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Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet for Taiwan

Taiwan - Consular Information Sheet
March 30, 2001

DESCRIPTION: Taiwan is a stable democracy, and it has a strong and well-developed economy. Tourist facilities are widely available.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A passport is required. Travelers can obtain a visa prior to arrival in Taiwan at a Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in the U.S. (maximum 60 day stay), apply for a landing visa upon arrival (maximum 30 day stay), or apply for entry under the Visa Waiver Program (14 day stay). Taiwan previously required that U.S. visitors to Taiwan hold passports valid for at least six months from the date of expected departure. In some instances, this is no longer the case: Taiwan now considers U.S. passports valid for return to the United States for six months beyond the expiration date of the passport. If the passport contains a Taiwan visa issued abroad, the traveler may be admitted for up to sixty days even if the passport will expire during the period of stay. If the traveler applies for a landing visa upon arrival, he or she will be admitted for 30 days or up to the day the passport expires, whichever comes first. A traveler who applies for entry under the Visa Waiver Program must have a passport valid for six months after the planned departure date.

PLEASE NOTE: No extension of stay or change of status is allowed if the traveler enters on the Visa Waiver Program. For specific information about entry requirements, travelers may contact the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO), 4201 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20016-2137, via either its main telephone number,(202) 895-1800, or its visa section telephone number,(202) 895-1814. The main fax number at TECRO is (202) 363-0999, and the visa section fax number is (202) 895-0017. There is also an Internet address: http://www.taipei.org/tecro.htm. TECO (Taipei Economic and Cultural Office) also has offices in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Guam, Honolulu, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco and Seattle.

In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.

CRIME: Although Taiwan is considered a medium risk location for crime, the overall violent crime rate in Taiwan remains relatively low. Travelers should avoid business establishments such as massage parlors, illegal "barbershops", and illegal "nightclubs" because many of these establishments are run by criminals and are located in high crime areas. In contrast to their counterparts, legal barbershops prominently display the usual grooming services, and illegal nightclubs have no advertisement and are publicized by word of mouth only. Public transportation, including the buses and the subway, is generally safe in Taiwan, but women should exercise caution when traveling alone in taxis late at night. In the past few years there have been several incidents of violence committed by taxi drivers against female passengers traveling alone. In the central and southern parts of Taiwan, incidents of purse snatching by thieves on motorcycles have been reported.

Local police departments have foreign affairs sections that are normally staffed by English-speaking officers. Police contact numbers for the major cities in Taiwan are as follows: Taipei (02)2556-6007, Kaohsiung (07) 215-4342, Tainan (06) 222-9704, Taichung (04) 327-3875, Taitung (089) 322-034, ext. 2122, Pingtung (08) 732-2156, ext. 2122. The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police, and to the American Institute in Taiwan, at Taipei or Kaohsiung. Useful information on guarding valuables and protecting personal security while traveling abroad is provided in the Department of State pamphlet, A Safe Trip Abroad. It is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/.

DUAL NATIONALITY AND COMPULSORY MILITARY SERVICE: Taiwan law provides for compulsory military service. Men between the ages of 18 and 45 who were born in Taiwan or who have ever held a Taiwan passport should be aware that they may be subject to compulsory military service in Taiwan, even if they are also U.S. citizens, and even if they have entered Taiwan on U.S. passports. Affected individuals are urged to consult with the nearest office of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in the United States before visiting Taiwan to determine whether they are subject to the military service requirement.

MEDICAL FACILITIES: Health facilities in Taiwan are fully adequate for routine and emergency medical treatment. Physicians are well trained and many have studied in the United States and speak English. State of the art medical equipment is available at many clinics and hospitals. Ambulances are available in Taiwan but are not like those in the United States. There are no trained Emergency Medical System Technicians accompanying the ambulance, unless one lives within 2 kilometers of National Taiwan University Hospital or Veterans General Hospital. For information on specific clinics and hospitals, please refer to the AIT web page at http://www.ait.org.tw.

MEDICAL INSURANCE: Doctors and hospitals in Taiwan expect immediate cash payment for health services. The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the
United States. However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas, including emergency services such as medical evacuations.

When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing service, and that a medical evacuation to the United States may cost well in excess of $50,000. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme difficulties, whereas travelers who have purchased overseas medical insurance have, when a medical emergency occurs, found it life-saving. When consulting with your insurer prior to your trip, please ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider or if you will be reimbursed later for expenses that you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.

Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs' brochure, Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via the Bureau's home page and autofax service.

OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747), fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or may access the CDC home page on the Internet: http://www.cdc.gov/.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. Roads in Taiwan's major cities are generally congested, and the many scooters and motorcycles that weave in and out of traffic make driving conditions worse. Pedestrians should exercise caution when crossing streets because many drivers may not respect their right of way. Special caution should be taken when driving on mountain roads, which are typically narrow, winding, and poorly banked, and which may be made impassable by mudslides after heavy rains. The information below concerning Taiwan is provided for general reference only, and it may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Safety of Public Transportation: Good
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Good

For specific information concerning Taiwan's driver's permits, vehicle inspection road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact your nearest TECO office.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Civil Aviation Authority of Taiwan as Category 1 -- in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Taiwan's air carrier operations.

For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at telephone 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA Internet home page at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at telephone 1-618-229-4801.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and do not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating the law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict, and convicted offenders can expect severe jail sentences and fines. Taiwan law provides for the death penalty for some narcotics offenses.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: The International Community Radio Taipei (ICRT) provides all of Taiwan with English-language programming 24 hours a day. In the event of an emergency or an approaching typhoon, travelers should tune their radios to FM 100.7. English speakers experiencing a personal crisis in Taiwan can contact the Community Services Center in Taipei at telephone (02) 2836-8134 or 2838-4947 to arrange counseling or to contact a support group.

DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: Taiwan is subject to strong earthquakes that can occur anywhere on the island. Taiwan is also hit by typhoons, usually from July to October. Travelers planning a trip to Taiwan can obtain general information about natural disaster preparedness on the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov/. Additional information about currently active typhoons can be obtained on the University of Hawaii tropical storm page at http://www.solar.ifa.hawaii.edu/Tropical/tropical.html. The Central Weather Bureau of Taiwan also maintains a web site that provides information about typhoons and earthquakes. Its Internet address is http://www.cwb.gov.tw.

CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information on international adoption of children, international parental child abduction, and international child support enforcement issues, please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's issues.html or telephone (202) 736-7000.

REGISTRATION AND PASSPORTS: Unofficial relations with the people of Taiwan are conducted through the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), whose offices are authorized by law to perform American citizen services. U.S. citizens are encouraged to register at AIT Taipei or AIT Kaohsiung, and to obtain updated information on travel and security. Registration can be done on-line by visiting the AIT web-site at http://www.ait.org.tw. The American Institute in Taiwan does not issue U.S. passports, but it accepts passport applications and forwards them to the Passport Agency in Honolulu for processing. Processing time takes three to four weeks. In an emergency, the American Institute in Taiwan can issue a travel letter to permit a U.S. citizen who has lost a passport to return to the United States or to travel to Hong Kong where he or she may apply for a passport at the U.S. Consulate General.

For assistance, U.S. citizen travelers may contact the American Institute in Taiwan at No.7 Lane 134, Hsin Yi Road Section 3, Taipei, Taiwan, telephone (886-2) 2709-2000; fax (886-2) 2709-0908; or the American Institute in Taiwan branch office at No. 2 Chung Cheng 3rd Road, 5th Floor, Kaohsiung, Taiwan, telephone (886-7) 238-7744; fax (886-7) 238-5237. AIT's citizens services section can also be contacted by e-mail at aitamcit@mail.ait.org.tw. In case of emergencies after working hours, the duty officer at the American Institute in Taiwan at Taipei may be contacted at telephone (886-2) 2709-2013.

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