Nationality laws (2000 - February 2004) [TWN42385.E]

Nationality in Taiwan is regulated by the Nationality Law of the Republic of China of 5 February 1929 (US Mar. 2001, 193).

A person is considered a Taiwanese national by birth only when the person is of unknown parentage (ibid.).

Until February 2000, the acquisition of Taiwanese citizenship by descent was only possible in cases where the child's father was a citizen or where the father was unknown or stateless but the mother was a Taiwanese national (ibid.). In January 2000, the Law was amended to allow the "transmission of citizenship through either parent" (Country Reports 31 Mar. 2003, Sec. 5) so long as the child had not reached his or her twentieth birthday (Taipei Journal 31 Mar. 2000). Corroborating information concerning this legislative amendment was reported by The China Post (16 Jan. 2000), Taipei Times (18 Jan. 2000) and United Daily News, which added that young males who are granted citizenship as a result of this amendment are required to complete their military service after holding Taiwanese citizenship for "at least one year" in order to retain their citizenship (10 Feb. 2000). Those who do not wish to complete their military service must, "with their mother's approval, submit an application before they reach the age of 15" to relinquish their citizenship, while those aged between 16 and 19 years, "must either complete their military service, or relinquish their resident certificate and henceforth enter and exit the country on a foreign passport" (United Daily News 10 Feb. 2000). This amendment became effective on 9 February 2000 (Taipei Journal 31 Mar. 2000).

According to an April 2003 news report by the Central News Agency, children born out of wedlock to Taiwanese men and mainland Chinese women have had "enormous difficulties in acquiring permanent residency in Taiwan," despite their acquisition of Taiwanese citizenship (17 Apr. 2003). According to the news report, current regulations between Taiwan and mainland China provide that only 24 children aged below 12 years are allowed to enter Taiwan for permanent residency per year (Central News Agency 17 Apr. 2003). A spokeswoman for the Child Welfare Foundation (CWF) reportedly indicated that young children awaiting permanent residency in Taiwan "may have to wait for up to 10 years" before acquiring the permit (ibid.). Meanwhile, some Chinese elementary schools will not admit these children because they are Taiwanese citizens (ibid.).

The Taipei Journal reported that in addition to the February 2000 amendment mentioned above, another revision was also enacted at the same time that enables foreign spouses-male or female-of Taiwanese citizens to apply for naturalization (31 Mar. 2000; see also Taiwan News 4 Dec. 2002). Prior to this, acquisition of Taiwanese citizenship by marriage was possible for foreign wives of Taiwanese nationals only (US Mar. 2001, 193).

Taiwanese citizenship by naturalization can be acquired by persons who have resided in the territory for at least five years, have reached the age of 20 years, are of "good character," have "sufficient property or skill to make an independent living" (ibid.) and no criminal record (China Post 2 June 2003). In February 2000, an amendment was implemented requiring foreign nationals to have lived in Taiwan for a period of at least 183 days in each of the past three years to qualify for Taiwanese citizenship (Taipei Journal 31 Mar. 2000; China Post 2 June 2003; see also Taiwan News 4 Dec. 2002).

China Post reported that stateless persons who obtain a residency permit to stay in Taiwan may only apply for citizenship after residing in Taiwan for an uninterrupted period of five years, upon which they must wait seven years before citizenship is granted (5 Oct. 2000).

According Citizenship Laws of the World, dual citizenship is not recognized in Taiwan (US Mar. 2001, 193). However, according in early 2000, the government enacted a revised law, which eases the restriction on dual nationality for academics and experts in technical fields (Taipei Journal 31 Mar. 2000; Taipei Times 18 Jan. 2000). Further, in April 2001, a legislative amendment enabling individuals "who have suffered 'uncorrectable' factors [that] prevent... them from forsaking their original citizenship" of another country, to be naturalized as Taiwanese citizens was passed (Central News Agency 6 Apr. 2001).

On 6 February 2004, the Ministry of Interior released a draft of several amendments to the Nationality Law (Taipei Times 7 Feb. 2004). One amendment will require applicants to have a basic knowledge of the Chinese language and civic obligations before citizenship can be granted (ibid.). In respect of the marital circumstances of citizenship applicants, the amendments will provide for the following:

If the Taiwanese spouse in a marriage dies and the foreign partner has not remarried but has children with that spouse, then he or she must apply for naturalization as a spouse ...
... [I]f a child was born in Taiwan and one parent was a foreigner of unknown identity, then after six months of residence the child would be able to apply for naturalization.
Blue-collar foreign workers and foreign students will not be able to include their duration of stay in the country as part of the period of time required to be resident in the country for naturalization purposes ...

Applicants would also need to provide financial details and possess specialized skills ... (ibid.).

Similar information pertaining to these proposed amendments was reported by the Central News Agency (7 Feb. 2004).

Citizenship Laws of the World states that a Taiwanese national may voluntarily renounce his or her Taiwanese citizenship, provided that they are not of military age and have not yet performed their service, that they are not in active military service and they do not hold military or civilian office (US Mar. 2001, 193). Persons who voluntarily acquire foreign citizenship are subject to an involuntary loss of their Taiwanese citizenship (ibid.) Taiwanese women who acquire foreign citizenship through marriage may, according to Citizenship Laws of the World, return to Taiwan as citizens if their marriage dissolves or the woman is widowed (ibid.). More recent information on the law concerning loss of Taiwanese citizenship could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Central News Agency. 7 February 2004. Lilian Wu. "CNA: Taiwan Citizenship Seekers May Soon Be Required to Take Mandarin Tests." (FBIS-CHI-2004-0207 9 Feb. 2004/Dialog)

_____. 17 April 2003. "Children Born to Taiwan Businessmen in China Increasing." [Accessed 17 Feb. 2004]

_____. 6 April 2001. Deborah Kuo. "CNA: Professor From Japan Becomes Naturalized Taiwan Citizen." (FBIS-CHI-2001-0406 9 Apr. 2001/Dialog)

The China Post [Taipei]. 2 June 2003. "Law Loopholes To Be Closed for Foreign Students: MOI." (Dialog)

_____. 5 October 2000. "Citizenship Rules Eased for Stateless Students." [Accessed 17 Feb. 2004]

_____. 16 January 2000. "Nationality Law Revisions Finally Passed." [Accessed 17 Feb. 2004]

County Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2002. 31 March 2003. United States Department of State. Washington, DC. [Accessed 17 Feb. 2004]

Taipei Journal. 31 March 2000. Joyce Lin. "No More 'Roundabout,' Law Recognizes Foreign Fathers." [Accessed 17 Feb. 2004]

Taiwan News. 4 December 2002. "Chinese Wives Blast MAC As Lying About Policies." (Dialog)

Taipei Times. 7 February 2004. Cody Yiu. "Taiwan Releases New Naturalization Laws." ( FBIS-CHI-2004-0209 10 Feb. 2004/Dialog)

_____. 18 January 2000. "Positive Moves on Nationality." [Accessed 17 Feb. 2004]

United Daily News. 10 February 2000. "New Citizenship Law Goes Into Effect." [Accessed 17 Feb. 2004]

United States (US). March 2001. Office of Personnel Management Investigations Services. Citizenship Laws of the World. [Accessed 17 Feb. 2004]

Additional Sources Consulted

IRB Databases

The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, in Ottawa, did not respond to a letter requesting information.

Internet sites, including:

Amnesty International


China Law Web, University of Maryland

European Country of Origin Information Network (ECOI)

Human Rights Watch

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR)

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Country of Origin and Legal Information

Republic of China (Taiwan), Government Information Office

Taipei Times [Taipei] (archives are only two months old)

Taiwan Headlines [Taipei]

Taiwan Review [Taipei]

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