Although there is some controversy about whether Taiwan is a province of China or an independent country, for all day-to-day purposes visitors to Taiwan can assume that the island is a separate country. It has its own currency and banks in addition to its own visa requirements. The Taiwanese economy is among the 20 largest in the world, and is underpinned by a strong, reliable, and efficient banking system.
Money in Taiwan
The currency used in Taiwan is the New Taiwan Dollar, usually abbreviated (in English) to NT$, NTD, NT dollar or TWD. The New Taiwan Dollar is subdivided into 100 cents and is issued by both the Bank of Taiwan and the Central Bank of the Republic of China. In common usage the Taiwan dollar is often simply referred to as the yuán, although this is not to be confused with the Chinese yuán of the mainland.
- Notes: 100, 200, 500, 1000 NT dollars
- Coins: 1, 5, 10, 20, 50 NT dollars
#Note that it can be difficult to exchange foreign currency to NT dollars outside of Taiwan, so foreigners entering or leaving Taiwan should plan to convert their cash at a Taiwanese airport.
Banks in Taiwan
Taiwan has plenty of sound banking institutions to choose from. Local banks that are popular with expats include International Commercial Bank of China, ChinaTrust Bank, Bank of Taiwan and Taichung Bank. Alternatively, expats can look to opening an account at a local branch of a foreign bank, such as HSBC, Citibank or Standard Chartered.
While it’s recommended expats go the foreign bank route, it’s not always possible – as some employers (especially in the ESL world) will insist that they pay your salary via direct deposit into a Taiwanese bank account.
Internet banking is popularizing in Taiwan. Anyhow, some Taiwanese banks don’t have English versions of their web sites! (DBS, HSB, First Bank, Bank SinoPac, Citibank, and Chinatrust provide online English-interfaced services.)
*Bank opening times: 9AM to 3.30PM, Monday to Friday
*ATMs Service: Widely available everywhere, especially in convenient stores(7/24), all offering English interface.
– Compatibility: Foreign credit or debit cards (with Plus or Cirrus symbols) can be used to withdraw cash, but they will incur charges. Many ATMs will accept cards on the Cirrus or Plus system, and some on the Accel, Star or Interlink systems as well, but some will only accept Taiwanese cards.
– Service Fee: Using your Taiwanese ATM card at a machine operated by a different bank, will incur NT$ 5 and NT$15 fee if you withdraw cash or transfer money, respectively.
– Available Function: Withdraw / transfer money / pay your bills.
*Credit cards: are accepted by hotels and large retail outlets, but less so in smaller establishments. It is common practice in Taiwan to use cash whenever possible.
Opening a Bank Account in Taiwan
To open a bank account, must appear in person at the bank of their choice, in possession of the following:
- Passport, and copies of information and visa pages
- Alien Registration Card (ARC)
- An initial deposit of at least NT$ 1000
- It is not necessary, but recommended, that you get a Taiwanese colleague to write out your full name, address and contact information in Mandarin for you – for ease of capturing at the bank.
This should ensure that a ‘demand deposit’ account is opened for you. Usually, your ATM card will arrive in the post about a week or later – remember to request a card with a Plus or Cirrus symbol on it, so you can access your Taiwanese funds from outside the country, if needed. Some banks will ask you to wait while they process your application and will give you a card on the spot.
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