Few cities attract Hong Kong emigrants quite like Taiwan. In this series of Kwiksure articles featuring four hottest emigration destinations for Hong Kongers (i.e. the UK, Canada, Australia, and Taiwan), we'll get to the nuts and bolts of how to exchange your driving license, get one, buy car insurance, as well as transfer your existing No Claims Discount/No Claims Bonus (NCD/NCB).
Exchanging your driving license
Aside from the extensive railway systems in Taipei and Kaohsiung, other districts have less convenient public transportation systems compared to Hong Kong. To compensate, locals opt for scooters to get around. That's why a driver's license is a must in Taiwan.
Nowadays, Hong Kong and Macau residents holding a Taiwan visa of 6 months or more can apply to exchange for a Taiwanese driving license. Details are as follow:
- 6-month or longer Taiwan visa
- Original copy of your Hong Kong driver's license
- Certificate of Authentication for your Hong Kong driving license (note: to apply for it, you must first pay a visit to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office. Hand in your application form for authentication, a photocopy of your driver's license - both the front and the back on the same A4-sized paper, and your original driver's license)
- Hong Kong passport: the original copy and a photocopy
- 2 passport-size photos
- A completed driver's license application form
- Proof that you have completed a medical evaluation, issued by a recognized hospital or clinic. Medical evaluation should include items like your height, weight, vision exam, and tests for your field of vision and color-blindness, which costs around NTD $250.
Process for exchanging your driving license:
- Visit any Motor Vehicle Driver Information Service (MVDIS) offices (the equivalent of the Transport Department in Hong Kong) to kickstart your application process.
- Obtain a ticket at a MVDIS office. Then, hand in your form and required documents at the front desk.
- Pay NTD $200 to immediately receive your Taiwanese driver's license.
Exchanging your Hong Kong license for a Taiwanese one is a straightforward process. However, roads tend to be crowded with both vehicles and pedestrians in Taiwan. Moreover, left-hand traffic is the norm here. Hongkongers new to the place may not be used to keeping left. Thus, after exchanging your license, we recommend taking driving lessons at a driving school or with a driving instructor to familiarize yourself with the new road situation.
Getting your driving license in Taiwan
If you don't already have a Hong Kong license, consider getting one in Taiwan. Not only is the process for acquiring a license cheaper, but the pass rate is also higher.
Generally speaking, it's the norm to attend driving school in Taiwan. This is because the driving exam is divided into a theory test on the computer, a school test, and a road test. Driving classes familiarize their students with the road signs and mnemonics for proper driving behaviors, reverse parking (to be completed in one take), and parallel parking. These include a total of 26 to 30 hours of lessons, priced at around HKD $3,000 to HKD $4,000. Note that if you're taking them outside of major cities, such as in Taiwan, prices can be as low as HKD $2,000.
Required documents for the driving test:
- 1-year or longer Taiwan visa
- 5 passport photos
- A completed driving license registration form
- A completed medical evaluation
Buying car insurance in Taiwan
Securing basic car insurance is mandatory in Taiwan. It primarily compensates for any injuries to your passenger(s) and third-party injuries or death. Keep in mind that it does not cover loss or damage to your property. Without compulsory car insurance, you'll be fined approximately NTD $3,000 to NTD $15,000.
Third-party liability insurance and excess liability insurance cover the costs insurance companies should pay when a car accident causes injury to others or damages to the vehicle(s) involved. The basic compensation for third-party liability insurance is NTD $3 million for bodily injury and NTD $500,000 for property damage. Unfortunately, this coverage may not be enough. Therefore, we recommend an add-on excess liability insurance to increase the coverage to NTD $10 million. If you want to protect your own vehicle, you must purchase vehicle damage insurance.
There are several ways to lower the cost of your insurance premiums in Taiwan. You can apply for insurance online -usually with a 10% discount, register your car under the name of a woman aged 30 to 60, or use your NCD/NCB.
Transferring your NCD/NCB to Taiwan
First off, send a request to your insurance company in Hong Kong to issue a No Accident Letter, stating for how long you've not had an accident and claim for compensation. Depending on the insurer, they may charge a fee of HKD $500. When you arrive in Taiwan, you can present the certificate to the local insurance company. Of course, whether your insurer in Taiwan is willing to accept this certificate, or whether it will deduct a certain amount of NCD, all depends on the company's approach.