PETALING JAYA: Malaysians who wish to travel to Taiwan for business or pleasure will still need to get a visa for now.
The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (Teco) here said Malaysia was still on the “temporarily suspended” list of visa-free entry following reviews of Taiwan’s pandemic situation and healthcare capacity.
Teco press and media division director Benjamin Hong Zheng-bin said Taiwan was making the necessary preparations for a gradual opening to allow visa-exempt travel from more countries, including Malaysia.
“It is a step-by-step process because we need to factor in the latest Covid-19 situation within and outside Taiwan.
“Also, we need to consider our medical preparedness so that we can have a gradual and stable opening,” he said yesterday.
Hong said the Taiwanese authority was aware of the many demands from Malaysians to travel to Taiwan and assured them that preparations to open up more and relax some of its rules were underway.
“Based on information from our Central Epidemic Command Centre (CECC), we are making the preparations.
“We can’t say when the announcement will be made, as things will still depend on the pandemic situation in the country,” he said, adding that the sooner infection numbers come down from the peak, the sooner its borders would reopen.
On Sept 5, Taiwan announced the reinstatement of visa-exempt entry for nationals of the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, certain European countries, and its diplomatic allies beginning Sept 12.
Malaysia, however, was placed on the “temporarily suspended” list for visa-exempt entry, together with Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Brunei, the Philippines, Russia, Chile, Israel, Dominican Republic and Nicaragua.
Before the pandemic, Malaysian passport holders enjoyed a visa exemption that permitted stays of up to 30 days in Taiwan.
One only needed a passport with at least six months’ validity upon entry, a return ticket and no criminal record.
As for business travellers and students, Hong said their visa applications must be supported by the relevant documents, such as an invitation, notice or letter – similar to the process in pre-pandemic times.
He also called on travellers to check the latest travel requirement updates at Taiwan’s Foreign Affairs Ministry’s Bureau of Consular Affairs website (https://www.boca.gov.tw/np-137-2.html).
According to the Teco website (https://www.taiwanembassy.org/my/post/354.html), a single-entry visa is RM212, a multiple-entry visa (RM423) and a single-entry residence visa (RM279).
The processing fee is RM677 per application and this permits a total stay of 30 days.
Applications can be made online at https://visawebapp.boca.gov.tw/BOCA_EVISA/ while applicants can submit the documents at Teco’s office at Level 7, Menara Yayasan Tun Razak, Jalan Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur, during office hours.
Malaysian Chinese Tourism Association president Paul Paw said no tourists had been allowed into the country, according to the Taiwan Tourism Bureau Office in Kuala Lumpur.
“So far, some business travellers have been allowed to go,” he said, adding that they must do a PCR test on arrival and observe a three-day quarantine at a hotel.
Hoping for visa-free travel to be reinstated for Malaysians soon, Paw said the additional costs in visa applications and the quarantine were deterring travellers.
Before the pandemic, he said about 530,000 Malaysians travelled to Taiwan yearly, one of the highest in Asia.
Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) president Datuk Tan Kok Liang said Taiwan had always been a popular destination for Malaysian holidaymakers, as evidenced at the national MATTA fairs.
“Suspending visa-free entry for Malaysians inevitably means fewer of us will consider Taiwan for holidays.
“Since this policy is only temporary, we will wait and see how it progresses later,” he said.