Renewing a UK Passport from Overseas during COVID-19 Pandemic

Source: Home Office

There has been quite a lot of news coverage (update here) recently about passport application/renewal delays in the UK due to staffing shortages at the passport office as a result of the pandemic.

Many people overseas have to have a valid passport as a condition of their residence in their second country, so I thought it would be handy to post this to give people an idea of turnaround times, especially as the passport office will advise you to come back at a later date due to COVID-19 if you are not travelling during the summer.

The passport renewal website is pretty easy to use and states what you need quite clearly. I would advise going to a photo booth that allows you to save the passport photo online as taking a good photo with a mobile phone is pretty difficult. It will cost £86 plus a £19.86 courier fee, plus whatever it costs you to mail your passport to the UK office (I spent NT$390 or roughly £10 for signed delivery of my old passport and a colour-photocopy of my other nationality passport).

Passport renewal website: https://www.gov.uk/apply-renew-passport

July 18, 2020: I filled in the online form with a digital photo.

July 19: Email prompting me to send my documents.

July 20, 2020: I mailed my old passport and a colour photocopy of my second nationality passport.

17:00 July 28: Parcelforce stated that the parcel arrived at the Liverpool HMPO.

July 29: Email prompting me to send my documents and notice informing me that due to COVID-19 I should receive my passport in 8 weeks.

August 2: Email prompting me to send my documents.

August 14: The office acknowledged receipt of my documents.

August 16: Notice of application being processed.

As of September 22, it’s still listed as being processed.

To be continued…

Use your Citizen Digital Certificate to View your Labour Insurance Data on App

Another day another government app. Unlike the NHI app, you need an Alien Citizen Digital Certificate to authenticate the Labour Insurance Mobile Services App ( Google Play / Apple Store ) where you can see how long you’ve been covered under government labour insurance and if you’re registered under the government pension scheme (APRC holders).

It is likely more use to citizens than to foreigners, as I only had data listed under one field (labour insurance coverage) but useful to know how to access as legislation continues to change.

So if you’ve already got your Alien Citizen Digital Certificate and a card reader installed, navigate to the Labour Insurance Bureau’s e-desk website, which looks as below after you close the pop-up on the initial screen:

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Taiwan Podcasts 聽台灣播客(Podcast)

Podcasts have really taken off over the last couple of years but Chinese-language podcasts from Taiwan have been rather limited, with most just being radio segments repackaged for podcast platforms. However, recently more have taken off, so I thought I’d feature them here and you can feel free to share more in the comments section! I’ve focused on Chinese-language podcasts here, although there are also an increasing amount of English-language podcasts too.

Ghost Island Media:

大麻煩不煩 (In the Weeds with Lawyer Zoe Lee):
This is a great intro into Taiwan’s weed landscape, informing people of their rights in terms of getting stopped and searched by police, what to do if you’re arrested, and the progress of efforts to legalize weed in Taiwan for medical or other uses. (Links to different platforms listed on site)
5/5 Recommended

台灣通勤第一品牌 (Commute For Me):
Haven’t heard much of this and it seems a little disorganized, but the first episode explores Chinese-language slang across the Taiwan Strait. It seems to feature a lot of in-jokes and the hosts laughing at how funny they are.
Spotify
Apple Podcast
Soundcloud

股癌 GooAye
Stock podcast. Structured well and brings in a lot of cultural and movie references. 5/5 Recommended
Spotify
Apple Podcast
YouTube

Firstory Lab 最偏激的Podcast
Tried one episode which consisted of a group of guys making fun of the way a female host spoke. Maybe it gets better if you listen from the start?

If you have any recommendations, let me know in the comments section below!

Readers Recommend (Update):
WetBoys 潤男的Room recommended by Erik K. (NSFW mens issues)
百靈果 Bailingguo News (bilingual news podcast) and Spotify Podcast Chart recommended by Matthew Ryan
馬力歐陪你喝一杯 DrinkWithMario recommended by William Peregoy (Interviews)
美食關鍵詞 Taster Life recommended by 三qtwn

Use your phone as your EasyCard with Samsung Pay: Update

Now you can use a virtual EasyCard in your Samsung Pay wallet for all your EasyCard needs, including MRT turnstiles, YouBike rentals and mobile payments by EasyCards. First go to your Samsung Pay app, and click the EasyCard option on the front page (if you don’t see this, you should do a software update on your phone or check if your model is compatible):

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EasyCard Wallet Mobile Payment App (finally) Foreign Resident Friendly: Update

True to their word, just as all the introductory offers are ending, the EasyCard Corporation have held their noses and finally allowed foreign residents to register for their EasyCard Wallet app at the end of May (they should probably add this in English on the Play Store too):

The May 29th update, includes registration being opened to ARC holders in Taiwan, along with under 20s and resolving some other small issues.

You can either click on 「悠遊卡付專屬」 or 「我的」 as below:

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EZ Way App – Import/Export Declarations (Updated August 27, 2020)

Recently the Taiwanese authorities have been quite strict with parcels in and out of the country and if you’re using a courier like DHL, you might have recently been sent an email instructing you to fill in a form to let the company deal with import/export procedure for you. They normally link to the EZ Way app (Android / Apple).

UPDATE: Although SF Express is not listed on the app, a user reports that you can use 福隆國際 (Fwullong International) and SF Express will receive your details. You can also fill in your details on SF Express’s own website here.

Signing Up

Their name verification is currently done by mobile providers and this is for ROC citizens only, so you’ll have to manually upload the front and back of your ARC.

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Filing taxes online in Taiwan – Troubleshooting Invalid Date

I’ve seen an increasing amount of very frustrated people on Facebook groups asking for help on a common compatibility error with the e-filing system for alien taxpayers:

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You’ve probably tried a billion things to remedy this error, but on this count, I have to give credit to the designers, who try to notify you of how to solve the problem (well, they could have just avoided the problem but hey, programming is hard):

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Digital Receipts in Taiwan and Lottery Winnings to your Bank with an Alien Citizen Digital Certificate

money-1144553_1920Do you want your Alien Citizen Digital Certificate to hold all your receipts online so you don’t have to check them every two months (except the old ones that change colour every two months)? You can also get your winnings from the receipt lottery deposited directly in your bank account.

If you don’t have an Alien Citizen Digital Certificate yet, you can find out how to apply for one here. If you don’t want one, you can still get digital receipts and your winnings automatically deposited in your bank account, by checking out my previous post on mobile barcodes.

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Want to go to the club, but no entry and exit certificate handy? Apply online with your Alien Citizen Digital Certificate!

So there have been rumours that some establishments that shall not be named here, are asking foreigners to provide a passport and their entry and exit records for the last few months. What better way to annoy these establishments than to actually provide them without leaving the comfort of your own home or spending an hour or two in the queue at the Immigration Office. If you have an Alien Citizen Digital Certificate, you can apply for your entry and exit records online for free (while the epidemic continues). Simply follow the steps below (fire up your card reader though, there’s no option to use the FIDO app to log in).

Navigate to this page on the National Immigration Agency’s website (it must be the English site as the Chinese version only recognizes Taiwanese IDs).

Choose “Certificate of Entry and Exit Dates” as below:

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You’ll get a pop-up which will try and check your system, so ensure you have your card reader attached and your Alien Citizen Digital Certificate plugged in. You can dismiss this pop-up and you’ll see the following page:

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Make sure 「外國人民」 (Foreigner) is ticked and then enter your ARC number and your Alien Citizen Digital Certificate pin.

Then you’ll be asked if you want your entry and exit records in the span of two specific dates or just your latest entry and exit dates. I choose the latter, as part of my cunning plan:

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Next, you’ll get your entry records, but they’ll probably be somewhat off-centre as below:

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If you navigate to the bottom of this, you’ll see the option to view tables which you can click. You can then print to PDF and print later at a 711, or if you’ve got a color printer at home (get you!) then you can print right away:

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If you download it as a rar file, your password will be your ARC number + your date of birth in the format YYYYMMDD.

Once you print it, it should look something like this:

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Complete with the NIA watermark, and the owner of said establishment will have to find some other reason to reject you (that’s not suitable footwear, mate, sorry, can’t let you in).

Using your Alien Citizen Digital Certificate to Validate the FIDO app

The TW Fido app (Android or IPhone) allows you to use your phone to verify your identity online when dealing with government agencies. To use the app you must first apply for an Alien Citizen Digital Certificate (instructions here).

First of all, go to the FIDO website. Then click 註冊/綁定 (Register/Validate device):

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You’ll be prompted to enter your ID/ARC number and your pin (you should set this after you activate your card), with your card inserted into a card reader (learn to install a card reader here):

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Then you press 送出 (send) and you’ll come to the next screen which asks you to check some details and enter your email and phone number:

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Next, a QR code will appear, which you’ll have a limited amount of time to scan with your app. When you click 註冊/綁定 (Register/Validate App) on your phone, a QR code scanner should appear, and you can scan your computer screen. Then you’ll be asked if you want to use your phone’s fingerprint/face-recognition capabilities to verify your identity when you use the app. I clicked 是 (yes):

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Then there’s one final screen where you need to complete the process (完成) and you’re ready to go:

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I’ll update soon with what you use the app for!