
- A processing fee of ￦10,000
* F-4 visa holders : Passport, Photo, Application Form, Fee
The National Health Insurance Card (NHIC) proves that you are insured under the government mandated National Health Insurance Program. You will need to present this card during visits to a doctor or hospital. In order to get the card, you first need your ARC. As soon as you have obtained the ARC, you should apply for the NHIC. All employees have such a card, so your school should be familiar with the process, but it can’t hurt to give them a friendly reminder to apply for the card on your behalf.
You can expect the application to take about 2 weeks. A monthly Health Insurance Premium of 5.89% gross income is mandatory for all Korean and foreign employees. Like all other Korean work places, the employer pays 50% of the premium and the employee pays 50%. Based on an average ESL teacher’s income, this will be approximately ￦50,000-60,000 per month deducted from your pay check.
Generally speaking, your pay will be issued on the 25th of each month. There are many factors for your School Administration Office to figure out when they issue your pay check. For example, they must learn about taxation rules for a teacher of a specific nationality, specific allowances (or lack thereof) for work in rural areas, work at more than one school, calculating pension pay for foreign workers, etc.
Please be patient and expect small snags while your school learns the procedure. Please also keep in mind that your pay day is different than the Korean teachers’ pay days, so it can happen that your payment is accidentally missed. Likewise, when the 25th of the month falls on a weekend, it can also be unintentionally skipped. In either case, politely remind your co-teacher to inquire with the School Administration Office about receiving your pay promptly.
It is recommended that you politely ask for a “Detailed Statement of Pay” for each month, so that you can see how the different allowances/fees have been paid/deducted. The pay statement may be entirely in Korean, but you can expect to see deductions for: Income Tax (￦30,000-40,000); Residence Tax (￦5,000); National Pension Premium (￦90,000-100,000); and the National Health Insurance Premium (￦50,000-65,000). The aforementioned deductions are mandatory for all Korean and foreign employees alike, with the exception of the Income Tax (see notes).
You will probably also see another deduction on your pay statement of approximately ￦50,000-60,000 for meals. You school(s) will offer meals at the cafeteria and, by default, your school will probably sign you up to pay for these meals (just like your Korean co-teachers). We encourage you to use this option as it is cheap (only about ￦3,000 per meal), healthy and a good way to bond with your co-workers and explore Korean culture. However, there may be appropriate reasons why you would like to opt out of paying for the cafeteria lunches. If so, have your co-teacher notify the School Administration Office and they will not deduct the fee, but you will need to bring your own lunch.
The Entrance Allowance of 1.3 million won is administered by your MOE/POE. You can expect the payment within the first month of your contract (with the exception of teachers employed by the Busan MOE, who will receive this after 6 months, as stated in their employment contract). If you have not received your Entrance Allowance of 1.3 million won by the end of the first month, please contact your MOE/POE.
This is not necessary, but recommended for security and emergency situations. You should check the website of your national embassy in Korea for details about how to register.
It is not the duty of your school or co-teacher to help you get a cell phone, but if you ask kindly, they may be willing to assist you with this. Initially, it will only be possible to get a pre-paid phone until you get your ARC card. All telecom companies will require the ARC card of any foreigner who wishes to sign a cell phone contract with them. Your ARC card is your most important piece of identification while residing in Korea and is required when opening various accounts or signing up for things.
Please do not ask your coworkers to open an account under their name. The co-teacher(s) who help you with all the administrational and bureaucratic challenges you may have are not receiving any extra payment for their efforts. Often, you will be unaware of how much time and energy (and perhaps money) they have truly spent to help you get settled in Korea and navigate the many bureaucratic hoops.
Although your school will have internet, you also may want internet at home as well. There are many reliable internet providers who offer yearly contracts as well as monthly contracts. With the assistance of your co-teacher or a close Korean friend, research the best plan for your needs and schedule an appointment for installation.
It is a common Korean custom for one person to purchase a snack or meal for a whole group when they have something to celebrate and it would be a very nice gesture to hold a small, informal celebration in your office to thank your co-teacher(s) for their efforts. Pizza, cake or boxes of oranges would all make good gifts.
The goal of the National Ministry of Education, Science & Technology is to put one Native English Teacher in every school in Korea. Therefore, if your school feels positively about your performance at the school, it is almost certain that they will inquire if you would like to renew the contract. The timing varies according to the MOE/POE, but the question should probably be addressed about two months before the end of your current contract. If you agree to renew the contract with your school, it is quite a simple procedure: you will agree to sign a new contract at the appropriate time (varies according to the MOE/POE) and then get a new health check to apply for a new visa at your local provincial immigration office.
Occasionally, there may be acceptable reasons to change schools within the same MOE/POE (e.g. you are currently teaching high school and have your heart set on elementary). If you feel that you have a good reason/motivation for potentially switching schools, speak with your co-teacher or MOE/POE Coordinator to inquire about the possibility.
- Changing MOEs/POEs (Re-applying)
There are many good reasons to renew your contract with your current MOE/POE:
- you will get an extra week of paid vacation
- you are sure to jump up a level in pay (exception: Level 1+)
- working more than one contract at the same location shows strong credibility to potential future employers
- you will avoid the bureaucratic hassles of re-applying
- you will not have to move
- you will be familiar with the work environment and expectations
However, it is understandable that there are valid reasons for changing MOEs/POEs. Applying to a different MOE/POE is the same as applying the first time around. In this case, you are re-applying, not renewing (renewing is done with the same POE). Because there is no integration between the various MOEs/POEs, you must submit all of the same original documentation that a new applicant must submit. This process can take quite a while from overseas, so it is recommended that you start quite early. Also, positions in the more popular provinces tend to fill first, so it would be prudent to contact us about the best time to apply.
The eleventh month is an opportune time to send money home. In terms of transfers, you can transfer money by visiting your bank and completing the transaction in person, or you can ask your bank if they have a special foreigner remittance program. If so, the bank will set up a separate account in Korea that is directly connected with your bank account in your home country. Once this is done, you can simply put money into this special account (using internet banking, ATM, passbook etc.) and it will automatically be exchanged and transferred to your home-country account. There is often a standard service charge from your Korean bank for each transfer made. A fee from your home country's bank may also apply, so you should contact them for more information. For more detailed information in regards to this process, you should visit your bank in person or call their English customer service number.
Chances are that you will depart from Korea before your Entrance Allowance and Severance Pay are reimbursed in full (this can take up to one month). Therefore, it is prudent to ask your bank about how to transfer the funds to an account in your home country when you are not in Korea. Ask them if there are any forms that might make it easier.
Teachers also are encouraged to budget in advance so that they can pack and ship extra belongings home. The Korean postal service offers surface mail and airmail options, and depending upon the urgency and funds available, teachers should be able to ship home extra household goods, clothing and accessories cheaply and/or quickly.
All Koreans and foreigner employees pay equally into the National Pension Insurance Plan. According to pension agreements between Korea and several governments, some nationals are able to get a Lump-Sum Refund of their pension premiums upon exiting Korea. The refund is currently available to citizens of Australia, Canada and the United States.
If you are a citizen of one of these three countries and you would like to receive a refund, it is best to make arrangements before you depart Korea. To find the form, go to the National Pension Service website at www.nps.or.kr| English | Foreigners and Lump-sum Refund. This page will explain when and how to fill out the necessary form. There is also a link to a very accessible brochure, “Guide to the National Pension for Foreigners” at the bottom of the main English NPS webpage.
Your main school will administer both your Severance Pay and the Exit Allowance. It would be wise to keep important contact information for your school in case there are delays in receiving these reimbursements - if you have problems, you will want to contact them. For various reasons, it may take up to one month for your school to issue the Severance Pay and Exit Allowance. You might receive both payments separately, or together. Please note that the Severance Pay is roughly equivalent to one month. It is actually calculated using a complex, automatic formula provided by the Ministry of Labor based on the earnings you have made and the number of days you have worked. If you have taken unpaid leave during your year, the Severance Pay may be less than you might expect because it is based on your earnings, not a flat “full month’s pay”.