Visas for Taiwan

Unless they are from a visa-exempt country, expats will need a visa to visit Taiwan. Expats from the US, Canada, Australia, EU countries and some Asian countries can stay for 30 days without a visa, while residents of the UK and Ireland can stay for 90 days. South Africans need to acquire a visitor's visa before travelling to Taiwan.

To stay longer, expats will need to acquire a residence visa, while those wanting to work in Taiwan will need both a work permit and a residence visa.

Visitor's visas for Taiwan

Expats looking to visit Taiwan for a short time without working will need to apply for a visitor’s visa at their local embassy, unless they are from a visa-exempt country. Required documents include application forms, travel documents, passport photos, airline tickets, proof of funds and a hotel reservation.

Residence visas for Taiwan

Some expats looking to work in Taiwan arrive on a visitor's visa, find a job, apply for a work permit, and then use the work permit to apply for a residence visa in Taiwan. This process has been streamlined in recent years and is, for the most part, quite straightforward.

Technically, expats are not allowed to work on a visitor's visa, but many do so while they wait for their work permits and residence visas to be processed. An employer might even expect this – many companies bring expats over on a visitor's visa and expect them to apply for a residence visa in Taiwan.

Expats should remember that they can be deported for working without a work permit, even if they have started the permit process, which can take several weeks. Once an expat has their work permit, they can legally work while they apply for a residence visa and wait for it to be processed.

Applying for a residence visa in advance is possible, although it is easier to do so after finding a job. Applicants can send copies of their documents (including a health check and police clearance) to their employer, which can apply for a work permit on their behalf.

Once the company posts the applicant’s work permit, they can apply for a residence visa at their local embassy before arriving in the country. This needs a lot of paperwork – including the work permit, the company's business registration and a copy of the contract – to do so. On the plus side, having a work permit and a residence permit in advance means an expat can legally live and work in Taiwan from day one.

Note that after an expat receives their residence visa and is living in Taiwan, they need to apply for an Alien Registration Certificate (ARC), and must carry this identification as proof that they legally live in the country.

Work permits for Taiwan

Most expats obtain a work permit with the help of their Taiwanese employer, which removes much of the stress normally caused by bureaucracy.

Taiwan has given international companies leeway to fulfil their staffing needs with foreign nationals. The application process for work permits has been streamlined and many restrictions have been relaxed or lifted for multinationals.

An employer starts the work permit process by applying to the Taiwan Council of Labour Affairs.

Alien Resident Certificates in Taiwan

Once granted a work permit, the process for obtaining a residence visa and an Alien Resident Certificate (ARC) can begin. Having an ARC entitles an expat to permanent residence and National Health Insurance. To receive an ARC, expats have to undergo a health check and have a residence visa. An ARC is valid for the same amount of time as the holder’s work permit.

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