The National Immigration Agency will begin issuing electronic alien resident certificates (ARCs) embedded with advanced anti-forgery microchips to replace the existing paper cards from July 1, an immigration official said yesterday.
Noting that the move was congruent with general world trends, the official said it would not only bring new convenience to foreigners but would also contribute to the government's anti-forgery and anti-terrorism drives.
In the initial stage from July 1 through Dec. 31, the official said, the agency will only issue new ARCs with integrated circuit (IC) chips to new applicants and those who apply to replace older or lost ARCs.
The fee for the new ARCs will remain unchanged at NT$1,000 (US$30) per year.
Responding to calls by expatriates for lower prices for ARCs, the official said the fees are reasonable and much cheaper than those in many other countries, including the US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Japan.
In the second phase, from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 next year, the official said, all existing ARC holders will be required to exchange their old paper cards for the electronic ones.
The official said the new ARC measures will also apply to the more than 330,000 foreign blue-collar workers employed by manufacturing and construction companies as well as caregivers hired by families with patients in need of long-term care.
The official said that the new IC ARCs are designed in line with the electronic international ID cards (eID cards) adopted in other countries to help speed up customs clearance and prevent forgery as well as help stave off possible terrorist activity.
Agency data showed that Belgium, Sweden, Italy, Finland, Estonia, Hong Kong, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have issued eID cards while the US, Germany, Norway and Denmark have issued e-passports to prevent forgery and fight terrorism, the official said.