Taiwanese people, as the rest of Asians, are very “gold friendly” when they come to save their stash. The government loves gold too, Taiwan central bank holds more than 400 tons of gold, ranking 14th in the world for gold holdings.
I love gold too and I have been living in Taiwan, as an expat, for several years so far. Based on my experience, these are the best places where to buy gold in Taiwan.
Easy Start: At Your Bank, Socking Away Grams of Gold with a Gold Passbook
If you have a Taiwanese bank account you may already have it, included in your package. The Gold Passbook (黃金存摺 – huángjīn cúnzhé) can be described as a “gold savings account” which allows you to buy, accumulate and sell back even small amounts of gold (even 1 gram). To do so you simply transfer money from your regular checking account to the “gold passbook” account, to buy a certain amount of grams of gold at the bank’s sell price of the day.
A Gold Passbook is probably the easiest way to invest in gold in Taiwan. No need to worry about thieves. No need to open a brokerage account. When you want, you just resell the gold, how many grams as you need, to your bank. The bank will deduct the amount of gold sold from your gold passbook and will credit the currency to your checking account.
Of course, there are some trades off.
First of all, the gold in the passbook is not physical gold. I mean that is not allocated (it is not legally your property). It is not a gold coin or bar that you can hold in your hand and hide it away, under your control. It is just a record on your passbook, stating that the bank owes you that amount of gold. You have to trust your bank.
Second, you buy from, but also sell to only one single entity, your bank, at the buy/sell spread decided by them. Again, you have to trust your Taiwanese bank. And this is the main reason why, even if I have a Gold Passbook, I never used it.
On the pros side, as mentioned above, a Gold Passbook is a very simple, very popular and “hassle free” way to get invested in gold. Most banks offer it, such as:
- Bank of Taiwan
- Esun Bank
- Hua Nan Bank
- Yuanta Bank
- Chang Hwa Bank
- Land Bank
- Fubon Bank
- and many others, including international banks such as HSBC.
By the way Bank of Taiwan (and maybe Hua Nan Bank too) also offers to redeem Gold Passbook grams of gold with real, physical gold coins and gold bars, at a fee. So, as soon as you accumulate one ounce of gold, for example, you can redeem the gold for a real physical gold coin, if you like. This is one more thing to consider.
A Tad More Solid: Hold Real Gold Coins and Bars in Your Hand – Where to Buy Gold Bullion in Taiwan
As you may have noticed, Bank of Taiwan looks quite “gold friendly”. And it is, indeed.
Bank of Taiwan (BOT) used to be Taiwan central bank, during the Japanese colonial time and afterwards, but it is not anymore. Nowadays BOT is just a regular commercial bank, but it is still state owned, and it is the largest Taiwanese gold importer and wholesaler.
The good thing about BOT is that you can just enter in one of its branches and simply buy gold and silver bullion, both coins and bars, at the desk. You don’t need to be a customer and you can pay with cash. An ID is required but, as I remember, no strange or complicated KYC procedures.
Here you can find Bank of Taiwan daily precious metals rates . Bank of Taiwan will buy back the gold coins/bars sold to you, at the “buy price”. If you keep and show them your original sales receipt, all reselling process will be easier. As you can see, the spread between sell and buy is about 7-8% for a 1 oz coin.
There is no “buy rate” for silver: BOT does not buy back silver coins and bars.
BOT has many branches all around Taiwan. Normally the main branches in downtown have a better inventory of coins, sometimes they may be out of stock. So it is better to phone in advance to inquiry.
There are also private companies that sell bullion, where you can also order online, by phone or by Line. They provide a more private service than BOT, where you may have to make your transaction at the counter, for everybody to see (it happened to us).
The Best of Two Worlds: Peace of Mind is at Hand with Allocated Physical Gold at BullionVault?
While in Taiwan, I have also found very convenient to buy gold and silver on BullionVault.
BullionVault, which is based in UK, is the largest online bullion dealer, where you can trade gold, silver and platinum with more than 85,000 users, at prices very close to the spot. You can then store your precious metals in vaults located in 5 different locations and jurisdictions: London, New York, Toronto, Zurich and Singapore. For “storing”, I mean you have legal ownership of a part of a “good for delivery” bar held, by third parties, in one of the vaults listed above.
To open an account on Bullionvault, I had to send copy of my ID and a proof of residence. As I remember, all the process was quite simple and fast. Then I had to provide the details of my Taiwanese bank account. BullionVault accepts USD, EUR, GBP and YEN. So I had to use a foreign currency account (many Taiwanese banks provide that).
Why I have been investing in precious metals with BullionVault?
I like several things about BullionVault:
- Gold and silver in BullionVault are physical and fully allocated. You have the legal ownership. They cannot be confiscated by BullionVault creditors.
- BullionVault has been around for a long time already. It has been founded in 2005. I have an account from 2010. In all these years I never had any problem with buying and selling gold and silver, and in wiring cash to/from my Taiwanese bank and BullionVault.
- Costs and fees have always been transparent.
- And, living in Taiwan, I think it is wise to have some savings outside the country. Taiwan is a very safe place, but, unfortunately, not all our neighbors wish us well. Better to have also something outside … something, like gold, that will likely increase in price if the world situation is unstable.
What About Silver?
As we have seen with Bank of Taiwan, silver coins and bars are not as resalable as gold. This is generally true, not only in Taiwan. It is more difficult and less liquid to sell physical silver (whatever the prophets of doom may say). So, in general, for investing in silver, unless for a very very long term, I prefer to use physical silver ETF or BullionVault, which is liquid, has more limited spread and reasonable trading and storing fees.
How to be Safe: Safety Deposit Boxes in Taiwan
Safety deposit boxes, in Taiwan, are in high demand but the offer is limited. Not all the banks provide them, because it is a cheap service and it is not profitable. It is seen by banks more as a service they must provide to their best customers. You might have to look to many different banks to find available safety boxes and, in case you find them, you will be, very likely, required to become a customer of that bank.
What are Taels?
In Taiwan, gold bullion comes in 3 unit: grams, troy ounces (as in the rest of the world) and also taels. The Taiwanese tael (兩 – liǎng) is equal to 37.5 grams or 1.205653 troy oz. This unit is only used for gold and Chinese medicines. So you will find not only gold bars with a weight of one or more ounces, but also of one tael. Just be aware of that if you are interested in gold bars.
I hope this post about where to buy gold in Taiwan has been of help to you. Please feel free to add any comment or question in the comments space below. Especially, please let me know if there is any inaccurate or outdated information.