Removing a roadblock: Why driver’s license reciprocity agreement with South Korea is big deal

SEOUL, South Korea — Like every other U.S. state, New Jersey pitches all the cultural ways residents of foreign countries will feel welcome if they come work in our state. When it comes to South Korea, New Jersey now has another key selling point: driver’s license reciprocity.

On Wednesday in Seoul, officials from the state of New Jersey and the Republic of Korea announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding — a landmark agreement that simplifies the process for citizens of New Jersey and South Korea to quickly obtain and use driver’s licenses in each other’s jurisdictions.

Think it’s not a big deal? Then, think about this: Imagine moving to South Korea and being unable to drive until you made your way through the local testing process.

Under the agreement, Korean citizens in New Jersey and New Jersey residents living in South Korea can convert their driver’s licenses without undergoing the traditional application process.

Gov. Phil Murphy lauded the action — which has long been an issue for the Korean community.

“I believe this agreement is an example of government at its best,” he said. “Our leaders have come together to make life simpler for all of our residents, both here in South Korea and back in New Jersey.

“Our state is stronger when we open our doors to create new economic opportunities and innovate new solutions to our greatest challenges. The last thing that should ever stand in the way of New Jerseyans and South Koreans working together is administrative hurdles.”

New Jersey and South Korea officials said the agreement strengthens their relationship by creating more flexibility and greater convenience for residents. After reviewing both sets of driving requirements, the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission and National Police Agency in South Korea agreed the standards are equally as rigorous, thereby allowing reciprocity.

“The entire team at the Motor Vehicle Commission is proud to play a part in forging closer ties between New Jersey and the Republic of Korea with the establishment of a driver’s license reciprocity agreement,” MVC acting Chief Administrator Latrecia Littles-Floyd said.

“With similar driver testing standards in both jurisdictions, this agreement makes a lot of sense. It will equally benefit drivers in New Jersey and South Korea, allowing them to easily exchange their licenses and smoothing the transition when moving between our two lands.”

Hee-geun Yoon, the chief of the National Police Agency, agreed.

“With the signing of this agreement, it is anticipated that the quality of life for approximately 100,000 of our compatriots residing in the state of New Jersey, U.S., will be enhanced, and that this will contribute to the promotion of friendship between the two countries,” he said.