How To Get A Chinese Work Visa?

teach in China work visa

Planning a new life in China? Want to apply for your work visa but don’t know how to start? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

Here are some helpful tips to hit the ground running! This information will help you on your journey to obtain a valid Chinese work visa and avoid common missteps along the way!

Overview of Obtaining a Work Visa in China 

To complete your visa process you’ll need to obtain the work permit, work Z visa and the residence permit.  


Fees for a China Visa

If you are a U.S passport holder, the visa fee would be around $140 USD. Depending on your nationality or express service options, the fee for your visa will vary.

Work Permit

To work legally in China you need a work permit. Once submitted to the Chinese government (usually by your employer), the process time is normally 2-3 weeks. 

Here is a list of items needed for applying for the work permit: 

  • Degree certificate TEFL/CELTA/TESOL certificate (or can provide reference letters accumulating to two years’ experiences instead)
  • Background check  Passport scan
  • Headshot photo with white background
  • Physical Examination Form (x-ray and blood test is not necessary)

[Important]: degree (colour copy), TEFL/CELTA/TESOL (colour copy), and background check (original copy) need to be authenticated by Chinese embassy/consulate.

Below is the authentication process in more details: 


For example, if you obtained a college diploma in New York State, you will need to have it apostilled. That process can be completed by your university for a fee, normally around $20 and it includes the notarization/certification by the County Clerk. The apostille process is timely and I would recommend contacting your university directly for specific details, as soon as possible. 

A similar process will be needed for your criminal record, but instead you will need to contact your local police department to obtain an original background report signed and notarized. 


After all three documents are notarized, take them to the nearby Chinese embassy to get them authenticated. 

Having a release letter from your former employer is always handy in China! Along with your original passport (with a valid visa), CV, original reference letters, HSK certificate,120 hours TEFL Certificate, and digital photos (head shots). 

Work Z Visa Application 

The next step after obtaining your work permit is to apply for a Chinese work visa. 

A Chinese work visa is classified as a Z visa. Upon arrival into China, with this type of visa, you will be able to receive legal pay immediately. You will need to submit your original passport that would be valid for at least 6 months, the completed application, recent passport photos, and your work permit that would be provided by your new employer. The process usually takes about 3 – 7  business days.  

After handing in all of your application material, you will receive an official receipt. It may be in the shape of a large orange index card will all of your information and a scanned copy of your headshot on the card. When it is officially time to pick up your Z visa, it will be secured inside your passport. In an almost sticker like thick film that covers an entire page of your passport.

This can be completed in person at your nearest Chinese consulate. The complete turnaround time should not be too bad. Normally a week is a sufficient amount of time to get the process rolling in full swing!

Temporary Registration (within 24 hours upon arriving China)

Once you have arrived in China, all foreigners are required to register at the local police station within 24 hours! 

If you are staying at a hotel, no worries, they will automatically take care of that for you. If you are staying in someone’s personal residence, then you will have to go to the police to register and collect the receipt of temporary residence. 

That trip to the local police station should be plain less since there is rarely a long waiting line for this kind of service. 

Residence Permit (within 30 days upon arriving China)

Your official resident permit should be obtained within the 30 days upon your arrival in China. This is necessary for any legal payment for work services and allows you to live freely within China. Without this document, you could be subject to fines or other legal actions. 

A resident permit can be collected at a Exit-Entry Administrative Service Center in China. They will provide a document that shows you have been formally identified and registered as a resident who is now living in that general area.

Victory Lap

Try to knock out as much as you can in a day to avoid procrastination. After the police station, the next stop is the local hospital. Preferably, the same facilities that caters to foreigners. This will ensure a more exact experience because everyone there will be there for the same exact reason, for their Chinese visa.

The hospital will preform your health complete examination. Including your physical, blood work, eye exam,ear exam, ultrasound exams, and ect. After paying for the visits you can pick up your results within a week.

Know Before you Go to China

Find a good employer

As a teacher in China, it is essential to have a great employer who can take care of most issues. The majority of the visa work application demands a lot of attention to details.

The entire preparation process is tedious, so many people may use a third party company in order to get a Chinese work visa. If you want save some extra cash and gain a bit more understanding, you can opt in for a more DIY experience. Keep in mind that the more you are prepared, the more that you will be able to enjoy your stay in China!

Be self-disciplined

I’ve been living in China on and off for several years. I am aware of the potential pitfalls that one could end up in, if they are not well aware of the process.

On the flip side, I am also knowledgeable about the opportunities that can be afforded to you while living and working in China.

Just to be safe and make sure that you make copies of everything and I do mean everything! More times than not, I’ve heard about or personally experienced mishaps of lost or forgotten documents.

The choice is yours! You could always wing it and risk running into legal issues along the way. Or you could prepare and stay a step ahead of the game!

Panda Buddy is currently hiring for more than 300 positions in China. We carefully select our education partners to make sure they are well recognised in the industry, provide great local support (airport pickup, visa, and accommodation support) so that you can have a smooth transition to your new life in China. Apply today with Panda Buddy to get your journey started.

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