In an effort to treat foreign residents equally, Taiwan's Ministry of the Interior responded to complaints of foreign residents by changing the ARC Uniform ID numbering system to match the format used by Taiwan citizens. Because of this, every foreigner must change their ARC number the next time they change or update their ARC card starting Jan. 1 2021. So what do you need to do after your ARC number has changed?
The following is a list I have compiled from my own personal experience. The list will likely be different for each person, but many of the same things will likely also apply to you.
So what do you need to change after your ARC card uniform ID changes?
Digital Citizen Card 自然人憑證:
I had to apply for a new digital citizen card because the old ID on my old Digital Certificate is invalid. I applied for this at the same time as my new ARC at the counter. I then waited four days for the authorities to mail the new card to my house for free. After that, I completed the online card registration, which took 10 minutes to set up.
For our full guide on the Alien Digital Certificate, check out our blog here.
Bank Account 銀行賬戶:
I only have one bank account with CTBC Bank. First I tried calling them and waited on the line for 10 minutes with no answer. Then one day I took my ARC and bank card to the nearest bank branch in person. I spent 20 minutes at the bank to change my ARC information. The good thing about CTBC bank is there is no need to change online banking password or account name.
However my direct debit with my church was messed up despite the tellers' promise it wouldn't be. It took me a good hour to set up the direct debit again, and I spent 26 NT on postage.
Other banks are not so efficient. For instance I have heard for Mega Bank they ask you to close your account and open a new one. But there are too many other banks in Taiwan so I can't speak for each one. But you can see the section below for credit cards; I can assure you their policies for bank accounts are the same.
Credit Cards 信用卡
Cathay Bank Credit Card 國泰世華信用卡: First I spent 10 minutes on the phone, at that time I didn't have the new ARC so couldn't make the change, but they told me to call again once I had it and fax the new copy to them.
Later I decided to go in person to the bank because I happened to be nearby. Big mistake. I ended up spending an hour at the bank waiting, because for some reason I was put in the same line as new account opening. Finally I signed a form to show my ID change. Then my online banking was offline for three days. Then when it came online I needed to reset username and password. After that, I spent about 30 minutes finding the new bank account number that I was supposed to use to pay my credit card bill, because it changed! Then I had to reset reset my e-tag direct debit and also Taipei City parking direct debit, which took about 10 minutes with a simple phone call.
Shanghai Bank 上海商銀信用卡: After sitting in line for an hour at Cathay Bank, I was not going through that ordeal again. This time I called them and they had already received the new ARC number change from the government; the call lasted less than 10 minutes. They cancelled my online banking and it took about a week before I could log in with the new details. Then I completed the new online banking after I got a text from them, I changed my online bank account and password, but I couldn't use it for a day.
Then I found that the bank account number that I was supposed to use to pay my credit card bill had changed, and I spent about half an hour online before I found it.
Car/Scooter License 汽機車駕照:
I spent about 30 minutes at the DMV, which required taking a new photo which cost 150 NT, then 50 NT per license. All I had to do is turn in my old licenses and show them my new ARC card.
Car/Scooter Registration 汽機車型照:
After the licenses were updated, I had to update the registration certificate for both scooter and car. This is free, but I had to stand in line for about 30 minutes. Also, if you do not have insurance coverage you cannot make the change, so make sure it has not lapsed.
I called E-tag and they changed my account, and transferred the money over in about 10 minutes. I had to re-make an E-tag account with the new ARC number, which took about 10 minutes. All past driving records were gone.
Car/Scooter insurance 騎機車保險: No need to change. Just wait for it to expire and update your info when you buy new insurance, this is what everyone told me.
Health insurance 醫療險: I called my insurance broker to change my ID number, it took about 5 minutes. Who knows how long it took them.
NHI and Labor insurance 勞健保: The immigration office told me that I had to give my employer a copy of my new ID so they could change my Labor insurance and NHI information. This is especially important for Labor Insurance apparently because time on the old ID doesn't count for coverage (or something to that affect).
NHI Card 健保卡:
First of all, you don't have to change your NHI card, but you should. In the future you cannot use it online for filing taxes. I spent an hour applying for this at the post office. I took two trips because the first time I came ten minutes after the post office bank had closed. I had to fill out a form and bring a 2 inch photo. Total cost was 200 NT and it took a week to process and it was mailed to my house. Having a new NHI card with my photo and Chinese name is nice.
I kept my old NHI card, they didn't ask for it. I found out I can still actually use it too, it is handy to have as a backup ID.
Drone Registration 空拍機注冊:
My drone is currently registered under the civil aviation bureau under my old ID. But because I still have my old NHI card I can still access my account online. It took me about 5 minutes to realize that. I probably should "re-register" the drone under my new ID but I won't because who cares, I will probably never be asked for this.
Store Memberships 商店會員:
Costco Membership 好市多會員:
This was the easiest one. I handed my new ARC and Costco card to the membership counter and she entered in the change within 30 seconds. That was it.
IKEA said they could not change my membership. I have to apply for a new one. This means every time I shop at IKEA I have to tell them my old ID number.
Total Time and Money Spent 總共花費的時間與金錢:
Total time spent with the changes: 5 hours 36 minutes
Total money spent: 676 NT
Total improvement to my life: none that I can tell.
What if I don't change my ARC ID number because I have an APRC?
Nothing will happen for the next ten years. It's free this year, but afterward you need to pay 1000 NT for the change. There is a ten-year grace period, after which it will be compulsory for APRC holders. Also the old format may be replaced on many online platforms.
What if I don't apply for any of the changes above after I get my new ARC ID number?
Just rip off the band-aid and get it done. It's not fair, but there will be worse problems if you do not make changes now.
The National Immigration Agency and Ministry of Interior really messed up on this one, because contrary to their online news statement, the new ARC number format is actually not compatible with the Taiwanese citizen ID format. This is because the second number of the ID is different. Therefore the original purpose for changing the ID is invalidated. Many foreigners still have problems entering their IDs online, and still have to enter them into a special "foreign resident ID" box.
In answer to these problems, the NIA says that if you find a company or website that is not in compliance with the new format, you need to call them to report it. So basically it means the government and companies in Taiwan need to change their system coding to allow for the new ID format.
If this is the final outcome, then the government did not need to change the ARC ID format in the first place. They could have just forced everyone to allow for the old ARC ID format on their systems.
But now all foreigners in Taiwan are burdened with the extra step of changing all their personal ID information, which takes hours, and much of which must be completed during working hours. They could at least give foreigners a day off from work to complete all this. Also, all fees for this from government agencies should be waved, it is really unfair that we have to pay for the government's mistakes, and also have to take time off of work to complete these steps.
Also I should say I completed these processes relatively fast because I can speak, read, and write Chinese. Many foreigners in Taiwan do not have good Chinese ability so this process may take them considerably longer.
As per the words of Digital Minister Audrey Tang, "...I have to say I’m yet to find anything easier because of the new [ARC number] format. Please do let me know if there are any benefits to the new format."
For more information about the changes, you can check out this blog from Translating in Taiwan: www.translatingtaiwan.com//2021/02/04/afterthechange/
We are US Expats that have extensive experience living, working, and travelling in Taiwan. In our day, we had to learn many things about Taiwan the hard way. But we have come to learn that Taiwan is one of the best places in the world for Foreigners to live. Our blog does not represent the opinions of every foreigner in Taiwan. We are just trying to help others learn more about this beautiful country.