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Turning Taiwanese: A Step-By-Step Guide to Acquiring Taiwanese Citizenship

Turning Taiwanese: A Step-By-Step Guide to Acquiring Taiwanese Citizenship

Written by Rudi Smith

 

Application for Taiwanese Naturalization

If you want to become a citizen of Taiwan (R.O.C.), this is the process you will need to go through, regardless of nationality. However, there may be some quirks in the process from the side of the country you are a national of before, starting, and during this application process.

Some things I should clarify before getting into the actual naturalization process:

 

Residence in Taiwan

Foreigners in Taiwan have residence in the form of an Alien Residence Card (ARC), Alien Permanent Resident Card (APRC) or a Joining Family Resident Visa (JFRV). The ARC is the most common and is applied for by an employer, along with a work permit, allowing a foreigner to legally work and live in Taiwan for the length of the ARC’s validity. Commonly, the ARC needs to be renewed each year. Generally speaking, after five years on an ARC, a foreigner can apply for an APRC. The APRC is much like the ARC, except that you now have permanent residence in Taiwan, open work rights and no longer need a work permit. Anyone married to a Taiwanese citizen can apply for a JFRV at any time. A JFRV is fairly similar to an APRC regarding work rights, but becomes null and void in the event of a divorce or the death of the Taiwanese spouse.

 

Taiwanese Citizenship

To be a citizen of Taiwan means that you have an actual ROC ID card. As an ROC citizen you obviously have all the rights and obligations of any other Taiwanese citizen, without being dependent on a job or your relationship status. As good as this sounds, it is not a decision to be taken lightly as it comes with a few minor, and one especially rather big sacrifice, depending on your perspective. The main obstacle for many foreigners in Taiwan in applying for and getting Taiwanese citizenship is that at the beginning of the process you are required to renounce your original citizenship before you can continue with the application process. Each country has different laws on this, and before even considering this move you should check with your respective government what their requirements and laws are regarding dual nationality and renunciation of citizenship (and especially resumption of citizenship, should you wish to do so one day). Applying for Taiwanese citizenship is not the best option for many people, and in most cases an APRC or even a JFRV would suffice.

 

Application of Taiwanese Citizenship

To get Taiwan citizenship, you need to go to your District Office (Qū Gōng Suǒ / 區公所) and find the Household Registration Office (HHRO / Hù Zhèng Shìwùsuǒ 戶政事務所). They will give you a list of things you need (written in Chinese). The requirements may vary, but this mostly depends on how your country handles things like renunciations etc. The Ministry of the Interior only recognizes two classes of individuals who are applying for naturalization.

1. Individuals married to Taiwanese nationals (JFRV).

2. Individuals NOT married to Taiwanese nationals (ARC/APRC).

In both cases the following links may prove helpful:

1. Nationality Act

2. Enforcement Rules of the Nationality Act

3. Flowchart for the application for naturalization in marriages between foreign nationals and ROC citizens and household registration, in Mandarin and English

4. This one, put together by the Yangmei City Household Registration Office is also useful.

The flowchart will be given to you by the HHRO in a booklet guide and will contain an English version, a Mandarin version (you should always reference the Mandarin one, as it is more correct and the one that they use exclusively for everything - the English one should only serve as a guide to understand the Mandarin one if your Chinese reading comprehension isn't that good) and several other language versions like Thai, etc. You will use this flowchart often. It will, along with the helpful ladies at the HHRO, become your best friend and ally throughout the entire procedure.  

There are technically nine steps involved in applying for Taiwanese Citizenship (ARC/APRC holders do steps 4 - 9):

1. Marriage Registration 結婚登記 jié​hūn​ dēng​jì​ (needed to apply for a JFRV)

2. Application for Residence Visa 申請居留簽證 shēn​qǐng​ jū​liú​ qiān​zhèng​ (Application for JFRV)

3. Apply for Alien Residence Certificate 申請外僑居留證 shēn​qǐng​ wài​qiáo​ jū​liú​zhèng​ (The JFRV card itself)

4. Application for Naturalization Candidature Certificate 申請準歸化中華民國國籍證明 shēn​qǐng zhǔn​ guī​huà​ Zhōng​huá​ Mín​guó​ guó​jí​ zhèng​míng​

5. Renunciation of original nationality 申請喪失原屬國國籍 shēn​qǐng sàng​shī​ yuán​ shǔ​guó​ guó​jí​

6. Appliction for Naturalization 申請歸化國籍 shēn​qǐng​ guī​huà​ guó​jí​

7. Application for Taiwanese Residence Certificate (TARC) 申請台灣地區居留證 shēn​qǐng​ Tái​wān​ dì​qū​ jū​liú​zhèng​

8. Application for Taiwanese Registered Permanent Residency Certificate. 申請台灣定居證 shēn​qǐng​ Tái​wān​ dìng​jū​ zhèng​

9. Application for Household Registration anf ID Card 申請戶籍登記及請領國民身分證 shēn​qǐng​ hù​jí​ dēng​jì​ jí​ qǐng​ lǐng​ guó​mín​ shēn​fèn​zhèng​

 

1. Individuals married to Taiwanese nationals (JFRV)

JFRV Holders

If you already have a JFRV, then you are ready to start your application process. However, if you are married and for some reason opted to stay on an ARC or rather applied for an APRC instead of a JFRV, then you would need to do the following if you wish to take the relatively easier route of applying on a JFRV (remember, your length of time on your JFRV is irrelevant, only the actual time you have been married, i.e. 3 years).

Step 1: Marriage Registration 結婚登記 jié​hūn​ dēng​jì​ (needed to apply for a JFRV)

Applications are to be done at your wife's household registration office.

Applicants married in the ROC:

1. Wedding Certificate

2. Identification Cards of foreign spouses and marital status certificates with Chinese translation and certified (inspected) by R.O.C. foreign missions

3. Household Registration

4. R.O.C. Identification Cards and seals

 

Applicants who got married abroad:

1. Wedding certificates with Chinese translation and certified (inspected) by R.O.C. foreign missions

2. Household registration

3. R.O.C. Identity Cards and seals

4. Identity Cards of foreign spouses

5. If the foreign spouses are unable to return to the R.O.C. with their R.O.C. spouses, the foreign spouse is to submit his/ her Chinese name declaration certified by R.O.C. foreign missions.

You take these documents to the HHRO and register the marriage. If you already have a JFRV, this step has obviously already been completed.

The next step is applying for your JFRV (in the case of married folks who don't have a JFRV yet, or who are still on an ARC/APRC).

 

Step 2: Application for Residence Visa 申請居留簽證 shēn​qǐng​ jū​liú​ qiān​zhèng​ (Application for JFRV)

If the applicant is not in Taiwan, the application is to be submitted to an R.O.C. overseas mission.

If the applicant is in Taiwan, the application is to be submitted to the Bureau of Consular Affairs at the MOFA.

1. One set of the original household registration issued in the recent three months (with marriage registration certificate and the name of the spouse in its original/ foreign language).

2. Marriage registration certificate issued by the applicant’s government (marriage certificate for countries without marriage registration system, i.e. if you were married in Taiwan you will have to register your marriage in your home country first!).

3. A criminal record clearance/FBI report from your home country.

4. Qualified health examination certificate issued by the hospitals appointed by the Department of Health or foreign qualified hospitals in the recent three months.

5. Passport (with validity for more than six months).

6. Two 2-inch photographs taken in the recent six months.

Please note: Documents issued abroad have to be first certified (inspected) by R.O.C. foreign missions accompanied by Chinese translations (certified by the relevant district court). I also had to get them apostilled by the department of foreign affairs in my country of origin and certified by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) in Taiwan.

Applicants who are in Taiwan on visitor visas shall leave Taiwan should their visas expire. They are not to apply for residence certificates.

 

Step 3: Apply for Alien Residence Certificate 申請外僑居留證 shēn​qǐng​ wài​qiáo​ jū​liú​zhèng​ (The JFRV card itself)

Within 7-10 working days the Residence Visa should arrive. Take the relevant document along with the following to your local National Immigration Office (NIA).

1. One set of “Application for Residence Certificate for Foreign Nationals” is to be completed and submitted with two 1-inch photographs.

2. Passport and residence visa is to be submitted for inspection.

3. Application for residence visa stating reasons such as completion of household registration for marriage registration and certified documents is to be enclosed (Basically the documents you used in step 2 above, but I didn't need them a second time as the HHRO forwarded them - I asked them during step 2 if I could keep them and they said it isn't necessary. I advise checking with your HHRO during the application process during step 2 on this, but basically all I needed for step 3 was the application form, my passport, the residence visa I had just received and the application fee described below.).

4. Payment of residence certificate fee (NT$1,000, NT$2,000 and NT$3,000 for one-year, two-year and three-year periods respectively).

Within in 7-10 working days you will be contacted to go and pick up your JFRV. It looks the same as the ARC/APRC, except that Reason for Residence has marriage next to it, and your address is your HHR address and not your work address.

Step four onwards is the same for foreigners married to Taiwanese nationals and foreigners who are single or married to another foreign national. From step four onwards, please refer to the next section.

 

2. Individuals NOT married to Taiwanese nationals (ARC/APRC).

 

APRC/ARC Holders

Before starting the application process you will need to be in possession of an APRC or an ARC. If you do not have an APRC you will have to go through almost exactly the same process as applying for an APRC, and if you have an APRC, you should already be familiar with this process to some extent, and it may look fairly similar. But that’s where the APRC/ARC and JFRV application process streams basically converge. So before that, whether you are on an APRC or an ARC, before you can consider applying you will need the following to qualify:

1. Five years of legal residence on an APRC or ARC, with no unbroken periods in that five year period. It is important to note that if you changed your visa from an ARC to an APRC or went from a student visa to an ARC or an APRC you start from zero and need to start counting your five year stay from the date of issue of your latest visa type, be that an ARC or an APRC. A JFRV holder is exempt and merely needs 3 years legal residence.

2. You will need tax statements from the last year proving that you earned twice the minimum monthly salary in Taiwan. The “Basic Wage" is currently set at NT$19,047, which means you must have made at least $457,128 for the 2012 tax year.

 

Step 4: Application for Naturalization Candidature Certificate 申請準歸化中華民國國籍證明 shēn​qǐng zhǔn​ guī​huà​ Zhōng​huá​ Mín​guó​ guó​jí​ zhèng​míng​

Applications are submitted at your HHRO.

1. Application for “Certificate of ROC Naturalization Candidature” (including two photographs).

2. Legal and valid Alien Residence Certificate or Permanent Residence Certificate. (The 外僑居留證 wài​qiáo​ jū​liú​zhèng you applied for in step 3 - JFRV/ARC/APRC)

3. Alien Residence Certificate issued by municipality and county (city) government police bureaus (the length of residence should be continuous without disruption). (A 外國人居留證明書 wài​guó​rén​ jū​liú​ zhèng​míng​shū​ issued by NIA that shows your period of residence. IIRC it costs about NT$200.)

4. The arrival and departure dates of foreigners on immigration cards issued by the Immigration Office, Police Agency, Ministry of Interior. (A 外國人入出國日期證明書 wài​guó​rén​ rù​ chū​guó​ rì​qī​ zhèng​míng​shū​ - This can be applied for at NIA, but I didn't have to as the HHRO looked it up for me.)

5. Police Criminal Record Certificate issued by municipality and county (city) government police bureaus during the foreigners’ stay in the R.O.C. (Basically, this is applied for at the FAP. It costs NT$50 and is ready in 3 days.)

6. Certificates of sufficient property or professional skills to be self-reliant or to ensure personal sustainability (adhering to Article 7 of the Enforcement Rules of Nationality Act).

ARC/APRC holders have to submit tax forms proving they have earned more than twice the basic monthly wage. JFRV holders don't need to do this step and need to prove they can support themselves, in my case a 服務證明書 fú​wù​ zhèng​míng​shū​ from my employer was sufficient. You can ask the staff at your HHRO what the require as individual situations may vary. AFAIK, if a JFRV holder is unemployed and is supported by their spouse that is fine too, but then the spouse needs to prove financial ability by means of a 服務證明書.

7. Household registration copy with completed marriage registration (can be enquired online by household registration agency).- applicants failing to submit household registration copy shall enclose wedding certificates, identification certificates of foreign and R.O.C spouses. If you got married in the ROC (as I did), you need to add a marital status certificate (a document issued by Home Affairs, or whatever your country calls it, that states you are married, and to whom), translated into Chinese with all the relevant authentications and apostilles.

ARC/APRC holders do not need this, obviously.

8. Certificates of the basic language command and requirement of Article 3 of Standards for Identification of Basic Language Abilities and Common Sense of National Rights and Duties of Naturalized ROC Citizens. (Basically, this is either certificate proof of three semesters of Chinese Language classes at a government recognised language school, as at most universities where foreigners study Chinese, or you can take the oral or written language test at various HHR offices.)

9. Certificate fee of NT$200.

If the applicants’ countries do not require the certificate to abdicate their nationality, they do not need apply for the certificate. The certificate is issued within 7-10 working days if the applicant qualifies. Once you have the certificate in hand you will need it translated and certified and move on to the next step, renunciation.

 

Step 5: Renunciation of original nationality 申請喪失原屬國國籍 shēn​qǐng sàng​shī​ yuán​ shǔ​guó​ guó​jí​

This step varies greatly from country to country. Some are easy and cheap, some are expensive and difficult, and some don't allow renunciation at all. In most cases you take the Candidature Certificate (translated into English or whichever relevant language and certified as needed) to your representative office in Taiwan (or wherever you contact your government for passports or consular services while living in Taiwan) and apply for renunciation. In my case, South Africa, I went to the South African Liaison Office in Taipei and filled in an application form with my Canditature Certificate. I was assured it would take 6 weeks to complete, but it ended up taking 42 weeks. It is advisable to contact your relevant consular office before step 4 and find out what your renunciation procedures are as they have nothing to do with Taiwan. Once you have a Renunciation Certificate (and are effectively stateless) you can proceed to the next step.

 

Step 6: Appliction for Naturalization 申請歸化國籍 shēn​qǐng​ guī​huà​ guó​jí​

Once you have a Renunciation Certificate you can proceed to your HHRO with the following:

1. Application for Taiwanese Naturalization (including two photographs ).

2. Stateless certificate or certificate stating the abdicating of original nationality or documents issued by foreign affairs institutes as required by the Article of Nationality Act. (Your Renunciation Certificate from your original country: Translated into Chinese and certified by the district court in Taiwan, certified by the ROC mission in your country, apostiled by the department of Foreign Affairs - South Africa, at least - verified by by MOFA.)

3. Legal and valid Alien Residence Certificate or Permanent Residence Certificate. (Your ARC/APRC/JFRV)

4. Alien Residence Certificate issued by the municipality and county (city) government police bureaus, the length of residence should be continuous without disruption. (A 外國人居留證明書 wài​guó​rén​ jū​liú​ zhèng​míng​shū​ issued by NIA that shows your period of residence. IIRC it costs about NT$200.)

5. The arrival and departure of dates of foreigners on immigration cards issued by the Immigration Office, Police Agency, Ministry of Interior (can be enquired online by household registration agency). (A 外國人入出國日期證明書 wài​guó​rén​ rù​ chū​guó​ rì​qī​ zhèng​míng​shū​ - This can be applied for at NIA, but I didn't have to as the HHRO looked it up for me.)

6. Police Criminal Record Certificate issued by municipality and county (city) government police bureaus during aliens’ stay in the R.O.C.

7. Certificates of sufficient property or professional skills to be self-reliant or to ensure personal sustainability (adhering to Article 7 of the Enforcement Rules of Nationality Act).

8. Certificates of the basic language command and requirements of Article 3 of Standards for Identification of Basic Language Abilities and Common Sense of National Rights and Duties of Naturalized ROC Citizens.

9. Household registration copy with completed marriage registration (can be acquired on-line by household registration agency).- applicants failing to submit household registration copy shall enclose wedding certificates, identification certificates of foreign and R.O.C spouses. Those marrying in the R.O.C. shall also enclose the marital status certificate of the foreign spouses translated into Chinese and authenticated by R.O.C. foreign missions.

10. Certificate fee of NT$1,000 (to be paid via postal money order with the Ministry of Interior as the payee).

Numbers 4, 5, 7 and 8 aren't necessary as the HHRO already has them and they were used during the previous step. Also, number 9 is obtained by the HHRO on their computers if you're married to a Taiwanese national. If you aren't it isn't required anyway.

Regular as clockwork, and as efficient as a German Brauhaus, your certificate of naturalization will be ready in 3-4 weeks (they will tell you 4-8 weeks). And on to step 7.

 

Step 7: Application for Taiwanese Residence Certificate (TARC) 申請台灣地區居留證 shēn​qǐng​ Tái​wān​ dì​qū​ jū​liú​zhèng

You take your lovely certificate (And it is lovely!) to the NIA with the following:

1. A Residence Application form (including one 2-inch recent color photograph with white background).

2. Photocopy of the approval of nationality such as the approval for R.O.C. nationality table issued by the Ministry of Interior (the original will be returned after inspection), i.e. the lovely certificate you just got.

3. Certificate fee of NT$400.

4. Registered, stamped and self-addressed envelope.

Again, regular as clockwork, you will receive a beautiful certificate in the mail within 3-4 weeks (they say 4 weeks, but it gets there super fast). This certificate states that you are now a Taiwanese national. You take this certificate back to the NIA offices where they go through a drawer and hand you your 台灣地區居留證 Tái​wān​ dì​qū​ jū​liú​zhèng (TARC). Now you have to wait a minimum of 365 days before the next step.

 

Step 8: Application for Taiwanese Registered Permanent Residency Certificate. 申請台灣定居證 shēn​qǐng​ Tái​wān​ dìng​jū​ zhèng​

After a year you go back to the NIA offices, where the staff at this time already know you by name and treat you like an old friend, ushered ahead of other people waiting their turn.

1. A Permanent Residence Application Form (including one 2-inch colored photograph with white background taken in the recent three months).

2. TARC (Once handed in you don't get it back.)

3. Valid transient record (有效之流動人口登記聯單 yǒu​xiào​ zhī​ liú​dòng​rén​kǒu​ dēng​jì​ lián​ dān​) - Basically a transient population registration form that, if I remember correctly, the NIA staff looked up on their computers.

4. Household registration (for singles, or those married to a foreign national) or citizen Identification Card of R.O.C. spouses issued in the recent three months (if married to a Taiwanese national you can use either or).

5. Health examination certificate certified passed in the recent three months (issued by Department of Health’s appointed hospitals and in compliance with Table B of the health examination items).

6. Other relevant certificates such as photocopy of the household registration. (Which they sort out there.)

7. Registered, stamped and self-addressed envelope.

8. Certificate fee of NT$400.

In 7-10 days you will get a confirmation letter by registered mail that informs you that you may proceed with household registration and application of an ID Card. On to the final step.

 

Step 9: Application for Household Registration anf ID Card 申請戶籍登記及請領國民身分證 shēn​qǐng​ hù​jí​ dēng​jì​ jí​ qǐng​ lǐng​ guó​mín​ shēn​fèn​zhèng​

On receipt of your letter you may proceed to your HHRO. If you applied via the JFRV route you already have household registration and require the following:

1. Residence Certificate from the Immigration Office to inform the applicant to proceed with household registration (that you just received via registered mail).

2. Your houshold registration

3. One colour photograph.

4. NT$50

Applicants who applied via ARC/APRC will first need to apply for household registration (Certificates to prove house ownership, or a letter from your landlord or someone else that is willing to let you use their address to set it up, and other related documents, such as proof that property tax has been paid on the property, are required - as you are already a Taiwanese national and proved language proficiency via a test or attendance at a language school asking the HHRO which documents are required shouldn't be an issue at this stage.)

In 30 minutes or so you should be done, with your Taiwanese ID Card in hand. You are now a fully fledged Taiwanese citizen. Congratulations!

 

This article was written in March 2013, and updated in April 2013. All rights reserved.
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