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Taiwan's Employment Gold Card: FAQ

In February 2018, Taiwan launched an "Employment Gold Card", a combination of residence visa and work permit. Aimed to attract more high level professionals, the card has strict application requirements. This document is a collection of common questions, and hopefully: answers.

Note well: seek qualified advice directly from government authorities, licensed migration agents, lawyers and accountants. This compilation is provided on a best-effort basis by people who are neither lawyers, migration agents nor have any relationship with the government. Information could be outdated or incorrect.

Renewal & Validity

How long is a gold card valid?

By default, between one and three years. If you are concerned your card (or underlying visa/work permit) may have become invalid or expired, you can check with the National Immigration Agency.

Can I renew my gold card? 

No. There is no renewal capability for a Gold Card. You must complete the same application process you went through for your first card for all subsequent cards. Keep this in mind when planning your time in Taiwan - you must still meet the qualification criteria in order to receive another card.

When does the gold card's validity begin?

When the application is official approved. You will receive an email from the application portal. Importantly: your cards validity can start before you enter Taiwan or pick up your card. Keep this in mind when planning your move to Taiwan.

Tax

Note: please consult your accountant before relying on content from this section.

How do I apply for the tax relief for Foreign Special Professionals?

As a Gold Card holder working in Taiwan for the first time, for the portion of your salary over NT $3 million, half of it can be excluded from your effective income for your first three years of residence. eg if your salary was NT $6 million, you only pay tax on NT $4.5 million.

There is a special form accessible from both the Alien e-Filing system and the paper-based tax return application.

If I have worked in Taiwan before, can I apply for the tax break?


Generally no, with some exceptions.

The relevant regulations are here. You can see in Article 3 that you need 3 ticks to be eligible:
  1. First time coming to work
  2. It’s special professional work
  3. No household registration (only applicable to ROC nationals) and not a tax resident for the prior 5 years

With the exception that:
“If a foreign special professional has been previously approved to reside in the R.O.C. before his/her employment engaged in the professional work in the R.O.C., and such approval is not given on the ground of his/her engagement in the professional work, he/she shall not be subject to the first-time approval requirement…”
Which is unclear.

In 2019, an interpretation was issued on this matter. An attempt to explain it is below, but this has not been validated by official sources.

If you came to Taiwan in 2015/2016/2017 and had a single 3/2/1 year work contract that ended in 2018 and you became a Gold Card holder in 2018 and got a new contract … for financial year 2018 (and 2019 and 2020) you can claim the Gold Card tax break.


You are not eligible if:
  • you worked in Taiwan before 2015
  • your contract didn’t extend into 2018
  • you had multiple contracts between 2015 and 2018.
  • you became a gold card holder in 2019

When do I file tax in Taiwan?

The financial year is January 1st to December 31st. Tax is filed each year in May.

Health Insurance

What health insurance is available in Taiwan?

All who are eligible for National Health Insurance must enrol in the program (your employer will do this for you), which provides comprehensive and inexpensive coverage. There are also a range of private health insurance options.

I'm a freelancer/I don't have an employer, how do I register with the NHI?

At present, you must reside in Taiwan for a consecutive six-month period (or leave only once for less than 30 days) and apply directly with the NHI. There is currently a legislative push to improve this, lead by the National Development Council.

Family

How do I apply for visas for my parents or grandparents to visit?

TBA

How do I apply for visas for my partner or children?

TBA

Can my partner work if they come with me to Taiwan? 

TBA  

What happens if I get married to a Taiwanese citizen while on a Gold Card.? 

Congratulations on your marriage. Though you may become eligible for other visas due to this, you may continue to use your Gold Card.

At Work


What do I need to tell my employer about the Gold Card?

Your Gold Card is a four-in-one document that contains your work permit, residence visa, reentry permit and Alien Residence Certificate. You have open work rights and they do not need to apply for a work permit or visa for you.

What happens if I lose my job?

You may simply find a new job. Your Gold Card is not sponsored by your employer and will not be affected by a change of job.

Can I start a business with a Gold Card?

Yes.

Does working on a Gold Card contribute to a pension/superannuation scheme?

As at May 2020, no. If you are the spouse of a Taiwanese national, you may be eligible. The same legislation that introduced the Gold Card also allowed permanent residents of Taiwan to join the pension scheme, but the Gold Card is not a form of permanent residence. There is proposed legislation that would allow Gold Card holders to join the pension scheme.

Does the Gold Card provide an open work permit?

Yes. You may work for any organisation (or many organisations at the same time) in any industry, in any job, provided it doesn't have licensing requirements that you don't meet.

Can I be self-employed?

Yes.

Is there a minimum salary requirement for Gold Card holders?

Yes. It is one of:
  • NT$23,800 a month, or NT$158 per hour for "workers" (Labor Standards Act Article 21)
  • NT$47,971 a month for those performing "specialised or technical work" 
Despite many applicants qualifying for a gold card on the basis of previous employment with salary of greater than NT$160,000, this is not a minimum salary requirement. However, those applying under this category will have their financial data reviewed by the Ministry of Labor. The regulations allow the Ministry of Labor to revoke a work permit if they are not satisfied with the results of this review.

Life in Taiwan


Can I purchase real-estate?

In general, yes, if your country allows Taiwanese nationals to purchase real estate in your country. There are some restrictions, such as not being able to purchase farmland, or land related to a waterway or national defense.

Does my card look any different from other types of ARC?

Yes, the entire card is gold in colour. It also has slightly different information such as a different title (R.O.C. (Taiwan) Employment Gold Card), purpose of residence (Foreign Special Professional) and a label for your professional field.

How do I register to use the e-Gate?

Visit your local NIA service center or the immigration counter at an international airport and they will guide you through the steps.

What unofficial benefits does holding a Gold Card bestow?

Sometimes the National Development Council or other government agencies invite us to parties or ask our opinions on certain matters.

What happens if I change my address?

You must log in to the Gold Card Application portal and update your details there within 14 days of moving.

How many days per year do I have to stay in Taiwan?

There are no requirements. However, you must stay for more than 183 days per year in order to be eligible for many benefits such as: tax resident treatment and a pathway to permanent residence.

Migration Pathways


I like Taiwan and want to stay longer, what should I do?

You may re-apply for the Gold Card, using the same process under which you applied. If you are unable to re-qualify and are seeking a job, you may speak to the National Immigration Agency about a job-seeking visa.

What do I do to get permanent residence?

This is an involved process, please refer to the National Immigration Agency for the latest.

How do I apply for Taiwanese Citizenship?

This is not a simple question, it really requires some in-depth discussion. Stay tuned for a full post. In the mean-time, consider reading about naturalisation for high-level professionals.

Should I switch from an APRC to a Gold Card?

According to NIA officials, no. They stress that this card is nonrenewable and you must go through the application process again toward the end of the gold card. One way of looking at that is that the Foreign Special Professional program could change to the point where one no longer qualifies. APRC is therefore “safer” in the long term.

Consider also if the program doesn’t change. For instance, if you fall ill during the term and can’t demonstrate your gold card 'worthiness' due to this, you’ll lose your visa when it runs out. Not so with APRC.

It is also worth noting here that you don’t get the tax benefits if you’re an existing resident.

Does holding a Gold Card make it easier to apply for Taiwanese Citizenship? 

There is no formal legislative relationship between the Gold Card and an improved chance at Naturalisation. Under Taiwan law, there are three types of Foreign Professionals:
  • Foreign Professional
  • Foreign Special Professional - Gold Card holders are classified as these
  • Foreign Senior Professional - Plum Blossom Card holders are classified as this category. The law allows for those classified under this category to have an easier route to citizenship.
However, it can't hurt your chances!

Will switching from an employment ARC to a Gold Card affect my ability to get an APRC?

The NIA has previously provided on-record assurances that there’s no issue here. You must ensure consecutive residence of five years to be eligible - no time gap between your employment ARC and your Gold Card.

What is this job-seeking visa I heard about? Is it related to the Gold Card?

It’s a separate visa to the gold card, that was introduced around the same time.
You can get it if:
  • You have a job where over the last 6 months, your average salary was over NT$47,971
  • Or, you don’t have a job, but you graduated from one of the top 500 universities in the world
  • Or, you successfully apply to a government department to be deemed eligible in some other way
and you have proof of:
  • NT$100,000 in your bank account
  • health insurance to cover your trip
  • good conduct (eg a police report)
There’s a brief news article here.

Application


Who can I talk to about this?

Is there a "general" application category or must I select a specific industry? 

There is no "general" application category. You must select a ministry to assess your skills. See How to apply for Taiwan's Employment Gold Card

Is there an age restriction? 

Not really. However it is expected that gold card holders will have at least five years of work experience.

I'm a digital nomad, is this card suitable for me? Can I be self-employed?

Yes, this card is perfect for you, since it contains an open work permit that allows you to work for any employer. However, if you don't have a Taiwanese employer please see the answer to: I'm a freelancer/I don't have an employer, how do I register with the NHI?.


Do I need to have a high salary to apply for a Gold Card?

No. Most industries have a category where applicants with a salary greater than NT$160,000 qualify. However, this is only one category. To date, none of the categories other than the dedicated salary category have financial requirements. If you have skills, please consider applying regardless of salary!

How long does the application take?

A perfect application takes 30 days, if your supporting documents are accepted the first time around. If you are asked for tweaks to your supporting documents, expect 50-60 days.

How do you get your physical card?

Either at the National Immigration Agency service centres (in Taiwan) or at your local Taiwanese diplomatic post overseas. You selected where during your application.

What documents do you need to provide to prove your salary?

Proof of employer, salary withholding certificate or tax certificate issued by a government specifying the monthly salary or average monthly salary or a copy of the employment contract specifying the aforesaid monthly salary.  

Do I need to list an address in Taiwan on the application?

It’s entirely normal and accepted to apply with no local address. Once you get a place to stay, you can (must) update the details on your card, free of charge.

Do you need to fly to Taiwan immediately after approval?

No. Some people took several months to prepare for their arrival. However, see the answer for When does the gold card's validity begin? to determine whether that affects you.

If I apply in Taiwan, where do I go to prove my identity?

You must go to your local Bureau of Consular Affairs (BOCA) If you’re getting your passport vetted at Taipei’s BOCA/MOFA office, here’s a quick howto. (Don’t worry, the ‘pinball’ method - shuffling between volunteers - works well too).
  1. BOCA is open between 08:30 to 17:00 here: https://goo.gl/maps/mFt8PBMCGnD2 5 (a few blocks from Shandao Temple Station, Exit 2)
  2. Enter the big pink building and go directly up the escalators to level 3
  3. On 3F, ignore the ticket machine immediately in front of you and turn right and right again to be at the “Authentication” area
  4. In the middle of the area, around counter 30, grab a ticket (if there is a problem, ask for help at the end counter - counter 28)
  5. Go to the designated counter when your number is up, surrender your passport and online application document, provide any details on upcoming travel, and receive your receipt.

Do I apply for the Gold Card personally, or should I ask my employer to do that?

Generally you should apply personally. Employers can help with the process, but you do not need their sponsorship or support to apply for the card. Additionally, the card once issued contains an open work permit that allows you to work for any company.

How do I decide the duration to apply for (1-3 years)?

You select this during the application process. You could go for a shorter duration if you have concrete plans. Otherwise, it’s probably better to go for a longer duration - this costs more, but delays the hassle of finding the next visa (or going through the gold card application process again).

Does my professional services/sole proprietor/dividend income count towards the salary requirement for Gold Card application?

Maybe not, but it depends. The document requirements to prove an Article 1 ("salary") application all talk about "...verifying salary or income tax payment related to employment...". The most commonly accepted documents appear to be withholding tax statements from employers and income tax returns from a tax authority. If you don't have salary-based compensation for your employment, we recommend calling ahead.

Do you need to undergo a health check to apply for the Gold Card?

We haven't heard of anyone to date who required a health check, so it's not a normal part of the process at least.

What fees are involved in a Gold Card application?

There is only one fee, which is paid through the Gold Card application portal. There are no separate visa or work permit fees.

I'm worried that my application will be rejected because I didn't attach enough documents.

Don't stress. The authorities will ask for more documents if the ones you provided were not sufficient. It’ll just extend the processing time by a couple of weeks to a month.

Do I need anything certified by the administration of my own country?

In general, no. However, there have been a very small number of cases (eg credentials from mainland China) where some action was required by a government other than Taiwan.

How is the application process different if I apply from overseas?


Applying from overseas or from within Taiwan is the same process. It differs only in which unit verifies your passport (TECO or BOCA), and overseas applicants have the option of picking up their card from TECO.

If you live far from your local Taiwanese diplomatic post, it is recommended to call before going to give them a heads up. It’s highly likely that you’re the first person ever to go through this process in a particular office and giving them a day or two head start to let them call back to Taiwan and work out what to do when you arrive could be useful.

I applied under a salary provision, but am being asked for additional documents unrelated to this. Why?

Don’t stress. This is normal. You’re applying under a financial requirement, but the relevant ministry still wants to vet your skills. Under some interpretations of the regulations, they are not supposed to do this, but here we are.

Gather up some documents that demonstrate you work in the industry and you’re good at it. Maybe a letter from your boss talking about that time you created that innovative thing, a supporting statement from a professor about how they’re proud of you, a piece of easily digestible work product that has your name on it. It’ll depend on what you’ve got or can create - but get into the mindset of the reviewer and aim to make it as easy as possible to understand why you are a talent. If you feel the need, write a cover letter for your application explaining your skills.


Application - Skill Qualification

I'm a lawyer overseas and I don't think I meet the Ministry of Justice qualifications. Recently, I've been working with technology to apply AI to legal areas. My monthly salary also exceeds the requirement under the Ministry of Economic Affairs Article 1. To which Ministry should I send my application?

As of May 2020, no applicant via the legal category has been successful. The Ministry of Justice qualifications are a high bar to pass, particularly for anyone who is not already practising in Taiwan. However, we have witnessed that the Ministry of Economic Affairs is receptive to applicants from all fields, so that indeed may be worth a try.

I'm a police officer overseas with 15 years of experience, recently focused in Financial Crime. Am I eligible for a gold card?  

The challenge is, finding the right pathway for your application.Unfortunately,  the system appears to be quite rigid: there’s no “other” category, or room for people who are a “generalist” or span multiple fields. At the end of the day, when applying you must choose 1) A ministry/agency that will be assessing your application and 2) the specific category under that ministry under which you qualify.

The law allows for “other fields, as announced by the relevant central competent authority”, but this has never been tried. In this case it would likely require the National Police Agency to put their hand up as a ‘central competent authority’, which would require some serious relationship wrangling and politics. If you know people there, may be worth the moonshot, but it may be more efficient to try and shoe-horn in under one of the existing avenues. For example:


If you can proffer experience at Financial Crime, the Financial Supervisory Authority could be a way in:
  • Article 1. Previously or currently holding a position in a foreign state or in the ROC with a most recent monthly salary of at least NT$160,000.
  • Article 5. Financial professionals needed by the government to promote key industries (such as financial technology, e-commerce, digital economy, technology management, and green energy technology, etc.).
  • Article 6. Other potential contributors to the country’s financial industry.

At the moment, Economy seems to be treated as the closest thing to a catch-all for professions that don’t fit. "If it’s good for the Economy, … "
  • Article 1. Previously or currently holding a position in a foreign state or in the ROC with a most recent monthly salary of at least NT$160,000.
  • Article 5. Those who have been certified by the relevant central competent authority as specialized talents possessing professional capacity or transnational experience needed in Taiwan.

Why do Architecture and Law require that an applicant fulfil all categories, when other ministries only require one?

We don't know. Current theories:
  • It’s a misunderstanding/typo in the law
  • Protectionism - the need for professionals is not as great in this field
  • Licensing - some professions require you to be separately licensed in order to work, with significant penalties if you’re not

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