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June 24, 2017

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MOFA urges Taiwanese to prepare documents before traveling to France

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwanese nationals planning to visit France under the Schengen visa waiver program should prepare their R.O.C. passports along with other supporting documents or they could be denied entry to the European country, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) official said Thursday.

Zhang Ming-zhong (張銘忠), MOFA's director-general of European affairs, issued the warning on Thursday following two separate recent cases when two Taiwanese nationals were denied entry by French customs officials and briefly detained.

According to Zhang, a Taiwanese national who flew to the European country earlier this year was questioned by French customs after he was found not to have supporting documents other than his passport on him.

He was later sent back to Taiwan, the MOFA official said.

Another similar incident occurred earlier this month when a Taiwanese traveler was briefly detained by French customs authorities for the same reason until he later provided the required documents and was thus allowed to enter France, the official noted.

Zhang said that border officials in European Union (EU) countries will usually ask foreign visitors for other documentation, such as an invitation letter, proof of lodging or a return or round-trip ticket.

Those who enter the EU for short-term study or training should also prepare their student IDs and admission notices given by the schools in which they will be studying, he said.

Buy Medical Insurance

In the two recent cases, Zhang said that officials asked both Taiwanese nationals to show their travel and health insurance documents, which are not required documents for travelers entering the EU under the Schengen visa waiver program.

Zhang said that different EU countries may stipulate different required supporting documents for travelers; for precise requirements, one should contact the local consular services of the EU country in question.

In light of the recent cases in France, Zhang said the foreign ministry urged its nationals to purchase medical insurance before traveling to not only France but also other EU countries and to take medical insurance documents with them.

It should also be done because medical expenses for foreigners are extremely high in the region, Zhang said.

He added that many other popular destinations in Europe such as Italy, the UK and Spain, also regularly beef up border controls due to domestic or international affairs.

Problems have also arisen in cases where Taiwanese nationals have chosen to travel to EU countries from China rather than from Taiwan because plane tickets from China are much cheaper, Zhang said.

Border controls in the EU tend to conduct stricter security checks on R.O.C. citizens who enter the EU from the Chinese mainland, he added.

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