Includes information on business customs, travel advisory, visa requirements, and other aspects of international travel.
Formal business introductions in Taiwan are considered incomplete without an exchange of business cards. This is a necessity for nearly every business occasion, so those visiting Taiwan on business should always carry cards printed in both English and traditional Chinese characters. Many Taiwan printers specialize in producing these key business aids, and offer accurate, low-cost services that can be completed within days.
Dress and Business Etiquette
Taiwan weather is humid throughout the year. Light clothing is recommended between May and October, while a jacket or sweater may be needed during the winter. Outside of the office, dress is relatively informal on most occasions. During the summer, businessmen usually wear short-sleeve shirts and ties, while women’s business attire varies widely. However, for men a suit and tie are advisable in more formal situations.
In most instances, tipping is not necessary. Restaurant and hotel bills typically include a ten percent service charge, eliminating the need for gratuities in such situations. It is, however, relatively common to leave the change when a bill is paid. Porters at hotels and airports customarily receive tips for their services, usually in the range of NT$50-100 ($1.62-3.24) per item of luggage. It is not necessary to tip in taxis unless assistance with luggage is rendered.
Taiwan is generally safe and there is minimal risk of violent crime. However, pickpockets can be a problem in crowded places, especially at night markets and other large, public events. Visitors should exercise normal precautions, maintain a low profile, and be aware of their surroundings at all times. There is an extensive network of security cameras in Taipei, Kaohsiung, and other major cities, so crime victims should note the location and time of any incident so that police can review video footage.
People in Taiwan are generally friendly toward foreigners and will often go out of their way to assist visitors. Taxi drivers, restaurateurs, store clerks, and other service employees are often particularly helpful to non-Chinese speaking foreign visitors. Traffic conditions present hazards to drivers and pedestrians alike and caution is advised when on or traversing roadways.
Please note that marijuana is an illegal drug in Taiwan, and Taiwan has very strict penalties for the possession, use, selling, or trafficking (including mailing) of all illegal drugs.
Emergency Telephone Numbers
- Fire / Medical: 119
- Police: 110
- English-Speaking Police: (02) 2556-6007 (24 hours)
- English Directory Assistance: 106
For the latest information about Taiwan travel advisories, visit the State Department Travel Information Page for Taiwan.
U.S. passport holders who wish to enter Taiwan as a tourist or short-term visitor (less than 90 days) do not need a visa. No extensions or changes of status are permitted. The U.S. passport must be valid throughout the intended length of stay and the traveler must hold a confirmed return or onward air ticket. For stays longer than 90 days, or for those planning to work or join family, a Taiwan visa is required prior to traveling. The processing fee for a Taiwan tourist/business visa is USD $160. U.S. investors and their immediate family members may qualify for a residency visa, or a five-year, multiple-entry visitor visa with 60-day duration of stay, the fee for which is USD $205. Visit the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO)’s website for the most current non-resident visa information.
Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO)
4201 Wisconsin Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20016-2137
Telephone: (202) 895-1800 (Main Number)
Facsimile: (202) 363-0999 (Main Number)
Telephone: (202) 895-1814 (Consular Division)
Facsimile: (202) 895-0017 (Consular Division)
Email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
For Emergencies: (202) 669-0180
TECO (Taipei Economic and Cultural Office) also has offices in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Guam, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle.
Resident Visas are generally issued to applicants with valid work permits or those married to Taiwan nationals. When applying for a resident visa, applicants must submit supporting documents or official letters of approval from a competent authority in Taiwan, together with completed application forms. Normally, foreign nationals submit applications through their domestic Taiwan agents, representatives, or affiliates of their firms. A resident visa does NOT automatically convey permission to work in Taiwan. To legally work in Taiwan, a foreigner must generally possess both a work permit and a resident visa. Taiwan residence visas are managed by the local Bureau of Consular affairs and work permits are issued by the Workforce Development Agency under the Ministry of Labor.
Additional details about Taiwan visas, including current fees.
Taiwan’s National Immigration Agency allows passengers to fill out their immigration arrival cards online before arrival. For more information, please visit NIA’s website.
For additional information about renewing a U.S. passport or other services for U.S. citizens in Taiwan, please visit the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT)’s website.
Companies that require travel of non-U.S. citizen employees to the United States should be advised that security evaluations are handled via an interagency process.
Under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), eligible Taiwan passport holders are able to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa, if certain requirements are met. VWP travelers must first receive travel authorization through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) (if travel by air or sea), and must meet all eligibility requirements in advance of travel.
Applicants for U.S. visas should go to the following links.
State Department Visa Website.
E-Gate/Global Entry is a partner program between the National Immigration Agency, Taiwan (e-Gate) and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (Global Entry) to facilitate travel. Under the e-Gate/GE program, eligible travelers can expedite their immigration clearance service without lining up at ports of entry. e-Gate members can use e-Gate at several ports in Taiwan. For more information, please visit NIA’s e-Gate website.
U.S. companies that require travel of foreign businesspersons to the United States are advised that security evaluations are handled via an interagency process. Visa applicants should go to the following link(s): State Department Visa Website.
The New Taiwan Dollar (NTD) is the official currency in Taiwan. The one-dollar, five-dollar, ten-dollar, twenty-dollar, and fifty-dollar coins, and the one-hundred, two-hundred, five-hundred, one-thousand, and two-thousand dollar notes are legal tender. However, the twenty-dollar coin and the two-hundred and two-thousand NTD notes are rarely seen in circulation.
Each foreign visitor may bring up to NT$100,000, RMB$20,000, and US$10,000 into or out of Taiwan, and is required to declare amounts in excess of the above to the Customs Authority when entering or departing Taiwan. Foreign currency can be exchanged at the airport as well as at authorized banks and hotels. As of February 2020, there were over 3,461 bank branches around Taiwan authorized to conduct foreign exchange.
Internationally recognized credit cards are accepted in most hotels, many restaurants, and many shops, but an international transaction fee of 1.5% is applied to the transaction value. There are approximately 30,580 automated teller machines (ATMs) throughout Taiwan, most of which participate in international ATM networks and can be found at banks, convenience stores, department stores, and MRT stations. Line Pay and Google Pay are widely accepted, but only if they are linked to a local bank account. Apple Pay is accepted if it is linked to a U.S. credit card, but the international credit card transaction fee of 1.5% still applies.
Taiwan’s telecommunications system is both efficient and convenient. International calls can be made from private cell phones, public International Direct Dialing (IDD) phones, or hotel IDD phones. There are five main mobile carriers in Taiwan (Chunghwa Telecom, Taiwan Mobile, FarEasTone, T Star, and Asia Pacific Telecom) that offer 4G service with preferential rates and packages. Chunghwa Telecom will be the first company to launch 5G services in the third quarter of 2020. Broadband and WiFi services are easy to procure, and free public WiFi is widely available in major cities. Nearly all hotels (not including guest houses) provide free WiFi services. Many restaurants and cafés also provide free WiFi for customers. Many 24-hour convenience stores provide free WiFi access, as well as fee-based copy and fax services.
Like the United States, Taiwan uses an electric current of 110 volts at 60 cycles. Appliances from Europe, Australia, or Southeast Asia will require an adaptor and may require a transformer depending on the electric device. Some buildings have 220-volt outlets for the use of air conditioners.
Taiwan has two major international airports: Taoyuan International Airport (TPE) near Taipei is the primary gateway to the island, while Hsiaokang International Airport (KHH) in Kaohsiung offers regular flights to major destinations in the region. Taipei Songshan Airport (TSA), located within downtown Taipei, also offers direct flights to and from Tokyo Haneda, Seoul Gimpo and major cities in China. Taichung International Airport (RMQ) and Tainan Airport (TNN) offer some limited flights to destinations in East Asia. Minor airports throughout Taiwan offer flights between major cities and Taiwan’s outlying islands.
It takes between 40 minutes and one hour to drive from Taoyuan International Airport to Taipei by car or bus. Airport buses to major hotels and transportation centers in Taipei depart from the airport every 20 minutes and cost around NT$145 ($4.81) per person. Buses from Taoyuan International Airport to Hsinchu, Taichung, Changhua, Tainan, and Kaohsiung are also available. Travel by Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) from Taoyuan International Airport to Taipei Main Station costs NT$150 ($4.98) and takes around 40 minutes.
Taxis charge NT$70 ($2.32) for the first 1.25 kilometers and NT$5 ($0.16) for every 200m thereafter. A taxi ride from the airport to Taipei costs about NT$1,100-1,400 ($35-$45), depending on the destination. Many large hotels offer car or shuttle services from the airport to Taipei. Such services should be requested in advance.
Kaohsiung’s Hsiaokang International Airport is located 20 minutes from downtown and costs about NT$300 ($9.96) by taxi. Metered taxis charge a NT$50 ($1.66) surcharge from the international terminal with an additional NT$10 ($0.33) surcharge for luggage services. Several bus services are available at a low cost as well.
Taxis are widely available in Taipei and other major cities. While some taxi drivers can speak a little English, visitors are strongly advised to present taxi drivers with the address of their desired destination written in traditional Chinese. In most cities, a meter is used to calculate the fare. The basic charge is NT$70 ($2.32) for the first 1.25 kilometers (3/4 mile), with an additional NT$5 ($0.16) for every additional 200 meters. In addition, there is a NT$5 ($0.16) charge for every 80 seconds of waiting, and a NT$20 ($0.66) nighttime surcharge is added to fares between 11:00 pm and 6:00 am. Taxi services can also be booked over the telephone.
From two days before the eve of the Chinese New Year until the end of the holiday period, there is an additional surcharge of NT$20 ($0.66) during the day and NT$40 during the nighttime ($1.30).
Uber is very convenient in Taipei, and also available in other five cities, New Taipei, Hsinchu, Taoyuan, Taichung, and Kaohsiung.
The Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) operates an extensive rail network with more than 600 miles of connected track. Tickets can be conveniently purchased at ticketing kiosks, over the phone, or on the Internet.
The Taiwan High Speed Rail (HSR) travels the entire 220 miles from Taipei to Kaohsiung in 96 minutes, as opposed to the 4.5 hours by conventional rail. The one-way fare for Taipei-Kaohsiung is NT$1,490 ($49.48). Currently twelve stations are in operation on the HSR line along Taiwan’s western corridor: Nangang, Taipei, Banqiao, Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Miaoli, Taichung, Changhua, Yunlin, Chiayi, Tainan, and Zuoying (Kaohsiung).
Taipei has six Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) lines in operation with a combined track length of 95 miles. The MRT lines form a transportation network connecting downtown Taipei with the suburban areas of Muzha, Danshui, Xindian, Tucheng, Nangang, Banqiao, Luzhou, and Xinzhuang. Kaohsiung has three MRT lines in operation going north-south, east-west, and a smaller line covering downtown.
Bus services in major cities are extensive and inexpensive but can be challenging to foreign visitors. Most common map apps on smart phones, such as Google Maps and Apple Maps, incorporate bus schedule information that can make the system easier to navigate. Long-distance bus networks around the island also make it possible for people to travel virtually anywhere quickly, comfortably, and at reasonable cost.
Chauffeured limousines may be booked through hotels or car rental companies for about NT$9,000 ($291.64) per eight-hour day. Standard rental cars are also available at rates starting around NT$2,000 ($64.81) per day. These require an international driver’s license and a credit card for a deposit.
Mandarin is the official language in Taiwan. Southern Min, the Taiwan dialect, is also commonly spoken, especially in southern and rural areas. English is by far the most popular foreign language, and many people speak it fluently. Those working in hotels, business, or public organizations are most likely to have a good command of the language. Many elderly people, especially those educated before World War II, can also speak Japanese. Hakka and aboriginal languages are also spoken.
Tap water in Taiwan’s major cities is drinkable. Visitors should take special care to wash all fruits and vegetables before eating. Although gastrointestinal illness is not rampant, it may be wise to avoid eating at any of the island’s countless street stalls for at least the first few weeks after arrival.
There are several international-standard private and public hospitals and clinics. Taiwan also offers high-quality dental care, with most clinics being privately operated. The majority of doctors and dentists in Taiwan speak English well. Qualified foreign nationals with Alien Resident Certificates (ARCs) and their family members can apply for coverage under the National Health Insurance Program (NHIP). International visitors do not qualify for local health insurance. Foreign visitors to Taiwan should possess health insurance that covers healthcare services in Taiwan. It is also very important that foreign travelers make sure to have medical evacuation insurance, as most health insurance plans do not include this benefit.
Many Western name-brand pharmaceuticals are sold in Taiwan. In addition, a wide range of foreign and domestic over-the-counter non-prescription drugs are available. Visitors should bring a sufficient supply of medications that they might require as some specialized medications are difficult to find. Emergency medical treatment can be requested by dialing 119 from a local phone.
COVID-19 is present in Taiwan however it is very well controlled by the Taiwan CDC. Taiwan has strict rules regarding quarantine for visitors from outside Taiwan. Please visit the Taiwan CDC webpage for https://www.cdc.gov.tw/En for current recommendations regarding quarantine. There severe fines (up to $30,000 USD) for anyone who breaks quarantine. For a comprehensive overview of local health resources available in Taiwan’s major cities, please visit the AIT Medical Assistance Webpage.
Local Time, Business Hours, and Holidays
Taiwan is eight hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time and 12 or 13 hours ahead of U.S. Eastern Standard Time depending on the time of year, as Taiwan does not practice daylight savings time.
In general, business hours are 9:00 am to 5:30 pm for office workers and 8:00 am to 5:00 pm for factory workers, with a one-hour lunch break. Banks are open from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm without a lunch break. Most shops and retail stores are open daily from 11:00 am to 10:00 pm. Restaurants generally run from 11:00 am to 10:00 pm.
There are four major national holidays and four major festivals celebrated in Taiwan during which corporate and government offices are closed. Dates for the four festivals – Chinese Lunar New Year, Tomb-Sweeping Festival, Dragon Boat Festival, and Mid-Autumn Festival – are based on the lunar calendar and may vary each year.
Dates in 2020
New Year’s Day
Chinese Lunar New Year
Peace Memorial Day
Children’s Day and Tomb-Sweeping Day
Dragon Boat Festival
Mid-Autumn (Moon) Festival
Double Tenth/National Day
Temporary Entry of Materials or Personal Belongings
Personal belongings and household articles (excluding controlled or restricted articles) carried by inbound passengers may be granted duty exemption as follows:
Each person aged 20 and up may bring in alcoholic beverages (1,000 cc or less without limitation on the number of bottles), plus 200 cigarettes, 25 cigars, or one pound of tobacco.
Articles already owned and used by the passenger abroad (not including alcoholic beverages and cigarettes), the customs value of which does not exceed NT$10,000 ($330) for each piece.
Other articles for personal use (not including the articles mentioned above) if their total customs value does not exceed NT$20,000 ($660) for each passenger.
Samples carried by inbound passengers may be granted duty exemption if the total customs value does not exceed NT$12,000 ($396). Duty, commodity tax and value-added tax will be imposed on articles imported in excess of the exemption limit. More information can be found on the Taiwan customs website.