Korean Adoptee Life - Registering Your Name Seal (인감 도장)

Korean Adoptee Life - Registering Your Name Seal (인감 도장)


Any general seal/stamp is referred to as a dojang (도장), registering a personal seal with the government classifies it as an ingam (인감). Many vendors in Insadong sell hand carved name seals. The handles come in a variety of materials and designs. These are often purchased as a souvenir and are just a novelty item to residents in Korea until they are registered with the government.

You do not have to spend a lot of money on a name seal and any seal that meets specific requirements can be officially registered. Less expensive seals are usually machine carved using computer software for the layout of the characters. More expensive name seals are hand carved and have more decorative and/or elaborate handles. If you would like to get ink for your seal, most major stationery/office supply stores in Korea carry it.

Below is an excerpt from a district office in Korea regarding the registered name seals:

In Korea, a registered seal impression and Certificate of Seal Impression are necessary to carry out financial transactions (sales of real estate, bank loan, etc.). The seal used for such transactions must be identical with the registered seal. The seal protects its owner's legal rights and property. Only one seal can be registered and the seal cannot be replicated. Loss and negligence of the registered seal can incur serious consequences. Seals should not be lent carelessly. Foreigners can carry out business in Korea by owning registered seals.

Source: http://tinyurl.com/name-seal

Requirements for Registering a Seal

  • Width and length of the seal have to be more than 7mm and less than 30mm. With circular seals, these dimensions apply to the diameter of the seal.

  • Seals should not be made of materials that give varying impressions (copper or rubber).

  • The name on the seal must be identical with the name on the Certificate of Alien Registration. Transcription of the name in Hangul is acceptable. That is, if your Korean name is on your Alien Registration Card, you can register a seal that shows your Korean name. You could instead register one that is a non-Korean name transcribed into Hangul. But remember, only one seal can be registered to any one person.

  • Company names and job titles are prohibited on a personal name seal. That is, if your name is Hyunwoo Kim, CEO of Hyundai, you can only use Hyunwoo Kim. You cannot put “CEO” or that you work for Hyundai on your personal name seal.



Sample seal with edge requirements


Red Ink used for name seals - can be purchased at most major office supply/stationery shops


Name seal handle made of stone

Registering Your Seal

I registered my name seal earlier this year. Below is my experience at the Seodaemun district office (서대문구청), your experience may vary slightly. You must register your name seal in the district immigration has on file for you.

At the Seodaemun district office, I entered at the first floor and immediately turned left to enter the Civil Affairs and Passports Office (민원여권과). Inside that office there is only one station for foreigners labeled 면허 외국인인감 (Licenses and foreigner seal registration). I did not have to take a waiting number. The employee told me to wait until the previous person had finished.

When it was my turn, I handed the clerk my passport, alien registration card, and name seal. After a few minutes, the clerk made an impression of my seal as well as an impression of my left thumb print.

After the registration, the clerk asked how many 인감증면서 (Certificates of Seal Impression) I wanted. Then, another clerk had me sign for the certificate. The fee per certificate is KRW 600.


Certificate of Seal Impression

The process should be similar at any district office (구청) or citizen center (주민센터).

If you want to change the seal you have registered bring the following to your local district office:

  • Alien Registration Card

  • Passport

  • Seal

If you ever need to receive more 인감증면서 (Certificates of Seal Impression). Visit any district office, community center, or city/county office and bring the following:

  • Alien Registration Card

  • KRW 600 per copy


If you need assistance with registering your name seal, contact the G.O.A.’L Community Mentor!
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Adjusting to Korean Life - Renewing a Housing Contract

Adjusting to Korean Life - Renewing a Housing Contract


While some people do move many times within Korea, others choose to stay at the same residence and may need to renew their housing contract.

As stated in a previous post according to the Housing Lease Protection Act, unless your contract terms dictate otherwise, if you sign a one year lease, you can continue to live at your residence year-after-year under the same contract terms if neither party decides to make a formal contract renewal. This agreement is voided if you had failed to pay rent more than twice or if you have violated the terms of your original lease.

That being said, if you wanted to not renew for a whole year, renew for longer than one year, or change the terms of your lease, consider formally renewing your contract even after the first year. Keep in mind, your landlord is also able to suggest amendments to your lease during the renewal process.

When I renewed my lease I initially talked with my real estate agent about the length of the new lease and any issues I had had during the past year. If you want to renegotiate the rent, key money, management fee, or any other cost - talk this over with your landlord and/or real estate agent when you want to renew. Historically, the higher the key money, the lower the monthly rental payments if paying using the 월세 system. However, since the interest rate is very low, higher rent payments are becoming more common. It is up to the landlord on if they allow other fees/costs to be negotiated or not. I ended up adding one small amendment to the lease and after that, the agent called the landlord to make sure they agreed to the new terms. A new lease was drawn up and signed. You, the real estate agent, and the landlord will all receive signed copies of the renewed lease contract.

You may decide to live within the same building but change units within that building. If you change any part of your address, you must update your address with immigration. This can be done at the immigration office or at your local district office. If you do not update your address within 14 days of it changing you can be fined.

Keep in mind a valid lease or other document proving you have a residence in Korea is required to renew your F4 visa. Recently, we have noticed immigration sending out reminder notices when you have to renew your F4 visa. While this notice can act as a document proving your residence, immigration agents may and can ask for your lease as well. Please visit G.O.A.’L visa renewal page here for more information.

Required Documents

  • Original Contract (For reference)

  • Alien Registration Card

Required Money

  • Your real estate agent may charge a nominal fee

What if you need to break your lease?

There are times when you must break your lease or leave during the middle of your contract. If you cannot find a tenant to take over your housing contract, you will still be responsible for the monthly payments until the end of the lease or until a new tenant is found.

A special case is if you want to break your lease while you are in the 2nd year of your lease that had not been formally renewed. In that case, the Housing Lease Protection Act states the following:

Article 6-2 (Termination of Contracts in Cases of Implied Renewal) (1) In cases where a contract has been renewed pursuant to Article 6 (1), notwithstanding paragraph (2) of the same Article, the lessee may notify at any time the lessor of termination of the contract. (2) The termination referred to in paragraph (1) shall enter into force upon the lapse of three months from the date when the lessor has received the notification.

You can have a real estate agent help you find a tenant but in this case you would have to pay the real estate agent fee again.

What if your landlord defaults on the building you are living in?

Registering your lease acts as an official record of the key money payment and gives you priority should the property go to public auction. Bring your signed lease agreement to get a fixed date confirmation (확정일자) to your neighborhood community center (주민센터). In the case you do not have a community center, you can visit a local registry office (등기소).


Please contact the G.O.A.’L Community Mentor for any questions regarding housing in Korea

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Birth Family Search All-Day Group Series

C:\Users\MJ\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCache\Content.Word\ypcs logo.jpgYou&Me Psychological and Consultation Services (YPCS)

Rm. 201, 8-7, Yanghwa-ro 12-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul, 04043, South Korea

Tel: 02-6929-3013        Fax: 070-8277-7200

E-mail: [email protected]

Webpage: www.ypcskorea.com

Birth Family Search Series

G.O.A.’L and YPCS invite you to attend group therapy sessions to share your experiences with birth family search. This series addresses some of the complexities related to searching for biological family for adoptees that are reunited, not reunited and those that are deciding to search. Gain insight and reassurance as you discuss frustrations and challenges in your journey. Participants may engage in the discussions at their comfort level. These sessions are for adoptees only.


"I've reunited with family" (July 30)

  • Discuss how expectations/surprises can affect interaction with birth family
  • Address negotiating the differences in western and Korean culture
  • Come up with a strategy to manage identity and sense of self

Register for this session by July 25, 2016


"Not reunited" (Decided to not search/Waiting for a response/Unable to meet family) (August 20)

  • Discuss how to regulate emotional responses
  • Learn ways to cope with multiple “rejections” and hearing/watching others reunite
  • Evaluate your current life without shame/guilt/anger
Register for this session by August 15, 2016

"Deciding whether I want to search" (September 24)

  • Explore current expectations/hopes/fears
  • Identify possible challenges and difficulties
  • Learn ways on how to handle not having control in situations
Register for this session by September 19, 2016

Time: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Lunch, snacks and drinks will be provided.

Location: You&Me Psychological and Consultation Services (YPCS)

Participation Fee: G.O.A.’L members 15,000 KRW/session or 40,000 KRW/3 sessions

  Non-members 20,000 KRW/session or 60,000 KRW/3 sessions

 *Register for the entire series by July 25, 2016 to receive series discount


To register, email [email protected], or call 02-6929-3013: 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Monday-Friday


Each group is limited to 8 participants. Preference will be given to those currently in each category. All stories shared during the group will be kept confidential.

Directions (by subway)

From Hapjeong Station (lines 2 or 6) exit 3, walk straight for about 150 meters. You should pass Starbucks and KB bank on your right. Follow the street to the right so that The Designers Hotel is on your left and the Seven-Eleven convenient store is on the right. Turn right down the street in front of the Seven-Eleven convenience store. Our building is the building behind Seven-Eleven with the blue “8-7” address sign. Please press “201” and then the bell button to let us know that you have arrived. 

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