This guide will cover essential information about migrating to Taiwan. Dive in to learn more
I’ve lived in Taiwan for more than 5 years and want to help newcomers with the information I wish I had known. Each section will also link to in-depth guides. This guide is meant to provide quick facts on each point.
To move to Taiwan, you’ll want to know the following:
Keep reading. You have a lot of preparation.
Taiwan Entry Restrictions
Taiwan has no current entry restrictions.
Quick Facts About Taiwan
|Currency||New Taiwan Dollar (NT$)|
|Life Expectancy||80.95 years|
|Natural Disasters||Typhoons & earthquakes|
What Is It Like Living in Taiwan?
The most significant difficulty with living in Taiwan is the language barrier. However, if my lazy self were to take more initiative in learning the language, I could better immerse myself in the country.
But I still get around fine in Taiwan, knowing a tiny amount of Mandarin.
I cook for myself. But when I eat out, the food tastes good and has never given me food poisoning. Except once at a ramen restaurant.
The people are great, too. Very hospitable and not aggressive. Speaking of. I don’t have to worry about getting mugged when strolling the streets at night.
And health care is affordable. Not the most convenient. For the most part, doctors have helped me with my issues.
Shopping malls are also still a thing here…
Enough about me. Let’s cover some facts. Because your experience will likely differ.
What’s the Weather Like in Taiwan?
Most of the year, Taiwan rains or is overcast. Otherwise, Taiwan’s average temperatures are as follows:
|Month||Avg. Weather (°F)||Avg. Weather (°C)|
Summer runs from June to October. From November on, you’ll encounter cooler temperatures. July–October is typhoon season.
For those not familiar, typhoons are like hurricanes. Heavy winds and rain.
Taiwan Living Expenses
|Electricity||NT$2.8–5 per kWh|
|One-bedroom apartment in the city||NT$12,000–30,000/mo.|
|Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)||NT$90|
|Car insurance, registration, and fuel tax combined (one year)||NT$18,000–25,000|
Challenges of Living in Taiwan
Here are the reasons you may not find Taiwan ideal at times:
|Con of living in Taiwan||Counterpoint or Expanded Explanation|
|Not the best air quality||Don’t live in a city|
|Noise pollution in cities||What city doesn’t have noise pollution?|
|Must chase down trash trucks||Only in Taipei, New Taipei, and Taichung|
|Not the most English support||They’re not an English-speaking country|
|Lack of ramps & accessible sidewalks for wheelchairs||No defense|
|* Difficulty finding some foods||You’ll have to cook your own dishes at times|
|Humidity||Sweaty at all times|
|** Mandatory conscription||Read below|
* For example, finding hispanic food is difficult.
Every country has their pros and cons. Here are mine for Taiwan. For the most part, Taiwan’s an awesome country.
I don’t regret moving here. Nor do I have plans to move back to the States.
Here’s a list of all Taiwan’s visas:
|Visa Type||Who’s it For?|
|Visa Exemption||No visa required for tourists (15–90 days)|
|Student Visa||Mandarin-learning, degree program, exchange, or overseas Chinese students|
|Work Visa||Working for a company|
|Gold Card||Extraordinary achievements, ability, or employment|
|Entrepreneur Visa||Startups with incubators and businesses|
|Tourist Visa||Tourists and short-term business|
|Investment Visa||Those who invest $200k into Taiwan’s economy|
|Family Reunification Visa||Anyone who wants to join Taiwanese family members|
|Working Holiday Visa||People from certain countries who will work in Taiwan for up to 1 year|
|Employment Seeking Visa||Someone looking for a job|
Taiwan also offers 30–90-day visa-free entry to certain countries. I listed them in a separate guide. For instance, U.S. and Canadian citizens can stay in Taiwan for up to 90 days without a visa.
You’ll need a passport valid for up to 6 months to enter.
Staying longer will require a resident visa.
Taiwan Alien Resident Certificate
An Alien Resident Certificate (ARC) is a Taiwanese resident card. It serves as your local ID in Taiwan. Get an ARC through work, marrying a Taiwanese citizen, becoming a student, or other government-approved means.
An ARC is not a tourist pass. It grants you the right to work, study or live in Taiwan for an extended period. The right to work doesn’t mean it includes a work permit. You have to apply for a work permit separately.
Ensure you carry this card everywhere you go. It’s a law. Also, you never know when cops may ask for your ID or passport for some reason.
To get an ARC card, you must first apply and verify your qualifications with the Bureau of Immigration. The bureau will then send back their decision within two weeks and let you know whether they accept your application or decline it (with an explanation).
If approved, go home with your new residency status.
With an alien residency card, you gain access to the following:
- Taiwan’s National Health Care after six months of residency
- Store memberships
- Able to apply for a Digital Alien Resident Certificate
After attempting to apply for the Taiwan Digital Alien Resident Certificate, I found the process too complex and stressful for the perks you get.
However, it may still be a fun thing to explore.
To apply for an ARC card, you must visit your nearest Taiwan Immigration Office.
Not Everyone Recognizes ARC Numbers
Even though you’ll have to pay taxes in Taiwan, and even though you have an ARC number, you won’t receive all benefits a Taiwanese citizen will receive like:
- Some mobile providers
- Access to certain bank accounts
- Credit cards
- Discounts that other citizens get
Here’s a list of where people’s ARC numbers were rejected
These services can change their policies at any time. I recommend at least trying to use your Alien Resident Certificate number where you want to.
If you are refused, then search for an alternative.
Taiwan Alien Permanent Resident Certificate
The Alien Permanent Resident Certificate (APRC) grants foreign nationals long-term residence in Taiwan. Without renewal or approval if they violate any immigration laws.
If you have this card, you are required to maintain your presence at all times within Taiwan.
Failure to follow the government’s requirements may result in deportation.
With an APRC card in Taiwan, you’ll unlock the following life features:
- Open work permit
- Join the government pension plan
- Ability to declare yourself unemployed and receive related welfare benefits
What Is the Best City in Taiwan To Live In?
Many other foreigners will choose to live in Taipei due to its easy access to everything. However, Taipei’s not ideal if you want to save money for any reason. Move to any district in New Taipei and still have easy access to anywhere in Taipei.
Living outside of Taipei means you won’t have as much English support. But that’s fine if you learn the language or have a Mandarin-speaking spouse.
When considering places to live, think of the living environment.
Taiwan’s East Coast, with cities like Hualien and Yilan, will face larger earthquakes. In southern cities like Tainan, you’ll experience more air pollution.
Hsinchu and Taoyuan areas are above several fault planes . Taipei’s Yangmingshan is a volcano.
Taiwan’s cities with the highest proportion of foreigners are Taoyuan City—5.5% of the population is foreigners—and Hsinchu City (6%) .
How To Find an Apartment While Living in Taiwan
Find an apartment in Taiwan by looking on various rental websites, hiring a real estate agent, or speaking to security guards at apartments. Ask them whether they have rentals available.
Most guards won’t speak English, though. Neither will landlords (unless you’re in Taipei). If you find landlords that only speak Mandarin, prepare to have them refuse to rent you their rooms.
Even if you’re moving in with a local. This has happened to me at least 3 times.
If you have friends to help you translate, I recommend choosing that option over a real estate agent. Realtors will charge you a couple months’ worth of rent.
But they’ll have more access to better-looking apartments. Many apartments throughout Taiwan don’t look the best.
Popular websites where landlords typically list their websites include:
|591 Rentals||The website doesn’t have an English version|
|Tealit||Apartment listings, English teaching jobs, and Mandarin Chinese tutors in English|
|Facebook groups||Rooms For Rent – Taipei, Looking for, Roommates or Apartments in Taipei and Taiwan, & Rental Apartments in Taiwan|
|My Room Abroad||Short-term shared and studio listings (in English)|
|Housefun||Another all-Chinese apartment rental website|
|RentalTW||A website where everything’s listed in English|
What to Consider for Housing in Taiwan
When looking at apartments, always check for the following:
- Whether apartments are furnished
- Are utilities included?
- Does the apartment offer internet?
- How close is it to public transportation access?
- Do they offer trash collection services?
The trash collection services are for those who live in Taipei and New Taipei Cities. Trash trucks will come every day (except Wednesday and Sunday). And you’ll need to drop your trash off at pickup points.
Apartments with trash collection remove the extra work. You drop your trash and recycle off at a designated waste area in your apartment. And someone deals with the trash for you.
Many apartments won’t include internet, electricity, and water. When moving into an apartment that doesn’t include these services, you’ll receive a monthly bill separate from your rent.
Pay these bills at the utility offices or at a convenience store.
How to Open a Bank Account in Taiwan
To open a bank account in Taiwan, perform the following steps:
- Apply for Record of ID Number at National Immigration Agency
- Find a bank that’ll accept your Record of ID or ARC/APRC
- Visit the branch, fill out papers, and open your account
Requirements for opening a bank in Taiwan will vary by institution. In general, they are as follows:
|ARC, APRC, or Record of ID||Email address||Taiwan phone number|
|Social security number (U.S. citizens)||Passport||At least 20 years old|
|Minimum of NT$1,000 to deposit||* Fixed mailing address in Taiwan|
* Banks don’t count PO boxes or hotels, Airbnbs, or PO Boxes as a fixed mailing address.
You aren’t required to have Taiwan residency to apply for a bank account. Again, this will vary by bank.
Most bankers won’t speak English. Bring a translator, or pray that Google Translator doesn’t lead to awkward encounters. Using Google is how I set up my account.
I’ve never seen a bank that allows people to remotely open accounts. You’ll need to visit a branch.
Here are some known banks in Taiwan and people they’re best for:
|Chunghwa Post Bank||Easily obtain a debit card that gives cash back|
|Taipei Fubon Bank||Make deposits with foreign currency|
|Bank of Taiwan||Great currency conversion rates|
|Mega Bank||English website|
Taiwan’s currency unit is New Taiwan Dollar (NTD). NT$1 equals 30 Japanese Yen, about USD 0.03 or EUR 0.02.
They use the following banknotes and coins:
On the front of every note, it says “The Central Bank of China.” On the backside, it will have pictures depicting different aspects that make up Taiwan, such as traditional housing structures or famous tourist attractions.
Taiwan isn’t a cashless country. Many Taiwanese will use apps like LINE pay, bank cards, and EasyCards. But most use cash.
Transportation Options in Taiwan
|Transportation||Avg. Price (One-Way)||Best For||Notes|
|City Bus||NT$15; 1 segment||Budget||Only way to get around in some cities|
|Bicycle rental||NT$5–NT$40 per 30 min||Exercise||Not available in all cities|
|Ferries||NT$819–NT1,700||Navigating outlying islands||NA|
|Taiwan Railway Administration||NT$11–NT$836||Budget inter-city travel||NA|
|Taiwan High-Speed Rail||NT$35–NT$2,500||Quickly navigating different cities||NA|
|Rideshare||NT$120–NT$1,200 per trip||Comfortable city travel||Price varies by driver, time, & other factors|
|Mass Rapid Transit||NT$20–NT$65||City travel||Not available in all cities|
|Taxi||NT$16–NT$25 per km||Travel to specific destinations||Many don’t understand English|
If you’re living somewhere like Taipei, you’re better off taking public transportation.
It’s affordable and convenient. Taipei’s Metro, for example, the most you’ll pay for a one-way ticket is NTD$65 ($2.26). That’s if you travel across Taipei and New Taipei.
If you decide you want a car, you won’t find cheaper vehicles here than in the US. You’ll also need to consider costs like parking, insurance, etc., and inconvenience.
Taiwan has many narrow roads, which makes it challenging to navigate. Especially when you have motorbikes slipping past you at every opportunity.
If you live in the countryside or a city that doesn’t have much public transportation, you’ll want to consider buying a vehicle.
If you love working on cars yourself, Taiwan does have scrap yards. Use them to salvage automotive parts. But you’ll need to look around and ask the locals.
These become harder to find if you’re in the city. You’ll have to look to the outskirts or the countryside.
How to Rent a Car or Motorbike
To rent a car in Taiwan, you’ll generally need to follow these steps:
- Visit a car rental website or retail storefront
- Add your payment method
- Review your lease
- Collect your vehicle
- Clean your vehicle once you’re done
- Return your car
The same goes for motorbikes.
Renting a car in Taiwan requires you to have an international driver’s permit. Meanwhile, renting scooters have mixed document requirements. Most cities require you to have a Taiwanese driver’s license.
Outlying cities and some countryside towns require an international driver’s permit.
Considering you’re moving to Taiwan, I recommend using iRent. The app’s only in Chinese, but it makes renting cars easier. Pick up a car at a lot, drive, and return it to any lot.
Shopping While Living in Taiwan
The following sections will cover online and retail storefronts Taiwanese commonly use.
If you’re familiar with Amazon, they do ship to Taiwan. But you won’t get Amazon Prime shipping discounts. Taiwan doesn’t have Amazon warehouses.
Speaking of online shopping.
Buying Items Online
Taiwan is slowly transitioning into selling more stuff online, which means they offer goods on these websites:
|Costco||Save money on cab fare and order stuff to your home|
|Momo||Chinese-only website that sells products you’ll usually see in malls|
|iHerb||The best way to buy supplements|
|Shopee.tw||A Chinese-only shopping site that sells most things you’ll need|
|Ruten||An auction site|
|Carrefour Online||Groceries, 3C, and hardlines|
|PCHome||A site with few English products that operates similarly to Amazon|
|Yahoo||You can either buy stuff sold by or through Yahoo or use their bidding and auction functionality|
You can only use Taiwanese bank cards or alternative payment services like LINE Pay or Apple Pay to buy stuff from websites. Depending on what site you use, ship stuff to convenience stores like 7-Eleven and choose the cash on delivery (COD) option.
Keep these tips in mind when shopping online in Taiwan:
- Review ratings
- Use the Google Translate Extension
- You’ll need a Taiwan phone number
- You will have to enter your ARC number
- Many companies have no return policies
If you want to buy and sell second-hand stuff, do so through Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist (sometimes), Instagram, and Facebook Groups.
Sometimes you’ll find second-hand stuff on Shopee.
How to Receive Packages From Outside Taiwan
No matter what website you order from, or if someone mails a package, you will need to download EZway.
EZway is an app that uses real name authorization when importing goods. This shows the government who’s receiving the goods. Also, using this app will reduce the likelihood of customs holding your mailed items.
Upon downloading the app, you’ll need to enter information like:
- Your full name
- ID card number: in your case, ARC
- Birth date
- User ID
How do you pass items through customs?
When an item enters customs, the app will present a notification to approve the shipment. Upon approval, the item will leave the customs warehouse and ship to your shipping address.
Here are various places to buy groceries in Taiwan:
|PX Mart||Supermarket||Taiwan’s most popular supermarket|
|Costco||Hypermarket||Requires a membership & sells bulk goods|
|Wellcome||Supermarket||Carrefour owns this|
|Jasons||Supermarket||Carrefour also owns this|
|Citysuper||Supermarket||In shopping center basements|
|Simple Mart||Supermarket||Found in alleys|
|Carrefour||Hypermarket||French hypermarket that’s like Walmart|
|Wet markets||Market||Bargain meats, grains, and vegetables|
|RT-Mart||Hypermarket||PX Mart owns RT-Mart now|
Most of these stores have memberships, which allow you to accumulate points. Redeem these for discounts.
Use cash, integrated circuit cards, LINE Pay, Apple and Google Pay, Taiwan Pay, and whatever other payment methods stores offer for purchases.
Taiwan has various “health food” stores. These places sell expensive organic foods and are the only means to access some vegetarian/vegan foods. Like nutritional yeast. I could only find it in Santa Cruz.
You will need to pay for grocery bags. The stores will sell you government-approved garbage bags if you’re in Taipei and New Taipei. These will vary by price and size .
Here’s something important to know about receipts.
Taiwan Receipt Lottery
Every odd-numbered month, the ministry of finance will draw a set of numbers and give those with retail receipts a chance to win a prize. To win, you’ll need to match sets of numbers on your receipt to the winning numbers.
Prizes for this lottery will range from NT$200–NTD$10 million ($348,500). Taiwanese, travelers, and expats can all participate in this lottery and claim prizes. You’d claim winning prizes below NT$1,000 at convenience stores or supermarkets.
Anything above will require a trip to the bank.
I cover how to participate in the lottery, various prizes, and how to claim your prizes in a separate guide.
Clinics, hospitals, government agencies, and the Taipei Metro don’t offer receipts that have Taiwan lottery numbers. Regardless, always keep your receipts. If you don’t like storing all these receipts, download a cloud invoice app.
I can’t find any credible sources that state the chance you’ll have to win the lottery. Obviously, the more receipts you have, the higher the chance of winning.
Health Care When Living in Taiwan
Anyone with Taiwan’s National Health Insurance (NHI) will get coverage at almost all hospitals, Eastern medicine clinics, and other clinics. You must sign up for Taiwan’s NHI within 6 months once you get a Taiwan ARC.
In most scenarios, you won’t need scenarios to visit specialists. No need to visit a general practitioner then get a recommendation to an ENT.
Here’s why I love (and dislike) their healthcare system. No health insurance is perfect, but Taiwan’s is more accessible than America’s.
But how much do you pay monthly?
How Much Are Premiums?
The amount you’ll pay will vary by category, which correlates with your job. Here are some examples :
|Career||You Pay||Employer Pays||Government Pays|
|Employees Of Private Owned Businesses||30%||60%||10%|
On to paying for your insurance.
How To Pay for Taiwan Health Insurance
You’ll receive your insurance bill monthly via mail. Take it to any convenience store to pay for it. Or, pay it directly from your bank account.
Instead of waiting for the mail, download the smartphone app and instantly find your health insurance bill there. Take the barcode that the app provides and pay for your bill at any convenience store.
However, verifying my identity to sign in to this app was a nightmare that I wanted to end.
The app is only in Chinese. These are the verification methods.
If you have a postpaid cellular plan, then you won’t have to worry much because you’ll just receive a text message.
If you’re cheap like me and went the other route, receiving a code VIA their website, it seems impossible to do it on a Mac. Because you need a card reader, and from my experience, card reading software didn’t work.
Anyway, to finally log into the website, I had to get my hands on a Windows laptop and download Internet Explorer (not Edge). Because it wouldn’t work on any other browser.
Co-payments and Medications
In most cases, co-pays are NT$150–NT$200 for clinics . Hospital co-pays usually sit between NT$300–NT$500 per visit. Medication prices will vary based on whether insurance covers your medications.
Say you want proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). It’s medication for acid reflux. Insurance won’t cover this medication unless you get an endoscopy.
Blood test prices will also vary. Unlike in the U.S. (where I’m from), you can’t go in, tell your doctor you want a full blood test panel, and use your copay as payment. Blood tests for individual vitamins and minerals in Taiwan start at NT$500.
What Is a Typical Appointment Like?
When visiting clinics or hospitals in Taiwan, you’ll find that it’s efficient:
- Schedule your appointment: online or walk-in
- See the receptionist: fill out your personal information
- Grab a number: once your number appears on the LED monitor or screen, it’ll be your turn to see the doctor
- Talk to the doctor: you talk about your symptoms, and they’ll inspect you
- Pick up any prescriptions: you’ll go to the pharmacy the doctor says and pick up your medication
English-speaking doctors are hit-or-miss. Sometimes small clinics in random places will have doctors who are fluent in English. While hospitals in Taipei may have doctors who don’t know any English.
I recommend bringing a friend or translator to prevent miscommunication regarding symptoms.
Taiwan’s culture is closely related to China and Japan. Most people living in Taiwan have ancient Chinese heritage, but many Taiwanese are descendants of Japanese or aboriginal ancestry.
However, the Taiwanese have adopted a culture-specific to them over the years.
Available foods are primarily influenced by other countries as well. For example, bubble tea was initially made up of a mixture of black tapioca balls with barley mixed in the drink served cold after being shaken (in Taiwan, they’re called “pearls”).
Nowadays, it has become more popular worldwide and has been modified into what everyone knows today: large-sized pearls that pop inside your mouth while drinking your favorite flavor of milk tea.
Other traditional Taiwanese cuisine includes beef noodle soup, oyster omelet, and braised pork rice. Taiwan is also home to many Japanese restaurants that often serve ramen or curry dishes, with some popular types of sushi being salmon roe and ika (squid).
Taiwan’s aboriginal people are a minority group in their own country, but they have greatly influenced Taiwanese food culture. For example, one dish called “Thousand Layer Cake” has roots in an Aboriginal tribe.
Find it at various bakeries across Taiwan.
Food is fundamental in Taiwan. However, it’s not the only part of their culture.
While exploring the country, you will find that they have different religious beliefs, superstitions, holidays, and other factors too much to fit into this guide.
Here are guides to help you begin:
- Overview of Taiwanese food
- Holidays & festivals
- Convenience store culture
- Taiwanese superstitions
- How to dress in Taiwan
Resources for Moving to Taiwan
To better prepare you for living in Taiwan, you’ll want to explore this list of tools and resources that may make your life easier.
- Get two bank accounts: if you’re a US citizen, I recommend having a Charles Schwab account
- * Sign up for STEP or similar programs
- ** Economic or cultural offices
- Forumosa is Taiwan’s most active expatriate forum: use it to find essential information & random BS
* Cultural or economic offices or similar areas act as embassies or consulates for your home country. Use them to help you with emergency services, passports, and notary services.
** Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a program where American citizens can provide their travel information to receive important news from the U.S. government. Check if your government offers a similar program.
These tools include popular forums for expatriates in Taiwan, critical mobile apps, and other valuable tools.
List of Essential Phone Numbers in Taiwan
|119||Ambulance and fire|
|0800-024-111—press (2) for English||International Community Service Hotline (24 hours and toll-free)|
|113||Children and women protection hotline|
|133||Domestic violence hotline|
FAQs: Living in Taiwan
Read through these common questions about living in Taiwan.
How To Call Taiwan From The USA?
To make a call to Taiwan from the USA, you will want to first dial the country’s access code, +886. Afterward, dial your desired phone number.
Does Taiwan Have Amazon?
You can access Amazon.com in Taiwan and order stuff from the eCommerce giant. You can also receive free shipping on orders more than $60.
How Many Square Miles Is Taiwan?
Taiwan is 12,456 square miles or 32,260 sq km. This includes Taiwan’s outlying islands.
Is Taiwan Safe?
Taiwan is considered one of the safest countries to visit and live in. Aside from the earthquakes and typhoons.
If you’re living in Taiwan for work purposes or just want to get out of your home country, you won’t have too difficult of a time moving to the island nation.
You’ll need to find a suitable visa for yourself and adjust to Taiwan’s culture. Afterward, there’s adjusting to the language barrier and culture.
Read my other guides on living in Taiwan. Find resources I wish were accessible when moving here.