For as long as I’ve been living in Taiwan I’ve had a small blue plastic Alien Resident Card issued to me as my primary form of ID.

This card, commonly referred to as an ARC card lives pretty much the entire year in my wallet, sitting under a protective plastic sleeve.

The design of the ARC is such that it has holographs built into it, multi-layered print designs, scannable passport eGate technology and of course photo ID.


Now the Taiwanese government is telling me they want to scrap these plastic ARC cards in favour of slips of paper.


To save money.

“The new paper ARC will have an anti-fraud design and will help to keep costs down, as each IC card costs more than NT$100 to make, while a paper ARC will cost only about NT$6,” Deputy Minister of the Interior Hsiao Chia-chi (蕭家淇) said.

“With the paper ARCs in place, we may save as much as NT$10 million [US$330,000] on the budget.”

NT $6 is the equivalent of about 20 cents US. And keep in mind applicants are already slugged with a $100 TWD or fee to process ARC’s each year.

Meanwhile I’m guessing nobody over at the Ministry of the Interior has put much thought into this, other than how they’re going to divide up their new $300,000 Chinese New Year bonus pool.

Have you ever seen what happens to a paper card kept in a wallet for a year (or two or three years if elected)?

I’m pretty good with my wallet but it has gotten soaked through more than once over the past year. It rains in Taiwan, a lot and sometimes things just get wet.

Money is dryable and everything else in my wallet is plastic so I got off. A slip of paper though?

That and the usual wear and tear that’s going to happen, will probably render a paper ARC all but useless for anything but a cursory verification glance.

Between the reprinting of lost/damaged cards and the additional staff required to handle the workload, I think that $330,000 “savings” might also get eaten into pretty quickly.

Oh and the icing on the cake is that the National Immigration Agency are trying to sell the new 20 cent slips of paper as “fraud-proof“.

In addition to providing a ‘new convenience to foreigners‘, the current plastic ARCs replaced a previous paper version in 2007 to ‘contribute to the government’s anti-forgery and anti-terrorism drives‘.

Guess nobody at the NIA has heard of a photocopier or Photoshop then. DIY counterfeit ARC printing kiosks in 3…2…1…