Going to Taiwan? Keep Those Receipts

Travelling is all about the little things, and when you’re in Taiwan, it’s the little things that not only make travelling there an amazing experience – think of amazingly friendly locals or the incredibly cheap food – but also a fruitful one.

Don’t throw your receipts

Think of all those times you spent at convenience stores getting random snacks. After you’ve paid for your purchases, it’s only normal that you’d discard your receipts (or leave without it) since they’re just going to fill up your wallet. However, try to keep your receipts in Taiwan – they are lottery tickets which can net you up to NT10,000,000. And yes, foreigners are eligible!

Have you noticed the 8 numerical codes printed or stamped at the top of receipts? This is your lottery number, and the numbers are drawn bi-monthly with results posted on the government’s tax portal. Yes, the lottery is actually run by the government and is known as tongyi fapiao (統一發票), created to encourage local stores to legally file their taxes by giving consumers incentives to purchase at stores that do so.

If you have 8 matching numbers, you’ll hit the jackpot of NT10 million (that’s almost half a million SGD)! Cash prizes get lower the less numbers you match – you’ll need at least 3 matching numbers to win the minimum of NT200. A qualifying receipt will indicate the lottery draw date, followed by the lottery number.

Winning tickets can be exchanged for cash at post offices for amounts up to NT10,000, while larger numbers can be exchanged at Taiwan Cooperative Bank. Lower denominations can also be redeemed from convenience stores where you made your purchase. Make sure all winning receipts are stamped by the original store you purchased from.

This is why at every cashier there is a ‘donation’ box where you can donate your receipt to charities. Next time you’re at a hotel, store or restaurant, be sure to ask for a tongyi fapiao.

Finding the date on receipts

Another little thing you may need to pay attention to if you want to reap the benefit of your receipt-keeping: you’ll probably need to match the proper dates. Taiwan has 2 official ways of marking dates: one following the Gregorian calendar like the rest of us, and the other following their Minguo (民國) calendar.

Luckily, their system of dates is not as complicated as Japan’s (which traces each sovereign’s year of reign) – in Taiwan’s case, dates start from 1912 which is the year of the founding of the Republic of China. Hence, 2016 translates to Minguo 105, which is sometimes printed on receipts in this format: ROC105-10-17, in the case of October 17, 2016.