The Korea Herald


Korea to ease 20-character limit on driver's licenses

By Son Ji-hyoung

Published : June 7, 2023 - 18:16

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A nightscape of Seoul (123rf) A nightscape of Seoul (123rf)

South Korea is envisioning a plan to scrap the limit of 20 English characters on driver's licenses, the government said Wednesday.

The character limit -- imposed on driver's licenses and disability certificates -- has often discouraged holders from having their full name displayed. The eased rule will accommodate names with up to 37 characters on the identification cards and certificates, according to the Ministry of Interior and Safety.

Under current rules here, foreigners who earned a license outside South Korea must exchange their foreign driver's license for a Korean one to drive here.

The country has already adopted a 37-character limit for the issuance of foreigner registration cards and passports.

The streamlined rule will also be applied to the Korean language character limit for Koreans, including naturalized citizens.

All forms of government-issued certificates will be able to show up to 18 Hangeul characters. Currently, up to 10 Hangeul characters are displayed on the teenager certificate, driver's license and disability certificate. Passports only accommodate eight Hangeul characters.

The Ministry of Interior and Safety said in a statement the pangovernmental effort is aimed at boosting the convenience of citizens and expats alike in Korea, and at the same time enhancing the efficiency of Korea's public services. It cited an unidentified naturalized citizen whose name is pronounced in 13 Hangeul characters, hampering that person from using a driver's license -- which only showed the first 10 characters -- as an identification card for public services.

It added that all forms of seven Korean certificates will be required to be "regularly" renewed, while the size of the color photos for all types of certificates will be a uniform size of 3.5 by 4.5 centimeters.

The ministry is looking to collect public opinions over the upcoming changes during the three weeks of pre-announcement of administration, starting Thursday.