Routine Message- U.S. Embassy Seoul (January 9, 2019)
Location: Republic of Korea – Seoul and Nationwide
Event: New Korean laws taking effect in 2019 may impact U.S. citizens visiting, living, or working in the Republic of Korea. All citizens are advised that they are required to respect Korean laws and adhere to local regulations. The following new Korean laws and regulations will take effect in 2019:
Restrictions on Vehicles to Reduce Air Pollution
Effective February 15, on days with a high concentration of fine dust, private motor vehicles can only be driven in Seoul on alternate days based on whether the license plate number is even or odd. Furthermore, vehicles manufactured under the older emissions standards (2002 or older diesel vehicles and 1987 or older gasoline vehicles) will be banned on such days in Seoul, Incheon, and Gyeonggi Province.
Leash/Muzzle Requirements for Dogs in Public
Effective March 21, all dogs in public places must be on leashes. Certain breeds, such as the Japanese mastiff, pit bull terrier, Stanford shorthair terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier, Rottweiler, and their mixes, must also be muzzled in public. A violation may result in a 3 million won fine. If a dog without the required leash or muzzle causes injury to others, the owner and/or the person in custody or control of the dog may be subject to up to 3 years of imprisonment and/or 30 million won in fines.
Stricter Impaired Driving Standards
Effective June 25, the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for drivers will be lowered to 0.03 percent, from the current standard of 0.05 percent. The maximum penalty for impaired driving will be up to five years of imprisonment and/or 20 million won in fines. The BAC limit of 0.03 percent is a significantly stricter standard for impaired driving than in most states in the United States. A person may reach BAC of 0.03 percent by consuming only one standard drink. Impaired driving is dangerous and can have severe consequences, including criminal prosecution, civil liability, and/or administrative discipline.
U.S. citizens are advised to:
- Consult official notices from the Ministry of Government Legislation or the National Law Information Center to view Korean laws in English
- Monitor local news for updates to Korean laws. Sites such as Yonhap News, The Korea Herald, or The Korea Times may provide English-language information about changes to regulations
- U.S. Embassy Seoul After-hours emergency number for U.S. citizens is 02-397-4114.
- State Department – Consular Affairs: 888-407-4747 or 202-501-4444
- South Korea Country Specific Information
- Enroll in Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security updates
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