TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The government's change to the numbering system for the Alien Resident Certificate (ARC) and Alien Permanent Resident Certificate (APRC), in order to have them "match" Taiwan's national identification cards will go into effect Saturday (Jan. 2), and foreign residents can apply for the new numbers on Jan. 4.
Currently, if someone living in Taiwan wants to fill out an online registration form, book a reservation, make a bank transaction, purchase travel insurance, participate in a credit card promotion, or sign up for an online job bank, they must enter a national identification card number with a second digit that consists of either 1 or 2. However, the second digit of all ARC and APRC numbers is currently a letter, preventing foreign residents from accessing the above services.
In 2018, the government set about changing the numbering system for ARCs and APRCs to have them "match" those of Taiwanese IDs. A National Immigration Agency (NIA) spokesperson told Taiwan News the government coordinated with 37 government agencies to update their systems over the past two years to ensure they will all accept the new numbering system.
New numbering system
The numbering scheme, which goes into effect on Jan. 2, 2021, starts off with the existing area code letter, which corresponds to the city where the foreign national resides. The second number will be 8 or 9, with 8 signifying that the cardholder is male and 9 meaning she is female.
In response to foreign residents' concern that many systems will reject any ID number that does not contain a 1 or 2, the spokesperson reiterated that 37 government agencies will have updated their systems by Jan. 2, but she could not rule out the possibility that there may be technical difficulties in the beginning and that private companies may be slow to update their systems.
She emphasized that starting next year, if a foreign resident encounters an interface that does not accept their new number, they are encouraged to contact the NIA's counseling service hotline for foreigners in Taiwan at 0800-024-111, the Interior Affairs hotline 1996, or to message the director of Immigration.
The third digit corresponds to foreigners or stateless people (0-6), Taiwanese nationals without a household in Taiwan (7), Hong Kong and Macau residents (8), and Chinese citizens (9). The last digit is for verification purposes.
The spokeswoman pointed out that the original ID number will be placed on the back of the card to show that both old and new numbers represent the same person.
Sample of back of new ARC card showing original number at top. (NIA image)
How to apply
The spokeswoman said that starting Jan. 4, foreigners can receive a new number by applying for a new card, and the application is free of charge for the first year of the program. After one year has passed, there will be an NT$500 (US$17) fee for an ARC and NT$1,000 for an APRC.
She emphasized there is no need to rush out and change cards because the current ID numbers will not expire until Jan. 1, 2031. As for driver's licenses, there will be no charge to update these to include the new ARC number if processed before the date of the license's expiration.
She recommends that foreign residents apply for their new numbers when they need to change information on their cards or need to file for an extension of their residency before their cards expire.
To obtain a new number and ID card, one need only go to the nearest NIA service center with one's current ARC or APRC and passport. Those wishing to update their photo are advised to bring a 2’’ x 2’’ color photo taken within six months.
According to NIA statistics from October, there are 871,006 ARC and 20,408 APRC-holders in Taiwan. This means that nearly 900,000 foreigners will benefit from the new system.
Sample of front of new ARC card showing user to be female. (NIA image)