Working as a it possible?

Hi!! Can anyone help with this query?? Richard, do you have any advice that you can offer?

I came to taiwan 2 years ago on a spouse ARC, then found a job & worked for a year with a trading company, who had my ARC status changed. When I left the company last septemeber to have my son, my ARC was turned back to a spouse visa.

I’m now ready to go back to work as a Fashion Designer…I’ve called all my old contacts who have work available but only on a freelance basis which is ideal! I get to work from home and still be with my son.

But how do I do this legally??? I’ve contacted the BTCO and they tell me that if I were a journalist, I could become freelance on a legal basis. But as far as they know, no-one can become a designer on a freelance basis…

HELP!!! Is anyone in a similar circumstance? Richard, have u come accross anything like this??

Look forward to any help!!!


If you are on a spouse visa, married to an ROC national, then I can assure you that it will be no problem.

First, let me clarify one point. For anyone who is in this situation, if you are on a “Joining Family Resident Visa,” and married to an ROC citizen, and living here in Taiwan, you DO NOT ever want to change that visa status to a WORK VISA. That is because you can easily get a Work Permit when you are holding a JFRV.

OK, with that clarification out of the way, I can see two ways for you to be a so-called freelancer. (1) If you are not actually working on the company premises, and not being supervised by the personnel there, but only taking (or mailing) your completed assignments in, then you do not need a work permit.

However, (2) if you want to have the freedom to work on the premises, and associate with the people there in the office on a regular basis as a real “member of the team” then you need the company to apply for a work permit for you. For foreign spouses, this is very easy to do, and processing time takes about ten days.

For average foreigners, you would need to have five years of legal employment in the ROC to apply for somewhat similar treatment, via ESA Article 51.01.03

Richard…SORRRYYYYYYYYYYY!!! So, so sorry… I came here with my husband from the UK (a UK citizen)…he works for the Sherwood here…we came here with his job and I then got mine from the contacts I used to work with whilst in the UK…OH…I’m so sorry…you’ve gone to so much trouble for me and I didnt make myself clear…SORRYYYYY, sorry, sorry!!

I ask a lot of you but could you re-reply with this new info!!! I’ve gone thro all the boards and have spent many an hour trying to ask BTCO and like-wise associations, but just never seem to get anywhere. also, I would be working for a couple of companies, at the same time, mainly at peak times, such as summer season or winter season…so it would probably only be for a few months at a time…

I’d really appreciate your reply BUT also understand that you’ve already replied & given your time to my not 100% clear mail…

Can anyone advise me of who is in charge of lobbying for work rights for “foreign couples” stationed in Taiwan? In particular, this inquirer appears to be the British spouse of a British national working in Taiwan, and is wondering about work rights under existing legislation.

Is there some lobby group that is looking out for the rights of people in her situation? And is lobbying the Legislative Yuan for more relaxed work rights? Or perhaps someone wants to organize one? Certainly the person in charge would have to have a full understanding of the needs and desires of this group.

Would the Community Services Center have any information on this?

Hi Richard…I’ve talked to the Community Services Center, who put me in touch with the BTCO…who in turn told me to go to the Municial police station…who in turn told me to seek a lawyer/accountant!! It just goes on & on and round in circles! It seems to quite a relatively easy step to get a spouse visa changed into a work permit based visa if a local company wants to hire you FULL-TIME and if the company has all the legal requirements to hire a foreigner. But to work here on a freelance basis, LEGALLY, seems impossible … or at least the information concerning it is unobtainable! Someone told me that I would have to set myself up as a company … but would then require a certain amount of cash in the bank and an office…

Yes … I’d be most grateful & very interested if anyone knows of any kind of organistaion that deals with cases like this or if anyone can help in any way atall!!

Hi Everyone!!

A friend of mine who works for a Financial Consulting company here has come up with a possible option of how to work here as a freelance designer…not sure how legal & airtight it is…but what do you think??

OK…my in-laws have a UK based Consultancy company. She says that I could be hired by my in-laws’ company as their girl-in-taiwan. (I’m here, afterall, legally & abovevoard with my ARC as a spouse visa). She says that I should then be able to be a Consultant to local companies, who will have effectively hired me from the UK.
When they pay my salary for a job/task, they don’t pay me directly…they pay my in-laws’ company in the UK.
Therefore, I am not actually working or being paid by a Taiwan company. I am effectively working for a UK company that has been hired for its services.

What do you think?? Is this legal?? Would I still require a work permit?? Would it be more straightforward to obtain a work permit … ie, I could apply under my in-laws UK based company if that is what is required…??? Are we any closer to resolving this problem!!!

I have been studying and researching the Employment Services Act (ESA) for over seven years, and have attended numerous legislative and police department conferences which discussed the enforcement details in depth. Hence, I feel I can speak with some element of authority on this subject.

Residency rights and work rights in Taiwan are (at the present time) separate considerations. If you are a foreigner working in Taiwan, then you need a work permit.

If you are working in Taiwan, then you are supposed to pay tax on the income received for those services. The payment of salary/wages etc. to a Taiwan employee’s foreign bank account, as an attempt to avoid ROC income tax liability, is illegal according to the ROC Income Tax Law. Again, what that means simply is: ALL SALARY/WAGES PAID for services rendered in Taiwan should be reported on your ROC income tax return, to be filed on or before the end of March every year.

Although you have not specifically stated your “intended working style” as a consultant for local companies, I get the impression that you are going to go sit in the office. Is that correct? If you are doing all your consulting work at home, and then just emailing it in, or snailmailing it in, or perhaps dropping it off during your afternoon leisurely walks in Taipei (or wherever) then I would adise that you don’t need a work permit anyway.

Is the UK Consulting Company in question planning to set up a Taiwan office? If you had a full-time work permit to work for them, that might simplify matters a lot, since during your travels around town you would just be calling on clients, attending meetings, etc. It could then be assumed (for the sake of applying for the work permit) that most of your actual work was done in the local consulting office.

I have a strong interest in seeing Taiwan become more internationalized. Since I have been married to an ROC national over 12 years, I have often lobbyied for less restrictive laws and regulations on “foreign spouses.” I work with the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of the ROC government. Over the years however, I have regretted that no one from the foreign business community, or from the foreign community at large, has ever come forth to liaison with me in order to advance their own agenda.

I really feel that many of the issues you raise, and the problems you are encountering should be dealt with in a more comprehensive fashion. However, it is a big job and needs a dedicated group of interested and informed people to take charge and move forward.

Hi Richard…seem to be no further forward with the freelancing idea! All your input & support is so much appreciated. When I wrked full-time, it was no problem getting my work permit, but it just seems theres no straight “procedures” to follow if you want to work in Taiwan for more than one company at a time! I would be in the office quite a lot, but the fashion industry is a seasonal one so some months I’d have loads of work, other months, none atall. A lot of the work could be done at home, but then would have to be discussed, reviewed & progress checked up on.

Its such a shame, as a great deal of manufacturing companies here deal with Uk or States market … and what the buyers would love is some western design input from the manufacturers! … hence, possibly increasing sales … possibly!

I think I will try the BTCO again … tell them that I’ve tried the avenues they have suggested but have not been able to actually move forward.

Yes…it would be excellent to have an organistaion that you could contact about these and other work permit issues for spouses. The suggestion by my friend that I work through my in-laws’ company, isn’t going to work either, is it?! … I’m certainly not trying to avoid taxes … just trying to think of other routes to take so that I can work and be legally working … I just want to be able to work at what I’m trained to do, but on a freelance basis, not full-time for one company. In the UK, its simple … you get an accountant, who gives you a tax code and off you go! You just keep good accounts of whats coming in and submit at end of tax year. I guess I thought that it would be a similar procedure here and that I could apply for a working visa, supported with references by the three companies who want me to work for them.

Anyway … I’ll get back to BTCO and see what advice they have to offer at this point … will keep you posted as to progress … thanks again Richard, I really do appreciate it …

Richard - My wife is an ROC national and I am from UK. I have the Joining Family Visa which is up for its first renewal soon. I would like to get the open work visa as well this time around. Two questions:

  1. Minor question - Is the health check still necessary?
  2. Biggie - Does freelance private tutoring in students’ homes and editing/writing by email/snail mail require a work permit? You seem to have indicated above that it does not. If it does not, can you refer to me the article, page, line etc. of the latest ESA (Chinese as well as English, if possible). If I decide not to get the work permit, I’d like to have a copy close at hand in the unlikely event that the police bust down the door just as I am receiving payment for an hour’s English conversation with nice ‘Mr.Lin’ in his own home. Actually, most of my work is through email and snailmail.
    I appreciate your time.

In an earlier post in this thread, you say that if you are not going to the office – merely sending in completed assignments – then you do not need a work permit… is that the case for translators, for example? Or freelance writers? How would the tax be handled in such a case? Would the type of visa one is on in the first place (resident w/an ARC or tourist) influence the legality of such “freelancing”?

Taxes for translators, editors, and other editorial type freelancers (who do not work in the company’s office) are handled by the company’s accounting personnel. The normal withholding taxes are withheld when the salary payment is made to the employee.

The foreigner’s visa status has no effect on this arrangement.

So if a person on a visitor’s visa works freelance, that’s OK, despite the “not allowed to accept unapproved employment in the ROC” stamp, as long as it’s not in the office? I suppose that a visitor’s visa means that a person is RESIDENT in another country, so…?

Did I understand this correctly?

Right now, I do some freelance work from home for a Taiwan company. Never been to their office, never met them. They make the checks out to my husband though, with the excuse that the tax rate is better that way. We just went with it, but I’d prefer to have checks made out to me. I have an ARC and have been here for nearly three years, if that makes any difference.