e-Gate service to remain free for foreign residents

Contrary to earlier media reports, foreign residents will not be charged a fee to use the e-Gate service, said NIA

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TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- The National Immigration Agency (NIA) announced on Monday that all foreign residents in Taiwan and Taiwanese citizens can register for the e-Gate service for free, after local media had reported that a fee would be imposed.

On Sunday, the media had reported the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) as saying that new regulations would impose a fee on foreigners registering for the e-Gate service. However, on Monday, the NIA clarified that the new fee would be imposed on inbound foreign nationals, not current residents.

Implemented at airports and harbors in January 2012, Taiwan's e-Gate system uses facial and fingerprint recognition technology to identify travelers entering and leaving the country.

Over 20,000 foreign nationals have registered for e-Gate access for free since that time, according to the MOI. However, it said that it is implementing a NT$3,000 (US$99) fee for the maintenance and expansion of the e-Gate facilities and to follow the practice of other countries.

Under the principle of reciprocity, foreign nationals who originate from countries that do not charge Taiwan citizens for a comparable service will be exempt from the charge as will foreign nationals with resident status in Taiwan, said the NIA.

The automated immigration clearance system is open to Taiwanese citizens over the age of 14 and foreign nationals who hold Alien Resident Certificates (ARCs) or Diplomatic Identification Cards. Citizens of China, Hong Kong, and Macau with exit and entry resident permits are also eligible for the e-Gate service.

Starting in July 2016, Kaohsiung International Airport set up two "f-Gates," for use by short-term foreign travelers over the age of 14. Such short-term visitors do not have to apply for the f-Gate service, but have their finger prints taken on arrival to Taiwan, enabling to use the immigration clearance system on departure.