This year, my husband and I vowed to discover new things together. Fortunately, we are blessed to have the opportunity to travel together at the end of the month to Taiwan for a short vacation and as an early celebration for our wedding anniversary.
The truth is – I already visited Taiwan, particularly Taipei two years ago with my sister. It was one of the best places I visited: friendly locals, affordable and yummy food anywhere you go, interesting sights and culture, plus the opportunity to fan girl to Meteor Garden and Jay Chou (which my sister and I both did).
So, when the hubby and I discussed possible trip destinations other than Osaka (we are still saving for it), we both agreed that Taipei is a nice place to discover (for him). We were lucky to land round trip tickets MNL-TPE-MNL for only PHP5,500 per person. The ticket was booked in August, three months before the planned trip. We paid for the tickets via SM Bayad Center (wait for a separate post on this), our flights were immediately confirmed upon payment – thus, the only thing left to do is get the tourist visa.
In my case, I am confident that getting a tourist visa will be a breeze: I already had a prior tourist visa to Taiwan plus Japan and S.Korea (twice). What I was more worried about is the hubby who works freelance. While he already had prior visits to Singapore and HongKong, the hubby’s passport is new (hence no travel stamps) and his freelance work status means he has no ITR and Certificate of Employment — two things, in my opinion, that always seal the deal for any visa application.
So how do you take your chances and apply for a visa when your traveling companion doesn’t have these very important requirements?
Note: I have previously blogged about getting a visa to Taiwan, see here – this is the UPDATED version.
- First thing I did is do my research and look up online if there are tips and to do’s for a situation like mine. There is none. That is the reason why I am writing this post – it is my means to give back for the good fortune of being issued a visa.
- Prepare all documents needed – I always believed that in any battle, being prepared means increasing any chances of winning. Here are the documents needed in applying for a visa:
- Visa Application Form – to be filled in online. Head to https://visawebapp.boca.gov.tw/ Note that you will need to fill it up online and print on A4 size paper. The Taiwan visa will only accept computer-filled forms, avoid leaving any space blank (you can put N/A).
- Two passport sized photos 1.5″ X 2″ – should be taken within the last 3 months
- Valid passport (with more than 6 months validity)
- NSO-issued birth certificate
- Marriage contract issued by NSO (if applicable)
- Financial documents like bank certificate and ITR
- If you are employed, Certificate of Emplyment and Approved Leave form
- Supporting documents like airline tickets and hotel booking forms
Have your documents photocopied.
3. Once you have the documents, you are ready to submit it to the Taiwan Economic and Culture Office (TECO) located at the 41st floor of the RCBC Plaza in Makati.
Note: Due to the One-China Policy, Taiwan does not have an embassy in the Philippinss. TECO services all consular and diplomatic efforts in the Philippines
TECO accepts visa applications from Monday Friday’s from 9AM to 11AM only. Meanwhile, releasing of visa is from 2PM to 4PM.
Now that you’re at RCBC, here are some tips to make your visa application hassle free:
Be there early – this endeavor involved a lot of lining up: you will be asked to line up first in order to register your name for the giving out of numbers. This line usually starts inside the RCBC but only ten people can line up inside at any given time, so the rest will be asked to wait outside until the first ten has registered (see photo above)
Note that you will be lining up with applicants for work visas so be there early. 8AM is a good time. After you have registered your name, you will be asked to go back outside and proceed to the area near the entrance of the RCBC museum to wait for the distribution of numbers.
Have a valid ID with you – note that they are very strict when it comes to IDs – valid IDs are SSS, unified ID, Drivers License. Company IDs are not official government ID but you can use them provided you will leave a PHP1,000 deposit which will be returned to you after you have filed your application.
A TECO staff will approach the waiting area and will start calling name. Once your name is called, show them your ID, claim the queu stub and go back inside the RCBC Plaza to surrender your ID at the registration area where you will be finally issued building IDs and asked to go up the 41st floor.
Curve the urge to bring a companion with you if they are not applying for a visa also. They will not be allowed to go up TECO anyway.
Once at the 41st floor, wait for your number to be called, proceed to the assigned window and submit your document.
Once the documents are perceived to be in order and received by the staff, you will be asked to wait for your name to be called by the cashier.
Pay the visa application fee – single entry tourist visa is PHP2400 per pax. A receipt will be issued to you upon payment – the receipt contains the date of release of your passports. Please note that you may or may not be issued a visa, depending on the evaluation of the consul. TECO reserves the right to withhold reason for denial.
Do you have valid visas to the US, Japan, UK, Australia or Shengen? If yes, you don’t need to apply for a visa. You just need to fill out a special form which you can get from this page.
In the end , the hubby and I were issued single entry tourist visas. I guess what did the trick was that the hubby and I were able to provide substantial financial capacity through our bank certificates, we submitted a certificate for our joint account and another one for my savings account. I was also able to prove strong ties to the Philippines through my CoE. Lastly and for good measure, I took the risk of writing TECO a letter expressing that while my husband has no ITR and COE, we are confident that we can fund our trip and assured them of our intention to return.
Note: this is based on my experience applying for a tourist visa for Taiwan. Outcome of individual visa applications may vary, depending on the evaluation of the consul.