Taiwan

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Wednesday, 08 October 2014.   This advice contains new information under laws (penalties for smoking marijuana in Taiwan can be severe and may include life imprisonment), and under Health (if carrying medication, visit the Taiwan Customs website for the latest allowances and limits). We continue to advise Australians to exercise normal safety precautions in Taiwan.

Taiwan overall

Summary

  • We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions in Taiwan. Exercise common sense 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.
  • See also our general advice for business travellers and DFAT country information web page.
  • 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.
    • follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
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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 the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO).

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.

Allowances and limitations on both prescription and non-prescription medication may vary, you should check these on the Taiwan Customs website before you travel.

Safety and security

We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions in Taiwan. Exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia.

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Overseas bulletin for more information on terrorism and our General advice to Australian travellers for tips on staying safe overseas.

Civil unrest/political tension

Protests and demonstrations do occur in Taiwan from time to time and are generally peaceful; however, there have been instances where they have turned violent. Australians are reminded to avoid demonstrations and protests.

Crime

Taiwan has a generally 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 recommend that you use radio taxis, or taxis booked on the internet or through your hotel.

Money and valuables

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.

Review the general advice to Australian travellers for further information on being safe and prepared abroad.

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

The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See instead the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Taiwan.

Please also refer to our general air travel page for information on 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. Research local laws before travelling.

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. Smoking or possessing marijuana can lead to life imprisonment.

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, 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 page provides further information.

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.

Medication: Check with the Taiwan Customs Administration website for quantity and other limitations of medication for personal use.

Where to get help

Depending on the nature of your enquiry, your best option may be to contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurance provider in the first instance.

If the matter relates to criminal issues, contact the nearest police station directly or telephone the police emergency number on 110. The national ambulance and fire emergency telephone number is 119.

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

The Consular Services Charter explains what the Australian Government can and cannot do to assist Australians overseas. 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: www.australia.org.tw
Email: consular.taipei@dfat.gov.au

See the Office website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

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.

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.

Additional Resources

For additional general and economic information to assist travelling in this country, see the following links:



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.