This tick list is accurate as of 18th February 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 “Stranded British & Irish Ren”. Download WeChat app then add Keira (WeChat ID “shaka-82”) as a contact to WeChat and ask her to add you to the group “Stranded British & Irish Ren”.
Foreigners Stuck Outside China Facebook group
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. Please contact us for details.

1) Get required documents notarised and authenticated

Apply for a criminal background check at ARCO Criminal Records Office. 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. 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 criminal background check notarized and authenticated. If you got your criminal background check through ARCO, it does not need to be notarised, as it is a government document. If you got it elsewhere, it will need to be notarised.

1- Get a high quality colour copy notarised
2- The Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO) must then issue a stamp verifying the notarisation

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:
Mandarin Visa
Vital Consular
5 Star China Travel
CIBT Visas
Apostille of the Hague

Google ‘China visa agents in UK’ 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 might not have to have the blood test, chest x-ray or ECC tests done, please check with your school
-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 notarised by Chinese embassy

Once the copy of your degree, TEFL and criminal background check are notarized and certified, the national stamp / seal must then be “authenticated” or “notarised” by the Chinese Visa Center.

FAQ on notarising documents

-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.

-You can have the notarised documents posted back to you


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


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

-How to book an appointment 

Please note, this is the link for the London office. If you require Manchester, Edinburgh or Belfast, please visit

-Email address is

-How to fill in the online application form

Please note, this is the link for the London office. If you require Manchester, Edinburgh or Belfast, please visit

General FAQ

-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.

-Try phoning, emailing and booking an appointment online regularly. Use ‘URGENT’ in your email title. We have heard from teachers who were first told there was a long delay for booking an appointment and when they tried again a few days later managed to get an appointment for the following week.

-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 (scroll down) as of 26 February 2021, be sure to check for an updated list of approved flights

-It is strongly suggested that you book a direct flight rather than one with a stopover. If you have a stopover, you will need to get a new COVID and IgM antibody test within 2 days of boarding your onward flight to China.

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 PCR nucleic acid COVID test and IgM antibody test within 2 days 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 19th February 2021, “all persons departing from the UK or transiting to China via the UK must undergo nucleic acid (PCR) and antibody (IgM) testing at institutions designated by the Chinese Embassy in the UK. Please see the list of approved COVID testing sites at the bottom of the announcement under the file name “Designated Institutions.PDF“. Be sure to check the Chinese embassy for the most up to date list of approved COVID test facilities before booking.

-Ask the COVID testing center to email a copy of the COVID results to both yourself and the Chinese embassy / consulates at:

Chinese Embassy:
Chinese Consulate General in Manchester:
Chinese Consulate General in Edinburgh:
Chinese Consulate General in Belfast:

-Make sure you give the COVID testing facility permission for them to provide personal information to the Chinese embassy and consulate, including but not limited to name, gender, birthday, passport number, test result, etc. This is a requirement from the Chinese embassy in case they decide to contact the testing center to confirm the test results.

-According to this announcement from the Chinese embassy, starting from 7th November 2020, passengers traveling from The UK or Ireland to China need to provide:
a) negative PCR nucleic acid COVID test (this is a swab test to test if you have COVID)
b) IgM antibody test (this is a blood test to test if you have antibodies)

Both tests have to be conducted within 2 days 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 sample was provided for the test. 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 the UK 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.

Here is an FAQ published by the Chinese embassy on The UK on 3rd November 2020 (in Chinese, use Google translate to translate to English). Key points from the FAQ:
– If your flight is on Friday, you can get the PCR and IgM antibody tests done any time on Wednesday.
– The test report needs to include: passenger’s name, date of birth, passport number, the testing agency’s address, contact number and email, the date the sample was taken, the date the report was issued and the test results (PCR and IgM results). The passenger’s name has to match their name on their passport.

-The PCR and IgM tests have to be done at the same test center.

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


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

Instructions from the Chinese embassy here

Starting from 1 December, 2020, foreign passengers who are to fly from The UK to China will be required to take nucleic acid and IgM anti-body tests, and apply for a green QR code with “HDC” mark to the Chinese Embassy or Consulate General in The UK within two days before boarding the flight to China.

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)
– selfie of your face and passport information page, at the COVID testing site
– 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.


11) 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
-Name and phone number of a contact person in China
-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 UK, emergency contact person in China and their phone number


12) 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 “Stranded British & Irish Ren”. Download WeChat app then add Keira (WeChat ID “shaka-82”) as a contact to WeChat and ask her to add you to the group “Stranded British & Irish Ren”.
Foreigners Stuck Outside China Facebook group
China Visa page on Reddit

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

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