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Buying, Adopting, and Owning a Pet in South Korea: A Comprehensive Guide

Updated: Feb 28

owning a pet in korea

Whether you're living in Korea, or planning to move to Korea, it's important to understand the rules about owning a furry companion. From registration and vaccinations to buying or adopting a pet, this guide provides all the essential information for current and prospective pet owners.

I. Who Can Own a Pet in South Korea?

In South Korea, both locals and foreigners are allowed to own pets, as long as they follow the rules and take good care of them. However, if you're from another country and might return home in the future, remember that moving pets across borders can be tricky. It requires several steps, including health checks and paperwork. It's important to consider this before purchasing or adopting a pet in Korea.

II. Registration, Pet Identification, Vaccinations

Pet ownership in South Korea starts with proper registration and ensuring your pet's health through vaccinations. Compliance with these steps is not just about following the law but also about safeguarding the community and your pet.




Pet Registration

Mandatory for dogs. Involves microchipping and registering your pet with local authorities.

Varies, approximately 10,000 – 20,000 KRW

Rabies Vaccination

Mandatory for all dogs. The first vaccination is given at three months, with a booster required within a year.

20,000 to 30,000 KRW

DHPP (Dogs)

Recommended vaccinations for Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus, and Parainfluenza.

20,000 to 30,000 KRW per vaccine

FVRCP (Cats)

Recommended vaccinations for Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, and Panleukopenia.

20,000 to 30,000 KRW per vaccine

Note: The costs mentioned are approximate and can vary based on the veterinary clinic. It's important to keep up with regular health check-ups and follow-up vaccinations as recommended by your veterinarian--many require up to 6 vaccinations before your pup is ready to leave the house.

Search '동물병원' (Animal Hospital) on Naver Maps or Kakao Maps to find the closest veterinarian near you.

III. Where Can I Buy a Pet in South Korea?

When buying a pet in South Korea, pet stores often go beyond just selling animals and supplies. They provide various services to support your pet's health right from the start. These include:

  • Vaccination Packages: Essential vaccines like rabies for dogs and cats are offered at the time of purchase.

  • Microchipping for Identification: Helps keep your pet safe and meets the legal requirements for pet ownership.

  • In-house Veterinary Services: For initial health check-ups, ensuring your pet is in good health before you take them home.

IV. Where Can I Adopt a Pet in South Korea?

Adoption is a heartwarming and responsible way to find a pet. South Korea has numerous shelters and organizations dedicated to rehoming pets in need.

Animal Shelters for Adoption


South Chungcheong






North Jeolla


V. Fines, Laws, and Regulations

Understanding and adhering to South Korea's pet ownership laws is essential for protecting your pet, yourself, and your community from potential legal issues.

Fines and Regulations for Pet Ownership




Unregistered Dog

Up to 1,000,000 KRW

Failure to register a dog or keep vaccinations up to date can lead to significant fines.

Not Cleaning Up After Pet

Fines vary

Owners are required to clean up after their pets in public spaces; failure to do so can result in fines.

Abandoning a Pet

Up to 3,000,000 KRW or 1 year in prison

Abandoning pets is a punishable offense, reflecting the country's commitment to animal welfare.

Animal Abuse / Neglect

Up to 30,000,000 KRW or 3 years in prison

Animal cruelty laws are strict, with hefty fines and possible imprisonment for those found guilty of abuse.

Selling Without a Certificate of Sale

Up to 10,000,000 KRW

Selling animals without providing a certificate of sale, which includes health information and vaccination records, is illegal.

Click here for a detailed list of laws and regulations. Visit the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs website for more information

Always remember that owning a pet in South Korea involves understanding and adhering to specific regulations to ensure their health and safety. From registration and vaccinations to choosing where to buy or adopt, we hope this guide equips you with the necessary information for responsible pet ownership.

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