Guidelines for Foreign Business-people Working and Living in China
To facilitate the work and life of foreign businesspeople in China, the PRC Ministry of Commerce, together with relevant departments, has compiled the “Guidelines for Foreign Business people’s Work and Life in China” (2024 Edition)” (the Guidelines), which is divided into four parts, namely: Caveat, Services for Daily Life, Services for Residence and Stay, and Other Social Services, for the reference and use of foreign business people’s work and life in China.
The full set of official English versions is in the preparation process by the government. Here we will pick up some key points for your perusal.
You need to register for temporary accommodation as soon as possible after arriving in China.
- If staying at a hotel, check-in at the hotel front desk with a valid passport or other international travel documents to get residential proof of the period of your stay from the hotel.
- If staying elsewhere, the declaration must be made at the police station of the place of residence (in the town within 24 hours; in rural areas within 72 hours).
Validation of your permits
During the period of working and living in China, you need to pay attention to the following validation of your permits.
If you enter China with a visa and plan to work or live in China, you can exchange it for a residence permit within 30 days from the date of entry following the conditions.
If you need to extend the period of your stay in China, you should apply for the extension at the Exit-Entry Administration Department 7 days before the expiration date of your current visa, submitting the relevant documents following the requirements. Or, you may contact the call center at 12367.
Residence permit validation
If you want to stay on after the expiration of the residence permit, you must apply for an extension 30 days before the expiration date.
If you change a new passport or the registered particular on other residence permits changes, you MUST apply for the modification at the Exit-Entry Administration Department within 10 days.
Foreigner’s Work Permit (FWP) validation
If you want to stay in China for over 90 days, then you shall apply for a Notification Letter of Foreigner’s Work Permit (NFWP) and get a Z visa in your country to enter China. After entering, you shall apply for a FWP at the Foreign Expert Bureau within 30 days from the date of entry in China.
To extend your FWP, the application shall be submitted 30 days prior to the expiration.
If there is any change in personal information (name, passport number, position), you should apply for the change within 10 working days from the date of the change.
When you need HELP
Getting help quickly when working and living in China
- In case of infringement on your person or property, call 110;
- In case of fire, call 119;
- In case of emergency, call 120;
- In case of loss of passport, report the loss to the police station of the place where you lost it.
Applying for Communication Cards (SIM Cards)
Bring your passport or your permanent residence card (so called the “green card) to the business offices of China Telecom, China Mobile, China Unicom, China Radio and Television, and other telecommunication companies to apply for a cell phone SIM card to open mobile communication services and choose the appropriate package based on your needs.
Applying for Bank Cards
Bring your passport or permanent residence card, FWP, and domestic cell phone number to the bank to apply for a bank card. Different banks may have different requirements, so a consultation in advance would be necessary.
If Mobile Payment is needed, you could download the APP of your bank and set it up, or you could attach your bank card to your Alipay or Wechat.
Foreign Exchange for RMB Cash
- Before entering China, you can exchange RMB banknotes in the relevant countries or regions in advance and bring them into China (the limit is CNY 20,000 / per person / per entry/exit).
- After entering China, you can exchange RMB banknotes at the counters of commercial bank branches, foreign currency exchanges and self-service exchange machines at international airports, land ports, ports and other ports of entry, or withdraw CNY banknotes by using a foreign bank card through ATM machines.
If you want to work in China, you should participate in social insurance following the relevant provisions of the Social Insurance Law of PRC and the Interim Measures for Social Insurance System Coverage of Foreigners Working within the Territory of China.
- Expatriates who work legally and have obtained a FWP and a Residence Work Permit per the law, as well as expatriates who hold a permanent residence card.
- Expatriates who have signed labor contracts with work units in China and are paid by the work units; or those who have signed contracts with foreign companies and are dispatched to work in China and are paid by the work units in China.
- Be within the age range of employment (before the age of 60 for men and 55 for women).
[Mutual Exemption Provisions]
According to information on the website of the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, China has signed social security agreements with Germany, South Korea, Denmark, Canada, Finland, Switzerland, the Netherlands, France, Spain, Japan, Serbia and Luxembourg. Persons who have the nationality of a country with which China has concluded a social security agreement may be exempted from the obligation to pay contributions for a specified period for their prescribed types of insurance following the agreement.
Individual Income Tax
Expatriates who work and live in China and receive income should pay individual income tax in accordance with Individual Income Tax Law of PRC and related regulations, and the method of payment will vary from person to person depending on the nature of the taxpayer.
[Agreement to avoid double taxation]
The number of countries (regions) with which China has signed agreements on the avoidance of double taxation has reached 114 countries (regions). Expatriates who are entitled to tax reduction or exemption according to the provisions of the agreements can judge by themselves or find a tax advisor that they meet the conditions for enjoying the treatment under the agreements and choose to enjoy the treatment under the agreements when they file their declarations or make withholding declarations through their withholding agents, and the relevant information will be retained for reference. For details of the agreement, please participate in the Tax Treaties section of the website of the State Administration of Taxation.
There are other things you need to be aware of when working and living in China, such as: Messages on Chinese social media platforms should comply with Chinese laws and regulations; Pets such as dogs and cats should comply with relevant regulations; Please do not photograph military facilities, including buildings, sites, and facilities directly used by the state for military purposes, etc.
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