Banking in Taiwan
If you are here on a visitor's visa only you may have heard that you can not open an account without an A.R.C. (Alien Resident Certificate)? Well it's not completely true there are banks that will open an account for you. So if you are getting a little nervous with all your money lying around then read on, we have tried to answer some of the more basic questions.
Opening An Account
You will generally find two types of banks in Taiwan and these are government owned and independent. The government owned banks are usually more tightly regulated and ask you to make some uncomfortable disclosures when opening an account. I recommend going to an independent bank because they are competing against each other to get deposits and are much more willing to help you than the government owned banks. You will be able to open an account at one of these banks with just a passport for identification, a minimum deposit, and a few questions.
The most common type of account opened is called a "Demand Deposit" account. This kind of account is similar to a savings account back home, you are not allowed to write checks but you'll get an ATM card with unlimited withdrawals at a minimal fee. The ATM withdrawal fee is free if you go to a branch of your own bank otherwise it is only NT 7 at another bank. Most ATM machines have an English option so don't have to worry about accidentally transferring all your hard earned money to someone else's account. If you do encounter any problems with a bank when opening an account then simply try another one there are plenty of banks out there that do want your business.
If you are going to open an account in Taiwan, note the typical minimum amount required to open a bank account at local banks is NTD$1,000. Chinatrust requires a minimum deposit of NTD 10,000. Citibank requires that the holder maintain an average monthly balance of NTD 25,000, otherwise an account management fee of NTD500 per month is incurred. HSBC requires a minimum balance of NTD 3 million, otherwise an account management fee of NTD 1,000 per month is incurred.
Foreign nationals that wish to open an NT dollar bank account in Taiwan must be at least 20 years old, and should have a fixed place of residence. Interested parties should bring original copies of the following documents in person to process their applications.
Generally speaking banking hours are from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday to Friday, they are not open on Saturdays. The employees usually work until 5:30 p.m. so you can still make inquires by phone if you get connected to someone who can speak English. If you find it to much of a hassle making deposits all the time simply have your school do a direct deposit into your account, just ask a clerk at your bank for the proper form.
Pretty much every bank in Taiwan now offers some form of online banking. Bank of Taiwan, ESUN Bank, Sunny Bank, Citibank, Land Bank, Cathay Bank, China Trust, all have online banking. Every system is different and not all offer English interfaces.
You'll have to ask for a demo if this helps you decide which bank to deal with. The bigger the bank, the better the online system. Bank of Taiwan offers a very easy to use English interface for online banking where you can set up accounts where you frequently transfer money (such as your landlord or other bills), transfer internationally, and also transfer to other banks.
Some banks offer a free smart-card bank card reader when you sign up for online banking for the first time. With these devices and a computer you can set up basically your own ATM with the exception of withdrawing cash of course. Once you have one, you can log into your bank's online system and use your card to transfer money, check your balance, and use other functions just like you would at an ATM machine.
A final note on banking and that is taxes. Of course they don't tax you on any of your principle in your account, just on any interest that you have earned. However they do deduct a whopping 20% of any interest you earn, this is deducted right at the bank so you never see this money. The interest that you earn less the 20% tax is directly deposited to your account. The nice part is that filing of tax return is not needed. Depending on how often you have your interest deposited to your account is when they deduct the tax. If you have a Taiwanese friend that you totally trust you can open an account in their name as they do not get this tax deducted directly like foreigners do, therefore saving you this tax.
Who can open a bank account in Taiwan?
It used to be,....anyone holding a valid passport with more than 100NT dollars can open a bank account in Taiwan. Now, as far as we know, you must have an ARC or other resident card. Some banks will be flexible on this policy.
Where can a foreigner open a bank account in Taiwan?
Almost all banks in Taiwan allow foreigners to open savings accounts.
What time are the banks open in Taiwan?
Most banks open at 9 a.m. and close at 3:30 p.m. The exception is the post office bank which closes when the post office closes.
Can I send money to my home country?
Yes. You can wire money from Taiwan to almost any country. You can transfer the funds in your chosen currency whether it be Taiwanese dollars or American dollars to your account in your home country or to any beneficiary you state on the form.
Can I exchange money?
Yes. Most banks exchange foreign currencies at reasonable rates. Most banks also buy and sell RMB so if you're traveling to and from China exchanging money is a lot easier than it used to be.
Will I be given checks?
Normal demand deposit accounts in Taiwan do not come with checks. You must open up a business banking account. This can be done if you have an OBU account or you open a legal, registered business in Taiwan. There is also no overdraft policy widely used in Taiwan. It's up to the bank how to handle this. It is also very frowned upon. If you do write a check in Taiwan be sure to have funds to cover the check.
Will I be given an ATM card?
Yes. Upon request you will be given an ATM card. If offered, ask for a "Cirrus" or "Plus" card so you will be able to withdraw money from ATM machines outside of Taiwan.
Traveling Overseas and Using my ATM Card
*** Before you travel outside of Taiwan be sure to ask your bank to open your card for access outside of Taiwan. You will also need to set your 4 digit magnetic strip pin number. If you don't do this you will NOT be able to use your ATM card internationally. Since changing over to the smart chip system several years ago, not all ATM cards have the magnetic strip option. Be sure to check with your bank to make sure your ATM card has this feature, and be sure it's turned on (unless you're not planning on withdrawing money overseas.) Plan ahead on this one because replacing your existing ATM card with one that has the magnetic strip can take 4 or 5 business days, so don't wait until just before you are expected to leave to add this feature.
Do they charge a fee to use ATM machines in Taiwan?
Yes. Most banks charge 5-7 NT D per withdrawal if you use another bank. However, most banks allow free withdrawals from their own ATM machines
How much can I withdrawal from ATM machines in Taiwan?
Most banks allow their customers to withdrawal between NT$90,000 and NT$150,000 per day from their own ATM machines. It's usually in NT$30,000 increments. This limit can be increased or decreased simply by amending your account at the teller window of your bank.
Can I collect interest?
Yes, you can.
Do bank tellers speak English in Taiwan?
Chances are, yes. At least one employee of each bank will speak English. In major cities and at major banks most employee's will have a sufficient English level to provide services in English.
Can I get a Credit Card in Taiwan?
Maybe. If you have a Taiwanese friend that will co-sign you chances greatly improve. You may also be able to obtain one with only an ARC. If you own a business or you have a reasonably high monthly income you will most certainly be offered a credit card. Just like in the US or Canada your personal financial situation matters. Typically proving you have a regular, descent monthly income proven by transfers to you bank account is enough to get your first credit card. Don't be surprised though if the limit is quite low and the interest rate is very high.
Do Taiwan banks offer direct deposit?
Yes. Most banks allow the direct deposit of your pay check by your school or employer. These days employers use direct deposit from their bank to yours. Employers generally don't hand employees wads of cash like they did years ago.
BANKS IN TAIWAN
Address: 4 Zhong Xiao Si Road Sec 1. Taipei, TAIWAN
Phone: +886 2 2508 2288
Fax: +886 2 2508 8701
Chang Hwa Commercial Bank Limited
Address: 38 Tsu Yu Road Sec 2. Taichung, TAIWAN
Phone: +886 4 2222 2001
Fax: +886 2 2223 1297
CHIAO TUNG BANK COMPANY LIMITED
Address: 91 Heng Yang Road. Taipei, TAIWAN 100
Phone: +886 2 2361 3000
Fax: +886 2 2311 3263
China Development Industrial Bank
Address: 125 Nanking East Road Section 5. Taipei, TAIWAN 105
Phone: +886 2 27638800
Fax: +886 2 27686060
Farmers Bank OF China (the)
Address: 85 Nanking East Road Sec 2. Taipei City, TAIWAN
Phone: +886 2100 3456
Fax: +886 2 2542 8344
FIRST COMMERCIAL BANK COMPANY LIMITED
Address: 30 Chung King South Road Section 1. Taipei, TAIWAN
Phone: +886 2 2348 1111
Fax: +886 2 2361 0036
Hsinchu International Bank
Address: No 106 Chungyang Road. Hsinchu City, TAIWAN
Phone: +886 3 524 5141
Fax: +886 3 525 0977
International Bank of Taipei
Address: 36 Nanking East Road Sec 3. Taipei, TAIWAN
Phone: +886 2 2506 3333
Fax: +886 2 2506 1290
INTERNATIONAL COMMERCIAL BANK OF CHINA (THE)
Address:100 Chi-Lin Road. Taipei, TAIWAN 104
Phone: +886 2 2563 3156
Fax: +886 2 2561 1216
KAOHSIUNG BUSINESS BANK
Address: 87 Chung Chen Road Sec 4. Kaoshiung, TAIWAN
Phone: +886 7 2613030
Fax: +886 7 2913423
Taichung Commercial Bank Company Limited
Address: No 45 Min-Tsu Road. Taichung, TAIWAN
Phone: +886 4 2223 6021
Fax: +886 4 2227 0138
Tainan Business Bank
Address: 506 Sec 1 Shi-Men Road. Tainan, TAIWAN
Phone: +886 213 9171
Fax: +886 213 0895
Taishin International Bank
Address: No 44 Chung Shan Rd Sec. Taipei, TAIWAN
Phone: +886 2568 3988
Fax: +886 02 25111987
Taitung Business Bank
Address: No 362 Chungshan Road. Taitung City, TAIWAN
Phone: +886 89 331 191
Fax: +886 89 331 194
Taiwan banks all accept and provide travelers checks. The most widely used travelers checks are from American Express. You can purchase travelers checks in any amount as long as you have either a passport or a valid ARC. You can expect to pay a few hundred NT service charge at some banks but there are banks that have no fee. Bank of Taiwan does not charge a fee if you have an account with them. Since the fees on purchasing travelers checks are so low it's an easy way to take money when you travel, or even send money to your folks back home.
Banks will generally take American Express travelers checks but don't expect to use them at retailers in Taiwan. Unlike the US and Canada, travelers checks are a good replacement for cash or credit cards.