Please note that these myths debunked are persuent to the information from government websites from 2012 which can vary for different individuals and may change without notice please check and inquire about the regulations relevant to your situation to assure their accuracy and to keep updated on any changes that may occur. It is wise to call or otherwise have direct contact with the Department of Compulsory Military Service as well as the Overseas Compatriot Affairs Commission and the National Immigration Agency before entering Taiwan even for a short visit.
Myth: All Males with ROC passports within Military age, which is 19 to 40, will be subject to the draftFact: Yes and no, there are several yet crystal clear factors that will determine the answer. One is whether the ROC passport holder has direct relations with Taiwan or in short with household registration. Technically ROC Nationality is granted to all those who live in any area once considered the Republic of China including what is now claimed by the People’s Republic of China according to ROC legislation. Though people from mainland China or Hong Kong are only entitled to ROC passports if they possess Nationality of a country other than PRC. However they are not automatically entitled to right of abode in the Taiwan area unless they go through process to establish household registration which can be similar to getting a green card in a foreign country. This issue will be too long for this page so let’s get to the basics. The military service draft only applies to those with relations to the Taiwan area with residency id number or born of persons of such status. For example if the individual is born in Taiwan with parents who are ROC Nationals with residency id in Taiwan area may be subject to the draft or even if born in another country but with parents with ROC household registration and is registered in Taiwan by their parents may also be subject to draft rules. On the flip side those who obtained ROC passports under the ROC Nationality law but does not have residency in Taiwan nor have parents of such status would not be subject to the draft at all unless they establish residency(household registration) in Taiwan.
Myth: Not possessing another nationality or passport will lead to draft immediately following entering Taiwan in any circumstancesFact: The answer is no. While many people believe that there are quite a number of circumstances that will results in or exempt immediate draft. Actually the possession of another nationality or dual nationality is not considered the factor in determining whether the individual will be drafted. The circumstances that affect draft is whether the household registered national of draft age is currently living abroad outside of Taiwan. In most cases one who emigrated before he was 15 and is currently living abroad under permanent residency or citizen status of another country would not be drafted until at least 365 days after landing in Taiwan although in some cases they could be detained and prevented from leaving until they complete their military service. The Overseas Compatriot Affairs Commission has a more detailed explanation regarding how to qualify for Overseas Chinese Identity Visa or Overseas Chinese Identity certificate for Military Service purposes. Generally the rules according to the Overseas Compatriots Affairs Commission states to qualify for the Overseas Chinese identity Resident Overseas Stamp in terms of military service one would need to depart Taiwan on or before Dec 31 in the year which he turned 15, hold a valid ROC passport, hold right of permanent residency in the country he is currently residing (holding permanent resident green card, or citizenship), have resided for at least four years and have documentary evidence showing that they have resided overseas for a period of at least six consecutive months or for a total of eight months in the last two years, not spent more than 183 days in Taiwan in total between January 1 in the year in which they turned 16 and December 31 in the year in which they turned 18. Under limited circumstances would overseas status be granted to those who emigrated at 16-17 and having permanent residency in another country at age 16 ROC passports of males would often be "marked military service not completed." Those who departed Taiwan at age 18 or above under draftee exit rules however would not be eligible for overseas stamps even if they become permanent residents or citizens of another country as under the conditions of their departure they are committed to return to complete military service overstaying outside Taiwan constitutes draft evasion and would result in draft upon return. In short those who possess Dual Nationality do not automatically qualify for Overseas Status it is more of a residency requirement as in whether the person currents resides overseas rather than citizenship factor.
Myth: Dual Nationals or those possessing other Nationalities will not be touched by conscription as long as they use their foreign passports instead of ROC passports to enter Taiwan
Fact: This is something that a lot of people are not aware of and often lead to surprises. Be aware that the truth may be shocking for most of you. Many of you might think that you can only be drafted by using your Taiwan ROC issued passports or travel documents and can escape detection by using your “other” passport/travel document here is something the affected individual should better should pay attention to. As mentioned on the previous paragraph possession of another nationality is not a factor determining whether a person would be drafted. According to Articles 14 of the Regulations for Exit of Draftees stipulates that an individual previously registered as resident in Taiwan and holding dual nationality should use their Taiwan ROC passport to enter and leave Taiwan. If an individual of this type uses their foreign passport to enter Taiwan, they are legally liable to be called up to perform military service and should be prevented from leaving the country. There are relevant rules regarding who will be drafted in what conditions as well as exemptions that one should check with the relevant authorities listed on the first paragraph. While there are those people who are successful playing hooky and getting away with this mandate repeatedly there are also those who are unlucky thus prevented from leaving and/or arrested for this violation. In this case even if they are otherwise exempted from the draft if they followed procedures and can proof via their ROC passports they may still be prevented from departing solely due to the violation of the rule and may have to stay until they complete their military service. The American Institute in Taiwan and TECO offices often has warnings that those of military age may be drafted even if they are also US citizens and enter Taiwan using US passports. The Taipei Economic offices overseas also has notices explicitly showing the requirement that males of military age are to use only ROC passports to enter or exit Taiwan and may be subject to draft if using foreign passports.
Myth: One can renounce ROC nationality to avoid military service
Fact: Under ROC conscription laws males are not permitted to renounce ROC citizenship until there are past draft age, which is currently set at 36 or have completed their military service. The American Institute in Taiwan has this warning in addition to the warning above.
Myth: If the male with ROC household registered national is born in foreign countries such as the US, Canada, Australia, and etc one would be completely exempt from compulsory military service
Fact: Here is something that these individuals should be aware of. Those who are born outside Taiwan who have fathers who happens to be ROC National and registered resident of the Taiwan area and since year 2000 to those born after 1980 who have either parents who are ROC Nationals and registered resident of Taiwan area may be subject to the draft if they settle or establish long term permanent residency in the Taiwan area although they are unlikely to encounter problems for short visits. These individuals are advised to check with local Taiwan Economic Offices TECO as well as the agencies above for further information
Myth: Those with Overseas Chinese status will never have to worry about being drafted for compulsory military service
Fact: There are relevant rules regarding this in Item 1 of Article 3 of the Conscription Regulations for Naturalized Aliens & Returning Overseas Chinese which stipulates that in the case of male individuals liable for military service who were previously registered as resident in Taiwan and holding Overseas Chinese status, the individual will become liable to be called up for military service 366 days after the day which he return to Taiwan. Item 1 of Article 4 stipulates that one year shall be considered to have elapsed if any of the following apply (1.) If the individual has been continuously resident in Taiwan for at least one year. (2.) If the individual was born in 1984 or earlier, and has been resident in Taiwan for at least three period of four months or more each. (3.) If the individual was born in 1985 or later, and there have been at least two years in which the individual was resident in Taiwan for a cumulative total of at least 183 days (between January 1 and December 31). Item 2 of the same Article stipulates that, where a male Overseas Chinese individual liable for military service returns to Taiwan for the purpose of study, provided that the individual conforms to the relevant requirements, the period of deferment in which they are studying in Taiwan will not be included for the purpose of calculating the period of one year as described above. With respect to an individual of ROC nationality whose passport has “Residing Overseas” stamped on it, once such an individual has been resident in Taiwan for a period of one year or more, the provisions of the Conscription Regulations for Naturalized Aliens & Returning Overseas Chinese shall apply with regard to issues relating to military service. Such individuals will also need to follow the regulations of exit of draftees stated in the Article 48 of the Conscription Regulations” and “Article 4 of the “Exit Regulations for Draftees-to-be,” which requires those exiting the country who are between the draft ages of 19-35 including those with Overseas status to obtain an exit permit at the Bureau of Entry and Exit.
Fortunately Taiwan has finally adopted a fully volunteer military service, which will be implemented at 2014 although those who don’t volunteer may still be subject to a three month military training. More information can be found later. For now it is best to know what your situation is and act appropriately according to your needs. Check with the relevant authorities and explain to them all your situations and they would give you the most up to date information. For those willing to do military service or happen to have to return to Taiwan for the long run (more than 365 days) and therefore subject to the draft it is best to know what kind of services is available and what is your physical conditions and get to know and adjust to the environment and language of Taiwan.
PLEASEdo make sure to do a reality check before you depart for Taiwan if you believe you are affected by compulsary military service. I cannot guarantee my information is completely correct all the time as these legislation change overtime. Contact the nearest Taipei Economic and Culture office and the Overseas Compatriot Affairs Commissions before you depart.
American Institute in Taiwan (AIT)
Department of Compulsory Military Service
Overseas Compatriot Affairs Commission
National Immigration Agency
Taipei Economic and Cultural Office or TECO
Taipei Economic and Cultural Office or TECO