If you’ve landed a job in China, you’ll need a work visa and for that you will need to undergo a medical examination at a Chinese hospital.
Such checks are a requirement of the Chinese entry-exit bureau and must be carried out in a government-recognized hospital. In the major cities, such as Shanghai and Beijing, there are entire hospitals specifically dedicated to carrying examinations out for foreigners applying for a work permit.
At such facilities, you’ll probably be expected to make your way there yourself and deal with the procedure on your own. However staff at these centres all speak reasonable English and the entire process isn’t difficult to handle.
The examinations will be straightforward and not involve anything particularly too intimate.
If you are in a smaller city or area away from the main urban centres, there will likely be no specialized facility and the whole experience may be something of an adventure – however. In smaller cities it is quite common that the average person has not had a close encounter with a foreigner, that includes medical staff.
If you are not of East Asian ethnicity, be prepared for laughs or giggles from hospital staff at your appearance – especially if you have hairy arms or legs, as this is often considered a key distinguishing feature by Chinese people when it comes to comparing their physical appearance with those of different racial backgrounds.
Whilst to some people, such reactions may understandably seem a little inappropriate or even rude, they are not meant to be disrespectful and are simply a reflection of the fact that most Chinese people are simply not used to foreigners and their appearance. In fact many Chinese feel a little shy around foreigners and such reactions are often made out of sheer nervousness.
Similarly, if you can speak Chinese, prepare to hear some very direct remarks from hospital staff about your appearance. You may or may not find these amusing, but they can be used as an icebreaker and staff will most likely express surprise that you can speak their language when you respond to their comments!
For the actual procedure itself, typically the tests themselves involve blood work, x-rays, ultrasound, electrocardio, vision and a measurement of height and weight. Stool and urine samples are not standard.
You will be asked to go to a changing room to remove your upper layers of clothing and wear a robe for the duration of the examinations. It is all rather routine and lasts barely half an hour at most.
The procedure must be paid for, your employer may send someone to accompany you to the hospital and they will most likely take care of that. In Shanghai and Beijing you may be on your own and have to cover the initial expense. Make sure you collect your receipt or fapiao when you make your payment so you can get reimbursement from your employer later.
In China, the term “work visa” is often used by expats to describe the paperwork needed to remain in China longer term to enable you to have a job and live. But the actual document you end up with is a residence permit which is a sticker in your passport and enables you to freely leave and enter China for up to a year before it is renewed.
The good news is that renewal does not require another medical exam – but make sure that you start the renewal process in good time, as such matters can take longer than anticipated in China and overstaying one’s visa expiration date does not go down well with customs and can affect access to the country in the future.
Whilst official policy on China visa medical examinations is unclear, ostensibly these checks appear to be aimed at checking foreigners entering China are not carrying HIV.
It is not a problem to enter the country as a tourist if you are HIV positive but anecdotal evidence suggests longer term stays are not possible.
Come what may, such checks can show up ailments or illnesses you were not aware you had which may require treatment.
So make sure you have adequate health insurance during your time in China by calling us here at China Expat Health or contacting us online today for a free quote.