Steps for getting a visa to teach in China

You need to get a work visa (known as the Z visa) to allow you to legally teach in China. The process is relatively straightforward but it can take time.

Once you've accepted a job offer and signed the contract, follow the steps below.

Please note, however, that requirements for some provinces and schools can differ, so please check with the school every step of the way.

1. Get your documents together

Compile the following documents:

  • Degree certificate
  • TEFL certificate (if applicable)
  • Criminal record check
  • Medical check (in some cases)
  • Current passport
  • Passport-style photos
  • Resume
  • Reference letter

Getting a Z visa to teach in China requires a valid passport

Make sure your passport is current.

2. Get some of your documents legalized

Your degree certificate, TEFL certificate (if applicable) and criminal record check must be legalized.

You need to get these documents:

  • notarized by a notary public
  • authenticated by the foreign affairs department of your country, and
  • stamped by the Chinese embassy to get them legalized.

3. Email the documents to your school

Scan each of your documents, including the legalized ones, in high-quality colour and email them to your school.

The school will then work with their provincial government office to arrange the foreign expert confirmation documents to be sent to you.

Emailing Z visa documents to teach in China

Once the relevant documents are legalized, send all the required documents to the school.

4. Submit your visa application

Once you've received the foreign expert confirmation documents, submit your visa application to your local Chinese embassy or consulate. Visit the Chinese embassy or consulate’s website for the application form.

When you complete the application form, make sure you apply for the Z visa. This kind of visa allows you to legally teach in China.

The Z visa application will incur a fee, which you will need to pay. The cost varies depending on your country.

Make sure you advise us and the school once your visa application has been successful.

Foreign teachers working in China on the correct visa

Submitting your application to the Chinese consulate is the last step to get your Z visa.

How do you get your documents notarized?

You need to provide your documents to a notary public. These people are senior legal practitioners who prepare, attest, witness and certify legal documents for use overseas. 

Note that services provided by a notary public will incur a fee.

How do you get your documents authenticated?

You need to submit your documents to the foreign affairs department of your home country. Click on the relevant link for your country's requirements for authentication. 

Note that government authentication services will incur a fee.

Avoiding visa hassles

Don't leave home without a Z visa in your passport. The Z visa is the only legal working visa for China.

There could be processing delays at the provincial government office (Step 3) or at the embassy or consulate (Step 4). That's why it's important to allow plenty of time to get your visa organized.

Chinese authorities strictly enforce penalties for entry and exit visa violations.

If you overstay your visa, you could be up for a 500 RMB fine for each day overstayed (up to a maximum of 5,000 RMB) and/or detention.

The period of detention can range from 5 to 30 days depending on the severity of the violation. So it pays to keep track of your visa dates!

As visa and other entry and exit conditions can change at short notice, you should always contact your nearest Chinese embassy or consulate for the most up-to-date information.

Arriving in China

All foreigners working in China are required to register their place of residence with the local public security bureau (PSB) within 24 hours of arrival. The PSB is a government office which acts as the local police station.

Your school will take you to the local PSB. Many schools do this straight after picking you up from the airport.

Remember to keep your passport handy, as your details will be noted by PSB personnel.

Arrive in China with the correct visa

After you've arrived in China, your school will take you to the police station to register you.

Travelling to Hong Kong and Macau

Hong Kong and Macau are special administrative regions (SARs) and have separate visa and entry administration.

If you plan on visiting Hong Kong or Macau during your teaching contract, you should apply for a visa with multiple entries.

If you only have a single entry visa, you may require a new visa to re-enter mainland China.

Passport information

If your passport is lost or stolen while in China, you will firstly need to obtain an official loss report from the local police. This report is necessary for obtaining a new passport and Chinese visa.

You will then need to obtain a replacement passport from your nearest embassy or consulate, as well as a Chinese visa to allow you to leave China.

Issue of a visa by the Chinese authorities can take up to five working days, and can be delayed during Chinese holiday periods. Don’t expect the Chinese visa renewal or replacement process to be expedited to meet travel or flight schedules.

We strongly recommend you keep a copy of your passport and visa in a safe place.

Further reading about getting a visa to teach in China