Taiwan Flag
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Taiwan is a stable democracy and has a strong and well- developed economy. Tourist facilities are widely available.

Passport and/or Visa Requirements: Passport required. U.S. passports are considered valid for return to the United States for six months beyond the expiration date of the passport. The previous requirement that U.S. visitors to Taiwan hold passports valid for at least six months no longer applies. For specific information about entry requirements, travelers may contact the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO), 4201 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20016-2137 via main telephone number: (202) 895-1800 or visa section telephone number: (202) 895-1814; main fax: (202) 363-0999 or visa section fax: (202) 895-0017; or via Internet address: http://www.taipei.org/teco.htm. TECO (Taipei Economic and Cultural Office) also has offices in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Guam, Honolulu, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco and Seattle.

INFORMATION ON CRIME AND SAFETY: Although there has been an increase in the crime rate over the last year, due in part to local enforcement reporting methods, the overall crime rate in Taiwan remains relatively low. Nonetheless, there has been intense public concern in Taipei resulting from several violent crime cases in 1996-97. Residential burglaries and thefts are the predominant crimes affecting foreigners in Taiwan, but other more serious crimes do occasionally occur. Generally, U.S. citizen visitors to Taiwan should follow the basic security precautions that would apply in any large city. Women should exercise caution when traveling alone in taxis, especially at night, as there have been incidents reported involving violence directed towards unaccompanied female taxi passengers; calling for a radio-dispatched taxi is an option. Local police departments have foreign affairs sections which are normally staffed by English-speaking officers. Police contact numbers for the major cities in Taiwan are as follows: Taipei (02)2556-6007, Kaohsiung (07) 215-4342, Tainan (06) 222-9704, Taichung (04) 327-3875, Taitung (089) 334-756, Pingtung (08) 733-6283. The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police, and to the American Institute in Taiwan, at Taipei or Kaohsiung. Useful information on guarding valuables and protecting personal security while traveling abroad is provided in the Department of State pamphlet, 3A Safe Trip Abroad.2 It is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.

Criminal Penalties: When outside the U.S., a U.S. citizen is subject to local laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and do not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating the law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Criminal penalties for possession, use, or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict, and convicted offenders can expect severe jail sentences and fines. Taiwan law provides for the death penalty for some narcotics offenses.

COMPULSORY MILITARY SERVICE: Taiwan law provides for compulsory military service. Men between the ages of 18 and 45 who were born in Taiwan or who have ever held a Taiwan passport should be aware that they may be subject to compulsory military service in Taiwan, even if they are also U.S. citizens, and even if they have entered Taiwan on U.S. passports. Affected individuals are urged to consult with the nearest office of the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) in the United States before visiting Taiwan to determine whether they are subject to the military service requirement.

Medical Facilities: Health facilities in Taiwan are fully adequate for routine medical treatment. Doctors and hospitals may expect immediate cash payment for health services, and U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. The Medicare/Medicaid program does not provide for payment of medical services outside the United States.

MEDICAL INSURANCE: Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost from $10,000 to $100,000. Supplemental overseas medical insurance, including coverage for medical evacuation, may prove useful. Check with your own insurance company to confirm whether your policy applies overseas, and whether it includes a provision for medical evacuation. Ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas hospital or doctor, or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.

ADDITIONAL MEDICAL INFORMATION: Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure "Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad," available via the Bureau's home page and autofax service.

For additional health information, travelers may call the toll-free numbers of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hotline 1-877- FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747), may use the CDC autofax service, 1-888-CDC- FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or may access the CDC home page on the Internet at http://www.cdc.gov/.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the civil aviation authority of Taiwan as Category 1 -- in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Taiwan's air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA Internet home page at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa.htm. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the Pentagon at (703) 697-7288.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: Roads in Taiwan's major cities are generally congested, and driving conditions are made worse by large numbers of scooters and motorcycles that weave in and out of traffic. Special caution should be taken when driving on mountain roads, which are typically narrow, winding, and poorly banked, and which may be made impassable by mudslides after heavy rains.

REGISTRATION AND PASSPORTS: U.S. citizens are encouraged to register at the American Institute in Taiwan, and to obtain updated information on travel and security. The American Institute in Taiwan does not issue U.S. passports but accepts passport applications and forwards them to the Passport Agency in Honolulu for processing. Processing time takes three to four weeks. In an emergency, the American Institute in Taiwan can issue a travel letter to permit a U.S. citizen who has lost a passport to return to the United States.

AMERICAN INSTITUTE IN TAIWAN: Unofficial relations with the people of Taiwan are conducted through the American Institute in Taiwan, whose offices are authorized by law to perform American citizen services. For assistance, U.S. citizen travelers may contact the American Institute in Taiwan at No. 7 Lane 134, Hsin Yi Road Section 3, Taipei, Taiwan; telephone (886-2) 2709-2000; fax: (886-2) 2709-0908; or the American Institute in Taiwan branch office at No. 2 Chung Cheng 3rd Road, 5th Floor, Kaohsiung, Taiwan, telephone: (886-7) 224-0154; fax: (886-7) 223-8237. In case of emergencies after working hours, the duty officer at the American Institute in Taiwan at Taipei may be contacted at (886-2) 2709-2013.

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