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Taiwan: Visas and Admin Issues for Expats

Taiwan, the East Asian island, attracts foreign specialists with its innovation-focused economy and great possibilities for gathering valuable work experience in the Asian markets. Our expat guide on moving to Taiwan covers the nation’s main cities, visa regulations, and more.
Dealing with the various steps of Taiwanese bureaucracy can be time-consuming.

Visas: What You Need to Know as an Expat

Taiwan issues five different types of visas to foreigners — the diplomatic, courtesy, working-holiday, visitor, and resident visa. However, only the last two are really relevant to expats, with the working-holiday scheme only available to citizens of selected countries.

General requirements for the resident visa are as follows:

  • You want to stay in the ROC for more than six months for the purpose of taking up employment, investing, or joining your family, among others.
  • Your passport must be valid for at least six more months at the time of application.
  • Your application form must be accompanied by two recent, passport-sized photos.
  • You have all the supporting documents or letters of approval required for your type of visa (e.g. work permit).
  • You have obtained a Health Certificate (if applicable).
  • You have to apply for an Alien Resident Certificate within 15 days after the day of your arrival (see below).

While it is possible for white-collar professionals to enter Taiwan on a visitor visa and have it changed to a resident visa afterwards, it is much easier to apply for the resident visa right away at your respective embassy, mission, or representative office.

If you need more information on the process, please see the website of the Bureau of Consular Affairs. The Bureau also offers a list of countries whose nationals do not need visitor visas for Taiwan — please note that this does not apply to the resident visas! For application fees, please inquire at your nearest Taiwanese representation. The resident visa is valid for three months; how long you can actually stay in Taiwan depends on the validity of your Alien Resident Certificate that you have to get once arrived.

Getting Your Alien Resident Certificate

The Alien Resident Certificate (ARC) is your main means of identification and one of the most important documents you have as an expat in Taiwan. For your first application, you have to personally visit the nearest Service Center of the National Immigration Agency (NIA). Please bring the following:

  • your passport with your valid resident visa
  • a completed application form
  • two recent passport-sized photos
  • a letter of approval from the respective authority and any supporting documents
  • fees: 1,000 TWD per year

The required letter of approval depends on the reason for your stay: students, for instance, will have to hand in a letter of admission from their university, while spouses require proof of their relationship (e.g. an authenticated marriage certificate), and foreign laborers have to hand in their work permit, among other things. Your employer will most likely be able to help you with your application, or you can get in touch with your local Service Center for more information.

The processing time is ten working days. You need to reapply for your ARC after you change residence within Taiwan. The deadline here is the same as for your initial application: within 15 days after the day of your relocation. Along with your ARC, you should not forget to apply for a re-entry permit for the ROC if you are planning on traveling outside of the country. Your local Service Center will help you with the process.

No Work without a Work Permit

If you are planning on taking up employment in Taiwan, then the matter of work permits typically needs to be taken care of even before you apply for a resident visa. Legally, no foreigner can start a job in the ROC without a work permit.

Which authority you have to turn to in order to get your work permit depends on the type of permit. While most expats have to contact the Ministry of Labor (MOL), those of you who want to start working in one of the country’s many science parks will have to apply with the respective park administration. Likewise, specialized technicians employed with a manufacturer in the Export Processing Zone (free trade zone) need to apply with the respective authority there. Fortunately, in most if not all cases, your employer will take the necessary steps to secure your work permit.

Please keep in mind that as a general rule, foreigners in Taiwan are limited to employment in the following fields:

  • specialists or technicians
  • executives of enterprises set up by foreign investors
  • school teachers and teachers at language schools
  • artists, entertainers, athletes, and coaches
  • so-called contracting foreigners

Your work permit is issued for a specific job with a specific employer and valid for a maximum of three years, after which it can be extended. Should you change employers within the period for which your permit is valid, they will have to reapply for a new permit.

 

We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete.

Frederik Sørensen

"As I mainly use InterNations for business, it was just overwhelming to get so many international contacts working in Taipei as well."

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