If you are here on a visitor’s visa you may have heard that you can not open a Taiwan bank account without an A.R.C. (Alien Resident Certificate). It’s not completely true as there are banks that will open an account for you but its getting increasingly difficult. 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.
Open a Taiwan Bank Account
There are government owned and private banks in Taiwan. The government owned banks are usually more tightly regulated and ask you to make some uncomfortable disclosures when opening an account. We 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. It is possible in some cases to open an account at one of these banks with just a passport for identification, a minimum deposit, and a few questions.
Demand Deposit Account
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 (at the time of this writing) NT$5 at a bank other than the one you hold the account with.
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 as there are plenty of banks out there that do want your business.
Requirements To Open a Taiwan Bank Account
If you are going to open a Taiwan bank account, the typical minimum amount required to open 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 or you many incur a NTD$500 penalty. 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. Here are some more details on opening an account that generally apply.
The basic minimum requirement for most foreigners is a valid ARC and a valid Passport. The list here, with the exception of the first 2 being required, are generally what you need to open an account. Interestingly enough, the more convincing your argument for needing an account with said bank, the more likely they will help you open an account. The application of the law beyond ARC and Passport are subject to the bank’s policies. Every bank, and every bank employee, will treat each case slightly differently. Walk into the bank unprepared, not well dressed, etc. and you’ll be turned away:
- A valid ARC (alien resident certificate) or an APRC (long term resident certificate)
- It is not necessary to have a national insurance card (jian-bao card), sometimes incorrectly referred to as a ‘health card’. This may be requested ONLY as a form of secondary identification, which is very common in Taiwan.
- A valid passport (the more time remaining the better)
- A local mailing address (in Chinese and English)
- This cannot be a PO box, or hotel address. I believe all banks will turn you down if you hand them this information.
- Phone for contacting you. It’s ideal if you have a cell phone number registered in your name. If not, you should at least have a local telephone number where you can be easily reached.
- Email address. Any email address where you can be reached will do.
- SSN (just the number) for US citizens only
Some valid reasons for allowing a foreign national to open an account
This is by no means a complete list. The more convincing you can be for the reason you need to open an account in Taiwan, the more likely you’ll be able to. If you cannot speak Chinese, or feel uncomfortable with the level of your Chinese, you’d better take someone along who can comfortably handle a conversation about why you want to open an account.
- You are a student in Taiwan and need to have an account for receiving funds from overseas, paying bills through the bank, etc. This is pretty basic stuff.
- Your employer needs you to open an account in Taiwan so they can wire your salary. It’s best if you can provide the bank with some statement from your place of work to prove this is a requirement. You might want to provide a contact at your place of work.
- You’re a businessperson and would like to be able to do business in/around Taiwan. Now you’d think Taiwan would welcome you with open arms. Even in 2020 this is still a hassle but if you can make a convincing argument that you need an account to do business here, you’ll be able to.
- You feel the bank you would like to do business with, for whatever reason, is more convenient. You may already have a bank account with Bank A, but Bank B better suits your needs. Again, provide a convincing enough argument and you’ll be able to open an account.
- You’re considering moving to Taiwan permanently. You are considering immigrating here. If that’s the case, and you are going to provide a substantial initial deposit, you probably won’t be turned away.
Generally speaking banking hours are from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Banks are not open on Saturdays, except for certain Saturdays where the bank is making up an extra day off (it’s weird, I know), in which case the bank closes at noon. 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, or you speak Chinese.
If you find it too much of a hassle making deposits all the time, simply have your school do a direct deposit into your account. Some schools may ask for you bank account so they may wire salaries directly to your account. If yours and their banks are not the same, there is a small 17NT wire transfer fee. These days most employers wire funds to a bank they use, so there is no wire fee, and you get the funds deposited into your account.
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.
ATM Card Readers
Pretty much all banks in Taiwan 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 is about taxes. Banks will not tax you on any of your principle in your account, just on any interest that you have earned. However the tax department of Taiwan will deduct a whopping 20% of any interest you earn. This deduction occurs 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 a 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 if you want to save a little tax.
Taiwan Banking FAQ
Who can open a Taiwan Bank Account?
In the past, anyone holding a valid passport with at least 1000NT 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. Have your passport, ARC, and a minimum of NT$1000 ready when you go to the bank.
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 currency?
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. The bank branches at the airports in Taiwan are a bit less hassle if that’s convenient, because they don’t require you to have an account at the bank. Show your passport, fill out a simple form, and you’ll be able to exchange currencies.
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. Also, 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 leave to add this feature.
Do Taiwan banks charge a fee to use ATM machines in Taiwan?
Yes. Most banks charge 5-7 NT D per withdrawal if you use a different bank than your own. However, most banks allow free withdrawals from their own ATM machines
How much can I withdraw 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.
You can also deposit cash into your account by using an ATM from your bank.
Can I collect interest?
Yes, you can. You’ll need to report it though – something to keep in mind when it comes time to file taxes here in Taiwan.
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. In banks in Taipei most tellers speak English.
Can I get a Credit Card in Taiwan?
Maybe. If you have a Taiwanese friend that will co-sign your 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 your 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
Kingstown Bank – Daan Branch
(Western Union Services)
2f N75 Sec 4 Ren Ai Rd Da An Dist
Taipei City, 10688
Hours: 09:00 – 15:30
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
Although traveler checks are rarely used nowadays, Taiwan banks all accept and provide them. 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, in Taiwan travelers checks are not a good replacement for cash or credit cards.