S Korea to be added to e-Gate program

CONVENIENCE::A government source said Taiwanese would be able to walk out from immigration ‘with dignity’ thanks to growing inclusion in expedited clearance systems

By Lee Hsin-fang and Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Sat, Jun 09, 2018 - Page 1

Taiwan is to open its automated immigration e-Gate clearance system to South Korean travelers at the end of this month as reciprocation for Seoul including registered Republic of China (ROC) passport holders in its expedited immigrations processing program, a government official with knowledge of the matter said yesterday.

After evaluations with other government departments, the National Immigration Agency believes that there are no national security or public safety concerns to preclude opening the e-Gate program to South Korean travelers, and that mutual expedited entry between Taiwan and South Korea is feasible, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The government would not expand the e-Gate program to countries that it has determined would pose safety concerns, the official said.

As there are many travelers between Taiwan and South Korea each year, mutual automated entry would shorten the time they spend going through immigration, the official added.

For South Korea, it would also create a business opportunity, the source said.

As Australia on Nov. 6 last year extended its Arrivals SmartGate program to ROC passport holders, the government also plans to expand e-Gate program eligibility to Australian passport holders, the official said, adding that the expansion would take effect on a date to be decided by the Ministry of the Interior.

Noting that the US on Nov. 1 last year expanded its Global Entry program to include registered ROC passport holders, which Taipei reciprocated by including US passport holders who are Global Entry members in the e-Gate program, the official said that inclusion in such programs would allow Taiwanese travelers to avoid long lines and questioning by immigration officers when traveling overseas.

Taiwanese would be able to “walk out [from immigration] with dignity,” the source said.

Two other countries would be granted eligibility for the e-Gate program by the end of this year, the official said, but did not reveal their names.

Government agencies have been keeping a low profile regarding the subject, because it involves negotiations with other nations, as well as to prevent Chinese suppression, the official said.