If you’ve read my past blogs, you know that I talk about all kinds of random trouble in Taiwan, from banking to shopping to dealing with the government of the ROC. One of the most common frustrations with people without a Taiwan ARC is hearing the words, “No ARC? No…no…” Because of the way Taiwanese bureaucracy operates, most people are trained enough to handle most situations; this means that, because of the ever-present paranoid CYA attitude, most don’t even know how to deviate from the norm. Most Taiwanese think that foreigners must have an ARC and most foreigners think so, too
Think about it: why do foreigners need an ARC to do things?
I always thought it was to prove the person is a resident of Taiwan. It’s not. What is important is your Taiwan ARC number. Every Taiwanese citizen has a number attached to them, sort of like how the USA has social security numbers. When a Taiwanese person goes in to apply for a membership card to their local grocer, just like in The States, they’d tell you, “To apply, you must have this government-issued number.” Foreigners are issued that number along with their resident visas; visitors to Taiwan are rarely here long enough for them to need this number, so this system almost always works fine for almost everyone.
What about the rest of us?
Lots of people visit Taiwan often, but are never residents. Others spend long amounts of time in Taiwan without having a resident/working visa. Those people are never issued numbers and they all believe that they are screwed. They’re not. Getting an ID number is so easy, it’s scary.
Grab your passport; make a photocopy of the front page and your “stamp page.” Find the nearest National Immigration Agency Office: the office where they issue visa extensions and other immgration-related stuff. Go there and take a number. Over in the stacks of forms, you will see the following form:
Fill this form out. It will take very little time. Then, when your number is called, hand that form, your passport, and your photocopies to the person behind the counter. You probably won’t even have to speak, unless they run a search (which they will) and see you have already been issued an ID number in the past (if you previously had residence) – if that is the case, you still have your original ID number, and don’t need a new one. In either case, they will print out and stamp a piece of paper that looks like this:
That paper is as good as a Taiwan ARC, in terms of the government ID number but it has nothing to do with the R in ARC – it does not make you a resident – you need a visa for that. You can use it to do anything that you would otherwise be told that you need a Taiwan ARC to do. Some people might give you flak for it, but stick to your guns – the only reason people don’t want to accept it is because no one (even locals) knows that this official government service even exists. This official document confirms that you have a government-issued ID number and specifically states that it is to be used in-place of a Taiwan ARC.
And that’s it – it’s that simple. It doesn’t cost anything, it lasts forever, and it’s extremely useful for everything from banks to cell phone operators. I’d recommend this to anyone staying in Taiwan for more than a month at a time; you can save money by doing on money transfers from your native account to a Taiwanese account, potentially saving you hundreds of dollars in ATM fees. You’ll be able to get a Carrefour discount card (more valuable for those who plan to stay in Taiwan long-term or who return often). There will be more options to buy SIM cards, as well.
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