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Above: Close up of flowers in Nanzhuang. Credit: my student Kelly.

Military Service

Taiwan has conscription – or mandatory military service. Males born in Taiwan and ages 18-45 are required to serve two years in the Taiwan military.

I was born in Taiwan, how do I avoid mandatory military service?

I know there are many different answers and everyone will tell you something different when you ask them how to avoid military service. However, I am 99.99% sure that as long as you leave Taiwan every 4 months, time does not accumulate where you would be required to serve in the military.

What do you mean that "time accumulates"?

Everytime you stay in Taiwan over 4 months, time will accumulate. If you accumulate more than 2 years, then you will have to serve in the military.

Taiwan Children's textbookA page from an old children's Elementary textbook espouses the glory of being a soldier and serving Taiwan.




Any other way to avoid military service?

You can avoid this by (1) renouncing your Taiwan citizenship, (2) leaving Taiwan every 4 months to be on the safe side and (3) if you have a medical condition that prevents you from being a conscript. Some exceptions are if you are flat footed, if you have eyesight beyond requirements and sometimes if you are too skinny for your height.

I want to keep my Taiwan citizenship so I don't need a work visa, can I still avoid military service?

Yes you can, however, enter Taiwan on your US passport and leave Taiwan every 4 months. A friend of mine in Taiwan has been doing this for the past 10 years. It works.

Is military service that bad?

Even though you are required to officially serve two years, the government for some reason allows people to sometimes leave the military after 18 months. Even if you serve in the military, some of my students who finished their military service indicated that they had plenty of free time in the military!

How do I renounce my Taiwan citizenship?

If you would like to do step (1) and renounce your Taiwan citizenship, please contact your local Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) for appropriate steps. Renouncing your citizenship is the safest way to avoid serving in the military. If you need help finding your TECO office, email me with your city and state.

What else could happen if I try to leave Taiwan with a Taiwan passport?

I received an e-mail from a visitor to my site, Sam L., he wrote to tell me something he experienced personally:

"I hold British and Taiwanese citizenship and my brother got caught out by going back with his British passport. He didn't get caught the first few times he went back, however the last time he was detained when trying to leave Taiwan. It was a long legal process to get him out of it and cost a lot of money. As far as I am aware, this law still stands."

Thanks Sam for the information, if you have an experience you would like to share, please e-mail me.