With the exodus of entrepreneurs and businesses from Hong Kong, there’s been a new surge of interest to open a bank account in Taiwan. And, it makes sense. With political unrest and uncertainty on the rise in Hong Kong, many are looking for new (and safer) banking alternatives in the region.
Now, Taiwan isn’t your typical tax haven or wealth management hub. In fact, most people overlook it entirely, in favor of Singapore, Hong Kong, and even Macau. But, for those who are properly structured and understand the benefits, Taiwan can make a lot of sense.
Plus, if you desperately need a personal bank account in Asia as a non-resident, but are struggling to find a bank that will accept you, Taiwan banking can also be a useful “backup” option. Assuming, of course, you can physically travel to Taiwan or use one of the Taiwan-specific strategies we share with GlobalBanks Insiders.
Bottom line: Foreigners and foreign companies can open a bank account in Taiwan. Deposit requirements are low, ties to Taiwan aren’t always needed, and remote opening is sometimes possible. But only if you choose the right bank, branch, banker, and have the right documents. Even then, there are still Taiwan-specific obstacles you need to be aware of.
In this article, we’ll explore how to open a bank account in Taiwan, the benefits, and the disadvantages. Plus, we’ll share what you need to watch out for and why some digital nomads, businesses, and entrepreneurs are attracted to Taiwan’s banking sector.
But before diving in, don’t forget to download your free copy of our Non-Resident Banking Starter Guide – it’ll give you the foundation you’ll need to open a bank account in Taiwan and other countries in Asia.
While many people view Taiwan’s political hostility with China as a risk — it’s this testy relationship that has turned Taiwan into a lesser-known banking hub for many Asian investors, wealth owners, and businesses. Thanks to Taiwan’s exclusion from various international bodies, as shared below, Taiwan enjoys relative privacy when it comes to banking.
In fact, certain organizations, structures, and individuals have found Taiwan to be a more convenient and welcoming tax haven than traditional Caribbean or Pacific island nations. So, it’s no surprise that today, Taiwan’s banking sector offers a few unique traits that literally cannot be found elsewhere.
Here are a few benefits that you can access if you decide to open a bank account in Taiwan:
As always, certain client profiles will benefit from banking in one country over another. Taiwan is no exception. When it comes to opening, maintaining, and benefiting from Taiwan bank accounts, those with connections to Taiwan are at the top of the list.
However, there are other groups that can also benefit from banking here, including:
In all cases, the decision to open a bank account in Taiwan over another jurisdiction should be based on each prospective client’s unique requirements and an assessment on whether Taiwan is in fact the best place to bank.
This is especially important because, depending on the client profile, there are likely easier and better banking jurisdictions available elsewhere in Asia and abroad.
Once the decision to open a bank account in Taiwan has been made, there are a few steps that must be taken. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of misinformation and confusion over how to actually open a bank account in Taiwan as a foreigner. Especially as a foreigner without an ARC, APRC, or visa.
Many bankers incorrectly tell foreigners that they must have an ARC (“Alien Resident Certificate”) or an APRC (long term resident certificate) to open a bank account in Taiwan. But this isn’t true.
Below, we’ll show you how a foreigner can open a bank account in Taiwan without an ARC and with as few headaches as possible.
But first, here’s the problem:
ARCs are difficult to get. In fact, foreigners that don’t have a work permit can’t even qualify for an ARC. So, if you don’t have a job, don’t plan on getting residency, and don’t have any substantive connection to Taiwan — you probably won’t be able to get an ARC or APRC.
Like most countries, many people visit Taiwan but never become residents. But, there are others who spend long periods of time in Taiwan without having a resident or working visa. Those people are never issued numbers and incorrectly believe they can never open a bank account, which simply isn’t the case.
In the following section, we’ll share how a foreigner can open a bank account in Taiwan, open a bank account in Taiwan without an ARC, and discuss some of the unique considerations of banking in Taiwan.
To open a bank account in Taiwan without an ARC, you just need to follow the steps outlined below. Doing so will provide the necessary documentation that you need to successfully open an account. Of course, this doesn’t mean you’ll know which bank or banker to contact. For that, you’ll need to continue reading the following sections of the article.
Step 1: Apply for a “Record of ID Number in the Republic of China” from the National Immigration Office . You can do it online, here.
Step 2. Identify a bank that has the features and functionality you need
Step 3. Identify a bank branch with a banker willing to accept a foreigner with a Record ID number (not all banks will accept this). If you’re not careful, this can sometimes be a very time-consuming, frustrating, and costly process.
Step 4. Take your Record ID number, proof of address, local phone number, passport, and cash for an initial deposit to the bank. If you can, print out the immigration law that says foreigners with Record ID numbers are allowed to open bank accounts (just in case). You can find that here.
Step 5. Apply for the account in person. To help streamline the process, it’s always best to bring a local friend with you to translate if you don’t speak Mandarin.
Many banks in Taiwan have a low initial deposit and minimum balance requirements. Some local banks will allow you to open an account with as little as TWD $1,000 which is about US $35.
This is attractive for those who struggle to meet initial deposit or minimum balance requirements elsewhere. After all, if you can’t meet a bank’s deposit requirements or maintain a certain balance, you either can’t open an account or you’re hit with high fees.
If you’re a GlobalBanks Insider and would like the contact information for a banker in Taiwan that can help you with this, just message us through your Insider Dashboard and let us know.
As is the case for personal accounts, Taiwan isn’t going to work for every business. There are better banks elsewhere. But if you’re struggling to open a business account in Asia and desperately need a transactional bank account in Asia — Taiwan could be an option.
For example, those with foreign companies and who are willing to register a branch or representative office in Taiwan might find Taiwanese business banking appealing. Likewise, those with foreign or offshore companies, who have a connection to Taiwan, and who need transactional banking, may also consider opening a business bank account in Taiwan through an Offshore Banking Unit (OBU). This allows the business to freely transact in foreign currencies and removes many restrictions.
Obviously, your overall risk profile, business type, transaction activity, and where you can currently open accounts elsewhere (outside of Taiwan) will ultimately determine whether opening a business bank account in Taiwan makes sense at all.
For instance, if you have a Hong Kong company that can easily open a bank account in Singapore, you probably don’t need to bank in Taiwan. But if you do business in Asia and are struggling to open accounts elsewhere, Taiwan could be a nice backup option.
If you’re not sure, check out GlobalBanks Insider. We’ll help you sort out the best banking options for you and your business.
If you decide to open a bank account in Taiwan as a foreigner, it won’t be all sunshine and rainbows. Especially if you don’t have an ARC. In fact, it can be time-consuming, frustrating, and require persistence.
Below is a snapshot of some of the common problems and challenges that non-residents and foreigners face when opening accounts and banking in Taiwan.
Taiwanese bankers love telling foreigners that they need an ARC to open a bank account in Taiwan. But, unless the bank has an internal policy restricting this, it isn’t true.
If you find a banker that refuses to accept your Record ID Number, it’s time to move on. Instead, find another bank or branch that is more accommodating.
The ability to open a bank account in Taiwan remotely is very rare. Unless you already have an account at that bank overseas, your only option will be to apply in person.
Transferring money abroad from Taiwan isn’t as easy as in other countries. For example, PayPal only works with one bank and Transferwise doesn’t work at all. If low-cost international transfers are a must for you, you may need to bank with an international bank. But doing so comes with high minimum deposit requirements.
In Taiwan, many of the functions that you would expect to automatically come with a debit card don’t. Or, at least they will not work until the account holder requests to have them enabled. Many foreigners find this out the hard way. So, make sure you confirm the functionality before leaving the bank.
Additionally, before traveling outside of Taiwan, make sure that your debit card can be used internationally. Also, make sure to set up a four-digit magnetic stripe pin number on your card before leaving the country. Taiwan changed over to the “smart chip” system years ago but not all banks have debit cards with the magnet strip. And, the magnetic strip functionality must be turned “on” in order for the card to be used outside of Taiwan. Alternatively, the bank will issue an entirely new ATM card with the correct functionality. Both options can take up to five business days, so be sure to do this before leaving the country.
After setting up your account, an extra step is required to set up online banking. So make sure to confirm the details before leaving the bank. Additionally, not all Taiwanese banks offer online banking in English. So, if you’re navigating Taiwanese banking on your own, check out the websites and apps of each bank first. This will allow you to confirm the language options, before opening an account.
There are other quirks and glitches to be aware of. For instance, we recently came across one Taiwanese bank that wouldn’t let EU passport holders use internet banking.
If you need help sorting out your banking options, are struggling with account opening, or just aren’t sure where to turn, we can help.
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