Moving to China is an opportunity to experience a country that’s both focused on the future and rich in history for many expatriates. Due to its immense growth over the last decades, China has continued to attract foreigners with advanced education and special skills. Moving to China, a culturally and linguistically different country can never be easy. Whether it’s you first or tenth posting, you will still be leaving your friends and family or familiar surroundings and starting a new adventure. Thus, preparing to move to China takes more than just packing, and if you do not start planning in advance, you may have difficulties when you arrive, or you may not be allowed to enter the country.

Timing is the most important thing that you must consider when planning on moving abroad. See to it that you are well aware of things to do before turning to China and get it as early as you can and know the deadlines for getting each item done. Below is a checklist designed to keep you sane and prevent a nervous breakdown or even an ulcer when you are busy preparing for your trip.

Get informed on the relevant documents and issues

Before moving to China, ensure that your relevant documents are in place. For different countries, the rules and regulations are quite different, and it is therefore very paramount that you research on the requirements. Generally contacting the China’s embassy will keep you up to speed with what is required of you or even the consulate for information relevant to expatriates relocating to the China, such as:

Permits and visas

Required vaccination for family members

Quarantines and vaccines for pets


Tax restriction on shipped household items

Involved taxes in shipping the car

Application for Visas, Passports, and Permits

Ensure that your passport is up to date or gets one if you didn’t have it. There is nothing as bad as finding out that your passport expired six months ago when you badly need it. Also, work on getting a visa depending on what exactly you are going to do in China. It can be a tourist, work or business visa. If you are going to work, then your company should sponsor your visa. Then finally get your work permit and you will be good to go. Always remember that you need to do all this early enough since the process can take quite some time.

Gathering relevant documents

Request for the official copies of your important personal documents and if need be arranged for the official translation. Some of them include:

Passport, Naturalization, proof of citizenship, green card

Certificates (Birth and Marriage)

Vaccination, dental and medical cards

Social security cards

Records of employment

Academic diplomas and records

Insurance policies

Living will

Proof of residency (statement, utility bills)

Contacting International Moving and Shipping Companies

This is one of the important things to do before moving to China if you are thinking of shipping your belongings there. They will give you a quotation of the transportation your belongings and it can take up to over a month for them to arrive hence planning it way ahead will save you the hassle.


Different countries have different insurance requirements and the limits vastly vary all around the world. Determine what exactly your insurance availability and requirements are and work on it.

Health Insurance

China might have a socialized healthcare system, but not everybody is eligible for coverage hence you may require your individual health policy to protect you medically and also for evacuation services.

Vehicle insurance

If you are planning to drive your car in China, then you must see to it that you know the local rules and regulations and also the driving license requirements. You can get the International Driving Permit which is internationally recognized and will allow you to drive your car in China along with your national license and it’s renewed annually. Select an insurance provider that car cover your car even while in China

Property Insurance

This covers transit and destination and protects damaged items during relocation. Get an internationally reputable insurance provider with the necessary experience in expatriate insurance and resettlement.

Banking and Credit Card Accounts.

To avoid paying an unnecessary transaction fee, it is important that you open an international bank account which is specifically designed to assist with the movement of money. Also, for your day-to-day banking, you should open a local bank account. There is also an Expat Bank Account designed for expats and allows you to hold money in multiple currencies.

You can also get an international credit or debit card and let your local credit card companies know that you’ll be relocating hence they do not need to freeze your accounts. Remember that you can lose your credit score if you fail to use it for long hence online shopping and purchasing good back home will keep you safe.

Tax Obligations

Usually, tax is deducted from your interest income before you receive it hence you should get the right paperwork and send it to your financial institutions back at home so that you are not taxed double since you will be taxed in China.

Expat returns

You should do the necessary research on how to file tax returns as a non-resident since you have to do it back at home.

Capital Gain Tax

Get advice from your local financial advisor and make the declaration of your assets and keep the base on the Capital Gain Tax rule just in case you decide to sell your property back at home.

Things to buy before going to China

First-Aid Kit: Remember prescribed medication and prepare some drugs for emergency use such as anti-inflammatory, vitamins, painkillers, antacid, remedy for diarrhea and anti-histamine. Carry along your medical history (allergies, Blood group, and other known medical conditions) and always keep them in your first-aid kit just in case you become incapacitated, or you need to see a doctor. Remember not to carry way too large quantities of medicines as you may encounter problems with China’s authorities.

You can also buy electronic products such as adapter plugs and power converter, camera, chargers, extra batteries but some things such as hair dryers are provided by the hotel or are locally available hence you do not need to buy them.

Buy your preferred brands of beauty and hair products such as make-up, nail polish, lotion and face washes since you might fail to find them in China or if available at higher prices.


If you are thinking of bringing the pets, see to it that it receives identification microchip, and proper vaccinations then get a pet carrier, if not get it a new home.

Flight and Hotel Reservations

Once the dates are set, work on your necessary flight arrangements and if you will be staying in a hotel, make early reservations.

Cancel all your subscriptions and Forward mail

Since you will have a new address, complete the necessary forms at the post office to forward to you the mail to your new address and cancel all your publication subscriptions

VOIP Phone Service

Consider subscribing to Voice Over Internet Protocol phone service also known as broadband phone service since it’s the most affordable way for expats to communicate with family back at home since it covers international, local and long-distance calls

The thought of moving to China can be quite exhilarating but for that to materialize, just how much do you need to do? It takes a lot for you to achieve that dream, from the paperwork and moving in between relevant offices to packing and trying to avoid mistakes. It can be quite overwhelming yet insightful thus take some time to research on not only what you should do before going to China but also learn about its history and culture to prevent the culture shock from destabilizing you once you arrive. Also, find out more on expat voting so that you can still exercise your democratic right even when far away.