Banking and Finance
Foreign nationals (including Gold Card holders) still face some difficulties with the banking and finance system in Taiwan. The best starting point is to mentally prepare and allocate sufficient time (half a day for opening an account). Once you are able to get an account or a credit card, life becomes a lot easier. You can now transfer money to friends or vendors, set up automatic payment for utilities, and have access to any online transactions.
Banks provide special service to GC holders
Some banks offer special services to gold card holders, including custom credit cards and easier access to accounts. You may find more information HERE .
What you need to prepare to open a bank account in Taiwan
- Your Gold Card - must have your address printed on the front.
- A stamp/seal/chop* with your Mandarin name on it. Most banks will let you substitute using a signature or fingerprint.
- Your Passport
*You may obtain a chop from local key shops or chop making stores. It normally takes 2 days to make. If you have an official Mandarin name, Chinese chop will be sufficient. If you don’t, you may get a chop with your English name. Your Chinese or English name must match that on your passport.
The approach to opening a bank account
There is no such thing as a universally “foreigner friendly” bank in Taiwan and service varies wildly between branches. The best branch is the one closest to your home or work - you’ll be visiting there a lot, and can become quite close with the staff. You may initially be told that a bank doesn’t provide service to foreign residents - be friendly, polite, and firm, explain your professional background and that you are a resident with long-term ambitions in Taiwan. Tell the staff that you know it will take a while and apologise for the trouble. Don’t ask for a credit card on your first visit.
Key things to mention:
- You want to enable internet banking. It’s not always turned on! Check with the clerk, ask them to assist you by setting up the banking app to make sure all features are enabled.
- You want a foreign currency or multi-currency account along with your NTD account. This is important and much more convenient if you intend to do international transfers. For more information about wire transfers, please visit HERE .
- You want a “visa debit” card if one is available. These cards can be used like credit cards online and have a lot more utility than the standard ATM card.
You want “international” ATM access. You will need to set an additional password at the branch ATM, staff can help.
Note: Not all global banks have linked accounts to their Taiwan branches. HSBC offers this for their Advance or Premier customers. Citibank will soon exit Taiwan.
While opening your account, you will be asked to sign a form that asks questions about whether you are a USA citizen or resident. You will also be asked to provide information about your other citizenships and tax residencies. This is normal, and not unique to Taiwan. CRS (global) and FATCA (USA only) are inter-government data sharing systems to prevent money laundering and tax evasion.
Receiving Wire Transfers
The easiest way to receive funds from overseas is to open a foreign currency deposit account at the same bank where you opened your Taiwan Dollar account. Along with the foreign currency bank account number you will receive a SWIFT code. You will use these two numbers to send transfers from overseas banks. Make sure the receiver’s name is EXACTLY the same or the wire will be rejected. When the bank receives the wire you will need to confirm receipt. Some banks will do this over the phone while others will require you to go to the branch. Once the funds are received you can exchange the foreign currency into Taiwan Dollars and deposit into your Taiwan Dollar account. For currency exchange some banks will make you come into the branch while others will let you do it online.
Your first credit card in Taiwan is difficult to obtain since you have no credit history. The best thing to do is open a bank account first, put some money in, and build a relationship with your local branch. If the bank won’t give you a credit card after this, put on some nice clothes and go to your local COSTCO during a quiet time (with your Gold Card, passport, NHI card, and local drivers license). Explain to the credit card salespeople that you want to sign up. Take the same approach as in the bank, talking about your profession and long-term plans for Taiwan. Offer to get a receipt from the ATM showing your impressive bank balance. If you are employed and receiving a salary in Taiwan, it will be easier to obtain a credit card if you bank at the same bank as your employer. Request your employer’s HR department or bank liaison to accompany you to the bank and help you apply.
The financial year in Taiwan runs from 1st January to December 31, and filing and payment for income tax happens during May of the following year. While there is no minimum limit on the number of days Gold Card holders are required to stay in Taiwan, the number of days you do stay affects your tax obligations.
Always seek professional advice for taxes, but very generally, once you stay in Taiwan for more than 90 days in a calendar year, you start to have tax obligations - even if you are working for an overseas company. Once you stay for more than 183 days you are generally considered a tax resident, and able to access progressive tax rates and other benefits. As a Gold Card holder, if it’s your first time coming to Taiwan for work, and your salary exceeds NTD 3 million, you may be eligible for a tax reduction of 50% for the amount over 3 million.
The National Taxation Bureau provides free professional taxation consultation sessions in English and Japanese. The phone number is (02)2311-3711 ext, 1116