I’ve got a two-part question. I married a Korean citizen (so my visa is F-2-1) and have lived here for over 10 years. I’d like to get a lease or buy property to set up a small business. Do I need a Korean citizen (my wife or a business partner) to make this happen, or can I legally do this in my own name? My other question is how much money can I transfer here from overseas (in this case, Canada)? I’m thinking I will need to transfer between $50,000 and $100,000 to Korea. Thanks for your help.
Pursuant to the Aliens Landownership Law, which has been revised and implemented since June 25, 1998, foreigners can obtain land the same as Koreans. The same regulations on acquisition, use, and development of land are applied to both Koreans and foreigners.
The specific procedures to purchase real estate by foreigners include: ① Purchase agreement ② Payment within 60 days ③ Report of land acquisition to the offices of Gu, County, and City, and ④ Registration of land ownership transfer for the foreigners living in Korea. There are no reporting procedures pursuant to the Foreign Exchange Control Law. The purpose of this law is to contribute to the development of the national economy by facilitating foreign transactions, maintaining a balance of international payments, and stabilizing the value of currency by ensuring the liberalization of foreign exchange transactions and of other foreign transactions and revitalizing market functionality.
On the contrary, for foreigners living abroad, five things are required: ① Purchase agreement ② Report of land acquisition to the president of the foreign exchange bank after approving the fact that the purchase will be funded with money brought from their own country. (This is a procedure required by the Foreign Exchange Control Law for bringing the funds into Korea.) ③ Payment within 60 days ④ Report of land acquisition to the offices of Gu, County, and City, and ⑤ Registration of land ownership transfer.
The report procedures by the Foreign Exchange Control Law are unnecessary for any other purchases of real estate except land. However, due to real estate transaction practices in Korea, it is common not to separate land and buildings during trade. In the case that there is a complex building, because the land and the building are traded as one body, foreigners can follow the report procedures for land purchase (as above) in this case.
In your case, you have an F-2-1 visa and can lease or own real estate without the support of your Korean wife or a partner according to the standards for foreigners living in Korea.
You need to have a private business registration in order to start a small business. In this case, those of foreign nationality must follow the alien business registration standards with or without a spouse.
If a new businessman who just started his business in Korea wants to register, he must report it to the chief of the regional tax office within 20 days of the initial date of business. The same will apply to foreigners or people with green cards who want to start their business in Korea. For a business that requires permission, registration, or report pursuant to the law, they must attach copies of the certificate of permission, registration, and report certificate to the business registration application form.
In the event that they lease the workplace, a copy of the lease agreement should be attached together to the application form. However, they should also have the original copy in order to have the fixed date subject to the Act for Protection of Business Site Lease.
At present, foreigners living in Korea need a resident registration form. If foreigners who are not registered as residents in Korea want to register their business, they must attach an overseas residents registration number and its Continued on page 9 Continued from page 4 copy of register approved by the diplomatic offices abroad (a passport copy is also OK).
The amount of wire transfer to Korea from Canada is not restricted by law in Korea. It just needs to go through several procedures, if necessary, such as withholding of income tax pursuant to the tax treaty between the two countries (depending on how the funds are formed). In this case of investment, this can be limited by the regulations of the originating country, but no specific restrictions are found currently between Canada and Korea. The present law merely requires that one report a fund flow of over $1,000 to the Bank of Korea and the Ministry of Finance through the foreign currency processing system for statistical purposes. Additionally, funds below and exchanges of more than $10,000 at a time are reported to the National Tax Service as well. This is for data collection in the case that the NTS imposes taxes.
In your case, there are no taxes and applicable regulations by law to restrict your transfer. Merely the sale of real-estate or exchanging stock for cash is taxable in Canada.
Hyun Chi Hoon is a graduate student at Jeju National University Law School and a legal counselor at the JNU’s Legal Clinic. JNU Law School graduate student Son Minsoo contributed to this article.
Disclaimer: The information provided here is not intended to be legal advice, but merely conveys general information related to legal issues commonly encountered in Korea. Readers should consult a lawyer for detailed legal advice. As a service to the non-Korean community, the Jeju National University Legal Clinic (064-754-2989) is available for consultations during regular business hours, Monday to Friday.
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