Goodbye Taiwan

 As I am pretty certain anyone following along has noticed, I did not quite enjoy my time in Taiwan (understatement). When I first decided to relocate to Taiwan, part of my assumption was that if things did not work out, I would be able to relocate elsewhere in Asia or Europe without the need to return first. This turned out to not be a possibility. As a result of this, and issues when exiting I thought it would be appropriate to write about my exit adventure, so that others are forewarned should their stay in Taiwan prove to not meet expectations. At the time of writing this I have already been out of Taiwan for 3 months.

Trying to relocate elsewhere and the barriers Taiwan erects:

Here are some of the countries I tried to get long tern visas for and the reasons I was not able to get them:

Cambodia - offers one of the easiest paths to obtaining residency with very low requirements. However, as Cambodia is fully aligned with China, there are no embassies or trade offices in Taiwan through which to apply for any visa. Long term visas are available for Taiwanese nationals only on the Cambodia government site. Cambodia not an option

Vietnam and Thailand - both of these countries offer long term visas, however, unless one secures work within the country, both require deposits in local bank accounts. Both countries offer the ability to open bank accounts remotely and transfer funds into them, however, to finalize the account opening need to visit a local branch in the place one resides and have them witness and stamp the signature. Enter Taiwan's banking regulations whereby banks located in Taiwan can watch you sign the documents, but cannot stamp or verify that they witnessed your signature. Vietnam and Cambodia not options.

Spain and Italy - these countries have long term visa options, however, they require one to submit all of the paperwork, potentially be invited for an interview, and to pick up the visas for a consulate. Spain and Italy only maintain cultural offices in Taiwan that are only able to process paperwork for Taiwanese nationals. The closest embassy is in the Philippines. With Covid measures in Taiwan, it just was not practical to leave Taiwan to get paperwork processed as it would either require multiple trips requiring multiple quarantines and/or multiple trips. Spain and Italy not options.

Just like that, after exploring and trying out different options, the only viable option became clearly evident, return to where I started and do everything from there. As such, I began planning for my return to Canada.

Issues discovered on exiting:

Let's start with what was most important for me - my cat. My cat is still in Taiwan. There was no practical way to get my cat out of Taiwan. Eva Air cancelled their direct flights to Toronto, and they decided to utilize smaller planes to fly to Vancouver which can not handle pets in cargo. According to EVA they are in the 'human transportation business' and not the 'animal transportation business'. They were extremely unhelpful especially since they do not allow pets in cabin. And with that I was forced to give my cat away to a local in Taiwan. I was completely unprepared for anything like this to happen, after all of the time effort and money it took to get the cat into Taiwan. Word of advice if you have a pet is do your homework on what the process will be to take your pet out of Taiwan before you relocate with your pet.

Shipping items back to Canada - When I relocated to Taiwan I had tons of options on how to ship items in. Trying to ship the same items out - not so simple. My only option was FedEX. The way FedEx works in Taiwan, is that you are required to open an account with them. Following this, you can arrange for a pick up of your items, and have them review the paperwork required for Taiwan customs. Yes, you read that correctly, personal effects need to clear Taiwan customs on the way out. But the real fun is the paperwork. Each time you send FedEx your 'completed' paperwork they will look for an issue, but one at a time, so expect to go back and forth fixing one mistake at a time for several weeks. Once you finally get your paperwork right, you arrange for a pick up, but they will not give you an actual quote, just an estimate. A driver will come by to drop off the FedEx waybill, and then will come back to pick up the boxes. You will receive no communications regarding your package until it clears Taiwan customs, at which point they will let you know they are on the way.  Your package will be delivered to you, and then a few weeks down the road FedEx Taiwan will send you a bill (but you already have your items). All of a sudden there's an arbitrary weight to the shipment, and a price which in my case was nearly double what I was expecting to pay. I emailed them stating that at no point, until this point did anyone state it could cost this much. They reviewed everything and lowered the weight calculation slightly. i am still trying to negotiate the cost with them but so far they aren't budging at all. It's been over two months since I started dealing with their invoice.

Cancelling the lease - As the lease was not in my name, this was a very interesting and fun exercise, as I had to get my local friend involved. I provided the necessary two months notice, and told the landlord about the sofa in the unit falling apart. The damage to the sofa was just a defect in the sofa itself and the landlord acknowledged as much, but the lease stipulates that the furniture needs to in the same condition it was in when you occupy the unit. I had to pay $8K NTD to get a sofa fixed for an issue I did not create. Taiwan leases at their best.

Cancelling NHI - This was a relatively straight forward process. You visit the NHI office, and tell them that you are leaving Taiwan, and they will run around trying to find English cancellation forms. You will need to fill these in and sign them, and just like that your NHI is cancelled.

Taxes - As I was leaving in May, I decided to file both my 2021 and my departure returns at the same time. Visiting the tax office, you will notice there is a line deducted to foreigners to complete their returns. Get ready for quite the line while the rest of the office is empty. There was only one person dealing with non nationals. Get ready for a full out Spanish Inquisition. The requirements to file a return are fully nuts, and they have access to all of your bank accounts so they can see all of your banking activity. There is no privacy of any sort in Taiwan. Somehow I survived this experience.

Cancelling internet and cell phone plans - If you followed along with the previous posts, you will note that I had internet in my apartment and cell phone service with ChungHwa Telecom. If you are using a different service your experience may be different. To cancel the internet and cell phone service you need to visit a store. Cancelations are not handled online or over the phone. The day you walk into the store is the day they will cancel your services. There is no concept of post dated cancellations. They will give you 10 days though to return the internet modem. I went with a local friend, as they do not speak English at the stores. With this in mind, I thought I would just transfer my services to my local friend's name. Turns out you can only transfer one service every 4 months. Just like that I had to choose which service I wanted to transfer. I selected the internet because it required returning the modem. So my local friend took over my internet account and cancelled it after I left and returned the modem. For my cell phone I decided not to cancel it at all and just let it run until they realized no payments were going to be made and cancel it on their own.

Banking - Equally as much fun as the rest of the items I had to deal with. I decided that as I would still have bills to deal with (internet, FedEx, landlord) I would leave my HSBC accounts active and with money in them when I left. A few fun facts that happened after I left.

First - in December 2021 I suffered through someone emptying my account fraudulently by buying Apple iTunes cards. Apparently this is a common scam. Took me nearly two weeks to get HSBC to put the money back into my account, even though they were fully aware it was fraud. Turns out that they didn't just put the money back, but also decided to return the funds twice. Took them nearly 9 months to realize they did this. So I got a call in Canada about it, and them asking for permission to take the duplicate payments back out. Which brings about the second issue.

Secondly - As I have left Taiwan according to HSBC I can no longer transfer money out of the country. I can only bank within the country, and even then only until such time as my ARC expires. Once my ARC expires the account will go dormant and I will not be able to access any funds in the account. I had to send my bank card back to Taiwan so that my local friends can empty out the account and send me my funds back. When leaving Taiwan do yourself a favor, empty and close your accounts and figure out how to transfer money into Taiwan as needed. There's no reason for the bank to have your money.

As complicated as it was to enter and get set up in Taiwan it was far more complicated leaving Taiwan. No one discusses any of this, so hopefully, you will consider this when you decide to relocate to Taiwan, just in case like me you decide Taiwan just isn't for you. Better be prepared for all of these issues, and potentially more or less depending on your situation and set up. 

To say that Taiwan did not meet my expectations is the understatement of my life. I will never return.


  1. Ok , this is total bullshit.

    I get it, you are bitter about your cat and alot of the things that went wrong when leaving the country. But what is your point? None of this is relevant to what it was like to live there. DIssapointed by this article.

    1. Which part are you calling bs exactly?

      If you want to read about what it's like to live in Taiwan start reading from the first blog. This is literally as the title states about what it was like trying to exit. The last piece.

      You don't see any value in letting others know what their exit will look like should they wish to exit?


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