Advice for Expats Working in China

Do you wonder what it’s like to live and work in China? Are you drawn to exotic locales, cultural experiences, delicious cuisine, and the economic opportunities to be found in that vast country?

Moving to China involves changes to every aspect of daily life. Commuting, shopping, working, and socializing operate differently from what you are used to. If you love experiencing new and challenging environments, living and working in China may be just what you are looking for.

If you are looking at starting a business there or outsourcing some part of your current business operations, many firms can help you with everything from screening and hiring to payroll and tax compliance.

Visa Types:

Visas serve as the starting point for foreigners. If you are looking for employment, the Z visa is particularly relevant.

The visa process begins with an application at a Chinese embassy or consulate in your home country and requires an up-to-date passport.

There are different visa categories depending on the purpose of your visit:

  • Tourist (L Visa) – for sightseeing or visiting family.
  • Business (M Visa) – for business-related purposes, excluding employment.
  • Student (X Visa) – to study in China
  • Work (Z Visa) – for working in China

After entering China, you have to convert your visa to a Residence Permit within 30 days. The permit acts as a visa, allowing multiple entries and determining how long you can stay.

Work Permit:

To legally work in China, you have to obtain a Work Permit. It is necessary to have one to apply for a Z Visa and Residence Permit.

Your employer should help with the application process to help you integrate into the Chinese job market.

You need to present your employment contract, educational and professional certificates, a health certificate, and a criminal record background check.

Employment law in China differs greatly from what you are used to. It’s important to do thorough research. Making sure you are compliant with all the rules and tax policies takes expert professional advice.


Finding a comfortable apartment or dwelling is a top priority. The housing market in major Chinese cities is very competitive. You have choices from high-rise buildings to traditional hutongs.

Whatever you decide, you should consider your proximity to your place of work, public transportation options, and amenities. You will also want to know if there are other expats in your neighborhood. Unless you are fluent in Chinese and very used to the culture, you will most likely want to congregate and socialize with fellow travelers.

Bank Account:

You need a Chinese bank account to simplify daily transactions and pay bills. Major Chinese banks are noted for their reliability, and it should be easy to establish mobile banking to give you convenient access to your finances.

You will have to present your passport with a valid visa and proof of residence. Some banks may also require a work permit or employment letter.

Health Care:

When it comes to health care you can choose either public or private hospitals. Public hospitals are more affordable and highly subsidized. They can be crowded, and you may encounter language and other cultural barriers.

Private hospitals usually have English-speaking staff and shorter wait times. You should register with your hospital of choice on arrival to ensure that procedures are expedited in the event you have a healthcare emergency.

You should get comprehensive health care insurance if you plan to live anywhere abroad.

Language and Communication:

Mandarin is the most widely spoken Chinese dialect. Proficiency in Mandarin helps facilitate meaningful interactions as it is the medium for most business and social exchanges.

Gaining the ability to speak Mandarin demonstrates respect for the local culture, reduces instances of culture shock, and helps you become part of the community.

Etiquette and Customs:

The concept of “face” or social reputation is very important, and you have to be aware to maintain and honor it in social situations. Adhering to polite behavior like modesty and deference is vital in showing respect.

If you’re ready to start your adventure, contact the Chinese embassy in your home country to get started on your visa application.

Living and working in China as an expat is both challenging and rewarding. Living in China offers a unique blend of professional opportunities and personal growth.

Nirmal Sarkar
Nirmal Sarkar

Nirmal Sarkar is a Biotechnologist from the city of Joy, Kolkata. He is the founder of this blog and covers a wide range of topics from Gadgets to Software to Latest Offers. You can get in touch with him via

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