Taiwan

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Tuesday, 25 March 2014.   It contains new updated information in Political unrest/political tension (recent protests near government buildings resulted in a number of injuries and arrests and travellers are reminded to avoid all demonstration and protest activity as they may turn violent) and Information for dual nationals (dual nationals should refer to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office and the National Conscription Agency for information on compulsory military service). The overall level of advice has not changed. We continue to advise Australians to exercise normal safety precautions in Taiwan.

Taiwan overall

Summary

  • Exercise normal safety precautions and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia.
  • In the typhoon season (May to November) flooding and mudslides are common. You should keep informed of regional weather forecasts and plan accordingly. Monitor local media reports and follow the instructions of local emergency officials. For more information see the Additional information: Natural disasters, severe weather and climate section.
  • Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
    • organise comprehensive travel insurance and check what circumstances and activities are not covered by your policy
    • register your travel and contact details, so we can contact you in an emergency
    • subscribe to this travel advice to receive free email updates each time it's reissued.
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Entry and exit

Visa conditions are subject to change. For up-to-date visa information, contact the nearest Taiwan representative office well in advance of travel. In Australia, current visa information may be obtained from:

Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO)
Unit 8, 40 Blackall Street
Barton, ACT 2600
Telephone: (02) 6120 2025
Facsimile: (02) 6273 0748
Email: teco@teco.org.au
Website: http://www.teco.org.au.

Australian passport holders are normally allowed to enter Taiwan without a visa for up to thirty days (no extensions permitted) as long as they have a passport valid for at least six months beyond the date of entry into Taiwan and a confirmed return or onward air ticket.

If your passport has less than six months’ validity, you may be refused entry and returned to your point of departure at your own expense. You should carry recent passport photos with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.

If you are planning to work in Taiwan you will need to obtain a work permit. You may be fined or deported for not possessing a valid work permit.

As a preventative measure against pandemics (e.g. SARS and Avian Influenza – H1N1), local quarantine measures require all individuals to undergo a body temperature check upon entry to Taiwan. Depending on results, further medical examinations may be required.

Safety and security

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. You can find more information about this threat in our General Advice to Australian Travellers.

Civil unrest/political tension

On 23/24 March 2014 protests occurred around government buildings and facilities in Central Taipei in which protestors and police were injured. Protests may be ongoing. Australians should avoid demonstrations and protests as they may turn violent.

Crime

Taiwan has a low incidence of crime, including petty crime.

Although there have been some instances of assault on passengers by taxi drivers, taxis in Taiwan are generally safe. We advise that you use radio taxis or taxis booked on the internet or through your hotel.

Money and valuables

Before you go, organise a variety of ways to access your money overseas, such as credit cards, travellers' cheques, cash, debit cards or cash cards. Australian currency and travellers' cheques are not accepted in many countries. Consult with your bank to find out which is the most appropriate currency to carry and whether your ATM card will work overseas.

Make two photocopies of valuable documents such as your passport, tickets, visas and travellers' cheques. Keep one copy with you in a separate place from the original and leave another copy with someone at home.

While travelling, don't carry too much cash and remember that expensive watches, jewellery and cameras may be tempting targets for thieves.

As a sensible precaution against luggage tampering, including theft, lock your luggage. Information on luggage safety is available from Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate or to the Australian Office in Taipei as soon as possible.

You are required to pay an additional fee to have a lost or stolen passport replaced. In some cases, the Government may also restrict the length of validity or type of replacement passports.

Local travel

Traffic may not stop at pedestrian crossings.

Care should be taken when driving on mountain roads, which are generally winding and narrow. Foreign tourists have been injured in bus accidents on mountain roads. Typhoons and heavy rains can lead to landslides and road blockages. For further advice, see our road travel page.

Airline safety

Please refer to our air travel page for information about aviation safety and security.

Laws

When you are in Taiwan, be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.

Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter.

Penalties for drug offences in Taiwan are severe and include the death penalty.

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.

Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years’ imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.

Information for dual nationals

Australian/Taiwanese dual national males over 18 years of age may be subject to compulsory military service in Taiwan. Dual nationals are advised to seek further information from the nearest Taipei Economic and Cultural Office regarding exemptions that may be available to overseas residents. To check whether compulsory military service is required upon arrival in Taiwan dual nationals may also refer to the National Conscription Agency website.

Our Dual Nationals brochure provides further information for dual nationals.

Health

We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.

The standard of medical facilities provided by public hospitals in Taiwan and other major cities is good although there may be lengthy waiting times. Physicians are well trained and state of the art medical equipment is often available. Treatment at private clinics and priority care centres is expensive. Doctors and hospitals may expect payment prior to providing medical and dental services, including for emergency care.

The mosquito-borne illness dengue fever occurs in Taiwan especially in the tropical southern regions. We recommend you take measures to avoid mosquito bites including using insect repellent at all times.

The mosquito-borne disease Japanese encephalitis is found throughout many regions of North, South and South-East Asia and Papua New Guinea. A Japanese encephalitis vaccine is registered for use and is currently available in Australia. For further details please consult your travel health doctor.

Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) is common in Taiwan with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. In Asia, outbreaks of HFMD usually start in March/April and peak in May but can continue until August to October each year. It mostly affects children under the age of 10 years but adult cases (particularly young adults) are not unusual. The illness is characterised by fever as well as blisters and rashes on the hands, feet and buttocks. HFMD is spread by direct contact with nose and throat discharges and faeces of infected people. Normal hygiene precautions should be taken including careful and frequent hand washing.

Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases are prevalent with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. We advise you to boil all drinking water or drink bottled water, and avoid ice cubes and raw or undercooked food. Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.

H7N9 Avian influenza in 2013: Taiwanese authorities have confirmed a case of (H7N9) avian influenza in Taiwan involving a person who had recently visited China. For more information see the websites of the Department of Health and the World Health Organisation.

Rabies: In July 2013, Rabies was detected in Taiwan for the first time in fifty years. Rabies is almost always spread by an animal bite but can also be spread when a rabid animal’s saliva gets directly into the eyes, nose, mouth, or broken skin. Australians in Taiwan are advised to avoid direct contact with wild animals and should consider the risks of contact with domestic animals. If bitten or scratched, you should immediately use soap and water to wash the wound thoroughly and seek urgent medical attention. If you are planning to stay in Taiwan for a prolonged period or to work with animals, you should consult your doctor or travel clinic about the need for obtaining a pre-exposure rabies vaccination.

Where to get help

The Australian Office in Taipei represents Australia’s interests in Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic relations.

In Taiwan, you can obtain consular and passports assistance from the:

The Australian Office, Taipei

27th and 28th Floor, President International Tower
9-11 Song Gao Road
Taipei, 110
Telephone: (886 2) 8725 4100
Facsimile: (886 2) 8789 9599
Website: http://www.australia.org.tw
Email: consular.taipei@dfat.gov.au

If you are travelling to Taiwan, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate and at the Australian Office in Taipei. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency-whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.

In a consular emergency, if you are unable to contact the Australian Office, you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

Australians in Taiwan can access a 24-hour English language emergency line for foreigners on 0800 024 111.

In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted on (02) 6261 3305.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

Taiwan is in an active earthquake zone and is also subject to typhoons. In the wet/typhoon season (May to November) flooding and mudslides are common. Information on earthquakes, typhoons and other severe weather is available from the Taiwan Central Weather Bureau. Australians visiting Taiwan during the Typhoon season should monitor this website for the latest weather warnings and contact tour operators to check whether tourist services at planned destinations have been affected.

The direction and strength of typhoons can change with little warning. You can check the latest typhoon information from the World Meteorological Organisation Severe Weather Information Centre,the Joint Typhoon Warning Centre and the Humanitarian Early Warning Service.

In the event of an approaching typhoon, flights in and out of affected areas could be delayed or suspended. Available flights may fill quickly. You should contact your airline for the latest flight information. The typhoon could also affect access to sea ports in the region. In some areas, adequate shelter from a severe typhoon may not be available to all who may choose to stay. You should review and follow hotel or cruise ship evacuation plans. You should carry your travel documents at all times (i.e. passport, photo IDs, etc.) or secure them in a safe, waterproof location. We also suggest that you contact friends and family in Australia with updates about your welfare and whereabouts. For further information, see our severe weather page.

If a typhoon is approaching Taiwan, a 'typhoon day' may be declared by the local authorities at very short notice which may see reduced business operating hours and government office closures. A 'Typhoon day' is announced on local radio and television stations. The International Community Radio Taipei (ICRT) provides all of Taiwan with English-language programming 24 hours a day. In the event of an emergency or an approaching typhoon, travellers in Taiwan should tune their radios to FM 100.7 for English-language updates. You can find out more information on 'typhoon days' on the local weather website. If a Typhoon day is declared, the Australian Office in Taipei may be closed and Australians who require consular assistance on these days should call the Consular Emergency Centre in Canberra on +61 2 6261 3305.

All oceanic regions of the world can experience tsunamis, but there is a more frequent occurrence of large, destructive tsunamis in the Indian and Pacific Oceans because of the many large earthquakes along major tectonic plate boundaries and ocean trenches. See the Tsunami Awareness brochure.

Information on natural disasters can be obtained from the Humanitarian Early Warning Service. If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.

For parents

For general information and tips on travelling with children see our Travelling with children page.



While every care has been taken in preparing this information, neither the Australian Government nor its agents or employees, including any member of Australia's diplomatic and consular staff abroad, can accept liability for any injury, loss or damage arising in respect of any statement contained herein.

Maps are presented for information only. The department accepts no responsibility for errors or omission of any geographic feature. Nomenclature and territorial boundaries may not necessarily reflect Australian Government policy.