This tick list is accurate as of 9th April 2021. Be sure to check at each stage for any updates to the procedures.

For any questions please get contact with your Gold Star recruiter, or contact us here or speak with the HR department at your school.

Very useful groups to join with lots of up-to-date information

– WeChat group “SA – CN: contracts, visa, law”. Download WeChat app then add the WeChat ID “busi_mjiyakho” as a contact on WeChat and ask them to add you to the group “SA – CN: contracts, visa, law”.
South African Teachers in China Facebook group
Foreigners Stuck Outside China Facebook group
South African Stuck Outside China guide by 小杜 (los kop)
China Visa page on Reddit

Important note about your passport:
Your passport must have at least 1 year validity and 5 blank pages and have no damage such as creased pages or water damaged pages. If your passport does not meet these criteria your work visa could well be rejected, so please apply for a new passport.

Please note, if you already have a residence permit from China that expired after 28 March 2020, you can apply for a renewed work visa by following these instructions.

1) Get required documents notarised and authenticated

Apply for a Police Clearance Certificate. This is an official statement from a national or local government agency stating that you do not have a criminal record in the country that issued your passport. People have reported that it is much quicker if the request is submitted directly to Pretoria rather than applying at a local police station. This document will be valid for the purpose of the China visa application for six months from its issue date.

-Get your degree certificate, TEFL certificate (in some cases required, check with your school) and police clearance certificate notarized and authenticated
1- Degree certificate can be certified at South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA)
2- TEFL certificate can be notarised at a law firm and apostilled at a high court
2- The degree, TEFL and police clearance certificate documents can then be legalised at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO). Email is

Contact us for a more detailed Visa Guide for step by step instructions and support on getting your documents notarised and authenticated

-Confirm with your school what needs doing

-Consider using a visa agent to assist with the process. They can offer free advice or take care of the entire process for a fee. Some suggested visa agents:
Easy Apostille
Be Authentic
SVS Services
Doc Assist

Google ‘China visa agents in South Africa’ for more options.

Medical check certificate
You may be required to provide this, however, you may not. Please check with your school to ask if it is required.
-Book an appointment with your local doctor
-Download and print this form and take it to the doctor’s with you
-You do NOT have to have the blood test, chest x-ray or ECC tests done
-Make sure the doctor writes ‘healthy’ and signs at the bottom of the form
-Doctor must stamp over your photo on the top right of the form and at the bottom of the form
-The health check certificate is valid for 6 months from date it was issued


2) Get documents legalized by Chinese embassy

Once the copy of your degree, TEFL and police clearance certificate are notarized and certified, the national stamp / seal must then be “authenticated” or “legalized” by the Chinese consulate or embassy in South Africa.

Chinese embassies are currently open for limited days and hours due to COVID restrictions. We have heard from teachers that in some cases it is first come, first served, so you need to arrive at the embassy very early in the morning to get your documents notarised. You may have to try multiple times to book an appointment. Try phoning, emailing and visiting the website to check for updates. Sometimes appointments can open up suddenly. You might also want to try visiting the embassy / consulate in person.

Some teachers have told us they require a PU letter from their school in China in order to notarise their documents at the Chinese embassy. Please see the section below on getting a PU letter from your school.

Consulate-General of the People’s Republic of China in Johannesburg
25 Cleveland Road, Sandhurst,
Tel: 27-11-8832186 / 010-0100708
Fax: 27-11-883 5274

Chinese Embassy in Pretoria
225 Athlone Street, Arcadia,
Tel: 0027-12-4316500
Fax: 0027-12-3424154 (main email)

Consulate-General of the People’s Republic of China in Cape Town
25 Rhodes Ave. Newlands,
Cape Town (main email to use)

Consular District of Chinese Consulate-General in Durban
45 Stirling Cres,
Durban North
Tel: 031-5634534 / 5634731
Fax: 031-5634827
Consular: 031-5634731 (main email to use)

To bring to the Chinese embassy:
Application Form for Authentication or Notarization.
-Original and a copy of passport of the applicant.
-Original and a copy of the complete documents to be authenticated. Photocopy includes the page authenticated by the DIRCO, the page notarized by a local solicitor or by court and the original document.
-PU letter or residence permit (we have heard varying reports about whether this is required or not, things are changing often, be sure to check with the embassy)

-You can submit the documents yourself or have a visa agent, or trusted person submit them for you

-Consider using a visa agent for this step too. See links above.


3) Email notarized and authenticated documents to your school in China


4) School applies for ‘PU letter’ (invitation letter) and work permit notification letter

-Process can take around 3 weeks

-Please note, we have heard that the PU letter may be required first, in order to have your documents notarised at the Chinese embassy (step 2, above).


5) Book appointment to visit Chinese visa center to apply for work visa – scroll down > hover over South Africa > select city

-How to book an appointment 

-Email address is:

-How to fill in the online application form

General FAQ

-Guidelines for application process from the Chinese embassy here

-Getting an appointment can be tricky, some of our teachers have used a visa agent to book the appointment for them as they can have a preferential access to appointments. See links above for visa agents.

-If you have been fully vaccinated against COVID, provide evidence when booking your visa appointment, it will likely help your application.

-Please note: we have heard from teachers who have applied for Z, M, or F visas. Once they arrive in China the visa is then converted to a residence permit by the school which allows you to live and work in China. Please check with your school on what type of visa you should apply for.


6) Attend appointment at the China Visa Center

-You have to attend the appointment yourself. You can not have an agent attend on your behalf.

-Make sure to bring all the required documents


7) Pick up passport with China work visa stamped in it, or have it posted to you

-2 days for express service, 3 days for regular service or 10 days for the postal service


8) Book flight

-Confirm the target arrival date with your school before booking the flight.

-Make sure you book a flight that is approved to fly to China. Some websites list flights even though they are not approved to fly to China and are therefore likely to be cancelled.

-Here is a list of most of the approved flights to China as of 7th May 2021, be sure to check for an updated list of approved flights

-Passengers must fly direct from South Africa to China without a stopover. Here is an announcement on 29th January 2021 from the Chinese embassy in South Africa stating that flight CA868 from Johannesburg to Shenzhen, China flight will resume.

FlightRadar24 is a useful site for checking the flight history of any flight for the last 7 days and for the coming 7 days, so you can check that certain flights actually flew and were not cancelled. Click Data / History at the top and search for the intended flight numbers.

-Book directly on the airlines website. Using a Chinese airline is also advisable as it may be less likely to be cancelled.

-Alternatively, consider using a travel agent (including Chinese travel agents if you can), they can offer flexible dates in case you need to change your flight and we have heard reports that a return flight can be cheaper than a one-way. We have also heard that they can get access to flight tickets even when the flight is showing as full on websites.

-Some airports are now offering the required COVID tests (PCR and IgM tests) at the transit area of the airport, to facilitate transfers to China. Finnair in Helsinki airport in Finland offer a good service, you can read more about it here. Lufthansa also offers COVID testing at Frankfurt airport in China and have a detailed guide on the procedures for flying to China here. Currently, there are 7 airports that can do fast COVID-19 PCR and IgM tests, which meet China embassy’s requirements for obtaining the Health Code needed to fly to China.

-Check for last minute availability for flights due to cancellations by other passengers. Sometimes, there are no flights available soon but if you check back often, one becomes available.


9) Get a letter from your employer stating why it is essential that you enter China

-You will need this for step 11, when uploading your COVID test results

See this guide for what to include in the letter. Example letter 1. Example letter 2.


10) Get PCR nucleic acid COVID test and IgM antibody test within 48 hours of flying

-Make sure to self-isolate as much as possible in the weeks before your flight, you don’t want to get COVID and have to cancel your flight

-Be sure to regularly check the Chinese embassy website for the latest announcements on the requirements for COVID testing and flying

-According to this announcement from the Chinese embassy, starting from 8th January 2021, passengers traveling from South Africa to China need to provide:

a) TWO negative PCR nucleic acid COVID tests from different testing clinics – this is a swab test to test if you have COVID
b) TWO IgM antibody tests from different testing clinics – this is a blood test to see if you have antibodies – has to be blood drawn from vein, not from finger prick

All tests have to be conducted within 48 hours of boarding the flight to China. Please note, it is not from the date that the test results are issued, but rather from the date the test was carried out. Please make sure to check the latest news from the Chinese embassy and airline to ensure this information is still accurate.

It is strongly recommended that you book a direct flight from South Africa to China. If you have to transit in another country on your way to China, you will have to get another negative COVID and IgM antibody test in the transit country before you can board the connecting flight on to China. It will be quite challenging to get the required tests in time.

Please note, you require an IgM antibody test, not an IgG antibody test. IgM is usually the first antibody produced by the immune system when a virus attacks. A positive IgM test indicates that you may have been infected and that your immune system has started responding to the virus. When IgM is detected you may still be infected, or you may have recently recovered from a COVID-19 infection. If you had a COVID infection some time ago, you are unlikely to have levels of IgM antibodies that would disqualify you from flying to China. If you have recently been infected with COVID, you are likely to have IgM antibody levels that disqualify you from flying to China.

Testing facilities are designated by Chinese Embassy, according to this announcement
a) Ampath Laboratories
b) PathCare Laboratories
c) Lancet Laboratories

-Make sure the test result includes the date and time the test was administered, the date the result was issued and your name and passport number as this is required in order to get your health declaration form from the Chinese embassy.

Make sure you also get the following, which will be needed for the next step:
– selfie of your face and holding the information page of your passport at the COVID testing site (for example outside the building with the clinic name or at reception with the clinic name)
– photos of you giving the sample for the tests if possible, this is optional and not a strict requirement
– receipt from your testing visit


11) Upload negative nucleic acid COVID and IgM antibody test results via online health app

Instructions from the Chinese embassy here

“In order to contain cross-border transmission of COVID-19 and protect the health of passengers, as from 5th November 2020, all Chinese and foreign passengers who are to fly from South Africa (or Eswatini) to China are required to take both nucleic acid and IgM anti-body tests for COVID-19 and then apply for a Green Code of Health Declaration Form with “HDC” mark before boarding flights.”

How to Apply for a Green Code of Health Declaration Form

Non-Chinese passengers should log in the application program by visiting on your computer or phone or scan the below QR code with your phone. Make sure to set up a profile before going for the COVID tests, so that as soon as you have the test results you are ready to upload them. Some people have said it is easier to set up the profile using a computer and then upload the COVID test results using your phone. Password can not contain words related to China or Chinese cities. Password must include upper and lower case as well as numbers and letters. Don’t use upper case characters for your email address. Uploads need to be JPEG format not PDF. If your COVID test results are in PDF, take a screenshot of them, which will be created in JPEG format and upload that.

Upload the following to the program:
– photos of COVID-19 negative certificates of both PCR nucleic acid and IgM anti-body tests (JPEG format)
– passport photo page
– flight itinerary (JPEG format)
– letter from employer stating why it is essential you enter China for the job – follow this guide
– selfie of your face and passport information page, at the COVID testing site
– photo of you giving the samples (PCR and blood) if possible (note – some testing sites don’t allow this, it is not essential to provide)
– receipt from your COVID testing visit
– any other required documents asked for by the program

Guide for how to complete the Health Declaration Form here.

Guide for iphone users here.

Important Reminder: Passengers are requested to remind the COVID testing facilities to email both test reports to Chinese Embassy or Consulates according to the consular districts where they are domiciled:

1. Consular district of Chinese Embassy includes Pretoria, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and North West provinces, and Eswatini.

Email address of Chinese Embassy:

2. Consular district of Chinese Consulate General in Johannesburg includes Gauteng (excl. Pretoria) and Free State.

Email address of Chinese Consulate General in Johannesburg:

3. Consular district of Chinese Consulate General in Cape Town includes Western CapeNorthern Cape and Eastern Cape provinces.

Email address of Chinese Consulate General in Cape Town:

4. Consular district of Chinese Consulate General in Durban includes KwaZulu-Natal.

Email address of Chinese Consulate General in Durban:


12) Arrival at the airport

-Get to the airport at least 4 hours before your flight as check in process takes longer than usual.

-Make sure to bring the green health declaration code on your phone and original negative COVID and IgM antibody test result and passport

-Also bring all your notarized documents (degree, TEFL, criminal background check) as they will be needed to get your residence permit in China

Things to bring:
-Boarding pass
-Negative COVID and IgM antibody test result, issued within 48 hours of your flight – check specific airline requirements to confirm requirements on this
-Green code on your phone – health declaration from Chinese embassy as detailed in step 10 above
-Valid Chinese visa or residency permit
-All your notarized documents (degree, TEFL, criminal background check)
-Masks & hand sanitiser
-Phone with WeChat installed – this is needed for processing on arrival
-Download and complete the WeChat mini program ‘Customs Pocket Declaration’ on the WeChat app on your phone – instructions on how to get it here
-Enough cash in Chinese RMB to cover the quarantine costs and food or money on WeChat Pay or AliPay if possible
-Power bank to ensure your phone has power on arrival
-Download a VPN, if you wish, for use in China as they are hard to get once you arrive
-Food for the flight – some airlines only provide limited food
-Store on your phone, as will be required for forms: passport number, visa number, flight number, seat number, address in China (in Chinese and English), emergency contact in South Africa, emergency contact person in China and their phone number


13) Quarantine for 14 days on arrival in China

-Once your plane arrives in China you will be taken to a quarantine hotel for your 14 day quarantine. The reports from teachers who have been through it have said things are organized very well, the hotels are of a good quality (similar to what you would expect from a 3 or 4 star hotel stay). They provide 3 meals a day.

-Here is an article from one of our teachers who went through quarantine in China in September 2020

-Here is another article from someone arriving and quarantining in Shanghai

-Here’s a YouTube video of the quarantine process


Useful links

– WeChat group “SA – CN: contracts, visa, law”. Download WeChat app then add the WeChat ID “busi_mjiyakho” as a contact on WeChat and ask them to add you to the group “SA – CN: contracts, visa, law”.
South African Teachers in China Facebook group
Foreigners Stuck Outside China Facebook group
South African Stuck Outside China guide by 小杜 (los kop)
China Visa page on Reddit

Procedures may vary so be sure to check at each stage.

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