Posted by: Cacille | October 2, 2014

The new Korean Import Laws, I-parcel, portal.customs.go.kr, and WHAT TO DO!

So, my student and I have had a rather frustrating experience and now that we know what to do, I am typing it all down to share with everyone who is importing things from any country INTO South Korea. I will now tell you exactly what we did and the emails given and everything.

My student and I made a combined purchase, with my account, from Amazon.com on September 27th, 2014. He needed to buy a specific item and it was MUCH cheaper to buy from Amazon than to buy through Gmarket. I also had some items to get, some new shoes from my favorite maker, and a book I’ve been wanting anyway. So we made a deal, I’d buy the items and we’d split the shipping cost and he’d pay me back in a few days. Nice arrangement.  I ordered, Amazon sent me the standard email saying that it had shipped, and everything looked fine, just the same as when I had bought a microphone about 6 months ago from Amazon, no problems.
Until I got this email from I-parcel:

Thank you for purchasing xxxxxxxxx from Amazon.com. i-Parcel is Amazon.com’s parcel delivery partner and we are eager to get you your delivery as soon as possible.
Due to a Korean regulation that took effect in October 2014, i-parcel is required to obtain your PIN (Personal Identification Number) for customs clearance so that we can clear your parcel appropriately. No additional fees are assessed with fulfilling this requirement and it is used for customs clearance purposes only. To input your PIN, thereby allowing us to export your shipment from the United States and affecting prompt customs clearance, please click <here>.
If you do not yet have a PIN you can register for one <here>, and then enter it using the link above.
Please be advised your shipment will not be able to export from the US until we have received the information.

Us unlucky ducks got to be the first to experience this new law first-hand, literally the SAME DAY IT WENT INTO EFFECT $(@&%(*!^%#&)#.

There were two links included, and a Korean translation below with roughly the same information (Although there may have been some extra fees involved for Koreans, as my student read the email and noted that it said that there may be extra fees. However, it is it clear in the wording on the English side that there are no fees. We were worried. The first link led to i-parcel.com, where you will see your basic shipment details (the items in your shipment)  and a little space to input a number. The other link led to http://portal.customs.go.kr, the website where I had to register for a PIN so we could get this done. Problem is, most of the site is in Korean! There’s only the tiniest amount of English, and the words don’t really make sense anyway as they are letters like m/bl. We tried inputting the Tracking Number given by Amazon into those m/bl and Cargo Management boxes, as the numbers seemed to fit perfectly. It didn’t work. We tried quite a few variations, to no avail. So, my student went home to research for us.

He ended up finding this little golden nugget of information.

Foreigners don’t need to obtain the clearance unique code, because only with the passport number, you can make an import clearance. Despite the above, if you want to obtain the clearance unique code, you can apply for the Clearance Unique Code with the Alien Registration Number issued by the Immigration Office. You can issue the code with the Public Certificate at the Internet Clearance Portal System. In case where it is hard to access internet, you can issue at Customs (with a copy of Alien Registration Certificate).
Please refer to the two types below.

1. By the Internet Clearance Portal (without sign-in): (http://portal.customs.go.kr)
(1) Click Clearance Unique Code Application for an Individual
(2) Enter you name and Alien Registration Number to check if you have issued the Code before or not
(3) Identify yourself with the Public Certification service
(2) Type in an application form

2. By Customs
Attach a copy of an application form and a copy of Alien Registration Certification by post, fax, email, or personal visit to the officer in charge at Main Customshouse in order to obtain the Clearance Unique Code within one day. (Refer to FAQ)
Ahha. So, I got out my passport and tried what the first sentence said.  I went back to the i-parcel website and input my Passport Number.
No luck.
Then I got out my Alien Registration Card and input THAT number.
A minute later, a little popup box came up and said, simply, “Thank you”. That was the correct number it needed.
So if you’re an “ARC” carrying alien in Korea and you’re importing something and get the same i-parcel email, simply input your ARC number into the box. You need to put in the numbers without spaces I believe. Make sure you don’t have an accidental space before or after your number. If it doesn’t work, try a space where our cards have one. Basically just try it a few different ways until you get the tiny “Thank You” message. One person has reported that putting a dash where the dash should be also works.
If you’re NOT a ARC-carrying alien, you must sign up with the portal.customs.go.kr website and get a PIN code clearance.
We have not yet gotten any info or our items yet as it will take another two weeks to get our items, but when they come in, or when I get more info, I will post it here so you know what worked and what didn’t.
Updated October 11th 2014: Info about spaces with ARC numbers. Keep waiting! I suspect I’ll get my items next week sometime.
LAST UPDATE:  The items are in! I received the package this morning. It was on time, within the 3 days Amazon mentioned the package would arrive. There were no problems with getting it as I have packages delivered to my school. Strangely enough, the address, and even my name, are all in Korean – I didn’t type it in Korean when I ordered  the items. No idea how or why it was translated but I guess Iparcel does that. The process works, yay! 
NEW TRICK DISCOVERED: If you don’t have your ARC number in – put in 13 random digits. No spaces. Supposedly it works, though illegal I bet, but hey. Their problem for  not having a number check in their system. hahaha!
QUESTIONS: Okay so this post really has helped a lot of people, and I’m glad about that. I posted this 1.5 years ago, and I have now moved. Completely out of Korea. So, if you have questions, read the comments. If they don’t answer your question, I am sorry to say you’re SOL. I’m pretty much going to stop posting answers to questions as my info can now be considered out of date, nor can I update my experience if the law changes again so my answer wouldn’t be too helpful to you or even correct most likely. Good luck with it!
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Responses

  1. I’m an ARC holder trying to buy something from Amazon, and have the same issue. I tried to use my ARC number in the i-parcel email, but it didn’t work, and it asked me to get a PIN from the customs websites; unfortunately, all is in Korean. The most annoying thing is that all of this trouble is for a small item (under $20) that is not available in Korea! Does this new law apply to any item (books, clothes, electronics, etc.)?

    • It applies to EVERYTHING I do believe. It used to apply to things over $100, but now, everything.

      When you put in your ARC- try it multiple different ways. Without a space between the sets of numbers, with a space, etc. Make sure there’s no space before or after which may be causing a problem. Let me know if that solves the problem so I can update my post with more info.

    • I just faced the same situation as explained above. I have an ARC alien registration certificate/ number. I simply put that into = To input your PIN, thereby allowing us to export your shipment from the United States and affecting prompt customs clearance, please click here.
      -into the Number BOX (13 digits without spaces)- & got a Thanks reply. If u dont have an ARC you will have to go through the more difficult process above – which is also beautifully explained on the iHerb website = http://www.iherb.com/info/personal-Customs-Code

  2. Thanks for writing this. I also ordered something on Amazon and got the same notice. However, I put in my ARC number and it rejected it. I emailed them and I’m hoping I get some answers. Post if it works out for you.

  3. I tried with my ARC number again, as you suggested, and this time it seems it worked (I hope!), as I got a “Thank you” message. Hopefully, I will get my items now…

  4. I entered my passport number without spaces and it spat out the same “Thank you message”. So i guess that means it worked. In that case, I guess a passport # or ARC# seems to work. (i hope).

    Thank you so much for posting this. I would’ve been in quite a hole without it
    🙂 Waygooks unite!!! ;-p

  5. I got this as well. I tried my ARC straight without dashes or spaces. I got a “Thank you.” I sure hope it works! Is all Amazon shipping through I-Parcel?

    • Seems like it. Everyone who has commented on waygook, eslcafe, etc has said as much.

  6. I’m thinking you could also just gave items sent to your parents’ house and they could mail your items to you in another box. I need to order a book from amazon and for sone strange reason, amazon doesn’t ship this book internationally.

    • For the order I’ve done, that wouldn’t be a great idea, since it was a combined order between my student and I and it wouldn’t be fair to have him pay extra shipping just for a little less hassle. Plus it would be extra for my mother to do and it’s not fair for her for me to ask her to do all that – again, just for a LITTLE less hassle on my part. It’s like the hassle would be spread to a 3rd party whom doesn’t need to be involved.
      For non-shipping international, of course, completely different story and bringing in parents does become a necessity.

  7. That was soooooo helpful, thank you! I have battling with this for the last couple of days, and even with the help of my Korean co-workers and the staff at Amazon, our team was having no luck. But it was just that easy, yippa!

  8. Well, I think it worked. I just entered my ARC number WITH the dash and it said, “Thank you.” Has anyone successfully received their items yet?

  9. I’m happy to report that my items, the items mentioned in my post, have come in as of last afternoon and I received them today! The procedure worked through and the items are in my office now! I will update the post now.

  10. Hi, i ordered something from amazon as a gift for someone in korea, since i am a foreigner, do i just ignore the pin process? but then how come i still receive that pin email from i-parcel?

    • You got it because the address it’s going to is Korea, regardless of whom is sending it or where you live. Sadly, you can’t ignore it – unless you don’t want the person to ever get the item. You don’t need a PIN thing either. If this gift is meant to be a surprise, I’m sorry to say that Korean law makes that impossible to do. You’ll need the person’s ARC number to complete the process.

      • oh so i have to ask the pin from the recipient? is the pin super confidential or is it fine to give it away to the sender (in this case, me)

  11. The Pin is different than the ARC. ARC means “Alien Registration Card” and is similar in nature to the USA social security number.
    It’s not super confidential though, as the number, if fallen into wrong hands, can’t really do much to someone’s credit score. I guess you could say it’s as personal as your driver’s license number is, if it’s different than your SSN, if you’re from the USA that is.
    So don’t worry about asking your person really.

  12. thank you so much and i promise this is the last question: how would i write in korean to ask for the pin for this purpose

    • Others might be able to help with that, I can’t. But, if you’re not sending to a foreigner, then you DO need the pin. Which it’s on them to sign up and tell you.
      So just say something like this. “I got an email from i-parcel. I need your parcel PIN number due to the new Korean law. Please send me ASAP. Here is the email I got: ” and forward the email from iparcel. They can read English, or at least they can find someone who does. Young people under 30 can at least read and understand that small english, or pick out the meaning enough.

  13. You seriously saved my life! I ordered important gifts from Amazon to Korea and you answered all of my questions step by step! Thank you ruralkorealiving!

  14. Strange.
    I put in my arc number. And I got the thank you.
    Then I went back
    And put a random combination of 13 numbers. And I still got the thank you

    • WOW you discovered a heck of a good workaround! This should make it a lot easier for people who don’t have their ARC yet. Cool trick to discover, thanks!

  15. Does this apply to care packages coming from friends and family overseas?

    • It does not. It’ll just apply to purchases from websites.

  16. Reblogged this on TaLK Scholar Thomas.

  17. Thank you soo much! I tried signing up for the ipin, but for some reason or another, it hasn’t worked. I put in my arc number and it gave me the thank you message, so hopefully it worked!

  18. i just put in a random number bc it really began to frustrate me. like another person who posted i am not currently living in korea although i did so I’m sending a gift to a friend. i’ve sent several gifts in the past 3 months the most recent on nov 10 and never had this issue of needing a pin or anything for that matter. but when i tried today i ran into this issue that all of you experienced. I’m crossing my fingers that it just shows up. if anyone else has done this please let me know if the package was recieved, thanks

  19. I just stumbled upon this post through Google, but I just want to say thank you soooooooooo much!~ Any time you have to deal with the government, it’s a nightmare. This solution was super simple and worked right away. Thanks again and I hope anyone else with this problem can find your post! 🙂

  20. r u saying i can just put a random 13 digit number and this will work to send some gifts to korea?

    • Yes, it should. If not, you’ll need the ARC# of the person you’re sending to. If you’re sending to a Korean, you’ll need to go through that whole pin process.

      Future commenters: Since it’s been a while and my time is getting shorter and shorter, I’ll go ahead and warn you now. If your question has been answered here before, I will not approve or respond to your comment. Also more technical intricacies will not be answered as I am leaving Korea soon and will have no way of getting you answers to your questions. If you have questions from here on out that have not been answered here, then please visit eslcafe.com or waygook.org, which have threads you can post on with people still in Korea. Thank you.

  21. thank u soo much!!! i was so stress about that PIN THING. since a girl from work told me she had to do several paperwork to get that pin, like going to the bank do a name chek on internet? and i just put my alien name on the firt “here” and i saw a small thank you, i hope that was all!!
    ireally hopefull info thanks

  22. THANK YOU FOR POSTING THIS!!!! WAS A GREAT HELP!!! YOU SHOULD PASS THIS ON TO SEOUL GLOBAL.

  23. Thanks for this info, hope it works. I got a “thank you” msg as well when I entered my ARC #.

  24. I received the exact same mail except that I dont have any link or whatever, I just had to manage my book adress and therefore, didn’t get a “thank you” message, I’m not sure it worked out… Did anyone had to do this to?
    Thanks~

  25. Thank you soooooo much!

    Entered my ARC (no spaces) on the iparcel website and received a ‘thank you ‘ message. 😀

  26. Reblogged this on Korea In My Pocket and commented:
    This post by Rural Korea Living gives a thorough explanation on what to do when importing products from Amazon. If you’re in need of an i-parcel related question, or unsure how to acquire a customs id as a foreigner, this post is very helpful. Remember, when in doubt, the answer is most likely your ARC number!!

  27. Thank you for the article on amazon iparcel pin for custom in korea. I was waiting for my package and later when i tracked my package it was still in US. So I contacted iparcel. Only then they replied my inquiry and asked me for RRN. I was confused at first but ur article helped me. I gave my ARC number , I hope it will work. I will update on the upcoming situation.

  28. It is strange last time they asked me for my RRN. For that I gave my ARC and got “Thank you” message. But today I got another mail asking me to fill in my passport number within 48 hours for being a foreigner in Korea. Failing towhich may return my package to the seller!! Well I enter the ARC again following that I received “Thank you” again. I am really confused. DO anyone had same situation as me? Please advice me how to deal with this situation and also I really dont want to return the pakage I have ordered.

    • your pkg is probably ok. dont worry. no one so far has had a problem.

      • Thank you I have already enter my password number and i received the same ‘thank you’ message. Fingers cross… I hope there will be no trouble~

  29. I ‘ve received the package today. Thank you~ It helped me

  30. Hi, this happened to me recently and I also put my ARC number. Would you know if they will only ship the item if its cleared already? because after I did that, Amazon informed me the parcel was already shipped. So, I’m not sure if it worked.

    • No idea, but as you can tell by my updates, the package came pretty quickly after the ARC number thing. I think it does already have it in clearance, but it is impossible to tell.

      Sadly, since myself and my student do not work in the industry and were just the unlucky “firsts” to experience the law, we have no idea about the internal workings more than what I posted, so I wish I could answer your question better. Also, it is helpful to know for future readers of these comments – I am no longer in Korea. I am now working in Japan so any future questions would be better directed to iparcel if it has not been answered here! Mainly, all you need to know is that if you see the “thank you”, it seems to work and everyone has gotten their parcels. So have no fear and don’t worry! Give it time and you will get your package!

  31. I had the same experience – the i-parcel site rejects my ARC number but takes the passport number – except the package has been stuck somewhere, with a cryptic notice on Amazon’s site that says the delivery address is not valid.
    The address is the same as I’ve had for the last fifteen years and I’ve gotten things from Amazon before with no problem. Amazon offered me a “goodwill” partial refund and sent me a tracking number with a Japanese website included.

    I am crossing Amazon off of my list of business to deal with since they can not seem to handle the shipping part. I only wish I could cross the Korean Government off my list as well for their useless attempt to gouge people for goods that do not warrant a customs charge. My item is only 24.00 USD.

  32. Thank you so much for this information. I just had this problem with a gift package I had hoped to receive before New Year’s and was panicking when I came across your blog.

    Just a quick question, though (I’m hoping that you still check this blog!) – could you clarify how soon you received the parcel after entering the PIN? I wasn’t sure if by ‘within the three days Amazon mentioned’ you meant ‘three days after entering the PIN’ or not…

    I’m just really desperate for my package to arrive as soon as possible :/

  33. Thank you so much for this information – I just encountered this problem and was panicking when I came across your blog.

    Just one question – would you mind clarifying exactly how long it took to receive the parcel after entering the PIN? I wasn’t sure if ‘within the 3 days Amazon mentioned’ was the same as ‘three days after entering the PIN’….?

    I’m waiting for gift package that was supposed to be a New Year’s present
    for somebody else so I am desperate to receive it as soon as possible :/

    • If I remember correctly (Keep in mind this post and situation happened well over a year ago, more like 2 now), the package arrived 3 days after I put in the PIN. When it comes to imports, what Amazon says flies out the window, and you cannot expect that to be true. Of course, it depends on how close to Seoul you are, or Busan. Not sure where imports come through. So there’s a chance you could get it sooner. I lived 3 hours away from Seoul and 1.5 hours from Busan at the time. (I no longer live in Korea and will not be posting new things to this blog.)

      • Okay, that makes me feel a lot more at ease.
        Thank you so much for your fast reply 🙂

        (P.S. Sorry for posting twice on the same issue, I thought my first comment had failed to upload)

  34. For those of you catching up with this in 2016, I can confirm it is still completely relevant. I had been using my ARC number in the customs ID field ever since Amazon introduced it – and had many items shipped with that.

    Today Amazon shipped something via Apex – and that triggered a fresh email from Amazon asking for customs ID. I checked and my ARC was still there on my Amazon address.
    So I reluctantly visited the Customs web portal and dealt with the usual Korean nightmare of numerous plugins and pop-up windows. I got a customs ID: single letter + 12 digits.

    Anyway it turns out I did not need it. I followed the shipping links and found https://www.ecmsglobal.com/en/index.html (yes ECMS is apparently a front for Apex). After putting in tracking number, captcha, re-keying in my Korean address (my ARC was already there) then it said everything was tickety-boo and my package would be delivered in 3 days.

  35. I have received six emails from i-parcel and one email from Amazon.

    Six emails from i-parcel said,

    Due to a Korean regulation that took effect in October 2014, i-parcel is required to obtain your PIN (Personal Identification Number) for customs clearance so that we can clear your parcel appropriately.

    One email from Amazon said,

    As per customs regulations, the carrier needs the recipient’s Customs ID Number. Please add it to the recipient’s address during checkout or by visiting “Your Account” and clicking “Manage Address Book” under the Address Book heading.

    Because I provided my name, address, phone number, credit card owner name and number, etc., for transaction and I thought all these information alone should be sufficient, it was difficult for me to decide what to do, get the Number or not, rather than to get it actually. I am not a commercial importer.

    Search, search, …

    I visited Korea Customs Service and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

    I read the following under the title ‘Do I need a license to import something?’
    https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/197/noIntercept/1

    If you have neither a business tax number nor a social security number, and you are a non-resident of the U.S., you may contact the port where your goods will enter the country and ask them to assign an importer number to you by filing a CBP Form 5106.

    Here, in Korea, I do not have a business tax number but have a resident registration number equivalent to a social security number in USA, and I am a resident and a citizen of ROK (Republic of Korea or South Korea). I know someone who has a resident registration number (RRN) as a Korean citizen or an alien registration certification (ARC) number as an alien does not need to have a PIN (Personal Identification Number) to import something for personal use except unusual cases where a license or permit is required. At least literally, not so different from USA. But asking me for the number.

    Anyway, the number that i-parcel and Amazon asked me for is the similar one to the importer number above in CBP Form 5106.

    Here are some questions I want to hear from i-parcel;

    Does i-parcel always (or 100% without an exception) send such an email to everyone who places an order whenever the destination country is Korea?

    Or does i-parcel send such an email only when Korea Customs Service requires the number?

    Or does i-parcel send such an email whenever goods to be delivered to Korea meet some conditions such as price or product category?

    It was a terrible experience to me too!

  36. a big thank to you, i made it by just followed your information. 🙂

  37. I have a question, I have ordered a lot of stuff from amazon over the past 3years or so. Till now, i only received an email from APEX asking to confirm my adress, alien number etc. In the amazon website i have mentioned my alien ID in the customs clearence number. I parcel has never asked for any info. However with my current order, on the amazon website it says that customs clearence is delayed ( no reason). And i also didnt get any email from i parcel asking for any pin ( never got before either). It seems a bit strange, do you think the package is still on the way ? I mean i dont know why the amazon system just updated it to delayed without any email from carrier asking for something or anything else?

  38. Thank you! I am trying to send something to my elderly grandma in Seoul and got the same message from I-parcel. Now I know what to do!

  39. Thank you for this post. Just got it to work!

  40. ARC number with no spaces worked for me too. Many thanks for this insightful plog post.


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