Most foreigners moving to Taiwan obtain a work permit with the help of an employer, which removes much of the stress and tension normally caused by navigating government bureaucracy.
Over the past decade, the country has made large strides in allowing more leeway for international companies to fulfil their staffing needs with foreign nationals. The application process for work permits has been streamlined and many restrictions have been relaxed or even lifted for multinationals.
A foreigner's work permit in Taiwan is tied to their employer. So, if an expat changes jobs or employers, then they must apply for a new work permit. An employer must start the work permit process by applying with the Workforce Development Agency. For a list of required documents, it's best to check the agency's website.
Getting an Alien Resident Certificate 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 means that an expat is a permanent resident and is therefore entitled to National Health Insurance.
In order to become a legal permanent resident and receive an ARC, however, expats must fulfil the following criteria at a minimum:
Pass a health check (not necessary for those from visa waiver countries or in possession of a residence visa)
Have a work permit (which will be arranged by their employer)
Have a residence visa (which can be applied for either at the Taiwanese embassy in one's home country or from within Taiwan if one has entered the country on a visitor’s visa)
An ARC is issued for the same length of time as a work permit. As soon as an expat's work permit expires or if they leave their place of employment, an ARC will become invalid.
►For more information on visas, see Visas for Taiwan
►Read Working in Taiwan for an overview of the job market
"Many expats just show up in Taiwan on a tourist visa, then look for a job before their visa expires. Some people get a part-time job and continue doing visa runs every few months. Most get jobs in a cram school that meets the minimum working hour requirements. The school arranges their ARC (Alien Resident Card) for them. If you switch schools, you need to have them transfer the ARC to the new school. If you maintain an ARC for five years, you can get an APRC (Permanent Resident Card), meaning you can stay for life." Learn about Nick's move to Taiwan and his experiences living in the country as an expat.
Are you an expat living in Taiwan?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Taiwan. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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