DESCRIPTION: Taiwan is a stable democracy with a strong and well-developed economy. Tourist facilities are widely available. Read the Department of State Background Notes on Taiwan for additional information.
SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM (STEP)/AMERICAN INSTITUTE IN TAIWAN/LOCATION: The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) is authorized by law to perform American Citizens Services. If you plan to live in or visit Taiwan, please take the time to tell AIT about your trip beforehand. If you check in, AIT can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements. Checking in with AIT will also make it easier for your friends and family to get in touch with you in an emergency. Here’s the link to the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. If you are a resident in Taiwan, you are encouraged also to become a member of AIT's group email notifications. If you do not have Internet access, you may enroll directly with AIT Taipei or AIT Kaohsiung. The American Institute in Taiwan is a full passport services agency. Processing time for routine passports is about three weeks.
The American Institute in Taiwan
No.7 Lane 134
Xinyi Road Section 3
Telephone: (886) 2-2162-2000
Facsimile: (886) 2-2162-2239
The American Institute in Taiwan (Kaohsiung Branch Office)
No. 2 Chung Cheng 3rd Road, 5th Floor
Telephone: (886) 7-238-7744
Facsimile: (886) 7-238-5237
Duty Officer After-Hours Emergency Telephone: (886) 2-2162-2000. Press “0” or “*”.
ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: U.S. citizens seeking entry as tourists or visitors are required to present a valid passport that will remain valid for the period of intended stay. You must also possess a confirmed return or onward air ticket. As a U.S. passport holder, you will be allowed to enter Taiwan without a visa for up to ninety days if your passport is valid for more than 90 days. If your passport has less than 90 days of validity remaining, you will be able to enter Taiwan for a time equal to the expiration date of your passport. No extensions or changes of status are permitted. “Taiwan authorities can deny a visitor entry if they do not have the appropriate travel documents for their onward destination. You also have the option of applying for and receiving a Taiwan visa prior to arrival in Taiwan. The cost including the processing fee is US $164.00. Visit the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO)’s website for the most current 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)
For Emergencies: (202) 669-0180
TECO (Taipei Economic and Cultural Office) also has offices in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Guam, Honolulu, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle.
HIV/AIDS restrictions: Taiwan generally does not ask short-term visitors about their HIV status. Those applying for resident visas – usually those who plan to work or join family – must obtain a health certificate that will indicate if the applicant is HIV positive. If the resident visa applicant is HIV positive, Taiwan authorities will likely deny the resident visa. Similarly, Taiwan authorities are likely to require people who test positive for HIV to leave Taiwan at their own expense, even though Taiwan law does not require authorities to deport people who are HIV positive.
Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our web site. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information sheet.
THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY:
Stay up to date by:
Public Demonstrations: Taiwan is a modern democracy with vibrant public participation. Political demonstrations are common, especially around election time. Since Taiwan democratized in the early 1990s, there have been very few cases of violence associated with political demonstrations. But even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational. You should avoid areas of demonstrations if possible and exercise caution if within the vicinity of any political demonstrations. The American Citizens Services Section of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) will post notices regarding demonstrations in Taiwan on the AIT website whenever it receives reliable information about them. In most cases, AIT will not send out a warden message when it has information on a planned demonstration.
CRIME: Although the overall violent crime rate in Taiwan is low, you should avoid high crime areas, namely areas where massage parlors, barbershops, and nightclubs operate as covers for prostitution and are often run by criminals. In contrast to these illegal fronts, ordinary barbershops and other legitimate businesses prominently advertise their services, and you can see the interiors through storefront windows. Illicit establishments generally do not advertise, and casual passersby cannot view their interiors. Several U.S. citizens have been assaulted in these establishments and in the areas near bar and nightclub districts. Taiwan’s public buses and subway are generally considered safe, but passengers in taxis – particularly women - should exercise caution when traveling alone in taxis late at night. In several parts of Taiwan, incidents of purse snatching by thieves on motorcycles have been reported. You should keep a photocopy of your passport, other identification, and credit cards in a safe place.
Don't buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal in the United States, but you may also be breaking local law. More information on this serious problem is available at the Department of Justice's website.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime, you should contact the local police and AIT Taipei or AIT Kaohsiung (see SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM (STEP)/AMERICAN INSTITUTE IN TAIWAN/LOCATION at the beginning of this document). We can:
The National Immigration Agency has foreign affairs sections that are usually staffed by English-speaking officers: Taipei (02) 2389-9983, Kaohsiung (07) 282-1400, Tainan (06) 293-7641, Taichung (04) 2254-9981, Taitung (089) 361-631, Pingtung (08) 766-1885.
Here are additional emergency contact numbers:
Please see our information on Victims of Crime including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in Taiwan, you are subject to Taiwan law even if you are a U.S. citizen. Penalties for possession or use of, or trafficking in, illegal drugs in Taiwan are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Taiwan law also provides for the death penalty for certain violent crimes and drug offenses. Engaging in illicit sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.
In Taiwan, either side has the right to appeal a court decision. If a defendant is initially acquitted, prosecutors (or plaintiffs in a civil suit) can appeal the verdict, necessitating a second or even a third trial. If you plan to visit or reside in Taiwan, you should know that judges have discretionary authority to impose travel restrictions on defendants in civil and criminal cases to prevent them from leaving Taiwan until all appeals have been exhausted. U.S. citizens have been barred from leaving Taiwan for extended periods, even in cases that involved only nominal civil damages or fines.
Accessibility: Taiwan law prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities and sets minimum fines for violations. By law new public buildings, facilities, and transportation equipment must be accessible to persons with disabilities, and this requirement is generally being met. For further information see Persons with Disabilities in the Human Rights Report for Taiwan (2009).
Health Screening Process: The need for early detection and prevention of communicable diseases requires all arriving passengers to have their body temperatures scanned with an infrared thermal apparatus. Only passengers showing symptoms of communicable diseases are required to fill out the Communicable Disease Survey Form. Depending on the severity of your symptoms and your travel history, if you exhibit symptoms, you may be required to give an onsite specimen and/or follow up with local health authorities.
Customs Regulations: Taiwan customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary import or export of items such as: firearms, antiquities, medications, currency, ivory, etc. You should contact the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECRO) in Washington or one of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) offices in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements. Please see our information on customs regulations.
Disaster Preparedness: Taiwan is subject to strong earthquakes that can occur anywhere on the island. Taiwan is also hit by typhoons, usually from July to October. If you are planning a trip to Taiwan, you can obtain general information about natural disaster preparedness on the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) website. Additional information about currently active typhoons can be obtained on the University of Hawaii tropical storm page. The Central Weather Bureau of Taiwan's website also provides information about typhoons and earthquakes. See also US CDC website: http://emergency.cdc.gov/
Dual Nationality and Compulsory Military Service: Taiwan law provides for compulsory military service. If you are male, between the ages of 18 and 36, and were born in Taiwan or have ever held a Taiwan passport, you should be aware that you may be subject to compulsory military service in Taiwan, even if you are a U.S. citizen and have entered Taiwan on your U.S. passport. If you are concerned this may affect your travel to Taiwan, please contact the nearest TECO office in the United States before visiting Taiwan to determine whether you are subject to the military service requirement.
English Language Programming: The International Community Radio Taipei (ICRT) provides most of Taiwan with English-language programming 24 hours a day. In the event of an emergency or an approaching typhoon, you should tune to FM 100.7 for English-language updates for the Taipei and Kaohsiung areas. You can find ICRT in Taichung at FM 100.1. You can also listen to ICRT's live broadcasting on its website. TV news in English is available on channel 53 at 6:00 a.m. and at 11:45 pm on Formosa Television, or at its web site. The two main English-language daily newspapers published in Taiwan are Taipei Times and China Post. In addition to the print versions, readers can read their content online. English speakers experiencing a personal crisis in Taiwan can contact on its website the Community Services Center in Taipei or at (02) 2836-8134 or (02) 2838-4947 to arrange counseling or to contact a support group.
Taiwan offers a 24-hour emergency telephone line in English: 0800-024-111.
Judicial Assistance: Authorities on Taiwan provide judicial assistance in response to letters rogatory from foreign courts in accordance with Taiwan's "Law Governing Extension of Assistance to Foreign Courts." For further information regarding judicial assistance in Taiwan, please go to AIT's website.
AUTHORITY - 22 U.S.C. 3306(b) provides acts performed by officers of the American Institute on Taiwan under 22 U.S.C. 3306 are valid, as if performed by any other person authorized under the laws of the United States to perform such acts (consular officers). The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) is a nonprofit corporation under the laws of the District of Colombia, 22 U.S.C. 3305, 3306(a)(3). The judicial assistance acts of AIT personnel parallel the acts performed by U.S. consular officers under 28 U.S.C. 1781 (a)(2). See Sec. 1-201(h) of Executive Order No. 12143, 44 Fed. Reg. 37191 (June 23, 1979). Pursuant to Section 10(a) of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), 22 U.S.C. 3309(a), the Taiwan Economic Cultural Representative's Office ("TECRO") is the instrumentality established by the people of Taiwan having the necessary authority under the laws of Taiwan to take actions on behalf of Taiwan in accordance with the Act.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Health facilities in Taiwan are adequate for routine and emergency medical treatment. Physicians are well trained and many have studied in the United States and speak English. State of the art medical equipment is available at many clinics and hospitals. Hospitals’ nursing services provide medication dispensing and wound care but generally not the daily patient maintenance functions found in U.S. hospitals. Taiwan regulations require ambulances to have emergency equipment and supplies and to be staffed by trained medical personnel (dial 119). For information on specific clinics and hospitals, please refer to AIT's website.
You can find good information on vaccinations and other health precautions on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747), fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC’s website : http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/taiwan.htm Or Taiwan's CDC: http://www.cdc.gov.tw/mp.asp?mp=5
MEDICAL INSURANCE: Taiwan has a socialized medical system and consequently medical providers and facilities only accept the National Taiwan Medical Insurance. All medical facilities and medical providers in Taiwan require cash payment from foreigners at the time of service and they will not accept direct billing with US medical insurance companies. Before you travel make sure you have enough cash to pay for unexpected medical bills and you have a medical insurance policy that will pay for hospitalization overseas with medical evacuation back to the United States.
Doctors and hospitals in Taiwan expect immediate cash payment for health services, although some private clinics may accept credit cards. Your regular U.S. health insurance may not reimburse you for doctors' and hospital visits in other countries. For more information see our medical insurance overseas page.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While traveling abroad, you may find that road and driving conditions are significantly different from those in the United States. The information below concerning Taiwan is provided for general reference and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Roads in Taiwan's major cities are generally congested, and the many scooters and motorcycles that weave in and out of traffic make driving conditions worse. You should exercise caution when crossing streets because many drivers do not respect the pedestrian's right of way. Be especially cautious when driving on mountain roads, which are typically narrow, winding, poorly banked, and which may be impassable after heavy rains.
For specific information concerning Taiwan's driver's permits, vehicle inspection road tax, and mandatory insurance, contact the nearest TECO office.
The emergency telephone number for Taiwan services (ambulance, fire, police) is 119. The number for police is 110. Victims of domestic violence or sexual assault may call 113. Taiwan Police also offers a 24 hour telephone line for foreigners in English: 0800-024-111.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed Taiwan's Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Taiwan's air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s Safety Assessment Page.
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This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated January 13, 2012, to update the section on Entry/Exit Requirements.