After accepting a teaching position in China, you’ll be required to obtain a Z Visa. This will allow you to enter the country and legally start teaching at a school. At a glance, the Z Visa can seem a little daunting, but we promise it’s not as scary as it looks! If you secure your job in China via Teach English Global, we’ll guide you through the entire Z Visa process from start to finish, as part of our service. We’ll do our best to make the overall experience as quick, easy, and stress-free as possible for you! On this page, our Chinese Z Visa Guide outlines exactly what you can expect, starting from the minute you accept a job, and finishing with your first day of teaching in China.

Required Documentation

In order to start the process of obtaining your Chinese Z Visa, you’ll need to collect the following documentation:

Valid Passport

  • You must hold a passport from one of the following countries – Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, the United Kingdom or the United States.
  • Your passport must have at least 12 months until it expires, and three clear pages.

Bachelor’s Degree

  • You’ll need your physical bachelor’s degree certificate.
  • A copy of this will then need to be notarised by a notary public, and have an apostille attached by your government in order to be fully authenticated.

TEFL Certificate

  • You’ll need to have a minimum 120-hour TEFL certificate.
  • A copy of this will then need to be notarised by a notary public, and have an apostille attached by your government in order to be fully authenticated.

Criminal Record Check

  • You’ll need to obtain a criminal record check. Depending on whereabouts you are from these can have different names, such as DBS check (UK) or FBI check (USA) etc.
  • This will then need to be notarised by a notary public, and have an apostille attached by your government in order to be fully authenticated.

Passport Photos

  • You’ll need several full-colour passport photos. These will be used at various stages of the visa process.

Work Permit Application Form

  • You’ll need to fill in a work permit application form. This is a standard two-page form, which covers basic questions about you and your background.

Medical Form

  • Some schools will request you undergo a medical assessment in your home country at the start of the visa process.
  • They’ll provide you with a specific ‘Foreigner Physical Examination Form’ to be completed by a doctor.

Step 1 – Send Documents

Once you’ve gathered all of the documentation listed above, the first step to obtaining your Z Visa is to send the following to your school in China:

  • A photocopy of the information page of your passport
  • An authenticated copy of your bachelor’s degree certificate
  • An authenticated copy of your TEFL certificate
  • An authenticated criminal record check
  • Two passport photos
  • A completed work permit application form
  • A completed medical form (if your school is in Beijing)

Some schools in China will only require you to send scanned copies of these documents via email, whereas other schools will require you to physically post these documents to them. Again, this depends on which Chinese city your school is located in. If you’re required to post your documents, then they should be sent by recorded delivery with a well-known courier such as FedEx or DHL, this will ensure their safe arrival in China.

Step 2 – Work Permit Notice Application

Once your school has received your documents they’ll apply for your work permit notice in China. This is a relatively straightforward process, and it typically takes around 2-3 weeks until your work permit notice is issued.

Step 3 – Z Visa Application

Once your school has received your work permit notice, they’ll send scanned copies over to you by email. The next thing for you to do is book an appointment online at your closest Chinese embassy/consulate, to officially apply for your Z Visa. If you don’t live near a Chinese embassy/consulate, then we would recommend using the help of a visa agency (please contact us for visa agency recommendations).

Regardless of whether you apply yourself, or use the help of an agency, this is the documentation that you’ll need to submit your official Z Visa application:

  • Your passport – Must have at least 12 months until it expires, and three clear pages
  • One passport photo
  • A completed Z Visa application form
  • Your work permit notice (sent to you by your school)

The cost of your visa does vary depending on where in the world you’re applying from. Therefore, we recommend that you check the website of your nearest embassy/consulate before making your application, as the price should be listed here, as well as answers to any other questions you may have.

Your Z Visa should take around 3-5 days to process, after which you should receive your passport back with the visa inside. You’re now free to enter China!

Step 4 – Enter China

You have your Z Visa, and you can enter China, surely that’s the end of the process? Unfortunately not. Once you enter China, your Z Visa will only be valid for 30 days, and within this timeframe, you must transfer your visa into a residency permit – this is what will enable you to live and work in China for the duration of your teaching contract (usually 12 months). As soon as you arrive in China, someone from your school will be likely appointed as your liaison officer and it’ll be their job to assist you with the final necessary steps to transfer your visa into a residency permit.

Step 5 – Police Registration

Within the first 24 hours of arriving in China, you must register where you’re staying, at your nearest police station. If you’re staying in a hotel for your first few nights, then the hotel staff will take care of this. Once you have permanent accommodation sorted (Finding an Apartment When You Arrive in China), your new address will need to be registered with the police. The liaison officer from your school will take you to do this, and you’ll need the following:

  • Your passport
  • Your housing contract
  • A copy of your landlord’s details

Step 6 – Medical Check

Upon entering China you’ll be required to undergo a medical check. For some teachers, this will be the second medical check of the visa process (if their school requests one at the start). However, for many this will be the only medical. It must be done at a government-recognised hospital, and your school will arrange this for you during your first week in China. You’ll be required to bring the following with you:

  • Your passport
  • Copies of your passport details, visa and entry-stamp pages
  • Two passport photos
  • Medical fee (usually around 500RMB and paid for by your school)

Step 7 – Obtain Your Work Permit

The next thing to do is obtain your Chinese work permit. This is essentially done by transferring the work permit notice that is issued in step 2, into a work permit (sometimes known as a work certificate). Again, your school will take care of this step. It’s relatively straightforward, and for it, you’ll need:

  • Your passport
  • One passport photo
  • Your police registration form (step 5)
  • Your medical check (step 6)

Step 8 – Obtain Your Residency Permit

The penultimate step in the Chinese visa process – obtain your residency permit! To apply for your residency permit, you must show up in person at your local Public Security Bureau (PSB) at least one week before your Z Visa expires. Your school will of course assist with this. Here’s what you’ll need for this final step:

  • Your passport
  • One passport photo
  • Your police registration form (step 5)
  • Your work permit (step 7)
  • A completed residency permit application form (your school will provide you with this)

Your residency permit allows you multiple entries in China, meaning that you can leave and re-enter the country as much as you like during the period it is valid for.

Step 9 – Start Teaching!

Once you obtain your residency permit then you’re all set! You won’t need to worry about anything else visa-related and you can fully focus on the reason you moved to China… to teach!