This is an annual report produced
in conjunction with the Regional Security Office at the American Institute in
Taiwan (AIT) in Taipei. The U.S. maintains unofficial relations with the people
of Taiwan through AIT, a private nonprofit corporation, which performs citizen
and consular services similar to those at diplomatic posts. OSAC
encourages travelers to use
this report to gain baseline knowledge of security conditions in Taiwan.
For more in-depth information, review OSAC’s Taiwan page for original OSAC
reporting, consular messages, and contact information, some of which may be available
only to private-sector representatives with an OSAC password.
current U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory at the date of this report’s
publication assesses Taiwan at Level 1, indicating travelers should exercise
normal precautions. Review OSAC’s report, Understanding
the Consular Travel Advisory System.
Overall Crime and Safety Situation
The U.S. Department of State has
assessed Taipei as being a LOW-threat
location for crime. There is extensive
CCTV coverage throughout Taiwan (30,000 cameras in Taipei, 25,000 in Kaohsiung,
and 35,000 in New Taipei City). The network of security cameras at traffic
intersections, commercial establishments, and public areas of hotels and
residential buildings means that authorities can monitor and/or record most
activity occurring outside of the home. The extensive coverage plays a
significant role in deterring the majority of criminal activity, and most
streets in Taiwan are generally safe.
Pickpockets can be a problem in
crowded areas, especially at various night markets. Exercise the same common
sense precautions as in any large cosmopolitan area, such as maintaining a low
profile and remaining aware of surroundings at all times. Review OSAC’s report, All That You Should
Violent crime against foreigners
is unusual, and overall violent crime rates in Taiwan are among the lowest in
the world. Dial 113 to reach the Taipei Center for the Prevention of
Domestic violence and Sexual Assault.
Residential thefts occur,
particularly in buildings without 24-hour security coverage.
Fraud is an issue in Taiwan.
Victims are primarily located in mainland China and are contacted
telephonically by an individual claiming to represent the police, prosecutor’s
office, government agency, bank, insurance company, or other financial
institution. Many of these frauds are perpetrated by criminals from Taiwan
located in Southeast Asia, North America, Africa, and Europe, making
identification, arrest, and prosecution difficult. Victims should immediately
report fraud through the fraud hotline at 165.
Free Wi-Fi hot spots and internet
cafes are commonly available at airports, hotels, public transportation
hubs, and other areas. Many of these networks are not secure and may be
vulnerable to cyberattacks. Avoid conducting sensitive conversations and/or
financial transactions when using public, unsecured networks. Review OSAC’s reports, Cybersecurity Basics, Best Practices for
Maximizing Security on Public Wi-Fi, Traveling with Mobile
Devices: Trends & Best Practices, and Satellite Phones:
Critical or Contraband?
Road Safety and
Whether driving, bicycling, or
walking, remain especially cautious while in traffic. Traffic in Taiwan moves
on the right side of the road. Taiwan has an extensive list of traffic laws or
regulations, including mandatory use of seatbelts. Additionally, Taiwan has a
zero-tolerance policy for driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while
intoxicated (DWI). Anyone who is convicted of this crime can receive heavy finesy
or a harsh prison sentence. The blood alcohol content limit for drivers in
Taiwan is much lower than the limit in the U.S.
The most challenging aspect of
driving is the multiple streams of scooters and motorcycles on the roads.
Scooter and bicycle accidents are the largest source of accidental U.S. citizen
death in Taiwan, as scooters often fail to obey traffic laws or follow
generally-accepted driving practices. Motor scooters will pass on both sides of
a vehicle. You are legally required to ensure that no motor scooter, bicycle,
or other vehicle is approaching from behind before opening the door. Do not
turn right on a red traffic signal.
Although pedestrians have the
right of way in marked crosswalks, drivers often do not yield; therefore, it is
incumbent on pedestrians to check for traffic when at crosswalks.
Review OSAC’s reports, Road Safety Abroad, Driving Overseas: Best
Practices, and Evasive Driving
Techniques; and read the State Department’s
webpage on driving
and road safety abroad.
All forms of public
transportation are generally safe. Taxis are metered, and drivers are licensed.
All taxi drivers must display their license either on the dashboard or on the
rear of the front passenger seat. This license includes a unique identifying
number for the taxi driver that is useful should patrons need to retrieve
personal items left in taxi cabs or file complaints.
Buses and the subways are safe
and reliable. Directions are posted in English, and several free smartphone
apps list bus and subway routes.
A high-speed rail connects Taipei
to Kaohsiung, with trains running throughout the day.
Review OSAC’s report, Security In Transit:
Airplanes, Public Transport, and Overnights.
Taoyuan International Airport
(TPE) in Taipei and Kaohsiung International Airport (KHH) are Taiwan’s major
airports. Taoyuan airport has many direct flights to the U.S. and is a hub for
Asia. China Airlines and EVA Air are Taiwan’s two major airlines, both of which
have multiple direct flights to the U.S. and other international destinations.
Songshan International Airport (TSA) in Taipei offers flights to cities
including Shanghai, Osaka, and Tokyo.
The roads in eastern Taiwan,
particularly coastal roads, are older and prone to flooding and collapse caused
by typhoons and earthquakes. Road closures in the mountainous and rural areas
are not uncommon during/after typhoons.
The U.S. Department of State has
assessed Taipei as being a LOW-threat
location for terrorism.
Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence
The U.S. Department of State has
assessed Taipei as being a LOW-threat
location for or political violence. Taiwan enjoys a vibrant democracy. Protests
and demonstrations occur on a regular basis in major cities, particularly
during elections. Demonstrations rarely turn violent, although they may become
confrontational between opposing groups. Protest organizers must obtain permits
from the police. Police often set aside areas for demonstrators, and police
presence is clearly visible. Review
OSAC’s report, Surviving a Protest
and Compulsory Military Sercice
Taiwan has compulsory military
service for Taiwan national males between the ages of 18 and 36. This includes
dual U.S./Taiwan citizens who enter Taiwan on their U.S. passports. Authorities
can arrest and/or fine dual U.S./Taiwan citizen males for failure to complete
the compulsory military service.
During the typhoon season (April
through October), Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau issues
typhoon warnings on average six times a year (of which three to four normally
make landfall) and heavy rainstorm alerts more frequently. Typhoons have caused
road closures, major mudslides, and the collapse of buildings/structures.
Taiwan periodically experiences
significant earthquakes of magnitude 6.0 or greater. A 6.4-magnitude earthquake
in 2016 caused 117 deaths and widespread damage. A 7.6-magnitude earthquake in
1999 resulted in the death of more than 2,400 people.
Taiwanese infrastructure elicits
few concerns aside from occasional power outages in rural areas that may result
from earthquakes or typhoons. In Taipei, there is seldom flooding and very
rarely any power outages, even during large typhoons and earthquakes.
Growing economic and business ties
between China and Taiwan have increased concerns that employees might take
corporate trade secrets to China for personal profit. The Trade Secrets law
stipulates a maximum penalty of ten years and fines for such activities; however,
this amendment does not provide investigators with tools (such as wiretapping)
to prevent the theft of trade secrets. Once an employee absconds to China, the
individual is beyond the reach of Taiwan’s prosecutorial system.
Taiwan’s personal information
protection act is very protective of the privacy of Taiwan nationals, and is
designed to prevent the inappropriate dissemination of personal information by
government, law enforcement, or private organizations.
Although rare, there have been
instances in the past where foreign men have been severely injured after directly
engaging with or making overtures toward Taiwan women accompanied by other men.
There are no legal restrictions
on same-sex relations or the organization of LGBTI events in Taiwan. Taiwan law
prohibits education and employment discrimination on the basis of sexual
orientation. In May of 2019, Taiwan was the first place in Asia to legalize
same-sex marriage. However, LGBTI
individuals may still face a lack of tolerance, particularly in areas outside
the capital and largest city Taipei. See Section 6 of Human Rights Practices in the
State Department’s Human Rights Report for Taiwan and read the
Department’s LGBTI Travel Information page.
Taiwan law prohibits
discrimination against persons with disabilities and sets minimum fines for
violations. By law, new public buildings, facilities, and transportation
equipment must be accessible to persons with disabilities. Review the State Department’s webpage on
security for travelers
Drugs are increasingly available.
In particular, there is increasing use of Ketamine and methamphetamine among
young people. Narcotics (such as heroin) are also available. Taiwan authorities
treat all drug violations very seriously. Penalties for possession, use, or
trafficking in illegal drugs (including marijuana) in Taiwan are severe;
convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Taiwan
shows no leniency for medical or recreational marijuana. Taiwan also has the
death penalty for certain violent crimes and drug offenses.
Police harassment of law-abiding
citizens is rare. Conditions of police detention are generally consistent with
international practice. Suspects have the following rights: the right to know
what crime the suspect has been accused of; the right to remain silent; the right
to contact an attorney; and the right to request police to investigate evidence
favorable to the suspect.
If detained, contact American
Citizen Services at AIT at (02) 2162-2000. A Consular officer will attempt to
visit the detained individual within 48 hours.
emergency line in Taiwan is 119. Contact emergency police at 110, and
the fire department at 119. Police rarely have CPR training, though most firefighters do. Download
the State Department’s Crime Victims Assistance brochure.
The Foreign Affairs Police (FAP),
part of the National Police Agency (NPA) tasked with assisting foreigners in
distress or requiring assistance, has English-speaking officers at all major
police precincts during normal working hours. The FAP also maintains a 24-hour
service center that is staffed by English-speaking officers. Contact
information is as follows: Taipei: (02) 2556-6007; Kaohsiung: (07) 281-5019; all
other areas within Taiwan: (02) 2394-0238.
The NPA performs police and law
enforcement functions in Taiwan. NPA’s primary missions are to maintain public
order, uphold the safety of Taiwan’s citizens and society, prevent hazards, and
promote the welfare of Taiwan’s citizens. NPA conducts criminal investigations,
enforces laws, and performs many of the same functions conducted by local,
state, and federal law enforcement agencies in the U.S.
The Ministry of Justice,
Investigations Bureau (MJIB) is responsible for national security and
investigating major crimes. MJIB’s national security mandate includes
counter-terrorism, counter-infiltration, domestic security investigations,
coordination of national internal security, and protection of national secrets.
MJIB also investigates public corruption, economic crimes, drug crimes, money
laundering, and cybercrimes.
The National Immigration Agency
(NIA) is responsible for enforcing and investigating violations of Taiwan’s
immigration laws. NIA officers staff Taiwan’s air and sea ports of entries. NIA
also provides extensive services to foreign spouses and children of Taiwan
nationals, including counseling, language classes, and protection hotlines.
The Coast Guard Administration
(CGA) is the civilian law enforcement agency tasked with protecting the
resources of Taiwan’s territorial waters, providing first-line defense along
coastal areas against smugglers and illegal immigrants, maintaining law and
order, and conducting search and rescue operations in Taiwan’s territorial waters.
The Customs Directorate (DGOC) is
part of the Ministry of Finance and is charged with enforcing Taiwan’s customs
policies and regulations. DGOC collects customs duties, taxes, and fees,
prevents smuggling, and enforces government controls.
To detect and prevent the spread
of diseases, Taiwan scans the body temperature of all arriving passengers with
an infrared thermal apparatus. Symptomatic passengers must fill out a form and
may need to give an onsite specimen or see local health authorities.
Taiwan has modern medical
facilities, with state-of-the-art equipment available at many hospitals and
clinics. Physicians are well trained, and many have studied in the U.S. and
speak English. Hospital nursing services provide medication and wound care, but
generally do not provide the daily patient care functions found in U.S. hospitals.
Ambulances usually have emergency equipment and supplies and carry trained
medical personnel.For a list of clinics and hospitals in Taiwan, see the
American Institute in Taiwan’s Medical Assistance webpage.
U.S. Department of State strongly recommends purchasing international health
insurance before traveling internationally. Most hospitals accept only cash
payments. Review the State Department’s webpage on insurance
Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance
The CDC suggests that travelers
receive vaccinations for hepatitis A and B and routine childhood immunizations.
The Japanese encephalitis vaccine is recommended for travelers to rural farm
areas. The CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance
In recent years, Taiwan has seen
a significant increase in cases of dengue fever, a virus common in subtropical
regions that is spread through mosquito bites. There is currently no vaccine or
medicine to prevent dengue. Travelers can protect themselves by preventing
Be especially careful about
medications. Always carry your prescription. Note that only limited quantities
of medicines are permitted. Marijuana is never permitted, even with a
prescription, and neither are some other medications that are classified in
Taiwan as narcotics, for instance some ADHD medicines. U.S. citizens have been
arrested and imprisoned for importing these types of drugs, whether in person
or by mail.
OSAC Country Council Information
There is an active OSAC Country Council
in Taipei. OSAC constituents who are interested in participating in the Country
Council or connecting with the Regional Security Officer (RSO) should contact
OSAC’s East Asia-Pacific team.
in Taiwan (AIT) Contact Information
Number 100, Jinhu Road, Neihu District 11461, Taipei City
Hours of Operation: Monday-Friday 0800-1200 and
1300-1700 (excluding U.S. and Taiwanese holidays)
Switchboard: (02) 2162-2000
Kaohsiung Office: (07)
you travel, consider the following resources: