Most volunteer work now OK without work permit

[Cross-posted from Forward Taiwan @ FB]

Here is Forward Taiwan’s translation of a new letter of interpretation from the Ministry of Labor that significantly expands the scope of unpaid volunteer work that foreign nationals can do in Taiwan without a work permit.

In a nutshell, foreign nationals can now work as unpaid volunteers on public interest projects such as beach cleanups, animal shelters, or other informal projects. Previously, foreign nationals could only volunteer at registered charities or public institutions that had filed a Volunteer Service Plan with the government.

The one ‘catch’ is that the volunteer work should be ‘supportive’. We are seeking clarification from the Ministry about what this means.

This letter is already in effect and has been sent to the National Police Agency and all city and county governments.

Forward Taiwan would like to thank the National Development Council and the Ministry of Labor for this long-awaited change.

It’s good to see steps taken to put that bizarre, nonsensical restriction into the trash receptacle of history.

Yes this is very good news. Thank you Feiren and all the others who have lobbied on our behalf!


If I had to bet – and this is admittedly speculation based on the Chinese language and the way Taiwanese think, or how I understand those – I would bet that “supportive” means it’s okay to volunteer as one part of a large group. If everyone is picking up trash and you are, too, that’s okay. If you’re singing on stage, or doing something else that puts you in a singular role, probably not.

Yes, I was thinking that this might mean that the foreign volunteer can participate in a volunteer project but should not be the organizer. It has also been suggested that it refers to the work itself. In other words, the volunteer work should not displace paid work. For example, a school that has funds to hire a coach for an soccer program should not allow a foreign parent to volunteer as the coach and not hire a qualified citizen to coach instead. In this situation, the foreign parent could work as an assistant coach. In any event, we are seeking clarification.

Amateur performances including singing solo on stage are fine if they are unpaid and irregular and you have a white collar work permit (teacher, business person, professional etc. ). Amateur performances were the subject of another letter earlier this year. Amateur perfomances and volunteer work are closely related issues but treated somewhat differently.

Thanks for posting this. Where can we read the interpretation for amateur performances?

Never mind, found it further down FT’s Facebook page: … view?pli=1

There’s a discrepancy between the article ( … 2003629059) and the letter. The TT says, “The changes apply to all visa types, except Alien Permanent Residency Certificates (APRCs) and spousal visas, which can already legally perform under existing rules.” The MOL’s letter actually covers only holders of white collar work permits, as Feiren noted, but not including artists/performers (non-missionaries in class F or ESA 46.1.6). This means blue collar foreign workers and tourists are also excluded, because letting them participate in open mic events etc. would obviously take jobs away from Taiwanese performing artists… :ponder: