The Ministry of Foreign Affairs drew attention yesterday to a spate of recent cases involving foreign nationals attempting to enter Europe using forged Republic of China (ROC) passports.
Most of the cases involved authentic ROC biometric passports that had had either the photograph or the chip containing personal information replaced, said James Lee (李光章), director-general of the ministry’s Department of European Affairs.
On various occasions, Taiwan’s representative offices in Europe were even asked to verify passports and their bearers, Lee said.
“The value of our passports has risen sharply following the Taiwanese government’s signing of visa-waiver agreements with other countries,” he said.
An ROC passport is estimated to be worth about US$10,000 on the black market, he said.
About 10 incidents involving forged ROC passports are reported each year, according to statistics from the ministry’s Bureau of Consular Affairs.
In related news, Lee said that a possible decision by the EU to tighten border controls in light of immigration problems would not affect the privilege afforded Taiwanese to travel to the region without a visa.
“Taiwanese can still enter European countries visa free because the agreement does not contradict the EU’s proposal to adopt stricter border control measures,” Lee said.
Taiwan currently has visa-free and landing visa travel agreements with 127 countries or regions around the world.