China Personal Income Tax

China residents are generally subject to tax on their China-source and non-China-source income. Nonresidents are subject to tax on their China-source income only.

China residents include the following persons:

  • Individuals who have their domicile in China
  • Individuals who do not have their domicile in China, but reside in China for one full year

Individuals are considered to have resided in China for one full year if they reside in China for 365 days during one calendar year. In calculating the number of days an individual is present in China, temporary absences from China are not excluded. Temporary absence is defined as a single absence from China for a period of no longer than 30 days, or as multiple absences from China for an aggregate of no longer than 90 days.

For employment income, non-China-domiciled individuals who have resided in China for one full year but less than five years are subject to China individual income tax (IIT) on income earned from services rendered in China and on income earned from services rendered outside China but paid or borne by the indi­vidual’s China employer.

China-domiciled individuals are subject to China IIT on their worldwide income. Non-China-domiciled individuals who have resided in China for more than five consecutive full years are subject to China IIT on their worldwide income for every full year of residence, beginning with the sixth year, regardless of the mode of payment and place of payment of the income.

Income subject to tax. The taxation of various types of income that are common to foreign expatriates is described below.

Employment income. The types of taxable compensation under the China IIT law include, but are not limited to, wages and salaries, foreign service or hardship allowances, cost of living and automobile allowances, tax reimbursements, bonuses and equity compensation. The form of the individual income may be cash, physical objects, securities and economic interests in any other form.

Non-taxable compensation for expatriate employees includes housing rental, home leave (limited to twice a year for employee only), relocation or moving, meals and laundry, language training and children’s education in China, provided such items are paid directly or reimbursed by the employer on the presentation of official tax invoices.

The annual bonus is treated as a separate one-month salary for tax purposes. The applicable marginal tax rate must be deter­mined based on 1/12 of the annual bonus. This calculation method can be used by each individual only once in a calendar year. Bonuses other than the annual bonus must be treated as a part of monthly salary income and are taxed based on the aggre­gated amount of monthly income.

Self-employment income. Taxable income includes compensation for independent personal services performed in China, bonus payments and income specified as taxable by the Ministry of Finance.

Investment income. Interest, dividends and other investment in­come from China sources are subject to tax at a flat 20% rate, with no deductions allowed.

Dividends, interest, royalties and rental income received by non­resident foreign nationals from China sources are normally sub­ject to a 10% withholding tax under most double tax treaties entered into by China on the approval of the local tax authorities in charge.

Dividends paid by foreign-investment enterprises to nonresident foreign nationals in China are exempt from China IIT.

Directors’ fees. Directors’ fees are considered income from inde­pendent personal services and are taxed as income derived from labor services. However, directors’ fees paid to a company direc­tor are taxed as “wages and salaries” if he or she is an employee of that company or a related company. If the director is not also an employee of the company, his or her directors’ fees may be taxed under the “labor service” category.

If directors’ fees are taxed under the “labor service” category, the tax liability is computed by applying the rules outlined for income from independent personal services. If directors’ fees are taxed as “wages and salaries,” they must be included in the salary for the month of receipt of the fees and are subject to the progressive tax rates ranging from 3% to 45%.

Enterprise annuities. Under a tax circular that took effect on 1 January 2014, deferred taxation is provided to qualified annu­ity plans that are set up by enterprises in accordance with Chinese annuity regulations. Both employer and employee

contributions are not subject to IIT at the time of contribution if certain conditions are met.

Temporary relief. Under a temporary measure, for dividends and profit sharing derived by individuals from domestic listed com­panies, only 50% of the income is chargeable to IIT if the stock­holding period is longer than one month but no more than one year, and 100% of the income is exempt from IIT if the stock­holding period exceeds one year. Also, interest income derived by individuals from domestic banking institutions on deposits is temporarily exempt from IIT.

Exempt income. The following types of income are exempt from tax:

  • Monetary awards granted by provincial People’s Governments, State Council ministries and commissions, units of the People’s Liberation Army at army level or above, or by foreign or inter­national organizations for achievement in fields, such as sci­ence, education, technology, culture, public health, sport and environmental protection
  • Interest on state treasury bonds and state-issued financial bonds and national debt obligations
  • Subsidies and allowances paid in accordance with the central­ized State Council
  • Welfare benefits, disability pensions and relief payments
  • Insurance indemnities
  • Military severance pay and demobilization pay
  • Resettlement allowances, severance pay, retirement pay, retire­ment pensions and cost-of-living subsidies of personnel who have left their jobs on a permanent basis to rest and recuperate, and subsidies distributed to cadres and workers, in accordance with centralized state regulations
  • Income of diplomatic representatives, consulate officials and other personnel of foreign embassies and consulates in China who enjoy tax exemptions in accordance with the relevant Chinese laws
  • Tax-exempt income stipulated in international conventions
  • Tax-exempt income approved by the finance department of the State Council

Capital gains. After deducting costs and related expenses, income derived from the sale or transfer of movable or immovable prop­erty in China is taxed at a flat 20% rate.

Capital gains derived from transfers of shares listed on China stock exchanges in the secondary market are temporarily exempt from China IIT.

Foreign individuals are subject to a 20% tax on gains derived from the sale of equity in a foreign-investment enterprise in China (for example, an equity joint venture).

The applicable tax rate may be reduced for individuals resident in treaty countries.

Taxation of employer-provided stock options. Taxable income is recognized on the date an employee exercises an employer-provided stock option. For foreign nationals, stock option income is taxable if it is considered attributable to China employment. In general, a stock option that is granted and vested when the

employee is resident in China is considered to be China-source taxable income.

The amount of taxable income is the difference between the fair market value of the stock on the exercise date and the exercise price. For stock options of publicly listed companies, the taxable income may be reported in the month of exercise as stand-alone employment-related income, which is subject to individual income tax at progressive rates ranging from 3% to 45%. In addi­tion, the employer may divide the total stock option benefits into the number of months that the employee has worked in China (capped at 12) for the purpose of determining the applicable individual income tax rates (this treatment is referred to below as the “favorable tax treatment”). This favorable tax treatment is applied only when a tax registration of the stock option plan has been performed with the in-charge tax bureau. In addition, all exercises of stock options in the same calendar year must be aggregated for the calculation of China IIT.

However, the favorable tax treatment applies only to employees of publicly listed companies (including branches) and their sub­sidiaries that are at least 30% owned by the listed companies. For companies indirectly held by listed companies, the ownership percentage is determined by multiplying the respective share­holder percentage at each level of ownership. If a listed company holds over 50% of the first-tier subsidiary’s shares, the ownership percentage is calculated as 100%.

In addition, the above favorable tax treatment does not apply under the following circumstances:

  • Stock incentive income is received by employees of unlisted companies and companies other than those qualifying based on the ownership rule above.
  • Stock incentive income is derived from schemes set up before the listing of the company.
  • A listed company does not complete tax registration with the in-charge local tax authority.

If the favorable tax treatment does not apply, the income derived from the stock option is aggregated with regular taxable monthly employment income in the month of exercise and subject to the marginal rate of the employee.

Deductions

Deductible expenses. A Chinese individual is allowed a flat CNY3,500 deduction each month in computing his or her net taxable income and expatriate employees are allowed a deduction of CNY4,800 per month. Approved charitable donations are also deductible.

Effective from 1 January 2016, employees, self-employed individu­als and individual partners of partnerships in pilot cities (such as Beijing, Chongqing Shanghai and Tianjin) can claim a deduction for their contributions to qualified commercial health insurance schemes from taxable income. The deduction is capped at CNY2,400 per year (that is, CNY200 per month).

For foreign expatriates, overseas social security contributions made by individuals are not deductible.

If an employer is responsible for paying the employee’s China income tax liabilities, the employee’s taxable income is grossed up by the amount of the payment. Any hypothetical tax, which is an amount withheld by the employer as full or partial compensa­tion for satisfying the employee’s China tax liability, is normally allowed as a deduction in computing the employee’s net taxable income.

Personal deductions and allowances. On the approval of the local tax bureau, employees who do not have their domicile in China and who have job responsibilities both within and outside China may be allowed to report tax on a time-apportionment basis. However, the total compensation (both China income and non-China income) must be reported in China for tax purposes, and the tax can be prorated based on the number of days the employ­ee stays in China. To qualify, an employee must provide support­ing documentation.

No distinction is made between married and single taxpayers, and no relief by allowance or deduction is provided for dependents.

Business deductions. Independent personal services income, royal­ties, and rental or leasing income is allowed a deduction of CNY800 or 20% of income, whichever is higher.

A taxpayer may claim a deduction for reasonable repair fees from rental income, limited to CNY800 per month, on the presentation of official invoices and the approval of the local tax authorities in charge.

Rates. Income is not accumulated for purposes of calculating monthly tax liabilities. Income tax for individuals is computed on a monthly basis by applying the following progressive tax rates to employment income.

Taxable income Tax rate Tax due Cumulative tax due
CNY % CNY CNY
First 1,500 3 45 45
Next 3,000 10 300 345
Next 4,500 20 900 1,245
Next 26,000 25 6,500 7,745
Next 20,000 30 6,000 13,745
Next 25,000 35 8,750 22,495
Above 80,000 45

 

Labor services income, royalties and rental or leasing income is subject to tax at a flat rate of 20%.

Additional tax may be levied on abnormally high single payments for labor services. For these purposes, taxable income in excess of CNY20,000, but not exceeding CNY50,000, is subject to an additional tax charge equal to 50% of the tax normally payable. Taxable income over CNY50,000 is subject to an additional tax charge equal to 100% of the tax normally payable.

Copyright income is taxed at a flat 20% rate, with a deduction of CNY800 or 20% of income, whichever is higher. A further 30% reduction of tax payable is allowed.

Relief for losses. Except for individual proprietorship enterprises and individual equity partnership enterprises, no measures exist for the carryover of losses.

Nonresidents. Individuals who do not have their domicile in China and who stay in China for less than a full calendar year are considered nonresidents and are subject to individual income tax under different rules, as described below.

Resident for 90 days or less. Individuals who reside in China continuously or intermittently for not more than 90 days during a calendar year are treated in the following manner:

  • The expatriate is exempt from individual income tax if the sal­ary is paid and borne by an overseas employer.
  • Employment income paid or borne by the employer’s establish­ment in China is subject to individual income tax to the extent that the income is attributable to services actually performed in China. For these purposes, an establishment includes a repre­sentative office and the site of a contract project in China.
  • Normally, the tax liabilities are apportioned to China and non-China services in accordance with the actual number of days the expatriate resides in China. However, for tax determination purposes, employment income paid by an employer in China and by an employer outside China and not charged back against a China-registered entity must be aggregated in calculating the tax liabilities payable. The apportionment is based on the tax liabilities, which is calculated on the total earned income.
  • The number of days of the threshold for tax exemption is increased from 90 days to 183 days if the expatriate is a resident of a country that has entered into a double tax treaty with China (a tax treaty expatriate).

Residents for more than 90 days but less than one full year. Indi­viduals who reside in China for more than 90 days (183 days for tax treaty expatriates), but less than one year, are treated in the following manner:

  • The expatriate is subject to individual income tax on employ­ment income derived from services actually performed in China.
  • Assessable income includes all employment income, whether it is paid (or borne) by an employer inside or outside China.
  • Employment income attributable to services performed outside China is exempt from individual income tax. Normally the tax liabilities are apportioned to China and non-China services in accordance with the actual number of days the expatriate resides in China.

Notwithstanding the above, special treatment may be available for a foreign individual who serves in the senior management of a Chinese entity.

Income paid and borne by an employer outside China with respect to these individuals is taxed in one of the following ways:

  • The income is exempt from individual income tax if the indi­vidual resides in China for not more than 90 days during a calendar year (or for tax treaty expatriates, not more than 183 days during a calendar year or any 12-month period, depending on the relevant tax treaty terms).
  • The income is subject to individual income tax if the period of residency in China extends more than 90 days during a calendar year (or for tax treaty expatriates, more than 183 days during a calendar year or any 12-month period, depending on the terms of the relevant tax treaty), to the extent that the income is attrib­utable to services performed in China.

Registration requirement. To claim the treaty entitlement pro­vided under relevant tax treaties for dependent service income (normally refers to employment service income), non-tax resi­dents must register with the in-charge tax authorities after they have resided in China for more than 90 days but less than 183 days (or 6 months) during one calendar year (or any 12-month period depending on the relevant treaty) (that is, before the tax liability arises) or when they file tax returns after having stayed in China for more than 183 days (or 6 months).

Other taxes

Net worth tax. No net worth tax is levied in China.

Estate and gift taxes. No estate and gift taxes are levied in China.

Social security

Chinese nationals employed by China entities are eligible for the social security system in China. Under the new China Social Security Law, which took effect on 1 July 2011, foreign nationals working in China must also participate in the China social secu­rity system. The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security in China released interim measures for the participation of foreign nationals employed in China in China social insurances on 6 September 2011. These interim measures took effect on 15 October 2011. Under the interim measures, foreigners who have obtained a China Permanent Residence Certificate, Work Permit, Foreign Expert Certificate or Certificate of Permanent Foreign Correspondent are required to contribute to Chinese social security schemes. They must participate in basic pension schemes, basic medical insurance, work-related injury insurance, maternity insurance and unemployment insurance. Chinese employers are required to perform social security registration for foreign employ­ees within 30 days after the employees obtain a work permit and withhold the required contributions on a monthly basis.

Special rules apply to foreigners from certain countries or territo­ries. Under the totalization agreements with Germany and Korea (South), if German and Korean employees do not contribute to their home country’s pension and unemployment insurance dur­ing their employment in China, they should contribute to pension and unemployment insurance in China. A totalization agreement with Denmark took effect on 14 May 2014. Under the totalization agreement, Danish employees who are required to participate in Danish pension schemes can be exempt from the contributions to pension insurance in China. Also, under rules that took effect on 1 October 2005, employees from the Hong Kong SAR, the Macau SAR and Taiwan who have entered into local labor con­tracts can contribute into the China social security system.

Social security tax rates vary among cities. Employers and employees are subject to social security taxes at an average rate of 30% and 11% of gross income, respectively. For this purpose, the amount of gross income is capped at three times the average salary in the city for the preceding year as published by the local government.

Tax filing and payment procedures

The tax year is the calendar year. Spouses are taxed separately, not jointly, on all types of income.

Foreigners must register with the local tax bureau or, if individu­als are engaged in offshore oil and gas exploration activities, with the local offshore oil tax bureau.

Foreigners subject to China IIT may need to complete a tax reg­istration form and provide an employer’s certification stating the amount of their compensation, along with copies of relevant pass­port pages to verify their date of arrival.

Although the recipient of income is responsible for payment of income tax, it is generally collected through a withholding sys­tem under which the payer is the withholding agent.

A withholding agent must notify its supervising tax authorities of the basic personal details regarding all individuals to whom it has paid taxable income. Required personal details for payees include name, personal identification number, position, residential address, telephone number and correspondence address. Additional information is required if the income recipients are not employ­ees of the withholding agent, investors, equity owners, or non­residents of China. However, payers of dividends and interest are required only to file a set of simplified information with respect to the recipients. The withholding agent must submit the above information in the month following the month of payment of tax­able income to an individual, regardless of the availability of deductions or concessions that may be offset against the income. The withholding agent must also notify the tax authorities of any subsequent changes. If the withholding agent fails to withhold the tax and file the monthly tax returns with its governing local tax bureau for its employees and income recipients, the tax authorities impose a penalty of 50% to 300% of the tax due on the withholding agent.

All taxpayers, including those earning China-source income but not covered by the withholding system, and employees who are paid outside China must file monthly income tax returns and pay the relevant tax to the local tax bureau. The returns must be filed within 15 days after month-end.

Chinese residents with foreign-source income must file annual reconciliation tax returns and pay tax due within 30 days after the end of the calendar year. If the foreign tax year is different from the China tax year and if it is difficult to file income tax returns within 30 days after the end of the calendar year, it is possible to file the reconciliation returns within 30 days after the foreign taxes have been paid. Foreign taxes paid on this income are allowed as a tax credit, up to the amount of China IIT levied on the same income.

Individuals who are taxpayers are now required to register and file annually with a tax bureau in charge if any of the following circumstances apply:

  • The individual’s annual income exceeds CNY120,000.
  • The individual receives wages or salaries from two or more sources in China.
  • The individual receives income from outside China.
  • The individual receives taxable income, but he or she has no withholding agent.
  • Other circumstances specified by the State Council exist.

China resident individuals earning more than CNY120,000 a year must undertake the annual filing within three months after the end of the tax year.

Foreigners departing from China must pay all taxes before depar­ture and may need to complete the relevant “deregistration” for­mality with the local tax authorities.

Late payment of tax is subject to a daily interest charge of 0.05%. A penalty of up to five times the amount of unpaid tax may be levied for tax evasion or refusal to pay tax.

Double tax relief and tax treaties

An individual subject to China IIT on worldwide income may claim a foreign tax credit against income subject to tax in another jurisdiction. The credit is limited to the China tax payable on the same income.

China has entered into double tax treaties with the following jurisdictions.

Albania                             Ireland                       Qatar

Algeria                              Israel                         Romania

Armenia                            Italy                           Russian

Australia                           Jamaica                     Federation

Austria                              Japan                         Saudi Arabia

Azerbaijan                        Kazakhstan                Serbia

Bahrain                             Korea (South)           Seychelles

Bangladesh                       Kuwait                      Singapore

Barbados                          Kyrgyzstan                Slovak Republic

Belarus                             Laos                          Slovenia

Belgium                            Latvia                        South Africa

Brazil                                Lithuania                   Spain

Brunei Darussalam           Luxembourg             Sri Lanka

Bulgaria                            Macau SAR              Sudan

Canada                              Macedonia                Sweden

Croatia                              Malaysia                   Switzerland

Cuba                                 Malta                         Syria

Cyprus                              Mauritius                  Tajikistan

Czech Republic                 Mexico                      Thailand

Denmark                           Moldova                   Trinidad

Ecuador                            Mongolia                  and Tobago

Egypt                                Morocco                   Tunisia

Estonia                              Nepal                        Turkey

Ethiopia                            Netherlands               Turkmenistan

Finland                             New Zealand             Ukraine

France                               Nigeria                      United Arab

Georgia                             Norway                     Emirates

Germany                            Oman                        United Kingdom

Greece                                Pakistan                    United States

Hong Kong SAR               Papua New               Uzbekistan

Hungary                             Guinea                      Venezuela

Iceland                                Philippines                Vietnam

India                                   Poland                       Yugoslavia

Indonesia                            Portugal                    Zambia

Iran

Under the treaties, remuneration derived from employment in China is generally exempt from China IIT if all of the following conditions are met:

  • The recipient is present in China for a period or periods not exceeding 183 days in the calendar year, or in a 12-month period for certain countries.
  • The remuneration is paid by, or on behalf of, an employer that is not resident in China.
  • The remuneration is not borne by a permanent establishment or a fixed base maintained by the employer in China.

Under many of the treaties, income derived from independent pro­fessional services or other independent services is exempt from China IIT if the recipient meets both of the following conditions:

  • The recipient does not have a fixed base regularly available to him or her in China for the purpose of performing the services.
  • The recipient is present in China for a period or periods not exceeding 183 days in the relevant calendar year, or in a 12-month period for certain countries.

Types of visas

All foreign nationals entering, leaving, passing through or resid­ing in China must obtain the relevant visas from the relevant Chinese authorities, which include the Chinese diplomatic mis­sions, consulates and other representatives in foreign countries and the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or local designated authorities within China.

Depending on the status and type of passport held by a foreign national, a diplomatic, courtesy, business or ordinary visa may be issued.

Ordinary visas are designated by letters that correspond to the purposes of the individuals’ visits. The following are selected letter designations:

  • D: Issued to a person who plans to reside permanently in China
  • Z: Issued to a person who will work in China
  • X: Issued to a person who enters China for long-term (X1) or short-term (X2) study purposes
  • F: Issued to a person who has been invited to visit China on a temporary basis for the following purposes:

— Scientific, educational, cultural, health and athletic exchanges

— Short-term visits and fact-finding

— Other non-commercial activities

  • M: Issued to a person who performs business or trade activities for a short period
  • R: Issued to a person who is considered by the Chinese govern­ments to be a senior-level talent and/or professional in short supply in China
  • Q: Issued to a person for visiting family who is either a Chinese national or foreign national with permanent residency status in China for long-term (Q1) or short-term (Q2) purposes
  • S: Issued to a dependent of a foreigner who resides in China because of work and study for long-term (S1) and short-term (S2) purposes
  • J: Issued to foreign journalists or media staff of foreign news organizations in China for long-term (J1) or short-term (J2) purposes
  • G: Issued to a person who passes through China in transit
  • L: Issued to a person who enters China for tourist purposes

Steps for obtaining visas

Foreign nationals who wish to enter China should apply for visas at a Chinese diplomatic mission or consulate or with other representatives in foreign countries authorized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The following documents are required when applying for a visa:

  • A valid passport or an equivalent certificate of identification. The passport must have a period of validity of at least six months before expiration and at least one blank visa page left in it.
  • A completed visa application form with one recent passport-size photograph.
  • Other relevant documents that vary according to the type of visa for which the foreign national is applying. The following are the relevant documents:

— D: A permanent residence confirmation form, for which the applicant or an entrusted relative applies to the entry-and-exit department of the public security bureau in the city or county where the applicant intends to reside

— Z: An Employment License and a short-term work certificate (for short-term employment), for which the sponsor employer in China applies to the provincial or municipal labor authori­ties and a Single-Entry Z Visa Notification Letter (issued by an authorized organization)

— X: JW201 form or JW202 form (Application Form for Overseas Students to China) issued by the receiving unit or the relevant department in charge, Admission Notice and medical report for foreigners

— F: An invitation letter from the inviting unit or person

— M: A visa notification letter from an authorized unit (that is, a commercial or trade partner in China)

  • Special approval documents from the designated govern­ment authorities in China

— Q: An invitation letter from the family members together with supporting documents proving the relationship between the applicant and family members in China and permanent residency status of the family members in China

  • An invitation letter from the family members together with supporting documents proving the relationship between the applicant and family members in China

— J: An invitation letter issued by the Information Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China and an official letter issued by the media organization

— G: A valid visa for the country (region) to which the appli­cant intends to travel next and an onward ticket

— L: A certificate or letter issued by the receiving tour agency of China and a round trip ticket

When applying for an entry visa, if a foreign national intends to take up permanent residence or stay in China on a long-term basis, he or she must present a notarized medical report issued by a pub­lic health and medical unit designated by the Chinese embassy in the foreign national’s home country, or issued by any authorized health and medical unit in China. The medical report must remain valid for six months from the date of issuance. A non-criminal report issued by the police or public security or judicial authori­ties from the foreign national’s home country is also required for a permanent resident or long-term resident permit application in China. In some cities, the non-criminal report must be authenti­cated by the Chinese embassy in the home country.

Under the following special circumstances, an application for a visa may be made at any designated entry point authorized by the Ministry of Public Security (landing visa):

  • The foreign person is invited, because of a late confirmation on the part of the Chinese party, to attend a trade fair in China.
  • The foreign national is invited to submit a bid or to formally sign an economic or trade contract.
  • The foreign national, pursuant to an agreement, visits China to conduct inspection of import or export products or for contract verification and acceptance.
  • The foreign national is invited to perform equipment installa­tion or to undertake emergency repairs.
  • The foreign national is requested by a Chinese party to come to China for a settlement of claims.
  • The foreign national is invited to visit China to provide scien­tific and technical consulting services.
  • The foreign national is an additional or substitute member of a group that has already been issued visas.
  • The foreign national comes to China to visit a seriously ill per­son or to arrange funeral matters.
  • The foreign national is in direct transit but, for unavoidable reasons, cannot leave China within 24 hours.
  • The foreign national is invited to China but is unable to apply in time to the aforementioned Chinese organizations abroad, and he or she holds a document issued by the designated authorities indicating he or she is approved to apply for a visa at the port of entry.

The landing visa application may be accepted by, among others, Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Dalian, Fuzhou, Guangzhou (Baiyun airport), Guilin, Haikou, Hangzhou, Jinan, Kunming, Nanjing, Qingdao, Sanya, Shanghai, Shenzhen (Luohu and Shekou), Tianjin, Weihai, Xiamen, Xi’an, Yantai and Zhuhai (Gongbei).

Visa exemptions

Citizens of Brunei Darussalam, Japan and Singapore who enter China for tourist or business purposes, or to visit friends, need not apply for a China visa if their stay in China is less than 15 days beginning from the date of entry.

Beijing (Capital airport), Changsha, Chengdu, Chongqing, Dalian, Guilin, Guangzhou (Baiyun airport), Ha’erbin, Kunming, Qingdao, Shenyang, Tianjin, Xiamen, Xi’an and Wuhan have implemented a 72-hour Visa-free Transit Policy for foreign visitors with valid third-country visas who plan to travel to the third destinations from the airports of these cities. Foreign visitors who hold passports issued by certain countries on the 72-hour Visa-free Transit Policy List (total of 51 countries) need to stay in the relevant cities within 72 hours of their travel and can apply for a temporary stay in the respective cities without applying for a Chinese visa at the Exit and Entry Frontier Inspections of the airports.

Hangzhou, Nanjing and Shanghai (Shanghai International Passenger Transport Center, Shanghai Railway Port and Wusong International Cruise Terminal) have implemented a 144-hour Visa-free Transit Policy for foreign visitors with valid third-country visas who plan to travel to the third destination from the transport center of these cities.

Citizens of the following 51 countries are under the Transit Visa Exemption Program.

Albania                            France                        Poland

Argentina                        Germany                    Portugal

Australia                          Greece                        Qatar

Austria                            Hungary                     Romania

Belgium                           Iceland                        Russian

Bosnia and                      Ireland                        Federation

Herzegovina                    Italy                            Serbia

Brazil                               Japan                          Singapore

Brunei Darussalam          Korea (South)             Slovak Republic

Bulgaria                           Latvia                         Slovenia

Canada                            Lithuania                    Spain

Chile                                Luxembourg               Sweden

Croatia                             Macedonia                  Switzerland

Cyprus                            Malta                          Ukraine

Czech Republic               Mexico                       United Arab

Denmark                         Montenegro                Emirates

Estonia                            Netherlands                United Kingdom

Finland                            New Zealand              United States

Residence permits

Foreign nationals may obtain residence permits from the local Public Security Bureau. The term of the resident permit varies from one to five years, depending on the purpose of residence. The renewed permit is normally valid for one to five years.

Foreign nationals holding residence visas (including D, J1, S1, Q1, X1 and Z visas) must apply for their resident permit with the local Public Security Bureau within 30 days after their entry.

Foreign nationals holding entry visas are required to register with the local police and obtain a Registration Form of Temporary Residence within 24 hours after their arrival.

Short-term employment

Foreign nationals who perform one of the following activities in China for less than 90 days are considered to have short-term employment in China and are required to obtain a short-term work certificate:

  • Technical, scientific research, management, consulting and similar activities, or support or works with respect to such activities, for a cooperative entity in China
  • Conducting training as requested by a sports association in China (including coaches and athletes)
  • Film production (including advertisements and documentaries)
  • Fashion shows (including car models, print advertisements and other activities)
  • Foreign commercial performances or shows
  • Others activities as determined by the Human Resources and Social Security Department

Foreigners who are considered to have short-term employment in China must go through the following procedures with the required documents before they can carry out the approved activities in China:

  • Application for employment license and work certificate
  • Application for invitation letter
  • Application for Single-Entry Z Visa
  • Application for work-type residence permit (for staying in China over 30 days but less than 90 days)

Foreign nationals who are considered to have short-term employ­ment in China generally need to obtain an employment license and work certificate from the provincial or municipal labor authorities. For foreigners who will conduct foreign cultural per­formances or shows in China, the organizing unit will need to obtain approval from the local Cultural Bureau. Foreigners who expect to work in China for less than 30 days can reside and work in China based on the valid period indicated on the work certifi­cate and Single-Entry Z Visa.

Foreigners who will work in China for more than 30 days but less than 90 days should apply for a “90 days” work-type residence permit from the local Public Security Bureau.

Family and personal considerations

Family members. Family members of a working expatriate do not automatically receive the S visa and residence permit and must apply for it independently. These applications are completed after the expatriate obtains a work authorization in China.

Subject to the decision of the local government and schools, children of working expatriates may be required to obtain student visas to attend schools in China.

Marital property regime. No community property or other similar marital property regime is in effect in China.

Forced heirship. Forced heirship rules do not apply in China.

Driver’s permits. China has driver’s license reciprocity with Belgium. Foreign nationals from other countries may not drive legally in China with their home country driver’s licenses, but they may take written exams and exchange their driver’s licenses for Chinese licenses.