Buying a SIM card in Taiwan

I’m a firm believer that having cell phone service on the local network while traveling is a must. I’ve been spared countless communication breakdowns in a cab simply by calling my destination and letting them speak to the cab driver. Making this possible in Taiwan proved to be a challenge because I couldn’t easily find a SIM card vendor. Based on past experience traveling in China, places like 7-Eleven are an excellent source for getting a cell phone service. You pay for a card that comes with some minutes and unless you call outside the country, you’ve likely got more minutes than you’ll ever need. In China, everyone who sells SIM cards knows them as ‘SIM card’, I never encountered a Chinese word used instead. In Taiwan, SIM card seems to be a common phrase as well, I just couldn’t find anyone willing to sell me one. Even the Nokia store at New York New York near Taipei 101(the world’s tallest building), didn’t sell SIM cards. The 7-Eleven downstairs (the 5th such place I tried) finally offered to sell me a SIM card in addition to providing some clarity about why no one helped me previously – the red tape is silly.
Think of the pre-paid virtually disposable cell phone we can buy at Target stores in the U.S. when I say SIM card. They sit equally on the communication food chain. The SIM card pops into an existing phone, but they serve the same purpose in their respective marketplaces. In the U.S., I can buy a disposable phone with cash and nothing else. In Taiwan, a SIM card purchase requires two forms of picture identification, a form that has enough English to fill in the blanks coupled with enough Chinese that you’re not sure what you’re agreeing to. If I’d been under 20, I’d need my attorney present. The SIM card packaging clearly states that I’m buying something with no monthly fee and no bill, but still several interesting hoops to jump through. Not sure if this is the norm in most countries that sell SIM cards, but this is certainly my first experience with inconvenient communication.


  1. Hi Jake,
    Posting from press room now. Anyway, the practise of requiring ID identification for buying of pre-paid SIM Cards is pretty common nowadays.
    This has been practised in Singapore since about 2 years ago.
    I guess this is more to do with security issues.
    Hope this helps

  2. Hi Steve,
    I had face a same problem like Jake but sorry to say Yes, it’s really common to provide ID and Passport. But for my case it’s worst as i had feel up the forms and provide my Signature as well.
    You know what? Few hour later while i try using the Sim card to make a call and not able to, due to my Signature is Incorrect. My question, how do you really verify that is not my signature??? This is Funny, and the officer told me that behind my ID there’s a Signature which is not same as i’d signed. (that is my government’s office signature), and the reply was can you please sign it again as follow the ID’s name??? That’s not Signature anymore i guess, obviously it’s Write a Name.
    Next was very silly, i had followed the officer instruction and get to Write my name as per requested to the nearer 7 elevent and faxed to the particular 7 elevent for them to provide the info to the head of the Sim Card company. But still, few hours later i tried again they said no documents received yet. Next day morning the same answer from them, i now back to my country.
    That’s weird….

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