Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Using Mobile Phones in Taiwan

Sarah has been getting a lot of requests for instructions on how to use your cell phone in Taiwan without using your US provider's costly roaming plans.

She has asked me to write up a guide because dealing with technology is one of the things listed in my household job description.
Taiwan Mobile's "Iridium" Logo
Taiwan Mobile / 台灣大哥大 is my provider of choice because of the coverage area and speed. You could also use Chunghwa Telecom or FarEasTone for your provider.

1.) First, and most important. Your phone *MUST NOT* be SIM Locked. AT&T or T-Mobile customers can usually call customer service and request a SIM Unlock for international travel. Verizon customers can do the same, but not all of Verizon's phones will work on Taiwan Mobile's network.

2.) You have to have a mobile phone that is GSM compatible. If you are a AT&T or T-Mobile user you very likely have a GSM phone. Verizon users will need a "Dual Band" phone. Some of which are listed here. If your phone isn't on this list you might call Verizon and ask them if it is a Dual Band phone.

3.) If you arrive in Taiwan during normal business hours, you can find Taiwan Mobile's counter right after you exit immigration. Take a left outside immigration, down the main hall, then left again.
Taiwan Taoyuan Airport
 Or watch this video with with Nicole Scott from The video is 2 years old, but the information is still correct as of this post.

You must provide TWO forms of government issued identification to buy a prepaid SIM card. Use your passport and driver's license.

Upon successful activation, you will have a Taiwan cell phone number instead of your US phone number. Your phone number will be written on the package the new SIM card came in.  

IMPORTANT! Save your original SIM card! You'll need it when you come back home.

If you have a Smartphone, unlimited internet usage is available as well for an additional cost. It is a lot cheaper than paying your US provider's roaming fee. You can purchase up to 5 days of unlimited internet at a time. When 5 days is up, you must return to a Taiwan Mobile retailer and buy more. If there is a way to do it via internet or calling customer support, I don't know. My agent told me I had to come back.

4.) Dialing or Texting:

To call a phone in United States from Taiwan use the following dialing format:


To call a mobile phone in Taiwan from United States use the following dialing format:

011 + 886 + 9 + LOCAL NUMBER

Test dial someone back home to make sure it works before you leave the store. TIP: When the party you call asks you if you have any idea what time it is, make sure you reply with Taiwan local time, pretending you have no idea that there is +12 hour difference. This works best if local time is between 1-5pm.

5.) I ran out of minutes!: No worries. Go to your local 7-Eleven. Walk 2 blocks from wherever you are and you will likely find one.

I'm not kidding. 7-Eleven is EVERYWHERE in Taiwan.

Go to the cashier, take NT$300 out of your wallet, hold up your mobile phone, point to it and say "Taiwan Da Ge Da". They will give you a Taiwan Mobile recharge card.

Isn't it cute?
Turn the card over and scratch off the silver strip with one of the multitude of NT$1 coins you have rattling in your pocket or purse. Other coins work as well, I just was happy to finally have a use for one of those little things.

Underneath that will be a 14 digit code. Call 867 from your mobile phone and press 2 for English. Yes, in Taiwan 2 is for English, not Spanish. Go figure. You will be prompted to enter the 14 digit code from your keypad and your account will be credited. You can also buy NT$600 and NT$1000 cards, but if you aren't making many calls, get the NT$300 one.


  1. Thanks, Kevin. I'm sure everyone appreciates your tip on making those important test calls to friends and family back home in the states between 1-5pm. :)

  2. Great article on how to get a SIM card in Taiwan. I tried to do this while working in Sao Paulo, it was incredibly difficult for me get a SIM card for my phone - mostly because they do not want to give them to non-Brazilians. I am heading to Taiwan today, will give this a shot when I get there.

  3. Great helpful and humorous post! Thanks for helping us Taiwan tourists out.


Please keep blogging safe for everyone. Do not share personal information about us or other users in your comments. Thank you!