Taiwanese nationality is based on the principle of jus sanguinis - passed on by blood. If your parents are Taiwanese nationals it is very likely you are too, automatically.
However, there is an important conceptual difference in Taiwanese citizenship compared to that of other countries. Essentially, Taiwan only has the concept of a “national”, and what most of us think of as the rights of a citizen are tied with what is known as “Household Registration”. Nationals with full residence and voting rights are known as “Nationals with Household Registration”.
There are many Taiwanese nationals living overseas, who may be unaware they are Taiwanese, because they do not have the right to live or work in Taiwan without taking some additional steps. These are known as “Nationals without Household Registration” (NWOHR). NWOHR’s can have Taiwan passports, but they lack a national ID number (which significantly reduces the usefulness of the passport).
If you have Taiwanese parents and want to acquire Taiwanese citizenship, the first step you need to take is to determine whether they ever held Household Registration. Try and find that document and bring it to your local Taiwanese diplomatic post, who can provide advice on how to proceed.
There are many nuances here, including which of your parents was Taiwanese and when and where you were born.
Generally, there are four steps involved in acquiring Taiwanese citizenship for those with Taiwanese parents:
What documents you will need at each step, and whether you need to live in Taiwan for a period before getting your Taiwanese ID will depend on your age and the status of your parents.
If you are under 20 years old, and your parents have active Household Registrations, you may follow a simpler process. You will not have to apply for a Taiwan Area Residence Certificate (TARC) and may proceed directly to Household Registration.
You can apply for a Taiwan passport is done at your local Taiwanese diplomatic mission. In addition to your passport photos, tou will likely need some of the following documents:
Any of these documents from a country other than Taiwan need to be certified by the Taiwanese diplomatic mission responsible for the area where the document was produced. For example, if you were born in Los Angeles, USA; then the TECO in Los Angeles needs to certify your birth certificate.
If you are a National without Household Registration (NWOHR) seeking full citizenship, you must apply for a TARC and reside in Taiwan for:
Instructions are available in Chinese, but be prepared to provide a criminal background check from your home country and a health check (done in Taiwan).
Unusually, you must provide a reason for applying for a TARC. The list of reasons and associated document requirements are here.
You can skip getting a TARC if:
There are around twenty different reasons a National without Household Registration may apply for a Taiwan Area Residence Certificate, so they can stay in Taiwan for the required number of days and subsequently become a full citizen. The most common rely on submitting copies of blood relative’s Household Registration documents.
AF351-AF354 are used where you are related to someone who currently has active household registration in Taiwan. You’ll just need the national ID of your relative and their original (and a copy) 戶口名簿 or a less-than-3-month-old 戶籍謄本 and other documents to prove your relationship. AF351 and AF352 are where it’s your spouse and you’ve been married less than/more than 4 years and don’t have/have children. AF353 is where you have relatives (including your parents, but also some more distant blood relatives may count) who have an active household registration in Taiwan. AF354 is where you have brothers, sisters or your spouse’s parents with household registration.
AF384 is for NWOHRs over 20 years old who were born overseas, but whose parents have or had household registration in Taiwan. Usually used when the household registration has lapsed and/or parents are deceased, otherwise AF353 may be more straightforward. You’ll need a certified Chinese translation of your birth certificate, a copy of your parents marriage registration, as well as copies of your parent’s Taiwan ID cards and the original 戶口名簿 and a copy. If your parents weren’t married when you were born, there are workarounds but it’s best to ask your local embassy.
When applying under AF384 you may be told that this is only for applicants whose parents are deceased, or be told that your parents should simply re-activate their household registration if alive (i.e. to apply under AF353). However, this is not technically required and with significant effort can be worked around with techniques such as an affidavit that your parents are unable to travel.
Other common methods to get a TARC are - investing 10 million NT (AF358), or getting a job in Taiwan that sponsors your work permit (AF370).