ARC number change expected by June

Staff writer, with CNA

Wed, Nov 07, 2018 - Page 1

A plan to bring Alien Resident Certificate (ARC) and Alien Permanent Resident Certificate (APRC) numbers in line with that of national ID cards is likely to take effect by the first half of next year, Minister of the Interior Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) said on Monday.

To accommodate the new numbering system for the cards, data in government computer systems and drop-down menus on government Web sites would have to be modified, Hsu said by telephone.

“We have been talking to the Cabinet for approval to pay for the project from a reserve fund,” Hsu said. “We hope to get the project started by the end of this year.”

Hsu last week announced the plan in an interview with Taiwan Business Topics, a monthly magazine published by the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei.

The change would affect more than 1 million ARC and APRC holders — 690,000 migrant workers, 30,000 foreign professionals and 300,000 foreign spouses of Taiwanese who have yet to obtain national IDs — the Ministry of the Interior said.

Hsu said that the measure is part of the government’s efforts to create a friendly living environment for foreign nationals, because it would make their lives easier and increase their sense of belonging.

However, the proposal has been met with mixed reactions, because cardholders would have to change the ID number they use to enroll in the health and labor insurance programs, open a bank account, subscribe to telephone and Internet plans, apply for a driver’s license and a work permit, and gain access to other services.

The national ID number currently consists of a letter and nine numbers, while ARCs and APRCs consist of two letters followed by an eight numbers, which is not always accepted by online registration or booking systems.

Asked how the program would be implemented, a National immigration Agency official said that the agency would try to “minimize any inconvenience caused to ARC or APRC holders.”

All ARC holders would be assigned a new number when they renew their card, which is valid for up to three years, said the official, who requested anonymity because she was not authorized to speak about the issue publicly.

ARC holders would also be allowed to get a card with a new number before their old card expires, she said.

APRC holders would not be required to change the number if they do not want to, because the card does not expire, the official said.

“I absolutely welcome the change,” Eiger Law public relations manager Lloyd Roberts said via e-mail.

“I’m not sure why they did this [used a different format] in the first place. They should have done this years ago,” he added.

A US citizen who has lived in Taiwan for more than 25 years, Roberts said he has encountered problems using his APRC number when booking hotel rooms and applying for banking and insurance services.

“For example, it is impossible to buy travel insurance online with several of the travel insurance companies. Usually, I have to call them and make a special request and then they fax me the forms to fill out,” Roberts said.

In another example, a credit card company might run a special promotion and require people to sign up online, but most of the time “you can’t enter in your APRC number,” Roberts said.