Transferring Money Home: Practical Advice for Living in Taiwan

One of the challenges of moving to a new country, is that often you’ll still have bills to pay back home: student loans, car payments, etc. So how do you get the money you’ve made in Taiwan, back to your hometown (in my case, America). Here are all the options, downfalls, charges, and what I’ve found that’s worked best.

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You can open an international bank account:

I think this is the best way to move money home, but only if you’re making the cash to afford it. Often, international bank accounts require ridiculous deposits up front. Citibank has a required monthly balance of 25,000 NTD. The monthly balance at HSBC is 35 million NTD. So while these banks are great for sending money home (fewer charges, quick, often all online), they’re out of reach for the average foreign student or English teacher. If you don’t have an international bank account, then you can’t do electronic transfers online in Taiwan.

You can send money with Paypal:

If you’ve got a Paypal account, this might seem like an easy solution. However, Taiwan can be pretty restrictive when it comes to foreigners moving money in and out of the country.  The government regulates Paypal in Taiwan, so the only way to use Paypal is if you have an E.SUN bank account (the only authorized Paypal bank in Taiwan).

But according to this Taiwanese.com forum, the process of actually getting E.SUN to allow you (as a foreigner) to use Paypal, is quite complicated. After reading the forum, I gave up on using Paypal, but if anyone has any further information on this method of money transfer, I’d love to hear about it. I know it is possible to use Paypal for money transfers in Taiwan, if you’re capable of jumping through all the regulatory hoops.

You can send money via Western Union :

Western Union is great for getting money home quickly. There are only two problems with Western Union. Number 1, you need someone at home to collect the money from a Western Union for you (and presumably put it in your bank account). And number 2, it’s expensive. It costs me about 10% of whatever cash I’m sending home. That can add up fast. If you’re sending home $500 USD, then you’ll get charged $50 USD. So while it’s fast, reliable, and easy to use, it’s not a good permanent solution.

You can send money via wire transfer:

My experience of sending money home with Taiwanese banks hasn’t gone smoothly. I was initally charged 400 NTD to do my first wire transfer with my bank, E.SUN, however the bank messed up the forms several times, so I was charged twice in the end and the whole process took several weeks and three trips to the bank to sort out all the confusion. I was also charged $25 USD from my U.S. bank account, Chase. In the end, I was charged about $50 USD to send home $600 USD. Not cool.

After my frustrating experience with E.SUN, I decided to try a Taiwanese post office to send my next wire transfer.. The process went much smoother as the post office was familiar with international wire transfers and several employees spoke good English. Also, the post office only charged me 300 NTD (instead of the 400 NTD at E.SUN). However, I do still get charged $25 USD by my bank at home.  It took about 5 days for my money to arrive in my U.S. account. Overall, I’ve found post office wire transfers to be the best way for me to send money home.  Although I make sure to send large amounts home at once, so I don’t get charged each time for sending smaller amounts.

To send a wire transfer you will need your ARC, routing number at home, SWIFT number at home (easily found online), and bank account number of your home bank.

You Can Mail Checks or Money Orders:

The last way I know of sending money home is by using checks or money orders. I’ve read in several forums that you can buy a U.S. check at a bank and send money home using the check. This is supposedly the cheapest way to send money home, as it only requires the cost of the check and postage; however, whenever I ask at a Taiwanese bank about this option they seem extremely confused. And when I asked at the Post Office about sending checks home, I was told it was illegal. While I’m not sure this is true, I still haven’t successfully found a bank willing to give/sell me checks to send home. If anyone has used this method, I’d be keen to hear about it.

So these are the options that I know of for sending money home from Taiwan, including all the pitfalls and charges involved. Do you know of any other ways to get money home from Taiwan? Leave a comment below and help a fellow traveler/expat out. Thank you!

And if you’re interested in more advice about living in Taiwan, then check out this list of things that I wish I’d known before making the move.

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