Taiwan Banking for Expats & Foreigners

In this article, we explore why Taiwan banking is interesting and who can benefit from opening accounts. We’ll also share important warnings for prospective applicants and lesser-known tips on how to save money during account opening.

But first, let’s look at why we’re talking about banking in Taiwan in the first place…

Taiwan Banking for Expats & Foreigners

Taiwan banking is an interesting option for expats, foreigners, and even international companies with a presence in Asia. This is due (in part) to the country’s isolation from key international organizations. In fact, while the rest of the world has seen a rapid expansion of regulations, Taiwan’s banking sector has been doing its own thing. 

In other words, Taiwan banks aren’t completely overburdened by compliance teams in the same way that banks in many other countries are today. Instead, they maintain some flexibility and are able to onboard clients when it makes sense for the bank.

So, if you’re looking for an offshore bank account in Asia, Taiwan banking might be the solution you’ve been looking for.

But, before we dive into the account opening secrets of Taiwan, don’t forget to download your FREE Non-Resident Banking Starter Guide. It’s designed to help expats and foreigners open accounts in top banking jurisdictions around the world, including in places like Taiwan.

Taiwan Banking Uncovered

For some, Taiwanese banking is a breath of fresh air when compared to the stiff, heavily restrictive banking antics in other Asian markets.

But (and this is a big but), Taiwan banking is not without challenges. In fact, if you plan on opening accounts here, you need to prepare to navigate red tape, bureaucracy, and a few inefficiencies. This is especially true if you have any desire to open accounts remotely — more on this later.

For now, let’s take a look at why Taiwan banking is interesting and how you (as a prospective client) might be able to benefit.

Benefits of Opening Bank Accounts in Taiwan

Here’s a quick hit list of the benefits that some foreigners seek from Taiwan banking:

  • Taiwan has its own banking secrecy law (Article 48)
  • Tax haven status (China blocks from regulatory groups)
  • Not subject to FATF reviews as a non-OECD member
  • Easy to acquire local identification number for banking
  • Presence of international, local, and Chinese banks
  • Offshore Banking Units (OBU) cater to foreign clients
  • Zero tax on OBU client accounts

Now, if you’re looking for an offshore banking hub, you might be thinking that Taiwan banking ticks all the boxes. But, banking in Taiwan has some drawbacks too.

Challenges of Banking in Taiwan

Challenges of Taiwan Banking
Like opening accounts in any country as a foreigner, Taiwan banking does have its challenges. Here’s a look at some of the most common challenges that our members have shared with us:

  • Opening accounts remotely is almost impossible
  • Limited integration with fintech (e.g. Transferwise doesn’t work here)
  • Limited debit cards (eg no international access)
  • Online banking access (must set up in Taiwan)
  • Bankers outside of Offshore Units may reject foreign applications
  • Banks scrutinize incoming transfers from abroad
  • Banks verify incoming transfers by calling a local phone number
  • Local Taiwanese phone number often required to manage account

Taking both the benefits and the challenges into consideration, you can start to see that Taiwan banking isn’t accessible to everyone. Instead, it’s going to be best suited to those prospective clients who already have ties to Taiwan.

Likewise, unlike banking in many other offshore banking hubs, Taiwan banking is best suited to people who actually need to bank in Taiwan.

In other words, if you are just looking for an offshore account anywhere, you should consider opening accounts in a third country. Such third countries include those in the Channel Islands or the Caribbean, which are better suited to international banking activities.

With the above in mind, let’s take a look at who can actually benefit from Taiwan banking. Then, we’ll discuss how you can actually get started with opening accounts.

Who Can Benefit from Taiwan Banking?

As mentioned above, Taiwan banking is best suited to individuals and businesses in Asia with at least some ties to the country. So, it should come as no surprise that the list below is populated by those with ties to Taiwan.

Of course, if you don’t find yourself on this list, there’s still a chance that you can open a bank account in Taiwan if you show up in person. However, it’s also important to recognize that there are better banking hubs available for you elsewhere. If that’s you, feel free to message us and we’d be happy to help you find the best banking jurisdictions for your needs.

Groups That Benefit From Taiwan Banking:

  • Taiwan residents (work, study, live)
  • Foreigners and expats who regularly visit Taiwan
  • Foreigners and expats who can demonstrate ties to Taiwan
  • Foreign companies with existing ties to Taiwan
  • Offshore companies with existing ties to Taiwan

Not surprisingly, the first question most people will ask after reading this list is “what is a tie?”

That’s a good question.

But, unfortunately, there is no “one size fits all” answer. Like anywhere in the world, the specific ties that a bank (or banker) will accept will ultimately depend on the specific bank and banker that you’re talking to.

That said, what is considered a “valid” and “acceptable” tie for each bank can vary dramatically. And, some banks are stricter than others.

For example, some banks will require multiple ties, whereas others might deem certain categories of ties more credible than others. So, you have to analyze the account opening requirements at each individual bank, talk to experienced bankers to understand the type of supporting documents that are most appropriate for your situation.

We talk about these nuances, how to acquire ties, and specific strategies anyone can use to overcome tie-related hurdles in our premium products. Check out our premium products page to see how you can benefit.

However, in most cases, you’ll need to present documented proof of any relevant ties you have to the country. For instance, if you have any kind of contractual relationship that you can show to a bank, there’s a chance that you might be able to tap into the benefits of Taiwan banking.

Taiwan Banking for Foreigners

Foreigner open bank account Taiwan
If you’ve made it this far and you’re still interested in banking in Taiwan, we’re going to help you get started. As we’ve written in our last Taiwan banking article, there’s a lot of confusion over banking in Taiwan, so hopefully, the following steps will help streamline the process for you.

Individual Account Opening

1. Apply for a Record ID number online here with the National Immigration Office.

2. Choose the bank that you want to open accounts with.

3. Choose a branch that accepts foreigners with Record ID numbers.

4. Have your local phone number enabled to receive SMS

5. Go to the branch and apply for the account in person.

While that might not seem too different from opening accounts elsewhere, Step 2 and Step 3 tend to be very challenging to navigate as a foreigner in Taiwan. In fact, even if you find a bank (or branch) that accepts foreigners, you need to make sure that you find a banker that is willing to accept your Record ID number.

In most cases, we suggest bringing a copy of the immigration law that says foreigners with Record ID numbers are allowed to open bank accounts (this is available on the Taiwan immigration agency’s website). Otherwise, you might end up wasting all of your time and money running around to banks without ever opening an account.

So, it’s no surprise that most people after Taiwan banking end up spending all their time and money on trying to navigate Step 2 and Step 3.

Fortunately, that’s where we come in…

How Can You Get Started?

Certainly, you can follow the steps outlined in this article. But, if you want more direction, you can also access one of our membership services and get the help you need. That way, you’ll find and open the best Taiwan banking options available.

Each of our premium services helps non-resident individuals, foreigners, and their businesses. They do this, by helping you find and open international bank accounts around the world. So, whether you need personal or offshore Taiwan banking, we can help.

Here’s a quick overview of how to start:

If you’re ready to take action and start opening international accounts now, you can access GlobalBanks IQ, our dedicated international banking intelligence platform.

GlobalBanks IQ gives you everything you need to start finding and opening accounts for you or your business today.

When you join GlobalBanks IQ, you immediately unlock the GlobalBanks Database of international banks — home to 250+ banks in 50+ countries. 

And, you get access to our library of premium (members-only) reports, including proven account opening strategies, country-specific banking options, and lists of banks for specific client types.

Plus, you unlock our account opening checklists, dedicated account opening alerts, and much more. 

To get started, click here to see if GlobalBanks IQ is the right choice for you to start accessing the benefits of international banking today.

You can also view all of the account opening solutions offered by GlobalBanks on our products page.

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