Despite the National Communications Commission’s (NCC) regulatory amendments made in July last year allowing telecoms to recognize Alien Permanent Resident Certificates (APRCs) as a primary identification document for expatriates to subscribe to their services, some APRC holders are still being told they also need to present their passports.
South African Etienne Mare is a chef at a catering company and has been living in Taiwan for 15 years. He and his wife moved to Hsinchu earlier this year from Taipei.
He said he was given a hard time when he needed to change his billing address at a Taiwan Mobile store.
“I had my APRC and other ID cards on me. I had also the lease contract for my new apartment in Hsinchu to show them the correct address in Chinese. They still insisted I needed my passport,” he said.
Because the address on his APRC card is not the new one, he was told he needed to first change his APRC.
“I explained that it would take 10 days and during that time my bill would go to my old address, and I would not know how much I owe them. The clerk then wanted me to come to the store and check every day if their system has my new bill for the month. This to me is crazy in 2017,” he said.
Mare refused and insisted the clerks change the address. They eventually agreed.
Mare was then asked to show his passport again when he returned to the same store to cancel an automatic upgrade that would change his ringtone to a local pop song.
He first explained that he did not want the upgrade, because it was his business telephone.
“They said they can switch it back for me, and then she asked for my passport and another form of ID,” he said.
Mare said that asking foreigners to show their passports every time they want to change or subscribe to a telecom service is “one of those things that makes foreigners feel like second-class citizens in Taiwan.”
Hassles like this are “very detrimental to Taiwan,” he said, adding that “it is little forms of micro-aggression and racism that really hurt Taiwan’s prospect of foreign settlers staying here permanently.”
Asked if he was aware that he needs to show two ID cards to subscribe to or change a telecom service, Mare said this was a not a massive problem, as he has an APRC, national health insurance card and a driver’s license.
“The big problem is when they insist that because we are foreigners we must show our passports. Who carries their passport every day?” Mare said.
A similar incident happened to Canadian Joel Charron, who teaches English in Taipei.
He said he went to a Taiwan Mobile store to extend his contract, and the staff insisted on seeing his passport as the second form of ID.
“I asked if Taiwanese were required to do the same. [The clerk] responded that this was their policy for foreigners,” Charron said.
Article No. 77 of the amended Regulations for Administration of Mobile Broadband Businesses (行動寬頻業務管理規則) says the operator must verify and catalog subscribers’ data. When the subscriber is an expat, the data should include a passport number and an APRC number, or they can show either a passport number or an APRC number in addition to a number on another document as proof of identity.
According to NCC officials, expats can choose to show either their passport or APRC as the primary ID, and their national health insurance card, driver’s license or other document as a secondary ID.
Because of the Taipei Summer Universiade to be held in August, the NCC last month ruled it would recognize other documents as secondary IDs, including boarding passes, stamped seals from airport customs officials as proof of arrival and ID cards issued by the Taipei Universiade Organizing Committee.
The regulations were amended because the government had received multiple requests from various chambers of commerce representing foreign investors that the regulations should list Alien Resident Certificates (ARCs) and APRCs as valid identification cards when subscribing to telecom services, the NCC said.
However, the amendment only adds APRCs as a primary ID, not ARCs.
NCC spokesperson Wong Po-tsung (翁柏宗) said the agency would consider adding the ARC as either a primary or secondary ID that expatriates can use to subscribe to telecom services.
Asked why telecoms appeared not to follow the amendments, NCC Business Management Department director Chen Kuo-long (陳國龍) said he would look into it and ensure that telecoms abide by the regulations.
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