Pension Obligations and Rights
Mandatory Pension Contributions:
Since 1999, all foreign workers between the ages of 18 and 60, regardless of the size of the workplace or the number of employees, have been included in the mandatory Korean National Pension Scheme with only a few exceptions. If you fall within one of the following categories, you do not have to be enrolled in the NPS and you do not have to pay the contributions:
1. You are a citizen of one of the 17 nations that do not mandate Korean citizens working in your country to pay into its pension plan: Armenia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Fiji, Iran, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Tonga, Vietnam.
2. You are in one of the following categories: culture & art, study abroad, industrial training, general training, religion, etc.
3. You are over 60 years of age
Calculation of Pension Contribution:
The law requires that Korean and Foreign workers be treated equally. According to the NPS, “…there is no discrimination in terms of the benefit amount and remitting benefit abroad, etc.” The contribution is calculated by multiplying the worker’s reported (by the employer) monthly income by the 9% rate (between minimum W220,000 and maximum W3,600,000). Both the employer and the employee each pay an equal amount of the required 9% contribution. The employer deducts 4.5% from the employee’s wage and must make the matching 4.5% contribution payment at the same time.
Pension Contribution Refund:
Although Korea’s NPS policy does not call for repayments of their pension contributions when foreign workers leaving the country. However, if you are a citizen of a nation that grants Koreans working in that country a lump-sum refund (see list below*) or one that has concluded an agreement with Korea to secure benefit rights by combining the insured period in each country: Canada, France, Germany, Hungary and the United States.
*Venezuela, Grenada, Nigeria, Barbados, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Congo, Thailand, Togo, Belize, Ghana, Malaysia, Bermuda, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, El Salvador, Jordan, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Trinidad and Togo, Hong Kong, Turkey, Colombia, Philippines, and Vanuatu. (List valid as of June 2007 – duration of contributions requirements apply – for more details or up-to-date info visit National Pension Scheme).
For information on International Social Security Agreements click on http://www.nps.or.kr/ then click on English. Near the bottom of the English page, you’ll see Social Security Agreement/Contracting Countries. Click on your country (if it’s there).
If you are a national from one of the country’s listed above and have met the requirements, you may be entitled to receive both your and your employer’s NPS contributions. (Conditions do apply so check with the Korean National Pension Scheme website and visit your own Embassy in Seoul’s website).
Documents required when you visit your regional NPS office**:
ii)your alien registration;
iii)a copy of your bank book (Korean or Canadian bank – but unless the payment is made prior to your departure, you may to give a home bank or ensure that you can access your Korean account after you’ve left the country) and
iv)an airline ticket showing your one-way departure date (e-ticket should be OK).
Your employer will also have to report the termination of the contract to the National Pension Service (NPS) of Korea upon your departure from the country. The NPS will deposit the refund in your bank account after it confirms your departure.
Note: It is also possible to apply for your refund either through an attorney in your home country and on your own, by mail, In both cases, you will have to provide a copy of your passport, a copy of your local bank book, and likely documents proving that you’ve made the payments and that you’re entitled to receive the refund (keep a copy of your alien registration card/number and receive a copy of the necessary documentation from your employer prior to your departure.
Application forms can be found on the National Pension Scheme website:
For Korean Benefits:
For Overseas Remittance:
Korean Pension Benefits:
Foreign contributors to the Korean National Pension Scheme may also choose to receive their benefits (if/when eligible) rather than take the lump-sum refund. The benefits can be remitted overseas if they have left Korea. However, those who have taken the lump-sum refund are no longer eligible to claim benefits.
**Addresses and Contact Details for the Seoul and Regional NPS offices can be found on the National Pension Scheme website http://www.nps.or.kr/. Click on English – on the English Page look to the right to the map of Korea, click on Go>> and the list of offices will appear. Click on the one you want and all the contact details will appear.
When visiting the NPS office look for the sign that says “Kuk min yeon geum(국민연금)
NPS Central Information Line: ‘dial’ 1355 (English-speaker usually)
Editor’s Note: The information above is based on the information K4E has available at the time of writing. Given how difficult it is to obtain clear and complete information in Korea as well as how quickly rules can change, please see this as a guide and do follow-up with the appropriate Korean government bodies to confirm its accuracy and/or to get the most current answers. K4E would appreciate your feedback should you find out that our information is out-of-date.