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Taiwan 2017 Crime & Safety Report

East Asia & Pacific > Taiwan; East Asia & Pacific > Taiwan > Kaohsiung

Overall Crime and Safety Situation

The American Institute in Taiwan does not assume responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons or firms appearing in this report. The ACS Unit cannot recommend a particular individual or location and assumes no responsibility for the quality of service provided.

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED TAIPEI AS BEING A LOW-THREAT LOCATION FOR CRIME DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.

Please review OSAC’s Taiwan-webpage for proprietary analytic reports, Consular Messages, and contact information.

Crime Threats

There is minimal street crime in Taiwan, and violent crime is rare.

Extensive surveillance camera coverage (roads, commercial establishments, public areas of hotels/residential buildings) ensures that most activity occurring in public spaces can be monitored and recorded, which serves as a significant deterrent to crime.

Pickpocketing and petty theft can occur, and travelers should pay close attention to personal belongings, particularly in crowded areas (night markets, large-scale public events). Residential thefts occur, especially in buildings without 24-hour security coverage.

Fraud is a recurring concern. Victims are usually contacted telephonically by an individual claiming to represent the police, prosecutor’s office, other government agency or the victim’s bank, insurance company, or other financial institution. Many of these incidents are perpetrated by criminals in mainland China or Southeast Asia, presenting challenges to identification, arrest, and prosecution efforts. Victims should immediately report fraud through the fraud hotline at 165.

Violent crime against foreigners is generally uncommon, but isolated incidents may occur.

Cybersecurity Issues

Cybercrime is an emerging concern. Visitors should always make an effort to protect their personally identifiable information (PII). Advance-fee fraud scams perpetrated via email have been reported. Discretion is encouraged when connecting to wireless networks in hotels, business centers, or Wi-Fi “hotspots,” like those offered by coffee shops, as such networks may not be secure.

Transportation-Safety Situation

Road Safety and Road Conditions

Taiwan is left-side drive. Taiwan has an extensive list of traffic laws/regulations, including mandatory use of seatbelts.

The most challenging aspect of driving is the multiple streams of scooters and motorcycles. Scooter and bicycle accidents are the largest source of accidental American citizen deaths in Taiwan, as scooters often fail to obey traffic laws or follow generally-accepted driving practices.

Public Transportation Conditions

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 for retrieving personal items left in taxi cabs or for filing complaints.

Buses and subway systems are generally considered safe and reliable and are used by locals and foreigners alike. Directions are posted in English on buses and in the subway system, and there are several free phone apps available that provide subway and bus routes.

A high-speed rail connects Taipei to Kaohsiung, with trains running throughout the day. 

Aviation/Airport Conditions

Taoyuan airport (TPE) in Taipei and the Kaohsiung airport (KHH) are major airports, with Songshan airport (TSA) in Taipei offering regional flights. Taoyuan airport has many direct flights to the U.S. and is a hub for Asia.

Other Travel Conditions

The roads in eastern Taiwan, particularly coastal roads, are older and prone to flooding and collapse as a result of typhoons and earthquakes. Road closures in the mountainous and rural areas are not uncommon during/after typhoons. 

Terrorism Threat

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED TAIPEI AS BEING A LOW-THREAT LOCATION FOR TERRORIST ACTIVITY DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.

Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED TAIPEI AS BEING A LOW-THREAT LOCATION FOR POLITICAL VIOLENCE DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.

Civil Unrest 

Spontaneous and planned demonstrations occur. Protests and demonstrations occur on a regular basis in major cities, particularly during elections. Protests are an accepted part of political life. Demonstrations rarely turn violent, although they may become confrontational between opposing groups. Protest organizers must obtain a protest permit from the police. Police often set aside areas for demonstrators, and police presence is clearly visible. Travelers are advised to monitor media coverage of local and regional events and avoid public demonstrations.

Post-specific Concerns

Environmental Hazards

Taiwan is subject to severe earthquakes. Major earthquakes (those 6.0+ on the Richter scale) have caused considerable damage.

  • One of the most damaging earthquakes occurred in September 1999 when more than 2,000 people were killed in an earthquake in central Taiwan.
  • More recently, in February 2016, there was widespread damage and 117 deaths when an earthquake struck southern Taiwan.


During the typhoon season (April-October),
Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau issues typhoon warnings an average of six times a year and heavy rainstorm alerts more frequently.

Travelers are encouraged to review AIT’s American Citizen Services (ACS) webpage on how to prepare for an emergency. Also see the Hurricane Preparedness and Natural Disasters pages of the Bureau of Consular Affairs website. In the event of an actual emergency, AIT will post up-to-date instructions specific to the circumstances of the event on their website and send messages to U.S. citizens who have registered through the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

Critical Infrastructure

Absent power outages in rural areas as a result of earthquakes or typhoons, Taiwan’s infrastructure causes few concerns. In Taipei, even during large typhoons and earthquakes, there is little flooding and very rarely any power outages.

Economic Concerns

Growing economic and business ties between China and Taiwan has increased concern that employees will take corporate trade secrets to China for personal profit. The Trade Secrets law stipulates a maximum penalty for such activities to 10 years and fines; however, this amendment does not provide investigators with tools (wiretapping) to prevent trade secret theft. Once an employee absconds to China, the individual is beyond the reach of Taiwan’s prosecutorial system.

Privacy Concerns

Taiwan’ personal information protection act is very protective of Taiwanese nationals and is designed to prevent the inappropriate dissemination of personal information by government, law enforcement, or private organizations.

Personal Identity Concerns 

While in local bars/clubs, foreign males should avoid directly engaging with or making overtures toward Taiwanese females accompanied by other men. Such behavior has resulted in severe injury and lengthy hospital stays for foreign males. Observe cultural boundaries by approaching the female’s male friends first and gradually requesting an introduction, if appropriate to her personal circumstances.

Drug-related Crimes

Drugs are increasingly available. In particular, Ketamine and methamphetamine usage continue to increase among young people. Narcotics (heroin) are also available. Drug trafficking is a capital offense usually punished by extremely lengthy prison sentences. 

Police Response

Firefighters typically have CPR training, but police rarely do.

The Foreign Affairs Police (FAP), which is part of the National Police Agency, has English-speaking officers at all major police precincts during normal working hours.

How to Handle Incidents of Police Detention or Harassment

Police harassment of law-abiding citizens is rare. Conditions of police detention are generally consistent with international practice. Suspects have the following rights:

  1. the right to know what crime the suspect has been accused of; 
  2. the right to remain silent; 
  3. the right to contact an attorney; and 
  4. the right to request police to investigate evidence favorable to the suspect. 


U.S. citizens who are detained should contact American Citizen Services at (02) 2162-0000. A Consular officer will attempt to visit the detained individual within 48 hours. 

Crime Victim Assistance

Police emergencies: 110

Fire emergencies: 119

The FAP also maintains a 24-hour service center staffed by English-speaking officers that can be reached at: (02) 2556-6007 (Taipei); (07) 281-5019 (Kaohsiung); (02) 2394-0238 (all other areas).

Police/Security Agencies

The National Police Agency (NPA) performs police and law enforcement 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 FAP is a branch of the NPA tasked with assisting foreigners in distress or requiring assistance.

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, drug, money laundering, and cyber-crimes.

The National Immigration Agency (NIA) is responsible for enforcing and investigating violations of Taiwan’s immigration laws. NIA officers staff 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 custom policies and regulations. DGOC collects custom duties, taxes, and fees, prevents smuggling, and enforces government controls. 

Medical Emergencies

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.

Contact Information for Available Medical Services

Taipei:

National Taiwan University Hospital: (02) 2312-3456

Taiwan Adventist Hospital: (02) 2771-8151

Veterans General Hospital: (02) 2871-2121

Kaohsiung:

Chang Gung Memorial Hospital: (07) 731-7123

For more medical and dental providers, see the AIT website’s Medical Information page.

Available Air Ambulance Services

Air ambulance services can be arranged through International SOS at (02) 2523-2220

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 for Taiwan.

OSAC Country Council Information

Please contact OSAC’s East Asia and the Pacific team with any questions.

American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Location and Contact Information 

AIT Address and Hours of Operation

Xinyi Road, Section 3, Lane 134, Number 7

Taipei, 106

Hours: Mon-Fri, 0800-1200 and 1300-1700 (excluding U.S. and Taiwan holidays)

AIT Contact Numbers

Taipei Office: (02) 2162-2000

Regional Security Office (RSO): (02) 2162-2334

American Citizen Services: 2162-0000 and press *

Post One (24 hours): 2162-2319

Kaohsiung Office: (07) 335-6001

Website: http://www.ait.org.tw/en/

Nearby Posts

Kaohsiung Brach Office: http://www.ait.org.tw/en/ait-kaohsiung.html

Taichung (Virtual) Branch Office: http://taichung.ait.org.tw/

AIT Guidance

The U.S. maintains unofficial relations with the people of Taiwan through the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), a private nonprofit corporation, which performs citizen and consular services similar to those at diplomatic posts.

Additional Resources

Taiwan Country Information Sheet