How to get a Taiwan Gold Card

Monday October 26, 2020 — San Francisco, California

The Taiwan Gold Card is a combined visa, re-entry permit, open work permit and residence permit for Taiwan, valid for up to three years. It’s designed to bring skilled professionals into Taiwan, and if you’ve made more than ~$67k USD/yearAll of the prices are denominated in the law in New Taiwan Dollars, and have been converted into USD at October 2020 rates for this post. The threshold for eligibility is that you make more than $160,000 NTD/month. at any point in the past three years you’re trivially eligible.There are also trickier ways to apply, such as proving your expertise in one of the eligible fields: Science and Technology, Economy, Education, Culture and Arts, Sports, Finance, Law, or Architecture. However, the bar for proving expertise is quite high (probably similar to an O-1 visa in the United States, depending on the category). There is no lottery, anyone who is eligible can get approved within a couple months. If you’ve met the income requirement, it’s currently one of the easiest ways to get to Taiwan, and the visa it provides you allows you to enter Taiwan regardless of the COVID-19 situation in your country of origin.

In order to apply, you’ll need a picture of your passport with at least 6 months remaining on it before expiration, a copy of your W-2 or other document that shows your incomeNote that your paystubs are not a valid form of proof. If you don’t have a W-2 or similar tax document showing your full income (for instance, if you were only employed for part of the year), you may be able to get by with a document from your work stating what your income is, but I haven’t heard from anyone who’s done this. The guidelines specify a “月薪” which is translated as “monthly salary” — but this does not necessarily match the legal definition of salary as used in the US, which implies an employment relationship and a W-2. Things that are “月薪”: definitely W-2, possibly 1099-MISC. Things that are not 月薪: income reported on 1099-K, such as taking payment through card networks or being an Uber driver., a passport-style photo of yourself (a selfie taken in front of a white wall is fine), and a credit card or other method of payment to pay the couple hundred USD application fee.The application fees vary from ~$108 - $323 USD ($3,100 - $9,260 NTD) depending on your nationality, the duration of your Gold Card, and whether you apply from inside Taiwan or not. You can find how much the fee is for you in this FAQ. I paid $282 USD as an American applying for a 3-year Gold Card from outside of Taiwan. Once you’ve got all that together, go to the application website, click “I want to apply”, then “Self application”, and create an account. Then start a new Gold Card application and fill out the form. It’ll ask for your address in Taiwan, you can leave it blank if you don’t know where you’ll be staying (which you probably don’t, yet).Once you do have an address in Taiwan, you should go to the NIA within 30 days to get a new copy of your Gold Card with the address on it. It’ll also ask if you want to apply in Taiwan or at a consulate/embassy overseas - you should probably pick whatever consulate you’re closest to, I went with the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in San Francisco. You will also need to pick how long you want the card to be valid for, from 1-3 years. There is very little downside to picking a longer duration — it costs a trivial amount more, and is no harder to get.A possible reason to pick 2 years is if you want to reapply for a 3-year gold card in 2 years, using your current year’s salary — if, for instance, you expect to not be making enough for the salary cutoff once you move to Taiwan. I have no idea if this actually works (the Gold Card program is fairly new, so there aren’t many stories of people reapplying), but it’s worth considering, especially seeing as it could get you enough time to be able to apply for an APRC.

Once you’ve submitted your application, you’ll need to wait a few weeks for it to be processed — it took mine 25 days, and I think anywhere from 3 weeks to a month is pretty normal. Either you’ll get a message asking you to provide additional documentation (unlikely, if you’re using a W-2 and submitted everything correctly), or you’ll get an email asking you to submit your passport to the application location that you’ve selected.

Once you get to the passport submission stage, it can be a bit unclear what to do — you can’t visit in person in most places due to COVID-19in the United States, at least., and the SF TECO at least does not answer phone calls or emailsWhile the main SF TECO phone number goes unanswered, if you have Gold Card questions, you can call Angela at (415) 364-5632 and she should be able to help. The line is often busy, but if you leave a message she’ll get back to you. (although other TECOs may be better, you should at least try calling your local TECO). What you need to do is pretty simple, however: just mail in the passport submission notice PDF that you can download on the application website (Download → Download Passport Submission Notice), your passport or a notarized copy of your passport, and a self-addressed USPS priority mail return envelope.

If like me, you don’t want to send in your physical passport, getting a notarized copy is pretty easy.In California, at least — laws vary by state, make sure to check your local laws. Make a document with a copy of your passportI used a photo that I scaled so the passport was 1:1 with real life when printed, since I don’t have a scanner. (just the first page and signature is fine, no need to include the stamp pages) and the statement “I, <my name>, affirm that the attached is a true and complete copy of the document which it purports to represent.” Then take that document to a notary and have them notarize your signature on it.

Once the TECO receives your envelope with the passport, you should get an email saying you’re approved, and only waiting on getting the physical Gold Card in the mail. If you need to fly to Taiwan before it arrives, you can print out a form that will allow you to board the plane on the application website, under “Download → Download Resident Authorization.” If you do this, you’ll need to pay a ~$18 USD ($500 NTD) fee to replace the card once you get to Taiwan. About 21 days after you get the email saying you’re approvedI was told it would be at most 21 days, but it took 25 for me. you should get a call from the TECO asking to schedule an appointment for you to pick up your Gold Card.They may say that this is an “interview,” but you’ve already been approved, so you shouldn’t worry too much about that. They asked me what I do for work, what connections I have in Taiwan, when I planned to go, and where I planned to stay.

Note that the start date (and thus the end date) of your Gold Card is determined by the day the passport is approved, so you may want to be a little strategic if you apply for a Gold Card significantly before you want to go to Taiwan — you can get all the way to the passport submission stage, then wait until a month or so before you plan to leave to actually submit your passport. Obviously there’s a tradeoff here — there’s some risk that your passport won’t be processed in time, but it may be worth considering, depending on your situation.

If you have any problems during this process, you can find a person to call for assistance on this contact page. Dialing Taiwan phone numbers from the United States can be tricky, but the thing that worked for me was dialing +886, then the area code with the leading zero omitted, then the rest of the number. Dialing 011 before the number or leaving on the zero in the area code would cause the call to fail for me, but your carrier may be different.

You might also want to check out the official website, official FAQ, thread on the forumosa forum, the unofficial FAQ, or Tom Fifield’s blog post.

Enjoy Taiwan!

Thanks to Brandon Liu for providing additional information about valid sources of income.

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