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Life in Taiwan

How do I find a place to rent?

Renting is common in Taiwan, and there are a large range of types of dwellings available at diffrerent price points. The most popular property search website is 591. Unlike in some other countries, real estate agents offering rental properties in Taiwan are typically only brokers who present prospective tenants to landlords for a fee and you will normally deal directly with a landlord from lease signing onward. Standard leases are available from most convenience stores and it is common to use these. A one or two month deposit, refunded on leaving the property is common. Negotiation down from the advertised price is common. Properties close to MRT stations are the most desirable.

If you are looking for newer, tall modern apartment buildings, these are known as “電梯大樓” and you can limit your search on 591 to this. Other search sites include myroomabroad and spacious.

Can I purchase real-estate?

In general, yes, if your country allows Taiwanese nationals to purchase real estate in your country. There are some restrictions, such as not being able to purchase farmland, or land related to a waterway or national defense.

Does my card look any different from other types of ARC?

Yes, the entire card is gold in colour. It also has slightly different information such as a different title (R.O.C. (Taiwan) Employment Gold Card), purpose of residence (Foreign Special Professional) and a label for your professional field.

How do I register to use the e-Gate?

Visit your local NIA service center or the immigration counter at an international airport and the officials there will guide you through the steps.

What unofficial benefits does holding a Gold Card bestow?

As the Taiwan government sees holders as “worthy professionals”, this could increase your standing in the eyes of certain people. Additionally, Sometimes the National Development Council or other government agencies invite us to parties or ask our opinions on certain matters.

What happens if I change my address?

You must log in to the Gold Card Application portal and update your details there within 30 days of moving. Address changes are free.

How do I change my address?

You must change your address online. Go to the Gold Card Portal. Click “I want to apply” and login using the username and password you used when applying for your gold card. select “Application” then “Information change of Employment Gold Card”. Follow the steps including uploading proof of your address (such as a copy of your lease) and pick up location. After you submit your updated information, you will receive an automated email that says “steps of the online payment and the delivery have been completed,” even though you did not actually have to submit payment for the address change. The “Information Change” will be processed and they will get back to you per email if things are missing. Your new Gold Card with the latest address will be available for collection within approximately two weeks. Don’t forget to bring your passport, current Gold Card, and electronic “payment receipt” (which will show a “payment amount” of 0). Note: Family members of a Gold Card holder must update their address in person at the National Immigration Agency.

What if I don’t update my address?

Legally, you are required to update your address within 30 days starting from the date you move in. Otherwise here is a non-exhaustive list of potential consequences:

  • You could receive a fine between NT$2,000 and NT$10,000.
  • Some government entities, such as the tax office or NHI, won’t accept any other address than the one mentioned in your Gold Card.
  • Important documents, such as the NHI invoices, will be sent to the address, and you might miss them.

How many days per year do I have to stay in Taiwan?

There are no requirements. However, you must stay for more than 183 days per year in order to be eligible for many benefits such as: tax resident treatment and a pathway to permanent residence.

What shall I do if I renew my passport?

No problem. If your passport number changes you must update it online. Go to the Gold Card Portal. Click “I want to apply” and login using the username and password you used when applying for your gold card. select “Application” then “Information change of Employment Gold Card”. Follow the steps including uploading a copy of your new passport. Within two weeks, you will be able to pick up a new Gold Card from the National Immigration Agency that has your latest information.

How do I convert my overseas driving license?

Taiwan has international agreements with many countries that allow you to convert your driver’s license from your home country into a Taiwanese license without taking a driving test. This is done on the basis of ‘reciprocity’ - basically if it is possible for a Taiwanese national to convert their license in your country you should be able to do the same in Taiwan. The Taipei City Motor Vehicles Office maintains a list of eligible countries (and states within countries), and instructions on their website.

If you are not from an eligible state or country and need to drive long-term, you will need to sit the local license test. For the short term, you may use an International Driving Permit (IDP) from your home country, but after 30 days in Taiwan this must be validated by the local Motor Vehicles Office to remain valid. A validated IDP can typically only be used for a maximum of six months, after which you are supposed to apply for a Taiwanese driver’s license.

What is the use of a Taiwan International Driving Permit (IDP)? How can I get one?

If you have a full valid Taiwanese driving license of any kind, you can go to the Motor Vehicles Office in your local vicinity and get a Taiwan International Driving Permit. It has the same use case as other IDPs, but you should make sure that the foreign countries you wish to drive in accept your Taiwan IDP. There is a cost involved in printing your IDP, check with your local Motor Vehicles Offices. Note: Make sure you give the correct details for your home country to be used on your IDP. It is not common for foreign nationals to request a Taiwan IDP and when the clerk is issuing your IDP, they have to manually enter your home country (there is no dropdown or sanitisation check). In order to avoid costly mistakes, be firm and make sure that the clerk who is issuing your IDP writes down your country exactly as you ask them to (for example, if you are a UK national it is very possible that they may look at the full name of your UK passport and write down an abbreviated version which could result in your IDP stating ‘Ireland’ when you are in fact a British national from another region). Be careful with the storage and usage of your new Taiwan IDP, as they are not laminated.

I want to convert a full valid UK driving license to a Taiwanese driving license. What does this entail and how do I change it back later?

As of January 2022, it became possible to change your full clean UK driving license to a full Taiwanese driving license. The most obvious benefit of doing so is you can immediately drive a car, either manual or automatic (depending on your license type in the UK). You can also drive ‘General Light Motorcycles’ - in other words, any scooter that is equal to or less than 50cc. This includes GoShares and the likes. Be aware though that most scooters driven around are 50 - 250cc which are classed as ‘General Heavy Motorcycles’ by definition and require you to pass a seperate test from scratch.

Exchange your UK license for a Taiwan license

The process of swapping your UK license in Taiwan is very quick, cheap and easy. It requires two trips to your local Taiwan Motor Vehicles Office, one to submit your DVLA check code to validate your UK license, and a second time to apply for your Taiwan license after they have validated it.

If you’re still in the UK it’s advisable to visit your local Taiwan Representative Office before you leave to have them authenticate your license ahead of time. If you’re already in Taiwan, then not to worry, you can do everything here easily. The total cost is less than 1000 NTD.

  1. Get a “check code” from DVLA here. Enter your license number, national insurance number, and the postcode of the address printed on your license and submit the form. Click to the “Get your check code” tab and then the green “Get a code” button. On this page you should see a link “Print or save a driving summary”. Download and print this out.
  2. Bring your printed “check code” summary, passport, ARC, and UK driving license to the Motor Vehicles Office in Taiwan. They’ll keep your check code and make copies of your IDs and license. They will also take your e-mail address. All this information will be forwarded to the Taipei Representative Office in London, who will validate your license with DVLA, and contact you by e-mail to invite you to apply for your Taiwanese license. They told me it could take up to a month, but I only had to wait 1 week. While you’re waiting, you can go get your photos and health check done.
  3. Get some photos. You need two “driving license” size photos (the photo booths have this exact option), one for the health check and a second for your license. Be careful as it’s not the same size as passport photos. You can find a photo booth in many convenience stores. The Motor Vehicles Office also has a photo booth.
  4. Go to a local hospital or clinic and get a health check. Bring one of the driving license photos as they will attach it to your health certificate. In Taipei there’s a clinic 5 minutes walk from the Motor Vehicles Office, at Pojen General Hospital here, it’s the side entrance, No. 68, on the 7th floor. They check your height, weight, some general vision/perception tests, and a chat with a doctor who will ask about any history of drug or alcohol abuse, conditions or diseases that may affect your driving, etc. They’ll charge you a small fee ~300 NTD and give you the completed certificate.
  5. When the MVO e-mails you (or if you already authenticated your license with a TRO in the UK), you can now go to the Motor Vehicle Office and apply for your license. This part is super easy and fast. Bring your ARC, a driving license photo, and original UK license. You'll pay a fee of 200 NTD and they'll print your driving license on the spot. They will keep your UK driving license and send it back to DVLA, but don't worry, you'll be able to legally drive in the UK using your Taiwanese license for up to 1 year each time you go back to visit. Don't forget to get an IDP first.

    If your name is small you can ask for both your English and Chinese names to be printed on the license, otherwise they will ask which one you want. You should generally get the same name you have on your NHI card, which is probably your Chinese name if you have one on your ARC. My full English name is super long so I have only my Chinese name on both my license and NHI card (only my ARC has both my English and Chinese names). This part took about 15 minutes total and then I walked out with a brand new Taiwanese license.

Exchange your Taiwan license back to a UK license

Once you are ready to return to the UK you can return your Taiwanese license for a UK one, but it is an application in itself and much more involved than swapping it for the Taiwanese license. It is also important to note that you can still legally drive for up to a year each time you return to the UK using your Taiwanese license (but be sure to insure your vehicle under your foreign license for legal purposes).

You need to hand your Taiwanese license over to one of the embassies of Taiwan in the UK for notarisation, either: The Taipei Representative Office in the UK (London) or (Edinburgh). There is a fee for doing so, but check with the embassy to see exactly how much.

In the Edinburgh office, things usually go much quicker and you can expect to get your Taiwanese license and the notarised documents back in an envelope within around 3 weeks (or long if busier), the London office is much busier and this process can take anywhere up to three months, as quoted by them.

It is important to note that instructions on how to notarise your license and exchange it for a UK one are in Mandarin only and were not initially intended for an english-speaking audience, as this whole process is very new. So go into your embassy of choice and explain the situation, they will help you to send off your documents for notarisaion and collect the fee. You may want to get a first class stamp and a large plastic postal bag (they are grey in colour) to save some time, as this will likely be asked for (at your expense).

Once you are ready, pick up a D1 Driver’s License Application Form from any post office (or order one online) and fill out the swapping a foreign driver’s license section. Include your Taiwanese driving license and the notarised documents in the same envelope as your D1 and send it off to DVLA Swansea. You should receive your UK driving license back within 3 weeks (this process is free).

Note: Do NOT send your Taiwan license off without notarisation documents from Taiwan. You will receive your DVLA forms back and your Taiwan license with instructions on how to notarise your documents.

I am being asked to see an entry stamp in my passport, but I always use the eGate. What do I do?

These days, most foreign residents of Taiwan use the eGate exclusively to enter and exit the country. It’s fast and convenient, but it has the side effect that your passport is no longer stamped to mark your entry or exit. You may be met with confusion when explaining this to a bureaucrat in some situations. To solve this, you can visit your local National Immigration Agency service center and ask for a Certificate of Entry/Exit. It costs NT$100 and takes only a few minutes to produce. You can also apply for one online if you have a digital citizen certificate.