Working before permit arrives

Hello. I am here on a Tarc and waiting for my work permit.

I once took a job in a company, editing for a few hours. They checked my ID, I signed a contract (they said it most mostly because of duty to keep confidential) and later signed that I received the money (1050 NT).
Could that be a problem when they put on their taxes?

Thank you.


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Just like that? I think they copied the ID too and I dont know if they wrote something in the contract like “I am legally allowed to work in Taiwan”…

It doesn’t matter. You’re allowed to edit without a permit, it is declared to the tax office as a manuscript fee.

Someone will be along shortly to contradict me and tell you you’ll burn in hell for that NTD1050.

Yes to the contradiction, no to the burning in hell. (The law is neutral when it comes to hellfire. :idunno:)

It has been reported anecdotally, many times, that the tax office doesn’t care about anyone’s work permit status and does not co-ordinate with other authorities on this issue, because it’s a highly compartmentalized bureaucracy. Yet getting away with something doesn’t mean it’s legal, and there are cash rewards for reporting illegal foreign workers.

If you don’t have permission to work, you don’t have permission to work. Whether you get paid in salary/wage or by commission is irrelevant. (Whether you get paid at all may be relevant.)

To be safe, don’t work until you have a work permit, and when you do have one, don’t work for any other employer unless you have an open work permit (for permanent residents) or the new employment gold card (the details of which we’re still waiting to hear). It should be noted that some people don’t need work permits (mainly foreign spouses).

I’m not defending the system btw, just telling you how to avoid getting fined and deported.

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And if you can produce evidence that anyone has ever been fined or deported for free-lance editing I’m all ears (or eyes maybe).

There is no one caught doesn’t mean it is not illegal. And I think there is no evidence that there is no one caught by that reason too.

But, yeah, it won’t be a problem most probably.

Specifically in the field of editing, I know of no cases. Good luck defending yourself if the police ever care to investigate.

Out of curiosity, I wonder if there have been any cases where a foreigner started work before their work permit arrived, the police showed up for a random check, they were fined given 5 days to leave Taiwan, then their work permit showed up the next day with a granted on date of the same day the foreigner was alleged to have started work on. Such a case, one would think, should be relatively easily defendable.

We seem to rehash this issue once a month. Probably a waste of all of our time. As we all know there are many gray areas in law enforcement in Taiwan so I guess its a case of you pay your money and you take your chances.

Relatively low likelihood of getting caught is not my definition of gray area. :2cents:

Example: Americans with minor criminal records from decades ago used to cross the Canadian border without incident, even though they were supposed to be inadmissible (unless they jumped through the right hoops or something). Then someone decided to start checking, and poof, the denials of entry shot way up.

“But I’ve been crossing for decades without any problem! Why the sudden change?” :frowning:

“You’ve been getting away with it for decades, and now you’re not getting away with it. Simple!” :smiling_imp:


As I say, we’re better off agreeing to disagree on this. Go into any Starbucks or Macky Ds on a week night and you’ll see private tutors teaching English. OK, its not a gray area, in most cases its purely illegal. But I’ve yet to see the boys in blue charging in and hauling people off for this heinous crime.

And I’ll say it again: the more foreigners are willing to work illegally, and the more employers/clients are willing to hire illegally, the fewer people will complain to the government about how lousy the system is, and the less incentive the government will have to make it easier for people to work legally.

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Was your work permit approved or are you waiting for it to be approved?

Point taken but its a fundamental rule of law issue which extends to your favorite snack food vendor selling from a streetside truck, or my illegal rooftop apartment, or that cheap camera you buy on the gray market.

If everything suddenly has to be done to the letter of the law, for an old timer like myself at any rate, Taiwan becomes a less attractive place to live.

I’ve spent enough time in developing countries (like China) to understand the charm of that kind of stuff. Call me a snob or a tightass if you like, but for me it was just a phase.

I don’t have anything like solid knowledge of this area, i. e., where laws and regulations intersect with this kind of work done by foreigners, and I’m not judging anyone, and I’m not trying to scare anyone. And I’m not gainsaying @the_bear, either, or anyone else. I’m just posting these quotes and threads because at least some of it seems to bring up the issue being discussed here (I’ll stipulate in advance that I could be wrong about that as well).

These other threads may or may not produce adequate discussions of this issue, so reader beware (I did this hastily; I’m hungry, and I have to teach a class in 50 minutes :slight_smile: ):

From 2004

Editing w/out work permit?

From 2006

Technical Work in Taiwan

From 2008

Work Permit for PT Editing Work

From 2009

Work as a copy editor/ journalist. Where to look?

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I may be wrong but in none of those cases was an editor deported or shot at dawn. There’s a post by someone who was summonsed and never heard from again (gulp) and then lots of classic Snadman scaremongering about someone who had an APRC all along. “If the tax authorities have you recorded as having paid tax for the work, you won’t get another work permit.” :rofl:

I like. :smile:

In regard to the the topic at hand, I once lost my work permit (well, was denied a new one) for having more than one source of income, but not, apparently, for doing freelance “editing.”

He has two more posts on the board which were posted in subsequent years, but I don’t know where he was posting from when he made them, or what had happened in the meantime.

Like I said, I’m not sitting in judgment. I make all kinds of mistakes, and sometimes it costs me, and sometimes I seem to be allowed to slide. But I don’t like pain, or even discomfort, so I try at times to resist my natural tendency to foul things up. I know, though, that I’m still probably gonna foul things up again sooner or later.

Anyway, the last thing I want to do is put an unnecessary knot in somebody’s gut, but I thought some extra information might be in order, just in case.

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