Prepaid mobile phones
Getting a mobile phone in Taiwan is usually a priority for most people staying for more than a holiday. The simplest way to do this if you already own a mobile is to check your phone’s GSM (Global System for Mobile communications) frequency matches Taiwan’s 900MHz / 1800MHz, and buy a SIM card upon arrival.
Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased from all cell phone stores and plans will vary regarding the rates paid for minutes, texts, and data. Keeping them ‘topped up’ or loaded with credit is a simple matter of purchasing your desired top-up amount online, or from a convenience store or phone store. This usually takes the form of a card with a unique code on a scratch off strip on the rear.
Some of the largest mobile providers in Taiwan are Chunghwa (also spelt Zhonghua), Taiwan Mobile and Far Eastone. Their websites have detailed price plans and the full list of services available to customers.
Contract mobile phones
A mobile phone contract will give expats a much more permanent solution to communications in Taiwan, with more services and talk time with monthly bills. Contracts are usually 1-2 years in length and can include a deposit. Some operators (Chunghwa and Far Eastone) will offer month-to-month plans but this is usually at the expense of the subsidy of the phone. Be careful when signing phone contracts and make sure you check all the small print, ask someone to help you if you don't understand Mandarin.
Like many places, Taiwan’s contract plans for mobile phones can include part, or all, of the retail price of the handset. This will really apply to people looking for a 3G Internet enabled smartphone, as 2G phones are nearly always totally free with a contract. However, be careful to check your contract to make sure the total cost of ownership (cost of handset + total of monthly payments for the length of the contract) does not exceed your expectations.
To set up a contract with a mobile phone provider, you will need the following:
- Primary ID - Passport
- Secondary ID - Alien Resident Certificate (ARC), health insurance card
- Deposit payment
- Some operators require a Taiwanese national as guarantor (20 years or older, with two forms of ID)