In Taiwan, it’s well worth keeping track of your receipts. The Taiwan Receipt Lottery, formally known as the “Uniform Invoice Lottery” (In Chinese 統一發票 Tǒngyī Fāpiào), gives all residents the chance to win up to 10 million NTD (over 350,000 USD)! Say whaaaaaaat?! YES, and it doesn’t matter who you are – even tourists can redeem winnings (assuming you stick around long enough)! Entry is as simple as buying a bottle of water at 7-11 – the numerical code on the top of your receipt is a lottery number.
It took me a long time to get motivated enough to figure this one out; I was intimidated, or overwhelmed, not knowing how the whole thing works and expecting it to be a big hassle. But it’s really very easy! If you’re buying virtually anything, then you are already playing. So, you might as well find out if you’re winning!
Table of Contents:
- Why Does it Exist?
- How Does it Work, Exactly?
- What Are The Prizes?
- How Can I Read My Receipt?
- How Do I Check My Receipts to See if I Won?
- Can I Go Paperless?
- How Can I Redeem My Winnings?
- Is It Really Worth it?
Why Does it Exist?
In Taiwan, cash is king, and when everyone uses cash it’s easier to leave purchases un-reported to increase individual profits. Implemented in 1951, the lottery incentivizes consumers to make purchases at establishments legally reporting taxes, in turn encouraging businesses to keep everything above board.
How Does it Work, Exactly?
On the 25th of each odd-numbered month, there is a drawing for the previous two-month period. This means that, for example, the draw for January & February receipts will be on March 25th. You can then redeem prize money from April 6th – July 6th, a period of three months beginning on the sixth of the month following the draw. So a nifty list for you:
- January & February receipts will be drawn on March 25th, winnings can be redeemed April 6th – July 6th.
- March & April receipts will be drawn on May 25th, winnings can be redeemed June 6th – September 6th.
- May & June receipts will be drawn on July 25th, winnings can be redeemed August 6th – November 6th.
- July & August receipts will be drawn on September 25th, winnings can be redeemed October 6th – January 6th.
- September & October receipts will be drawn on November 25th, winnings can be redeemed December 6th – March 6th.
- November & December receipts will be drawn on January 25th, winnings can be redeemed February 6th – May 6th.
For more information, see the Uniform Invoice Award Regulations.
What Are The Prizes?
There are three first-prize numbers, and depending on how many numbers you can match from any of these, you can win First – Sixth Prize. There is an additional Sixth Prize number, only three digits, which you can match to win $200 NT. There is only one number each for the Grand Prize and the Special Prize, which you must match in full in order to win. The nine different categories in which you can win are as follows (information from the Uniform Invoice Award Regulations).
- $200 NT Sixth Prize/Additional Sixth Prize: Match last 3 digits of any first prize winning number or of the additional sixth prize winning number.
- $1,000 NT Fifth Prize: Match the last 4 digits of any first prize winning number.
- $4,000 NT Fourth Prize: Match the last 5 digits of any first prize winning number.
- $10,000 NT Third Prize: Match the last 6 digits of any first prize winning number.
- $40,000 NT Second Prize: Match the last 7 digits of any first prize winning number.
- $200,000 NT First Prize: Match all 8 digits from any first prize winning number.
- $2,000,000 NT Grand Prize: Match all 8 digits of the grand prize winning number.
- $10,000,000 NT Special Prize: Match all 8 digits of the special prize winning number.
For the Fourth Prize on up through the Special Prize, a 20% withholding tax is levied.
For the record, in case you’re thinking “it’s never gonna happen for me”, dreams do come true! And we better all be checking because SIX JACKPOTS for the November-December period of last year went UNCLAIMED, half of them for purchases less than $100 NT!! (Gosh I hope it wasn’t me… I failed to check them and now it’s too late!)
How Can I Read My Receipt?
Here’s a typical receipt from Family Mart, 110年03-04月 indicates the receipt lottery draw period. 110 is the year (in the Republic of China calendar), and 03-04 are the months, March and April. The number below the draw period, LL-89390826, will be your lottery number. If you can match the last three numbers, 826, you’re a winner!
How Do I Check My Receipts to See if I Won?
There are tons of options, bordering on too many, I would say, but here are some of the best ones:
Why, manually, of course!
This is our preferred method, to be honest! Sometimes old school is the best school. Or at least the simplest school. We check to see the latest drawings here (I keep this page bookmarked)! Then we sit and literally go through each receipt one at a time. It’s actually not as much of a chore as you might imagine as you really only need to look at the last three numbers. After a minute or two you’ve pretty much got the numbers you’re comparing it to memorized, so it goes quickly. And for Luke and I, it’s actually quite fun to sit together and go through our receipts, and to see how fast we can get through them all.
There’s An App For That: Android
If you type in “Taiwan Receipt Lottery” in the play store, you’ll see a bunch!
If you’re an android user, then there are a couple apps that perform the simple function of scanning and storing receipts. If this is what you’re looking for then I recommend Colibri. It’s in English & extremely easy to use – simply scan the QR code/text on each receipt, and it will tell you if it’s not a match, or what prize you’ve won. It takes about as long as actually going through them yourself, but definitely spares you the mental headache. You can also view a list of all the receipts you’ve scanned, and it will show you which ones are winners.
There’s also the Taiwan Receipt Scanner app, which includes a budget function in case you want to track your spending while you scan for winning numbers!
There’s An App For That: Apple
If you type in 統一發票 (Tǒngyī Fāpiào, Uniform Invoice Lottery) in the App Store, you will see a lot of results!
I was unable to find any English apps, or any for simple scanning, but one that is highly rated is 發票存摺+統一發票對獎機 (Invos Invoice Passbook), which you can find at the App Store and at the Google Play Store. This one has a lot more functions, and can be used for Cloud Invoices, which leads us to the next question…
Can I Go Paperless?
Thanks for asking! Yes you can! I didn’t even realize this was a thing until I started digging into research for this post. Turns out, there is a way to go green and still play the Taiwan Receipt Lottery! You can go paperless by using what is called a Cloud Invoice. According to this Focus Taiwan article by Wu Jia-Jung and Evelyn Kao, the government is even incentivizing their use by increasing the number of winning-eligible Cloud Invoice receipts from 600,000 to 1 million. This increase came into effect for the most recent March-April draw, so if you’re looking to increase your chances of winning then this is the train to jump on.
Ok so what’s a Cloud Invoice? It’s just a paperless invoice that is stored in the cloud. There must be no printed copy for the invoice to be eligible for winning. You can store them using the various apps available, which will keep track for you. You can also choose to store them using your EasyCard or a personalized barcode that you can apply for via the government website. I found very helpful and thorough instructions on how to do both of those things (and more) on the blog Translating Taiwan 台灣翻版.
You can get extra winnings using Cloud Invoices by matching the numbers as well as their preceding letters. For these special drawings, check the announcements on the Ministry of Finance website. Here is the March-April 2021 drawing as an example. For more information on Cloud Invoice winnings, check Article 3-1 of the Uniform Invoice Award Regulations.
Of course, there are also apps, like the one mentioned above. Using 發票存摺+統一發票對獎機 (Invos Invoice Passbook) you can scan receipts, keep track of cloud invoices, check the latest winning numbers, get invoice details and track spending, as well as pay your bills or have money sent to your bank account. There are other apps out there for such functions, as well:
There is the eCloud Invoice app, 雲端發票, available on Google Play or the App Store. I haven’t used it and it’s all in Chinese but Taipei Expat has an awesome, detailed article on exactly how to put it to good use! With it you can add invoices, scan paper receipts, store membership cards, and get some exclusive discounts. Plus, it’s free, has no ads & is good for the environment! I think they might even have a purchase-tracking function, so you can better understand your spending habits.
To make playing the Taiwan Receipt Lottery more convenient, the Ministry of Finance launched 統一發票兌獎 (Uniform Invoice Lottery Redemption APP) in 2019. It is available at the App Store and on Google Play. It’s all in Chinese, so if your reading abilities are limited it might prove more frustrating than it’s worth. But there’s always the screenshot-google-translate-import approach (that’s how I barely manage to use Food Panda 🥴 ). The other, non-government apps seem to have better ratings, but the Ministry of Finance made this awesome English video on the benefits of using the app, featuring the Monkey King (<3). It’s almost a tutorial:
Use This Website to Enter Your Last 3 Digits
If all that is TOO MUCH HASSLE, then this one’s for you – very simple and non-committal. Guide to Taiwan has a page where you can enter the last three digits to see if you’ve got a match!
How Can I Redeem My Winnings?
Should you win, you can turn over the receipt and fill out the information on the back. Some of them vary, but of course the information required is pretty much the same. Here are three samples I’ve annotated for you:
For winnings of $1000 NT or under, you can take your receipt to a convenience store or grocery store for redemption between 9 am and 11 pm (7-11, Family Mart, OK Mart, Hi-Life, Simple Mart, Px Mart). You can ask for cash, store credit, or exchange it for something of equal value. If you won more than that (lucky!) you can take your receipt to a bank, where they will pay out the big bucks (First Commercial Bank, Chang Hwa Bank, and Agricultural Bank of Taiwan). See Keoni Everington’s 2018 Taiwan News article for more details here.
Use the official app from the Ministry of Finance, 統一發票兌獎 (Uniform Invoice Lottery Redemption APP), mentioned above. It allows you to redeem winnings of all amounts by having them sent to your bank account. I’m sure the other apps available all have their own instructions on how you can do this as well, but unfortunately I can’t test them all for you!
Is It Really Worth it?
By playing the Taiwan Receipt Lottery I would say we’ve averaged around $400 NT for each 2 month period, sometimes more! It can be quite fun to sit and actually go through all your receipts. If you have the right mindset, it can be exciting, just like playing a scratch card! And, if you ask me, those moments when you find a winner make it worth it!
It’s all about stream-lining the process to make it worth your while. Of course, if you’re someone who leaves your receipts wherever they drop, gathering them all up to check might be quite a challenge! However if you create a system, or learn how to use an app, you might be surprised at how easy it is.
At our house we have a coin purse hanging on the fridge (which Luke won at the claw arcade) and have gotten into the habit of putting all of our receipts in it. Then at the end of the two month period, I rubber band them and set them aside until it comes time for the draw. Then the coin purse is empty and we start over again! Easy.
Then again, if you can’t be bothered, there’s always the donation option. Most places you go, and certainly all convenience stores, will have a donation box where you can slip your receipt. Then magical things like this might happen!
I hope you found this post helpful, and are now ready to start collecting those receipts! Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below. If you’re looking for more how-to guides for living in Taiwan, check out my post Everything You Need to Know About Taking Out The Trash (and Recycling) in Taiwan! If you have more ideas for posts you’d like to see, I’d love to hear them!