Using your International Drivers License in Taiwan
Tired of back seat driving? If you plan to stay for a maximum time of three months in Taiwan, you can only use your International Drivers License. International Drivers Licenses are issued in your home country. The application for an International Drivers License (sometimes called an "International Drivers Permit") can verify from country to country, but generally you should be able to apply for an International Drivers License when you have a local drivers license already from your home country. After paying a minimal fee an International Drivers License will be issued to you, typically valid for a period of 1 to 5 years. (1 year in Canada)
International drivers license for driving in Taiwan (for Americans)
When applying for your international drivers license, you will need to show your home country’s drivers license and bring your passport and proper sized photographs. In the United States you can apply for an IDP through AAA or the National Automobile Club. Click here for more information about the US IDP. If you are looking to get an international drivers license (For Canada and the USA ) for driving legally in Taiwan it’s a good idea as the fine for driving without one is around NT$6000 and you can be sued for damages caused from an accident. You can simply go to any AAA (Triple-A) branch and get one for about US$15. You are not required to take a test, and it’s not necessary to be a AAA member.
Note: If the visa you have is for any duration less than one year, you cannot get a Taiwan driver's license. You will need to use your international drivers license.
What you will need:
- 2 passport photos
- $15 for the fee
- Your valid state / provincial drivers license (You might want to call the AAA branch ahead of time to make sure they don't require anything further).
It’s a good idea to AAA them record the "valid start date" of the license as the first day that you will be arriving in Taiwan.
A couple more things to make note of:
- In order to be officially recognized and valid in Taiwan, you must have one of the Taiwan embassies in the US verify and stamp the license.
- You'll want to contact your local Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the USA (that's what they call Taiwanese Embassies). Source: http://www.taiwanembassy.org/US/
Once you get that taken care of and eventually arrive in a Taiwan City, be sure to set aside a couple hours one day to visit the Motor Vehicle office in your city (MOTC). They'll review your visa, your Taiwan-Embassy-validated international license, and the regulations of your state's driver's license, and then they will give you official papers to legally drive in Taiwan for 90 days. This allows you to drive a car or a 50 c.c.cc moped -- however, depending upon your state driver's license's regulations, they may approve you to drive larger-sized mopeds or motorcycles. (Bonus: there's no service fee AT ALL to verify and approve your international license)
If, by chance, you need more than 90 days, you simply go back to the same place and get the international license re-verified for an additional 90 days.
Contact your local Taiwan embassy closest to you for resource for any and all additional questions you may have.
After you have your International Drivers License
OK - so, you want to be able to drive once you get to Taiwan. And, before you left, you went down to the CAA and got your International Driver’s License. But you’re a little unsure - international license, local license, driving visa; scooter, endorsement, 50 c.c. regular heavy, or super million c.c. motorcycle. Here’s what you need to know to be able to drive immediately when you arrive in Taiwan.
Let’s begin with an examination of the two basic groups of people who find themselves foreigners in Taiwan and wanting to drive.
- HAVE A VISA WHICH IS GOOD FOR LESS THAN 1 YEAR, e.g. a 30-60 DAY VISA
- HAVE AN INTERNATIONAL DRIVERS’ LICENSE UP THROUGH YOUR FIRST YEAR In Taiwan
- HAVE A VISA WHICH IS GOOD FOR 1 YEAR OR LONGER, .Eg. visa ARC through employment
- MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE AN INTERNATIONAL DRIVER’S LICENSE
Arriving in Taiwan for the first time most of us find ourselves with just a 30-60 day visitors’ visa. Then, we often find ourselves heading out of the country a few times to get a new 30-60 day visitors’ visa before making any long-term decisions. If the visa you have is for any duration less than one year, you can’t get a Taiwan driver’s license and you need to use your international drivers’ license to drive.
Not to worry: the local system is set to accommodate you. When you get your International Driver’s License, be sure it allows you to drive both cars and motorcycles. (In most cases, this requires an extra written test at your back-home DMV before you apply.) Then, you can drive in Taiwan from the time you touch down for up to a full year using your international driver’s license. However, most of us find ourselves in Taiwan beyond that year - so, it also pays to get a local license.
Driving in Taiwan with Your License
Foreigners wanting to drive in the Republic of China (ROC) should first meet the driver's qualifications stipulated in the ROC driving regulations. And the issuance of driving licenses to foreigners is based on the "principles of equality and reciprocity" between the ROC and the counterpart nations.
Foreigners holding valid driver's licenses issued by a counterpart nation that upholds the "principles of equality and reciprocity" may lawfully drive vehicles in the first thirty days coming to Taiwan. There is no need to apply for another driving license. For those planning to drive for more than 30 days should first apply for motor vehicle extension at respective city and county governments. The maximum extension time is one year.
So basically if you plan to stay in Taiwan for only a year, you can use an International Drivers Permit issued in your home country. If you plan to stay in Taiwan for more than 1 year, or you don't have an International Drivers Permit (or it's not recognized officially by Taiwan) you can apply for a local Obtaining a Taiwanese Drivers License.
Getting a local license instead of driving with your international Drivers License
Expats that are holding a Taiwan Alien Residence Certificate (ARC) without a driver's license or holding a driver's license from a non-reciprocating country are not allowed to drive, and are only legally permitted to drive after passing the driving test and obtaining an ROC driver's license. If you are planning on staying in Taiwan for more than 6 months to 1 year, you should look into getting a local drivers license. Click the link below for information on getting a local drivers license for both cars and motorcycles. Be prepared though, you will need at minimum the following:
- Passport with at least 6 months validity
- Valid ARC (Alien Resident Certificate; (see Visas and getting an ARC section)
- 3 passport size photos (2.4 cm by 3 cm)
Again here's the link for learning more about getting a local license: Obtaining a Taiwanese Drivers License.