Guide to Emigrating to China
China is the third biggest country in the world, with a lot to offer expats. From vibrant cosmopolitan cities to stunning rural landscapes, with ancient historical culture and modern approaches, it’s no wonder that so many people are choosing to move to China. Below is our guide to help you with everything you need to know if you’re thinking of moving to China from the UK.
Visas for China
There are various visas available for UK citizens who want to live and work in mainland China, which are identified by a letter. These include different types for those who wish to join family in China (S1), for those that will be studying in China (X1 and X2), and those who wish to live and work in China for longer than 180 days (Z).
You will need to apply for a visa on the Chinese visa website by filling in an application form. In this form you will be asked why you will be visiting China – the answer to this question will establish which type of visa you will get.
Once you have filled in the form online you will then need to book and go for an appointment at a visa application centre, located in London, Edinburgh, or Manchester. You will need to bring a printed and signed copy of your application form, as well as your passport and any other documents relevant to the type of visa you’re applying for. You will also need to pay for your visa at this appointment. You may need to have an interview before you can get your visa, in which case, the visa centre will arrange for you to come in prior to paying. Some visas, including permanent residence, will also require proof of no criminal record, so you may have to conduct a Criminal record Check to obtain your visa.
When you arrive in China, you will need to register your residence with the Public Security Bureau (PSB) within 24 hours. You can do this at the nearest police station, or if you are staying at a hotel temporarily, they may be able to do this on your behalf. You will then receive a Registration Form of Temporary Residence, which is essential for then getting your Chinese residence permit.
Woking in China
There are many job opportunities for expats in China. The country is a world leader in manufacturing and many major companies in a range of industries have a base in China, including finance, IT, marketing and accounting. Teaching is also a popular vocation for expats, specifically teaching English. For this role, a TEFL certificate will be required in advance of getting a teaching job.
You should always have a plan for employment before you move – some visas will not be approved unless you can prove you will have employment. It’s recommended to have some basis of the Chinese language before you move, as most roles will require you to sign a contract in English and Chinese. Alternatively, you should have a bilingual lawyer check both versions before you sign.
China has a rich and historic culture, but there are many aspects that may be different to what Western expats are used to. However, the larger cities have a range of entertainment and activities on offer, plus China has a lower crime rate in the big cities when compared to some other parts of the world. The larger cities also usually have a large expat community, so there is plenty of opportunities for new expats to find friends and get out to explore the area.
Around 70% of the population on mainland China speak Mandarin and the other 30% speak Cantonese. Shanghainese, Fuzhou, or another language. Expats are advised to learn Mandarin so they can make the most of their experience in China, expanding their ability to network and socialise.
Many websites that Westerners will be used to using, such as Facebook, Netflix, and Google, are blocked in China. They can sometimes be accessed by using a VPN (virtual private network) that can bypass the firewalls implemented by the Chinese Government. However, there are local alternatives to these sites that expats can pick up and get used to instead.
Education in China
China has a high standard for education, with a focus on discipline, exams, and results. Some expats choose to send their children to local state schools, especially in younger years when children will find it easier to pick up the language. State schools in China do not usually offer any second-language programmes. Private schools in China will offer a range of education, with some sticking to the same curriculum as state school and others incorporating more international elements.
Many expats choose to send their children to one of the international schools across the country, with most being in and around the large cities. These schools usually follow the International Baccalaureate, or the curriculum of the country they’re representing. Admission to international schools can be competitive and some have large waiting lists. It can be best for expat parents wishing to send their children to an international school to begin the application before they arrive in China.
Healthcare for expats in China
Healthcare in China can vary in quality depending on the location. Large cities can offer a variety of facilities, but rural areas sometimes do not have a local clinic. Public healthcare facilities often have long queues and slow service, and expats can find the language barrier causes a problem. Whilst some public hospitals are now opening international wings, where staff will speak English, many expats choose to get private healthcare. Whilst this can be costly, it provides access to better facilities with shorter wait times and multilingual healthcare staff.
Moving to China?
PBS International is an experienced international shipping company offering a complete range of specialised services to meet your shipping needs. We can help with your personal effects shipping, transporting your goods to China quickly and efficiently, finding the best overseas shipping option for your timeframe and budget.