How to Start a Business in Korea

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Opening a business in Korea requires a great deal of paperwork
Opening a business in Korea requires a great deal of paperwork (Image: paper work image by bluefern from Fotolia.com)

The Republic of Korea offers many opportunities for budding entrepreneurs. It is not an impossible task to open a business. From start to finish it takes about two weeks to have your business up and running in Korea. Foreigners who wish to do business need to show their ability to invest a substantial sum in the country. Very precise steps and the correct paperwork need to be filed to receive the proper documentation for your business.

Travel to Korea or inquire with your local Korean embassy about whether citizens of your country need a travel visa to enter Korea.

Use time during your initial arrival to research business opportunities that might interest you. You cannot earn money or have employment for six months when you first arrive in Korea .

Open a Korean bank account. This shows your ability to invest in Korea. Your passport is the only documentation required. Arrange to have the equivalent of 50 million won (about $40,900 in U.S. dollars) wired from an account outside the country in your name to the Korean bank account you have opened in your name. The deposit must be in a lump sum and designated "For Investment Purposes Only." Use an online currency conversion chart to calculate the what the amount is in your home currency.

Receive documentation from your Korean bank after making your deposit to start the paperwork for your business.

Inquire at your local district office if your business requires permission to open. There are 16 district offices in South Korea, one in each major province. If necessary, apply for the permission.

Find a location for your business. Make sure the property is zoned for the type of business you wish to run. Ask before signing your contract if you can live and work on the same property.

Fill out the paperwork to register your business name. Take your bank account documents and real estate lease to your local district office. Business names must be registered in hangeul, the Korean alphabet. If you are not familiar with hangeul, hire a local to assist with your paperwork. This could be a high school student studying English or a professional translator. Submit your documents and the application with required fees for processing. Processing can be done on the same day or you can return for your paperwork. Make sure you retrieve your original documents.

Apply for a tax registration payment certificate. Copies of this certificate accompany every business transaction you make. The local district office issues the certificate when you present your passport, business name registration and bank account documentation.

Nominate a tax agent for your business. The agent assumes financial responsibility for your business and makes sure your taxes are paid if you out of the country. This is typically a role given to a Korean tax accountant who gives you documentation for your next and final step.

Apply for your D-8 visa. This visa allows you to live in Korea and make money. Present copies of the following items: your visa application or a previously issued, valid visa, your passport, your business registration certificate, tax certificate, documents from your tax agent, proof in writing from your homeland bank that it sent the investment money, your office lease and your bank book. The D-8 visa is valid for six months and extended with proof your taxes are current and documentation such as receipts and invoices show your business is thriving.

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