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Those of you who are just entering your Chinese schools for the first time, here are a couple reminders of tasks your coordinator/school should be looking out for you in the near future. Just a note that each region and school differs in their process so if you do not follow these steps in the exact way, do not fear.


  1. Applying for temporary resident permit

  2. Getting Chinese SIM card

  3. Opening bank account

  4. Doing medical checkup

  5. Getting work permit

  6. Getting resident permit


Applying for temporary resident permit:



  2. LANDLORD DOCUMENTS (if you have a landlord)

If you do not already have your documents from the landlord, please sure to ask about it. This is probably the very first thing your coordinator will get you to do. Within the first 24 hours of arriving in China, you will need to register your information at the local police station. This should be a relatively quick process depending on how the station operates (couple hours to couple days). If you are coming in with orientation, your hotel will be in charge of this process.


Getting Chinese SIM card:




This is one of the very first things you should be anticipating to do since you often need a Chinese phone number for other steps. Coordinators have most likely told you to wait until after orientation and go back to your respective regions before buying one because the charges may differ. Popular options often include China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom

You are able to choose from a set of plans that range depending on how much data and minutes you prefer. I personally have found 10GB/month to be somewhat sufficient but I also do not use my data for much else besides browsing internet during transit, translation apps and using maps/directions so adjust according to your own needs.

You also need to bring money to pay your deposit. My initial deposit was around 100 RMB. 

Once you have your number and plan all set up, make sure to download the mobile carrier’s app on your phone. That way it will be easier to track your monthly usage and also pay your phone bill. My coworkers have recommended depositing a couple hundred RMB and then setting up automatic payments which deduct at the beginning of each month. 


Opening bank account: 





How you open your bank account differs depending on which bank you choose and what region you live in. The most popular bank options are known as the Big Four and are state owned commercial banks: Bank of China 中国银行, China Construction Bank (CCB) 中国建设银行, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) 中国工商银行, and Agricultural Bank of China 中国农业银行. 

Opening your bank account can be an arduous and often repetitive process especially as a foreigner. Chinese bank systems, although claim to be high tech and safe, still lack in processing minute details for foreigners. For example, distinctions between using capital and lowercase letters can prevent you from getting your application done so make sure you keep track of how they are submitting your personal information (name and passport number). 

When they ask for your identity number (a card that all Chinese citizens have), you will have to present your SSN (if you are American). However not all bank workers will know this information so it is important that you make this distinction and insist anyways. Additionally, if you have a long name, sometimes the online bank database literally cannot contain that information. If that is the case, you may have to come back again or go try another bank.

You will need to input all your personal information, including phone number, SSN, into your application. You will then make up your own PIN number which you should write down or keep hidden somewhere for safe keeping.   

Once this is all complete, make sure to download the bank's app onto your phone so you can keep track of all transactions. Also doublecheck with the ATM and try to deposit/withdraw money to make sure there are no issues. 

Once you finish this step, you should be able to use WeChat Pay and Alipay for all you transactions. This is one of the highlights of convenient living in China. Simply show your QR code to a cashier or scan the QR code of any vendor to pay and you’re all set.


Doing medical checkup:



  2. MONEY (350-400 RMB ESTIMATE)

Some time during the first couple days or week you are in China, you will be going to get a medical checkup. Your coordinator should help you get to the clinic/hospital. The process differs depending on which region you go to but I had to get my photo taken in order to attach to my medical document. You will then be administered around 4-5 tests. The tests I had to do were ECG, ultrasound, bloodwork, and eye test. Mine did not but others included a urine test as well. The process is fairly quick and after all the tests are done, YOU will need to pay for them at the end and get a receipt so your school can reimburse you later. There have been some cases where you will not get reimbursed however the amount is quite insignificant and should not be a big issue. You will probably then be asked to mail your medical results to a certain address which your coordinator will help you with. 


Getting work permit:



Your coordinator should mostly be in charge of this part. He/she needs to submit many documents on your behalf along with your passport. Should not take too long (couple days). 


Getting resident permit:




If you have ever gone to the DMV before, this is the Chinese equivalent. This is a long process which requires going down to the bureau with your coordinator and submitting your documents for application. You first need to fill out an application that includes personal information about where you are staying, where you work, etc. You may also have to get your picture taken for ID reference. After a long wait, you will simply need to show the worker all your documents along with the application. He/she will then take your passport and give you a passport receipt (should have your picture and red stamp). This passport receipt can be used to travel but only domestically. Your passport and application should be estimated to arrive back in 10 business days so plan accordingly. This is why this is usually the last step since most other steps require having your passport to show which your passport receipt cannot be used in place of.   

Once you get your resident and work permit back, you are all set to live and enjoy China! If there are any issues regarding communication or further confusion, contact your RPL or have your coordinator contact your RPL. Hope this helps and good luck to everyone! :)