Unless they are from a visa-exempt country, foreigners will need a visa to visit Taiwan. Those from the US, Canada, Australia, UK, Ireland and several EU countries, as well as some Asian countries, can stay for 90 days without a visa. 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, proof of airline tickets, proof of funds and a hotel reservation.
Residence visas for Taiwan
Expats will usually only be able to get their residence visa after finding a job and getting their work permit approved. In order to be granted a work permit, applicants send copies of their documents (including a health check and police clearance) to their employer, who can apply for a work permit on their behalf.
Once the company receives the applicant’s original work permit, then prospective expats can apply for a residence visa at their local embassy before arriving in the country.
Some foreigners looking to work in Taiwan arrive on a visa waiver, 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. For those not eligible for a visa waiver, it's best to obtain a work permit before arriving in Taiwan.
New arrivals should remember that they cannot begin working in Taiwan 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. The advantage of organising a work and residence permit before arriving in Taiwan is that an expat can legally live and work in Taiwan from their first day of arrival.
Note that after an expat receives their residence visa and is living in Taiwan, they need to apply for an Alien Registration Certificate (ARC) within 15 days of arriving in Taiwan.
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 temporary residence in the country and allows expats to access Taiwan's public healthcare system, which operates under the National Health Insurance. An ARC is valid for the same amount of time as the holder’s work permit.
Foreigners must carry their ARC identification as proof that they legally live in the country.
*Visa regulations are subject to change at short notice and expats should contact their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details.