Legalities of driving in the R.O.C

TO: All Foreigners Who Want to Drive in the ROC
FROM: Richard W. Hartzell

If you have an ARC, it is certainly possible to obtain a six year Driver’s License. I know this for a fact because I did it. Surprisingly, it did not make any difference that my ARC was going to expire eleven months in the future.

The catch is that in order to get a six-year license, you will have to go through a similar “Administrative Appeal” process to what I went through. My situation was reported in a full page article in the CHINA POST on June 23, 2000. The procedure is roughly this: First, I got a one-year license. Then I filed an “Administrative Appeal”, which I won. The Dept. of Motor Vehicles and the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) lost. With my verdict in hand, I called the Department of Motor Vehicles, and the personnel there told me to come get my one-year license cancelled and a six-year license issued.

Please be aware of the following facts:

(1) the 30-day rule applies. In other words, the Administrative Appeal must be filed within 30 days of the date on the receipt which you get when you apply for the license.

Considering that it will take me a few days to get ready and file the paperwork after you send me your data, that means you should proceed as quickly as possible.

(2) The Administrative Appeal which I have developed is four pages long. Two “sets” have to be submitted, both “originals”.

(3) Everything is in Chinese of course. You should fill out page 4, photocopy it, and then STAMP BOTH COPIES WITH YOUR CHINESE CHOP in red ink.

You have to have a CHINESE NAME and a CHINESE CHOP to complete this procedure. In fact, it is not necessary that you put your English name on the page 4 document. If you cannot deal with Chinese data, have one of your Chinese friends help you out.

(4) Several xeroxed attachments are necessary. These are specified on the page 4 document. You can submit one set of these attachments to me, including receipt, ARC, new license, passport, namecard, etc. and I will fix them up for you, and put them in a suitable format, photocopy them, etc. Be sure to submit photocopies of both sides of important items like ARC, Driver’s license, etc., but please only photocopy on one side of any sheet of paper.

(5) The page 4 document can be emailed to you. (I assume that your computer has Chinese system.) Print out two copies. Mail me both completed copies (each stamped in red with your CHINESE CHOP) to:
1st Fl., No. 158 Hsing Yun Street, Nei Hu District, Taipei 114 TAIWAN

Explanation: “Hsing” is star, “Yun” is cloud, “Nei” is inside, “Hu” is lake.

There is a 24-hour security service here in our apartment complex, and they take delivery of express mail or registered letters 24-hours, 365 days. I suggest that you use registered mail.

(6) If you do not have a namecard, use a blank namecard and write one out.

(7) I am asking for a small voluntary donation to help me with my work in the field of foreigners’ rights in Taiwan. If you are interested in getting a six year driver’s license, and you have renewed recently and been denied this length of validity, then by all means submit your data to me. I generally ask for NT $2100 for this Driver’s License procedure. I guarantee you will get the license. My Postal Remittance number is given below. You should send me a copy of your receipt.

(8) NOTES: If you have specific recommendations on how things should be changed here, you are welcome to send your comments to me. I am in frequent contact with a large number of government officials. I know how to submit paperwork through the proper channels to have it acted upon. However, I deal in SPECIFICS. For example, you may have read the position papers of the leading foreign business associations here in Taiwan. These are wonderful, however they are overly “general”. They are not specific enough for submission to the Legislative Yuan, Executive Yuan, etc. in my opinion. Obviously, if you cannot put your proposals in a suitably SPECIFIC format, you will have to consider hiring someone to do so. If it is a complicated project, it is definitely going to require some budget.

My own situation is this: I spend a lot of time and money having documents drafted, translated, typed, proofread, etc. so that we can obtain a better legal environment here. I work with ROC citizens, foreigners, stateless persons, as well as business/commercial entities. So far I have been fairly successful, but believe me there are a lot of fixed costs involved. At this point, I do not like to use “volunteer help”, because it is too slow. I prefer to deal with established Chinese secretarial services, typing services, translation services, etc.

I work hard and fast, but it takes its toll in time and money. That is why I ask for voluntary donations when a project comes along where we can help individuals out, and where the procedure is established. For bigger or more complex cases, where the procedure has yet to be developed, that would be a whole different consideration. Also, for the driver’s license issue, I have developed a one step procedure, and we don’t have to go to court. For more complex cases, (investment rights, for example) there might be the necessity of two or three steps, and I might have to represent you in an suit in the Administrative Court. I am currently representing clients in Taichung and Kaohsiung in those kinds of actions.

(9) The best email address to use is because that will be forwarded to me. If you need a copy of the page 4 document, which is totally in Big-5 Chinese, send me an email request.

(10) I write a column for the CHINA POST, which is (usually) published in the PRIME TIME supplement on Fridays. So, you may want to look at that to see what new projects I am involved with. My Chinese name is also shown there.


Richard W. Hartzell
Graduate, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
Taiwan resident, since 1975
Consultant, ROC Administrative Law
Taiwanese Postal remittance number: 07014005
Chinese account name (see newspaper column)

I have helped a number of other foreigners to receive the same treatment on a case-by-case basis. However, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications has not yet decided to extend this privilege to all foreigners. If there is enough interest in the foreign community, I suppose we could have a meeting with the MOTC officials and some pro-liberalization legislators and get this restriction amended or cancelled. Are you willing to help organize such a meeting, or to serve as a test case for more powerful legal action against the MOTC? Be in touch.

I have a motorcycle drivers license which does not expire until September (when of course my ARC expires). I hope to sit the car drivers license test some time soon. I would certainly like the 6 year license. I would be willing to be a “test case”. I think I might be someone who would be rejected in applying for a 6 year license because I have spent less than 3 years in Taiwan and I am not married etc. My ARC is through a buxiban. When I last renewed my motorcycle license I remembered seeing an article about you getting a 6 year license and I asked about it but I was told that it would be impossible for me to get such a license. The people who I spoke with at the license centre were very rude, the most impolite people I have come across in Taiwan. I am in near Gaoxiong (Kaohsiung), so I am not so sure that I am well set up to organise a meeting about the problem but I would be willing to go to Taibei if needed to try to get a 6 year license.

My e-mail is:

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Hartzell for his hard work on behalf of the international community residing on Taiwan. We love you!!

Here, Here!

I think all foreign spouses in Taiwan owe him a lot.

Thanks Richard.

I am going to try and renew my motorcycle licence soon. I want to try and get a 6 year licence and am willing to do any administrative appeals or anything to get it, that are within my budget. But what I really want to try and do is to get them to give it to me on the spot. Someone said in another post that he got one. Anyone got any advice on how to do this? Richard do you think taking a newspaper copy of your court victory might help? Are either of Ba De Lu or Chen De Lu offices ‘easier’ than the other? Has anyone else managed to get a 6-year licence?


How much does it cost to do that test, and what have you to do to do the car driving test in Taiwan. I heard there are schools that you must go to; which are a sort of scam, cause they are paid bonuses based on whether you pass or not.

Is it compulsory to do driving lessons in a car park that as somebody said before ‘is truly representative of the driving conditions in Taiwan’.

Can I just buy a book and borrow a friend’s car. Not to say that I am a great driver, but please a 1.3L automatic car in a car park, how difficult can that be?

I did the driving test for the bike, so easy, the most entertaining part of that was watching the people who went behind me and before me, I realized then why they had a driving test for bikes.

Something that nobody ever offered or defined here - how long can you drive on an “acceptable” overseas drivers licence (plus International Driving Permit)??

Does anyone know???

On the subject of “International Driving Permit” - I rented cars in about 15 countries - including many Asian and European countries - carted about this “International Driving Permit” - cost me money each year. It was like used toilet paper - no-one wanted to see it. My OZ licence was good enough, alone.

So in Taiwan - ahh - you have to have an “International Driving Permit”

Nobody seems to know just how long you can drive on an International Driving Permit.

There appears to be a process for some countries/states to have it (IDP) chopped and be a legal licence in Taiwan. But how soon do you need to do it??? - in theory, or in fact.

Experience to date seems to be “never” based on the cops have checked my licence - no interest in my Australian licence - just want to see the IDP.

Anyway - I am planning to get a Taiwan driving licence:

If I want a car and motorcycle licence - do I need to do a “road” test on both? - Just now I have a car - I guess I could borrow a motorbike - but that would need two separate days??

as far as I understand you can never drive on an international drivers license. You always need to exchange it for a Taiwanese driving permit.

Some can exchange the IDL for a Taiwanese one and some can exchange their original local drivers license for a Taiwanese one. This totally depends on the country you are coming from. I have seen a government site that exactly lists the countries and the possibilities of their citizens.

Originally posted by box: Guys, as far as I understand you can never drive on an international drivers license. You always need to exchange it for a Taiwanese driving permit.

Foreigners can drive in Taiwan with an international license, the only question is rians: For how long? When I was at the Taichung MVD and asked about changing a German International License into a local, the request was denied (meanwhile I think I know why they think Germany wouldn’t accept their license), but the lady said “If you have an international license, as long as you have a valid visa, you can use it.” I thought just had mistaken something and asked her to repeat - the same. Usually one should only be able to drive for six months on an international license, but according to that lady…
So, if you get stopped, you can still say that there is a lady at the Taichung MVD who said…:wink:



Understood it from this site:駕_frm.htm

Hi box

Concepts of time sometimes get confused when Chinese regulations are translated to English - Well to the people who do not understand what the original Chinese may have said, anyway.

There has been more than one instance discussed in this forum.

The Drivers Licence English information seems reasonably clear as to general intention. However, I am sure it is not designed to prevent visitors from driving in Taiwan, which is what it would if strictly applied, as written in English.

So the big question in all these cases is - what do they really mean - what is the period of grace that is so obviously necessary.

Take, for example, the National Health Insurance regulations - they say - In English - that you are liable for a fine if you do not have insurance on the date you are eligible to apply. Early applications are not accepted, because you are not yet eligible! Chinese tell me you have a month to apply. I could not get an answer to whether this is written somewhere in Chinese .

Incidently, for Olaf, my wife rang to find out where to have the International Licence chopped, and was told, on two separate occassions, that it was not necessary


concur, I ones drove a jeep here and when stopped by the police got freed without even have to show any license. I think it would be possible to drive here as a foreigner for decades without a license. Nevertheless, when talking about truly legal, I am not sure. We foreigners tend to simply dismiss the rules because to us they make no sense and we feel we might get away with it anyway. And they to not make any sense. I was just hoping there was any possibility of sense and adhere to it just for the sake of feeling save and secure. I might be wishing for the stars here.

Well box - maybe not just foreigners.

I had a minor accident a year or so ago - and it was necessary to call the police to bring pressure on the other party to admit guilt and agree on damages.

The chinese driver had no ID and no licence to show the Police.

So did she not have it - or declined to show it??

The guilt part was easy (the police agreed and had us move the cars off the road) - the damages agreement took two hours - is this standard?

It is my theory that, despite chaotic driving conditions, there are somewhat less accidents than one could expect, because it takes minimum of 2 hours to sort it out.

Maybe there is some benefit in having no insurance for your own car’s damage, which seems pretty common here (or almost universal?)

That’s the reason I decided I needed a licence. After paying a taxi driver NT$ 1000 for his door after he nearly killed me (it was that or let’s call the police), I decided I needed to be able to call the police in the event of an accident.

Originally posted by Bu Lai En: That's the reason I decided I needed a licence. After paying a taxi driver NT$ 1000 for his door after he nearly killed me (it was that or let's call the police), I decided I needed to be able to call the police in the event of an accident.

That’s better than “NT$1,000 or I beat you up with this here tire iron as you’re lying on the ground.” A real license isn’t going to help you much in that situation. Could theoretically help afterwards, though.

Still, I agree that if you’re going to be behind the wheel or handlebars, you should have a license, that is, if you can withstand the extreme trauma and loss of your human rights caused by having to spend a few minutes renewing it at the DMV once every year or so.

I have lost my bike and car licences. I have kept photocopies, and have noticed that they both expired in February. Now, as I have already had full car and bike licences you would think I wouldn’t have to do any tests.

Has anyone tried to obtain a replacement licence for one that was lost ? What about renewing a licence ?