Finding a job and working in Taiwan

Finding work in Taiwan
Updated 2023-05-20 20:14

Working in Taiwan depends on your skill set and the job you seek. Expats can find a wide range of jobs around the island, but the majority of the jobs are in the cities. Not all office jobs require Chinese-language skills, but it helps for many job opportunities.

To work legally in Taiwan, a foreigner must obtain a work permit and ARC. The company should obtain all required paperwork for this process, but the foreigner may have to submit the paperwork on his/her own time. Although technically most fields of work are open to foreign hires, a company must prove that any job they hire a foreigner to perform is one that cannot be filled by a local hire. A physical exam at a hospital is required to obtain legal work status at any school in Taiwan but is not required for white-collar workers.

Popular job for expats in Taiwan

Teaching in Taiwan

The majority of foreigners in Taiwan work in education. Those from the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa qualify for English education jobs as long as they hold a bachelor's degree and two years of work experience. Recently, the Taiwan government opened up teaching positions to those from the Philippines as well. Many schools in Taiwan openly advertise that they prefer the North American, or American, accent for English teaching jobs, as the U.S. is still the destination of choice for students (or, more accurately, their parents) who wish to study abroad. In addition, prospective teachers must have a national background check from their home country.

To work in a public school in Taiwan, foreigners must hold a valid teaching license in their home country. Those without a teaching license can still work in a buxiban or cram school. Most buxiban teaching jobs pay an hourly rate for 14 to 36 hours per week.

Good to know:

Unless licensed, it is illegal for foreigners to work in kindergartens/preschools in Taiwan. However, foreigners who have obtained an APRC can legally work in such schools.

Non-teaching iobs in Taiwan

For jobs outside of education, a company must prove that it cannot hire a qualified local employee or that the foreign employee is better qualified than local candidates.

To obtain a professional-level non-education position in Taiwan, a candidate must have a minimum of a bachelor's degree and two years of verifiable work experience. In some cases, a graduate degree can substitute the work experience. Ensure to update your CV according to local standards. Also, consider getting a free CV review at TopCV.

Most office jobs in Taiwan are Monday through Friday, 40 hours per week. If overtime is required, the company is required to compensate.

Before and after national holidays in Taiwan, many companies and schools will have 'make-up' workdays. Usually, a weekend before the holiday will be a work day.

As for which sectors most commonly hire foreigners in Taiwan, outside of the ESL industry (including publishing companies that make ESL materials), there are jobs available in the engineering sector, research positions at institutions such as Academia Sinica, marketing jobs in the tech sector, and a limited number of corporate and legal openings.

Job hunting in Taiwan

Useful job websites in Taiwan include, which is specifically for foreigners as it is in English. Users can also place ads that they are available for hire. For teachers seeking students, there is, which also allows users to pay a monthly fee for a premium listing so they get noticed better.

The two most popular local job sites that are in Chinese are and Both websites require knowledge of Chinese to use and to sign up.

In addition, LinkedIn has a presence in Taiwan, although fewer jobs are posted there. There are also some Facebook groups that have job postings, but most are for teaching jobs.

Other than multinational corporations that send employees abroad, most companies will not hire candidates who are not currently in Taiwan. It is possible to arrive in Taiwan without a job and then look for one while still on a 90-day landing visa.

The working environment in Taiwan

The working environment in Taiwan differs from that in Western countries in many ways. It is important for one to be aware of these differences before seeking work here or starting employment.

Working hours

Firstly, working hours for office positions are, for locals, generally quite long. The prevailing culture in office environments is that one never leaves the office before their superior does. So, if the manager is still slaving away, so are his or her subordinates. A heavy emphasis is often placed on how long one spends in the office, not necessarily on how much work or what quality or quantity, one produces. In short, the longer one spends in the office, the more dedicated, and thus better, an employee is viewed as.

That being said, in many companies in Taiwan, foreigners are not necessarily expected to adopt this culture of long working hours themselves. Local managers are aware that in most Western cultures, workers arrive at the office at 9 a.m. and promptly leave at 5 p.m. Thus, foreigners are often granted more leeway as it pertains to coming and going. This is not uniform across all companies in Taiwan but it is worth noting. Policies differ from business to business.

Working overtime

As stated above, working overtime in Taiwan is extremely common. Ten-hour days are often the norm, and days over 12 hours are not unheard of. The general expectation is that one stays until their allotted work is finished.

That being said, it is important to note that, no matter what an employer might say, workers are entitled by law to compensation for overtime hours. Employers might ask workers to work extra hours uncompensated. This practice, though widespread, is illegal.

However, getting compensation for overtime hours when one's employer attempts not to pay them can put an employee in a tough situation. In Taiwanese working culture, it is not common to question or go against one's superiors. Demanding payment for overtime hours, even payment one is owed, may be viewed as insubordinate. Furthermore, if one is denied compensation for overtime hours, gaining said compensation would require filing a formal complaint with the Ministry of Labor.

For a full accounting of exactly what one is owed for working overtime, please consult the set of laws that governs all workers in Taiwan, the Labor Standards Act, via the Laws & Regulations Database of the Ministry of Justice.

Office naps

Another concept foreign professionals in Taiwan may find somewhat perplexing, at least at first, is that of the office nap. Taiwanese office workers commonly pop out to buy lunch at noon, which they then eat at their desks or have something they have brought from home. After eating, they often put their head down on their desk and nap until their lunch break ends. This is not seen as unprofessional. Rather, one being tired enough in the office to have to take a midday nap is seen as a sign of how dedicated one is to their profession.

Office politics

No matter where you work, office politics are ever present. In Western countries, it is common for workplace issues to be dealt with head-on, tactfully. However, in Taiwan, conflict of any nature is avoided at all costs, as open displays of conflict, aggression, and emotion in the workplace are seen as an embarrassment or a loss of face.

Therefore, any feedback, especially that of the negative kind, is mostly avoided, especially when a large group of coworkers is present. If anything negative must be said, it is most often done on a one-to-one basis, behind closed doors, wherever possible. Keeping this in mind, it is considered the norm for any negative feedback or criticism that may be required in a managerial context to be presented in written form, such as a private email from the boss to the subordinate. Keep in mind, also, that in Taiwanese working culture, criticism flows from top to bottom, never in the opposite direction.

What to avoid in a Taiwanese working environment

The main thing to remember when working in Taiwan, in addition to the above, is that being opinionated, which is perhaps a sign of ambition, drive, strong ideas, etc., in Western countries, is not viewed in such a positive light in Taiwan, especially when one occupies a junior position. Even something as seemingly simple as offering suggestions on how a certain situation or project might be improved upon, if broached too early in one's time at a new company in Taiwan, could be looked upon as arrogance rather than as genuine care or concern for doing the best job possible.

The concept of connections in Taiwan

Career success in Taiwan is very closely related to the concept of personal connections, or “guanxi,” is this is known locally. Of course, the idea of “It's not what you know, it's who you know,” is nothing new. But in Taiwan, the correlation of a strong personal network of working professionals augmenting one's career prospects is especially enmeshed into the fabric of working life.

So, how does one build good guanxi? Steer clear of confrontation, as outlined above, and try to maintain a positive demeanor at work whenever possible. Early on, it's important to take direction from one's superior, refrain from offering strong personal opinions on work-related matters, especially to those above you, and, in general, steer clear of office politics.

Respecting the local culture will go a long way as well. If you go on holiday somewhere, it is customary in Taiwanese offices for you to bring back a small gift for your coworkers. This need not be anything expensive or extravagant. It can simply be a popular local snack from wherever you might have traveled to. This small gesture, though, can go a long way to cementing long-term, fruitful relationships with one's colleagues.

Time off in Taiwan

Paid leave

Paid leave is determined by the length of one's service in Taiwan. For one's first year working in the country, other than statutory holidays and weekends, paid time off is, at best, minimal, capped at three days. For one's second year of employment, that rises to seven days and to ten for one's third year at a company. Paid time off (PTO) is capped at 15 days from years five to ten. From then on, one additional paid day off is granted for every additional year of service, up to a maximum of 30 paid days off.

Unused vacation days for one calendar year do not roll over to the next. An employee can either use them or lose them. Moreover, Taiwanese employers will rarely allow their employees to take large chunks of time off at once. Being away for more than a week is viewed as excessive. Holidays, as such, are often taken in small clumps, and if one wishes to take a longer holiday, one's PTO is often paired with longer national holidays, such as the Lunar New Year Holiday or the Tomb Sweeping Holiday.

Note that one's PTO resets to zero when one changes jobs in Taiwan. There is no credit for time served with a previous employer.

Sick leave

Employees in Taiwan are entitled to 30 paid sick days per calendar year. However, barring severe illness, taking a lot of time off due to feeling sick is not widely adopted. Local employees suffering from a relatively minor ailment, such as a cold, routinely report to work, though wearing a surgical mask to prevent the spread of infection.

Parental leave

So long as you have reached at least six months of employment, you are entitled to eight weeks of maternity leave at full pay in Taiwan. With anything less than six months of employment, maternity leave is still eight weeks but at half pay.

In 2022, paternity leave was extended from five days to seven in order to increase male workers' availability to accompany their spouses to pregnancy-related checkups.

Setting up a business in Taiwan

Yes, foreigners can start their own company in Taiwan and “hire themselves” to work for that company, thus sponsoring their own work permit and Alien Resident Certificate. One common practice is registering a company overseas, such as in Hong Kong, and opening up a representative office in Taiwan, which the foreigner would then hire themselves to run.

Foreigners can also own sole proprietorships or joint ventures, though if the startup capital involves foreign investment, there must first be an investigation conducted by Taiwan's Investment Commission. In order to successfully apply for a foreign manager's work permit in cases where there is foreign investment, that foreign investment must be more than one-third of the total startup capital.

For a full list of rules and regulations regarding foreigners starting their own company in Taiwan, please consult the official website of the Taipei Entrepreneur Center, which is tasked with aiding foreigners in starting new businesses, large and small.

As to the steps for starting a business in Taiwan, they can be broken down as follows:

File an application for the name of the company with the Ministry of Economic Affairs. There must be a Chinese name for the company.

Next, you must request approval for foreign investment from the MOEA. This involves submitting a full business plan, including what that business is and what it will do, the source of the funding for the business, a financial forecast, etc. Approval of this plan takes anywhere from two weeks to one month.

Open a local bank account for the business. Different banks in Taiwan have different regulations in this regard, such as requiring a local director of the company, minimum capital amounts, minimum deposits, and so on. Depending on the bank, opening a local account as a foreigner for a new business can be done in a day, or it can take up to a month. As for the initial injection of capital, this must be examined by a local Certified Public Accountant before submitting the injection of capital for approval by the MOEA. This usually takes a week or two.

Once this is all completed, it's time to submit a request for official business registration to the Department of Commerce of the MOEA. The processing time is around two weeks. When this is done, the company or branch office is considered official in Taiwan. If you are the proprietor of the business, you could then, if not already resident in Taiwan, hire yourself as the branch director or some other official position, and apply for a work permit and resident visa/ARC yourself.

After all this, there is still tax registration to complete. This first requires an interview with a tax officer at the National Taxation Bureau. Official documents and materials required are:

  • a copy of the company approval letter and registration form
  • a copy of the office rental agreement or receipt for house rental
  • official company stamp (chop)
  • GUI stamp (chop)

The processing time, in this case, is another two or three weeks.

As you can see, this can be a timely and somewhat cumbersome process. It is recommended to hire a local consultant/accountant, of which there are a few in Taiwan who specialize in this area, to help you navigate the ins and outs of starting a foreign company/business in Taiwan.

For a full list of requirements and processes, please consult the official website of the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.