Starting from Jan. 1, residents of Hong Kong and Macau may apply for tourist visas to Taiwan over the Internet, the Bureau of Immigration announced last week.
The online application program is part of the government's overall plan to promote tourism in Taiwan and follows on the Hong Kong government's initiation of an online visa application program for Taiwanese tourists in 2002.
Residents of Hong Kong and Macau who are eligible to apply for visas over the Bureau's official Web site are those who have been to Taiwan, or those who have not been to Taiwan but who were born in Hong Kong and Macau.
The application flow is as follows: an applicant completes the application form on the Bureau's Web site, found at www.immigration.gov.tw, and receives an approval or rejection in approximately eight seconds. Each approved application is given an application reference code, which the applicant takes to the Chung Hwa Travel Service office in Hong Kong.
A successful applicant must also present a passport and the HK$55 application fee at the office in order to pick up a visa.
Each visa issued is valid for three months, starting the day of issuance, and allows the visa holder to travel in and out of Taiwan twice, with a maximum stay of 14 days for each visit.
The Chung Hwa Travel Service is open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm, and on Saturdays from 9am to 12pm. The travel service also has an office in Hong Kong International Airport which is open daily from 9am to 5:30pm.
Residents in Macau may pick up their visas at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Center in Macau; the center is open from 9am to 5:30pm, Monday to Friday.
Applicants who have received online visa application approvals but are not able to pick up their visas personally during business hours may apply for a temporary entry permit upon arrival at Chiang Kai-Shek International Airport or at Kaohsiung International Airport.
Each permit is valid for 14 days and costs NT$200; the permit is only valid for one entry.