Vehicle Roadworthiness Tests in South Korea

Information on the compulsory roadworthiness test for your car or other motor vehicle in South Korea...

All vehicles in South Korea must have regular inspections to ensure that they are roadworthy and to minimize noise and pollution from emissions. These inspections are required by law and are overseen by the Korean Transport Safety Authority (KOTSA). Cars are checked against safety, emissions and noise standards. A new car must be inspected before it is registered for the first time and all vehicles must be inspected regularly. Tests are also required after any structural changes to the vehicle or to its equipment. Making sure that a vehicle is up to date with its compulsory safety test is the responsibility of the owner. This should always be checked when buying a used car.

A car must be inspected every two years. The first test required for a new car is four years after its registration. Small vans and trucks must be inspected every year. A vehicle must be inspected within 30 days of the previous test expiring. If owners do not submit their vehicles for testing on time, there are fines which increase every three days over the limit.

Owners who wish to change the structure of a vehicle must seek permission from KOTSA. If permission is granted, the work and an inspection must be carried out within 45 days.

Test Requirements

South Korea's vehicle inspection tests are known to be very thorough. The main reason for failing the test is rust; the climate in South Korea causes cars to rust relatively quickly. Tests should be carried out at a government approved garage or dealership. During the test, the following are checked against agreed standards:

  • Steering
  • Speedometer accuracy
  • Braking power
  • Emissions levels
  • Noise levels (the horn and so on)
  • Fuel leakage
  • Brightness and angle of the headlights
  • Damage to the axle and wheels
  • Tire wear
  • State of the car frame and body
  • Quality and damage to the glass in the windows and windscreen
  • Quality and functioning of all lights

Note: Vehicle emissions must be tested annually for vehicles over ten years old.

When a vehicle is taken for inspection, most garages or testing centres require the following paperwork:

  • Proof of insurance
  • Registration documents
  • A driving licence
  • Valid identification

Vehicle testing takes approximately 30 minutes. It is advisable to make an appointment beforehand.

If the vehicle fails the test, it must be repaired and retested. There is no guarantee that any English is spoken at vehicle inspection centres in South Korea and a translator may be required when taking a vehicle for inspection.

Information about vehicle inspection and issues related to car ownership can be found on the Korean Transport Safety Authority website.