Born in the summer of 69

A guide to knowing what year it is in Taiwan…

Close-up photo of the dates 113-03 and 113.02.26 printed in the top-right cover on a water bill.
Dates on my most-recent water bill. Photo: Zhen-Kang.

I’m 43 years old, but I was born in the summer of 69.

That’s because Taiwan uses a different calendar to most of the world: the Republic of China calendar.

Taiwan’s official name is still Republic of China (ROC), from when its government also ruled the mainland. But in 1949, the ROC government lost the Chinese Civil War and fled to Taiwan—with antiquities, gold, and the ROC calendar, of course.

Year 1 is 1912, when the Republic of China was founded.

So, to calculate the year in Taiwan, take the Gregorian year and subtract 1911:

1912 – 1911 = 1

Therefore, the current year in Taiwan is:

2024 – 1911 = 113

I was born in the summer of 1980, or:

1980 – 1911 = 69

Need a date before Year 1? Switch to the Gregorian calendar:

1909, 1910, 1911, 1, 2, 3…

Writing the date? You’ve got a few options:

1130307
113.03.07
113-03-07
113年03月07日

Here in Taiwan, the ROC calendar’s still popular: since moving here 14 months ago, I’ve seen the numbers 112 and 113 a lot. Places I’ve encountered the ROC calendar include:

  • My apartment rental contact
  • My date of birth on my National Health Insurance ID card
  • My scooter purchase agreement
  • The inspection certificate in my building’s elevator
  • The national receipt lottery

But the Gregorian calendar’s widely used too—on bullet train tickets and Alien Residence Cards, for example.

Because we aliens aren’t the fastest at subtracting 1911.