Moving to China: what you need to know

One of the world’s largest economies, the People’s Republic of China is a popular destination for experienced professionals across a number of industries, including manufacturing, engineering, pharmaceuticals, technology and finance. Many are also drawn in by the country’s rich history and a fascinating culture that offers a stark contrast to typical Western sensibilities.

So if you’re looking for a new opportunity coupled with a unique cultural experience, what’s required to emigrate to the PRC, and what can you expect once posted there?

Entry requirements

You will need a visa to enter China. Make sure you don’t overstay, as the authorities conduct regular checks. For stays longer than six months, you must produce a health certificate, including an HIV blood test, and you may need to apply for a Residence Permit. Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months from the date of your visa application.

You must register your place of residence with the local Public Security Bureau within 24 hours of arrival.


At 1.381 billion, China is the highest populated country in the world, though population density varies considerably between the western and northern part and the highly populated eastern region. Overall density is far lower than much of the world due to the country’s relatively large land mass.

Over 91% of the population is Han Chinese, and although the government is officially atheist and most consider themselves irreligious, historically Confucianism, Taoism and Chinese Buddhism have a significant role in shaping the culture.


Mandarin, China’s official language, is spoken by around 70% of the population, while the remainder speak one of the country’s nearly 300 living languages. While there is growing interest in the English language, it is not yet widely spoken across mainland China. English speakers can get by in the business world, but navigating shops, restaurants, etc is far easier with at least a working knowledge of Mandarin


Winters are typically cold and dry, while summers are warm and moist, although the country’s complex topography means the climate can differ significantly region to region.

Quality of life

According to InterNations, expats rate the quality of work opportunities and salaries highly, although this is countered by the growing cost of living and increased working hours. Healthcare is considered poor, primarily due to high pollution levels, while childcare, public transport and personal safety are all viewed favourably.

With key partner offices in seven key locations across China, including Shanghai and Beijing, Pickfords relocates hundreds of expats to China every year. To find out how we can help you fulfil your expat dream, request a callback or contact us on 0800 019 8557.

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