One of the things with living in Taiwan as a foreigner is that you need to have a valid work permit to work here and to be able to apply for an ARC or Alien Resident Card.
For most people, the company you work for will do this for you, but not all companies do this and if you’re running your own business, you’re either going to have to do it on your own, or have an accountant do it for you, usually at several times the actual cost.
The whole process is a bit of a mess though and takes a fair bit of running around, especially if you like me, haven’t done it before. There are a few things you need to prepare, such as copies of your passport (and ARC if you have one), your chops, a letter of employment stating your salary, hire date and termination date, tax records (which I’ll go into a bit more detail about shortly) and in the case of you having your own business, some paperwork that proves that you’re in Taiwan for serious business reasons such as a calendar with appointments and a few select emails (all stamped with your chops). You need to bring this with you to the Workforce Development Agency located here (it’s in the same building as the Thaisugar Hotel, just slightly in the back and on the 10th floor and up) if you live in Taipei City. On a side-note, this is also where you go and apply for your open work permit once you get an APRC. There’s a NT$500 fee for the work permit (NT$250 for the open work permit, but you need a photo for this one), which also have to be paid at the time of the application. Normally you’d get a two year work permit, although one and three years is also possible, as it depends on your contract and ARC.
For Taipei City residents you need to go to the main tax office in Taipei which is located here to get the tax papers you need. Sadly I can’t tell you what you need, but the staff at the Workforce Development Agency will be able to inform you as to the specific documents you need to submit. Just be aware that if you’ve ever stayed in Taiwan for more than 90 days in a single year over the past seven years without filing for taxes, you might end up running into some problems, as the tax office will check your entry and exit records to the country.
Once you’ve submitted enough documentation to the Bureau of Employment and Vocational Training it should take no more than 7-10 days for you to get your work permit. Once you’ve collected your work permit (or had it sent to you) you need to visit the National Immigration Agency which is located here. Here you need to fill in a form and once again bring copies of your passport, a letter of employment, as well as any pre-existing ARC, which they will keep at this point. The cost is NT$1,000 per year for the ARC, so if you have a two year work permit and want a two year ARC, you have to bring NT$2,000. As a side note, if you’re applying for an APRC the cost is NT$10,000. Normally it takes about two weeks for the ARC to be processed, so keep this in mind if you have to leave the country, although it’s possible to get a piece of paper from the National Immigration Agency that will get you back into the country again. You can also get a paper here in case you need to get a bank account, cellular phone, etc. with a number and a great big stamp that works as a temporary ARC.
If you want to take the easy route, or are looking at setting up a business in Taiwan, I’d recommend JusRegal, a local accountant located in central Taipei whom I used to set up my representative office here some years ago. However, don’t expect them to help too much outside of what you pay for. I would avoid using Good Earth CPA, as they’re not only very slow, but I was kindly told to go elsewhere when I was asking them to at least respond to email within 24h, which apparently was too much to ask for.
Hopefully this is of some use and once you know what you need to supply the Workforce Development Agency, it’s really not that hard to renew your work permit on your own. That said, if you live outside of Taipei City, or have your business registered outside of Taipei City, you’re going to have to find your local equivalent, which could be located quite far from where you live and work.
This post was updated on the 24th of July 2016