Holders of 'sticker passports' barred by Singapore: Taiwan ministry

TAIPEI, Taiwan - The Ministry of Foreign Affair (MOFA) on Tuesday advised nationals against putting "Republic of Taiwan" stickers on Republic of China passports or it could lead to visa denials by foreign countries, after three recent cases were reported in Singapore.

Chen Shang-yu, director of the Passport Administration Division under MOFA's Bureau of Consular Affairs (BOCA), said at a news briefing that the bureau has recently received reports that three Taiwanese citizens holding R.O.C. passports with tailor-made "Republic of Taiwan" stickers on them have been denied entry by Singaporean customs officials.

All three cases occurred in November. In two of the three cases, the nationals in question had called on Taiwan's representative office in Singapore for assistance.

The Taiwanese in question were still barred from entering the country even after they removed the stickers from their R.O.C. passport covers, Chen noted.

Speaking during the same press event, MOFA spokeswoman Eleanor Wang added that customs officials in other countries have the authority to prohibit anyone from entering a country without giving a specific reason.

Customs authorities will normally keep a record on the person that has been denied entry to serve as a reference should that person visit again, she added.

Meanwhile, Chen reiterated the ministry's stance that people should not use such stickers as doing so could undermine the credibility of R.O.C. passports.

One cannot alter the passport since it is a government-issued travel document and thus represents the country internationally, he noted.

Stressing that Taiwanese passport-holders now enjoy the privilege of entering 158 countries and territories on visa-waive programs, landing visas or e-visas, Chen said one should avoid doing things that could jeopardize the credibility of R.O.C. passports internationally.

To serve as a deterrent, the ministry previously announced that an amendment to a law governing passport issuance will take effect in January to give government authorities the right to revoke citizens' passports if they deface or alter them, including by putting "Republic of Taiwan" stickers on a Republic of China passport.

Pro-Taiwan independence groups have been launching the ongoing campaign to alter their Taiwanese passport covers with tailor-made "Republic of Taiwan" stickers to replace the R.O.C. emblem on the document's cover.

Chen Chih-hao, the initiator of the sticker campaign, previously said the campaign launched earlier this year has produced more than 300,000 stickers.