Banking in Taiwan

Guide to Living and Working in Taiwan

Banking In Taiwan


Banking in Taiwan is always one of the top question we get from new teachers. This article aims to explain how banks work in Taiwan and how you can open a bank account and start sending money home.

Your school will most likely assist you in opening your bank account, as each school works with a different bank. You might want to open a second bank account if the bank your school pays you through doesn’t offer reasonable transfer fees for sending money home.

To open a bank account in Taiwan, you must provide your passport and ARC card. Most banks have some English speaking staff, but usually schools will also provide help to set you up with your first bank account.

Banks are closed Saturday and Sunday and generally close around 3pm during the week. Many international banks (HSBC, Citibank, RBC ect.) have branches in Taipei and in other major cities.

ATMs offer 24-hour service and ubiquitous throughout the country. They will also support most major western banking card systems until you are given your own local bank card.

When using your local card there are no ATM fees when you use a machine from another bank. Makes life a little simpler when you aren’t constantly tracking down the closest branch of your bank. Taiwan is a cashed based society and you are able to withdraw up to NT$20,000 per transaction until either you or the machine is out of money.

The currency in Taiwan is the New Taiwan Dollar, abbreviated to “NT$”. The coins come in $1, $5, $10, $20 and $50 and the notes $100, $500, $1000 and $2000.

Banking In Taiwan and Credit Cards in Taiwan

All major international credit cards are accepted in Taiwan.

It is recommended that you contact your home bank before leaving for Taiwan and to let them know that you might be using your card abroad.

Taxes In Taiwan

There has been a change to the tax law in Taiwan for foreign taxpayers. The change (as detailed on the government web site) from 2009 is as follows:

All foreign taxpayers who stay in the ROC less than 183 days in a calendar year are now non-resident. The old regulation ‘he or she stays for 183 days or more and continues to stay uninterrupted over the next year without leaving the ROC, he or she will continue to be treated as a resident…’ has expired.

This is not good news as it means that for any teachers leaving Taiwan between Jan and June there will be no tax rebate and the tax rate will be 20%. It also means that teachers will now be charged 20% tax for all salary received between January and June. There will of course still be a rebate for teachers who stay longer than 183 days in the year.

Before the change:

  1. The tax rate for all teachers was 20% for the first 183 days in the first tax year
  2. The rate then dropped to 10% for all subsequent years or part years
  3. Teachers who stayed in the country for at least 183 days in their first tax year were due a tax rebate
  4. Teachers were always due a tax rebate for any subsequent years or part years

The new law:

  1. The tax rate for teachers will be 20% for the first 183 days in every tax year
  2. The rate will then drop to 10% for the rest of each year
  3. Teachers who stay in the country for at least 183 days in any tax year will be due a tax rebate

Sending Money Home From Banks in Taiwan

So you’ve made a bundle and now you need to get it out of the country. Sending money home is possible by several means:

  1. Physically take it home with you – If you have less than $10,000 USD you do not have to declare the money. There is then the obvious risk of loosing all your hard earned cash, but it is an option.
  2. Bank wire transfer – Expect to pay approximately $30 in bank fees from the sending bank and then another $10 receiving fee from your home country bank.
  3. Express Mail – Send a Certified or Cashiers Check to someone back home that you trust who can then deposit the money into your account. Personally I find this to be the cheapest and easiest way to send large amounts of money back home.

Assuming you know as much as me about money markets and exchange rates, which is next to nothing, you pretty much send money when you have enough to make it worthwhile.

Please be advised though that you can shop around for exchange rates. Banks will give different exchange rates to send money home. If you go to Western Union you are stuck with their rate and fees but banks are different. Be aware of this as you move through the process.