Taiwan Basics

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The Basics

Time: GMT +8

Electricity: Electrical current is 110 volts, 60Hz. Two-pin, flat blade plugs are standard.

Money: Taiwan's currency is the New Taiwan Dollar (TWD). Foreign currencies can be exchanged at government-designated banks and hotels. Receipts are given when currency is exchanged, and must be presented in order to exchange unused dollars before departure. Major credit cards are accepted and ATMs are plentiful. Banks are open Monday to Friday.

Currency Exchange Rates

TWD1.00 = USD 0.03GBP 0.03CAD 0.04AUD 0.05ZAR 0.48EUR 0.03NZD 0.05
Note: These rates are not updated daily and should be used as a guideline only.

Language: Mandarin is the official language of Taiwan, but Taiwanese (also called Hokkien) is often spoken. There is a growing number of English speakers.

Entry requirements for Americans: US citizens do not require a visa for stays of up to 90 days, provided they hold a passport valid for the period of intended stay. Visas cannot be extended or converted. Visitors not holding return/onward tickets could be refused entry.

Entry requirements for UK nationals: Passports must be valid for six months from date of arrival. Visas are not required for stays of up to 90 days for holders of British passports with nationality of 'British Citizen'. Those with temporary or emergency passports endorsed 'British Citizen' can obtain a visa on arrival for stays of up to 30 days. Holders of British passports with other endorsements should confirm official requirements.

Entry requirements for Canadians: Canadian nationals do not require a visa for stays of up to 90 days, provided they hold a passport valid six months from their date of arrival.

Entry requirements for Australians: Australian nationals may stay in Taiwan for up to 90 days without a visa, provided they hold a passport valid six months from their date of arrival.

Entry requirements for South Africans: South African nationals require a visa for travel to Taiwan and a passport valid for six months after intended travel. Passengers with an ROC (Taiwan) Business and Academic Travel Card issued by Chinese Taipei are exempt for a maximum stay of 30 days.

Entry requirements for New Zealanders: New Zealand nationals require a passport valid for at least six months from entry. No visa is required for a stay of up to 90 days.

Entry requirements for Irish nationals: Irish nationals may stay in Taiwan for up to 90 days without a visa and require a passport valid for at least six months from entry.

Travel Health: According to Taiwan health regulations, travellers arriving from areas infected with yellow fever must carry vaccination certificates. Also, travellers are advised to have up-to-date vaccines for hepatitis A and typhoid, while long-term travellers should be inoculated against Japanese encephalitis. Due to recent outbreaks of dengue fever, insect repellents and other measures to prevent mosquito bites are recommended for those travelling to the southern part of the island. Visitors should only drink bottled water and should be wary of potential food poisoning. Taiwan's medical facilities are first-class, but health insurance is recommended for travellers.

Tipping: Aside from baggage handlers and service personnel in international hotels, tipping in Taiwan is generally not expected. Hotels and restaurants will usually add a 10 percent service charge to the bill.

Safety Information: Most visits to Taiwan are trouble-free. The country has only a low incidence of petty crime, and is considered safe. The only threats are natural ones, given that the island is prone to typhoons and tropical storms, as well as earthquakes and tremors. These are seldom severe.

Local Customs: The concept of 'saving face' is very important on the island, and tourists should try to avoid embarrassing the Taiwanese. Self-control is another key point of etiquette, with locals frowning on outbursts and other public spectacles. Also, Taiwanese customs include a number of superstitions, such as not writing another person's name in red. Visitors should remove their shoes before entering a person's home. Physical contact with strangers is considered impolite.

Business: Doing business in Taiwan is a pleasure for those who value a high work ethic and technologically savvy business partners. The island has traded heavily with the West for many years and business formalities have melded over time. That said, it's important to observe and respect the cultural heritage many cling to. Confucian values tend to dictate business etiquette in Taiwan. Consequently, local attitudes revolve around gratitude, respect, mutual understanding and studiousness. Also, bar a few multi-nationals, most businesses in Taiwan are medium-sized and family-owned. In this context, the family's paternal head is always consulted, meaning business decisions can take longer. Two important aspects of business culture in Taiwan are face and 'Guanxi' (relationships). Face relates to the dignity of a person or a company, and it informs all social and business interactions. It's important to save face at all times. For this reason, foreigners should not correct colleagues or expect them to correct themselves. Regarding business relationships, gift-giving and conducting deals slowly are key to operating in Taiwan. Generally, business people give a simple gift to all members involved in a meeting, and a better gift to the most important person. It's impolite to open gifts in front of hosts. Foreigners should always accept invitations to events outside of normal business hours, as this is when locals build relationships. Business people consider it disrespectful to make direct or prolonged eye-contact with someone who is in a very senior position. However, they always direct conversation to the most senior person in the meeting. The Taiwanese expect punctuality for meetings. Shaking hands is common for men and women nowadays, though a bow goes a long way as a sign of respect. Business hours are from 9am to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday. Business cards are exchanged often and should be printed in both English and Mandarin. Work clothes tend to be formal and conservative. Men wear dark suits, women wear modest dresses and skirts rather than pants. Mandarin is the language of business and hiring a translator is often necessary.

Communications: Taiwan's international access dialling code is +886. Local network operators provide mobile telephone services in various regions. Most hotels in Taipei have internet access in their rooms.

Duty Free: Travellers aged over 20 may enter Taiwan without paying customs duty on 200 cigarettes or 25 cigars or 454g tobacco, 1 bottle of alcohol (maximum 1 litre), and a reasonable amount of perfume. Travellers are also permitted to bring personal goods valued up to NT$20,000 duty free (or NT$10,000 for those under 20 years). Guns, narcotics, fresh meat and fruit are prohibited.