Before you depart (Family Members)
There are a few things you need to know before you depart for Korea.
Civilians must have a valid passport for entry into Korea. Command sponsored family members can obtain a no-fee passport from their losing unit. Soldiers do not need a passport when traveling between the U.S. and Korea on orders for PCS or leave; however passports are required for personal travel outside of Korea.
Republic of Korea Immigration will authorize a 90-day tourist visa for civilian employees and dependents; however, all civilians must obtain a multiple-entry visa issued by the Korean Embassy or Consulate within 90 days of arrival to Korea. This application process can take up to three months. Additionally, civilian employees and all dependents must obtain a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) stamp authorizing their stay beyond the 90-day tourist period. Your local ACS or legal office can provide you with applications and more information.
Once your family has been approved for Command Sponsorship and your Soldier’s PCS Orders include each dependent’s name, immediately apply for a No-Fee Passport through your losing installation Military Personnel Division (MPD) Personnel Processing Branch. The processing time is generally six to eight weeks, so begin the process as soon as orders for command sponsorship are approved. Contact your local personnel office for the proper forms and information. Do not depart your losing installation without receiving the no-fee passport.
Non-U.S. citizens must apply for a country of origin passport. Documents must be original or certified copies.
SOFA STAMP & A-3 VISA
All family members, civilians, and even newborns must obtain an A-3 visa (which allows for multiple entries into Korea) and SOFA (Standard of Forces Agreement) stamp within 90 days upon arrival. The SOFA stamp registers the person and identifies them as having protections and rights under our SOFA agreement. Having a SOFA stamp does not exempt any person from abiding by our host nation's laws.
The U.S. government has a stationing agreement with every country that hosts U.S. military forces. The SOFA defines the legal rights and obligations of SOFA-status personnel and exempts personnel from the Korean Immigration laws relating to alien registration.
This does not mean that all U.S. Family members in Korea will have an A3 Visa and SOFA stamp. Some Family Members are Korean citizens and require no Visa or stamp. Other Family Members work outside the garrison gates and are required to have any variety of work Visa deemed by the Korean Immigration Office.
If a Soldier’s spouse plans to work off-post it is recommended you contact your installation Client Legal Services to review your A-3 Visa/SOFA Stamp application or answer additional questions regarding various Republic of Korea visa options before employment to ensure compliance with immigration laws.
The Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) is a Department of Defense program designed to identify and document the special medical and/or educational needs of a soldier’s family members and ensure that those needs are considered during the assignment process. An EFMP screening is required for adults and children up to 21 years of age as part of the Command Sponsorship application, Consecutive Overseas Tour request, AIP request or as an addition to orders. Enrollment in the EFMP is mandatory for all active duty military sponsors who have family members with special medical and/or educational needs.
As the Army shifts resources during transformation throughout South Korea, the Army wants to ensure Soldiers are assigned to locations where dependents with special needs can receive necessary care. When reviewing a family member’s needs, the Army often considers the availability of services from the host nation as well as those provided by the Army.
The process and steps involved in completing the EFMP process should be discussed during your transition brief. During your EFMP appointment, the EFMP practitioner will likely review your screening questionnaire, outpatient medical records, education records, and any supporting documentation to determine if any family member meets criteria for enrollment into EFMP.
Contact the military health clinic’s EFMP Coordinator at your current duty station to help you with enrollment, disenrollment, updates, and overseas EFMP screenings. If you are stationed away from a military installation, you can contact the nearest installation’s military health clinic and arrange to conduct the screening using a combination of local civilian providers and phone/email communication with the health clinic. Additional information about the EFMP program is available at: http://efmp.amedd.army.mil/
Household Goods Shipping Process
The Defense Personal Property System is the online system used to request and manage household goods shipment(s). For how-to guides to assist with this application, go to www.move.mil.
Plan ahead for which items will go in unaccompanied baggage (UB), household goods shipment (HHG), or remain behind in Non-Temporary Storage (long-term). Check with your sponsor for recent guidance but here are some general things to consider:
• Weight allowances are restricted coming to Korea. Command sponsored families are authorized 50% of your normal weight allowance, while unaccompanied personnel are authorized only 25%.
• Command-sponsored families will be offered government appliances and furniture in Korea, so consider bringing items that compliment what is being provided.
• Houses in Korea are generally smaller than house in the U.S. Storage options in Korea and limited and often very expensive, so pack light.
• The electric current in off-post housing is 220v or may also include 110v.
• It normally takes six weeks up to three months for household goods to arrive and clear customs.
• Some installations have lending closes with basic kitchen essentials. This will not include linens or pillows.
• Consider researching on/off post housing options at housing.army.mil to help get an idea of size and space configurations
• USAG Humphreys (Area III Pyeongtaek)
• Daegu-Area IV (Henry & Walker & Carroll)
Parent Outreach Services at CYS
Parent Central Services at ACS manages all registrations for CYS. Parents are highly encouraged to complete pre-registration for childcare during in-processing and for your final destination installation.
CYS Registration Prep
Get a head start on your children’s CYS Registration before heading overseas.
To get started:
1. Initiate the USAG-Humphreys CYS registration process at: humphreys.armymwr.com/programs/parent-and-outreach-services
2. Initiate the USAG-Deagu CYS registration process at: daegu.armymwr.com/programs/parent-and-outreach-services
3. Initiate the USAG-Yongson CYS registration process at: yongsan.armymwr.com/programs/child-youth-school-services-cys-services
4. Get a CYS Health Assessment before you PCS.
5. Once you arrive at USAG-H and/or your final destination Garrison (Yongsan, Deagu), make an appointment with Parent Central Services to finalize the registration in person. Same day and /or next day appointments are available and prioritized to support single parents and dual-military families.
Note: Single Soldiers and Dual-Military families must complete and have on file a family care plan within 30 days of arrival into Korean Theater.
Cell Phones, keeping in touch & dialing instructions
International plans from U.S. Cell Phone provider are not practical while stationed in Korea. Many current cellular or smart phones, if unlocked, will work on a Korea Cellular network. There are several ways to acquire a local Korean SIM card. We highly recommend going through the AAFES PX mobile phone service desk or the USO Cellular Service Kiosk depending on your final destination installation.
For a phone to work in Korea, it needs to satisfy these requirements:
1. Be unlocked – some most companies sell phones with software that prevents them from recognizing another company’s SIM card. Contact your cellular network provider before you leave the U.S. to determine if you phone is unlocked.
2. Have a SIM card slot – certain US and Canadian providers, running CDMA networks, sell unique versions of certain phones that have no SIM card slot to prevent customers from taking their phones to other networks
3. Support LTE data (latest generation smart phones) that operates on bands 3, 8, and 26 in Korea. If your phone does not support one of these bands, it should still connect at 3G speeds using the WCDMA 2100 MHz frequency.
4. Support WCDMA 2100 MHz frequencies – this is most important, as this is the frequency band that most Korean networks run their 3G networks on; this capability is inherent to the phone.
Keeping in touch abroad:
Service members and their families should explore various options to communicate abroad or back to the U.S. Many Soldiers and family members abroad find it convenient to utilize third party applications for audio or video chat functions. Below is a list of commonly used applications your family can explore to determine what will work best for your situation in order to stay in touch:
• KakaoTalk – text, video and call (used extensively in South Korea)
• Skype – text, call, video chat
• FaceTime – video chat (Apple only)
• Facebook messenger – text, call, video
• WhatsApp – text, call, video
• Voxer – text, walkie-talkie
• Viber – text, call
• This list is not all-inclusive and new applications are available every day. You should communicate with your TASP sponsor for guidance on the latest applications Soldiers and families are using to stay connected abroad.
Calling a Korean Cell phone from the US
o To call a cell phone, if the number is "010-1234-5678" Dial, 011-82-10-1234-5678
o Cell phone prefixes are 010 or 011, drop the first number in the three digit prefix before adding it to "011-82
Driving Privately Owned Vehicles (POV)
The following personnel (and their U.S. State licensed dependents age 18 or older) are authorized to obtain a POV License after passing the USFK written exam:
• Accompanied personnel with Command-Sponsored family members
• Personnel in a joint domicile status authorized a POV on their orders.
• Soldiers Sergeant First Class (E-7) or above.
• DA civilians in the grade of GS-5 or above and USFK technical representatives.
• Invited contractors* who have SOFA privileges.
• Personnel who have a letter of approval by the USAG Humphreys Commander for exception to policy.
*Invited contractors, their employees (including Koreans) and dependents of contractors who operate a POV in the Republic of Korea, must first obtain a valid ROK Driver's License. To obtain a ROK driver's license, you should have a valid U.S. State driver's license and USFK Form 700-19A-R-E.
Non-Command Sponsored service members, E-6 and below, require approval from the first O-5 in their chain of command IAW USFK REG 190-1 dated 10 May 2012.
Command sponsored families are authorized to register one POV on post and may request an exception to policy with concurrence from the first O-6 in their chain of command and approval from the garrison commander.
All SOFA status USFK military personnel, USFK civilian appropriated and non-appropriated employees, USFK technical representatives, and family members of the aforementioned personnel must possess a USFK Form 134EK (USFK Motor Vehicle Operator’s Permit) to drive POVs on U.S. installations and Korean roadways.
IAW USFK REG 190-1: All SOFA status military personnel and their family members, civilian appropriated and non-appropriated employees and their family members, and technical representatives and their family members who desire to drive in the ROK and who are qualified under paragraph 2-1d, may use a valid U.S. state driver's license or a valid international driver’s permit as a temporary permit for 30 days after their initial arrival in the ROK to drive POVs on both USFK installations and Korean roadways.
Motorcycle owners may obtain a 10-day temporary license in order to ride to and attend a MSF course – if the owner is already in possession of a valid motorcycle operator’s license or motorcycle endorsement issued by the civil authorities of a country or by a U.S. State or territory. The 10-day temporary license may also be issued five days before the start of the MSF course or five days prior to the course.
Consult USFK Regulations 190-1 for additional information on Licensing and Operating Requirements for POVs, Implied Consent Provision, Learner’s Permit, Personal chauffeurs, Business chauffeur, Bus License.