How to get a Chinese work visa (Z Visa)


Since I got the work visa, I swear to myself often in my mind that I have to share this to everyone who wishes to work in China, this is the only way to work legally in Mainland China. No lie, applying for Chinese work visa is the messiest mess I’ve ever seen in my life. In fact, when I’m around other foreigners, it’s very ordinary thing to hear someone annoying about the difficulties they’re facing “Visa Runs” to Hong Kong or other countries nearby China, or renewing a Business visa or preparing a ton of documents to apply a work permit and booking the ticket to go back to their home countries to get a “Z-visa”.

Visa Run, basically is a trip you have to take in order to remain in a country where your visa is soon to expire. So you have to leave the country you want to stay in and re-enter the country on a new tourist visa. In case of the company which are not willing to sponsor a “Z-visa” (similar to H1B visa in United State) typically take care of all the payment of your travel and visa expenses.

You may hear this just only in foreigner circles because just only foreigners understand how hard it is to stay in this country. It’s easy to get a job offer but it’s very difficult to find employers who willing to sponsor you a work visa especially if you are not an English native speaker.

While there are different types of visa, here’s meant to advise you how to get a work visa (or Z visa), the process from start to finish. The end of process is to get a Residence Permit stuck in your passport for one year, that is your goal. For now, here is a 5-step process you need to face to end your goal.

I.Alien Employment License >> II.Z-Visa >> III.Temporary Residence >> IV.Alien Employment Permit >> V.Residence Permit for one-year

I.Alien Employment License (Or Work Permit for Aliens)

This process should be done by your company. However, you will need to provide the following documents :

(1) Copy of your passport (You must be at least 24 year-old)
(2) Copy of your diploma (At least a Bachelor’s Degree)
(3) Resume or CV in both English and Chinese with company seal
(4) Reference letter or something to represent your two years of working experience in a relative field (In case of you don’t have 2 years experience in a relative field, finding an agency might be possible and your company should be responsible for it.)
(5) The company business license, and any other enterprise certificates (Company provided)
(6) Five Passport-size Photos
(7) Original of Physical Examination

Noted: In case of you are not in China, you need to ask your company which hospital is recognised by Chinese Government to do the medical examination because some of hospitals in Overseas are not accepted. If you are Thai, I advise you to check-up at Chulalongkorn Hospital.

Anyway, if you are currently in Beijing (Sorry, this post specifically based in Beijing), it’s best to do this before you return home to complete your Z visa. Due to I was in Beijing that time, I went to Beijing International Travel Healthcare Centre (北京國際旅行衛生保健中心) in Haidian District. There are many ways to get there, I chose to take the underground line 13 to “Xierqi station (西二旗站)” and then walked straight to “Ruanjianyuan Guangchang (軟件園廣場)” while you’re walking you will see Baidu Headquaters is on your left, keep walking. Then, I took the bus No.365 (or No.982 or No.963) to 西北旺鎮政府 (the third stop). You’ll see a big grey silent building .

Beijing International Travel Healthcare Centre
No.10 Dezhenglu, Haidian District, Beijing
Tel: 010-82403675
Hours: 8.30 am-11 am for exams
Website: Click for more information

** You can make an appointment online here

Don’t forget to bring your passport, 2 passport-size photos, 650RMB cash or debit or credit card, 30RMB if you want the result delivered to you, and most importantly do not eat anything for at least 12 hours before check-up. Once you’re there, the process was very quick, I was there for less than an hour, incredible ! the result will be delivered to you around two-three-day.

Tip: Make sure you get a receipt or invoice or fapiao (發票). Make sure with company might be able to reimburse you for the medical exams.

II. Z-Visa

At this point, after getting a medical exam and provided all documents to HR, now it’s time to book ticket home. Due to my passport was less than 6 months, so I had to go back home earlier for renewing my passport. When the Employment License and Invitation Letter were issued, HR girl sent all of these documents to me by airmail. However, in case of the country you’re a citizen of, is too far from China, you can go to Hong Kong to get a Z visa. Unfortunately, this is the only way to get it…

When I went home, I just went to the Chinese Visa Application Service Centre located in Makkasan, Bangkok (The Chinese Embassy is in Ratchabhisek Road). Make sure to bring these stuffs with you..

  • Passport with at least 6 moths validity (if you have obtained Chinese visa before in the old passport, bring it with you)
  • Passport-size photo (Stick on visa application)
  • Copy of Invitation Letter
  • Copy of Alien Employment License (A piece of paper)
  • Completed Visa application
  • 1500THB for visa fee (Depends on your home country)

It took about 3-4 days to process the visa, you can also pay double price to get it on the same day or the next day.

Well, when you picked up your Z visa, you’ll see that it’s only valid for 30 days. Oh! Bloody hell !, some people will think you have already reached the goal. Actually, the purpose of Z visa is just to be a vehicle to get you back into China, and they give you 30 days to get a residence permit, that is your final goal. Keep going then….

III.Temporary Residence

You need to go to the nearest police station(派出所 not 公安局 ) to where you live to register after entered to China within 24 hours. Bring you passport, I don’t know much about what sort of your document you need to bring to because my flat’s staff (物業) took me there,I just brought my passport, that’s all. Then the police officer will give you a slip of paper, that is your temporary residence form. Do not lost it, you need it for going to the next step.

IV.Alien Employment Permit

Your company is responsible to apply this for you. I gave the temporary residence form to HR girl who is helping me take care of this process (Actually she took care of all process haha). I went to Beijing Municipal Bureau of Human Resources and Social Security with HR girl to apply the Alien Employment Permit. It took about 10 working days to process. At the end, HR girl and I went to Beijing Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau to pick up my dark brown little booklet “Alien Employment Permit” and apply for a Residence Permit on the same day.


When I received mine, I couldn’t stop starring at this dark brown little cutie booklet haha, that’s meant I had a one more step to go. I could live and work legally in China good for a year.

V.Residence Permit

This is what we’re working for, 3-4 tough months. This process should be done by you and your company. The documents that HR girl needed were basically my passport, the Alien Employment License, the Alien Employment Permit (Dark Brown book), Health certificate (No need to re-check up), the temporary residence form and other business license needed. It also took 5 working days to process and the Residence Permit will be stuck in my passport good for one year.

Anyway, there’s some tip depending on the company, they are responsible to take care of all visa expenses. Yet, make sure you should double-checked with your company because some companies just take care of all of expenses but return home ticket and medical exams. Fortunately, my company took care of all my expenses (From Medical exams, visa fee, round-trip PEK-BKK flight tickets, to Residence Permit fee).

Everything in this post depends on my personal experience, I understand what it’s like for visa issues to affect us emotionally. To those who just starting out on their visa journey, Wish you all the best and go for it 🙂


Phoebe Hung 


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