On average, the Chinese visa process takes around 6-9 weeks, with several factors influencing how quickly teachers can obtain their Z visa and enter the country. This timeframe has reduced significantly since China opened up to the world again post-Covid! However, it may still seem like a lengthy wait for teachers eager to enter China soon after accepting a job offer. In this blog post, we’ll explain how teachers can shave a couple of weeks off the visa process time by entering China through Hong Kong!

As we outline in our Chinese Z Visa Guide, three main stages must be completed before a teacher can fly to China:

  1. The teacher must authenticate their: Bachelor’s Degree, TEFL, and Criminal Record Check. (2-4 weeks)
  2. These documents will then be used for the school in China to make the Work Permit Notice Application. (2-3 weeks)
  3. With their work permit notice, the teacher will then schedule and attend an appointment at their nearest Chinese embassy/consulate to submit their official Z Visa Application. (2 weeks)

Once all of the above has been completed the teacher is then free to board a flight to China.

For teachers who want to enter China as quickly as possible, there is a new option available which will save around two weeks in time. Teachers can fly to Hong Kong with their Work Permit Notice and have their Chinese Z Visa issued at the Hong Kong – Shenzhen border!

How It Works

It’s quite simple. Once a teacher has been issued their Work Permit Notice they can book a flight to Hong Kong immediately. Upon landing at Hong Kong airport, it’s advised to take a bus to one of the several checkpoints along the Hong Kong – Shenzhen border. It’s at one of these checkpoints that the Z Visa Application will happen. Teachers will be required to present the following:

  • Passport
  • Work Permit Notice
  • Invitation Letter
  • Z Visa Application Form
  • A copy of their school’s licence 

An officer at the checkpoint will go through your documentation, and may even make a call to your school to clarify some details. On average it takes around two hours for the process to be completed and for the teacher to be issued their Z Visa. They’re then free to enter Shenzhen and mainland China!

What’s the Price?

The price of obtaining a Z Visa at one of the checkpoints varies slightly depending on your nationality. For example, it will cost UK citizens 800RMB whereas US citizens will pay 900RMB. This distinction likely arises from the varying fees these nations impose on Chinese citizens.

From a financial perspective, if your school is based in Shenzhen (or a nearby city like Guangzhou), using this method to enter China will likely be cheaper than taking the conventional visa route. For starters, to obtain your Z Visa in your home country you must travel to the nearest Chinese embassy/consulate. In the US for example, there are five of these spread out across the entire country (Washington D.C, New York, Chicago, L.A, and San Francisco). This means that if you don’t live close to the embassy or a consulate you’ll have to pay a chunk of money travelling to one or pay a visa agent to process your application for you. In addition to this, flights to Hong Kong are typically cheaper than flights to mainland China, which further makes this a more affordable option.

If your school isn’t located in Shenzhen/Southern China, then you’ll likely have to get an internal flight or train to your final destination. This may cause the overall price of using the Hong Kong entry method to be similar or more expensive than the conventional method. This essentially depends on how far you live from a Chinese embassy/consulate in your home country, and how far you’ll need to travel from Shenzhen to your school. For many teachers, the potential extra cost is something they’re comfortable paying given that using the Hong Kong route gets them into China quicker.

To conclude, entering China through Hong Kong is a great option for many teachers. For teachers travelling to Shenzhen/Southern China, taking this route seems like a no-brainer. Not only will you get yourself into China two weeks earlier, but you’ll also do so in a cheaper way. 

Teachers who aren’t heading to Southern China should consider just how eager they are to get into the country. Although the conventional method may take a little longer, it does ensure that teachers have all visa bureaucracy taken care of before departure. This ensures teachers can travel directly to their final destination in China and have a simpler and more relaxed initial experience upon arrival.