Things You Need to Know Before You Leave China

November 16, 2017
Angelina Lee
Leaving China

There may come a time when some expats will decide to go back to their home country because their working contracts have ended.

But before you go, here are 10 major things you need to know before you leave China.


1. Get Your Chinese Pension Back


You might not aware it, but yes! you do have Chinese pension!

An employer must pay for all five types of social insurance (pension, medical, work-related injury, maternity and unemployment insurance) for an expat. It is compulsory for foreigners employed in China to contribute to Social Insurances. 


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If you are leaving China after having being employed by a Chinese company or a foreign company based in China and prior to reaching the prescribed statutory age for pension withdrawal, you can get back a part of your participation to the Pension funds you have been contributing each month you were in employment. 

The employer contribution is 20% of all its employee’s salaries for the country-wide pool of money plus 8% of each person’s salary on a personal pension account. 

For foreigners leaving China, they will be able to get back all the money paid on the personal pension account!

For example: In Beijing, a foreigner earning a monthly salary of more than RMB 15,669 pays RMB 1,286/month. RMB 1,286 x 12 = RMB 15,432, assuming the foreigner had a 3 years assignment in China, he can get back RMB 46,296 which is not a little money!


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So how to get back the pension?

1. Terminate the employment contract with your employer

The employer should give you a stamped release letter acknowledging that you do not work for them anymore (终止劳动合同)

Your employer will submit the stamped form to the local Human Resources and Social Security Bureau to terminate your employment.

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2. Tell your employer to fill out the Personal Pension Insurance Deposit Withdrawal Application Form for Insured Foreigners (外国参保人员基本养老保险个人账户储存额一次性支取申领表.)

This form is available from the local Human Resources and Social Security Bureau. They should both cancel your employment and hand in this form which is basically a notification to the government that you intend to withdraw your money. 


3. Visit the local Human Resources and Social Security Bureau 

Take your passport, valid residence permit and release letter to the Bureau, ask to sign the Confirmation Letter for Whole Withdrawal of Basic Pension Insurance Deposit (一次性提取基本养老金确认书) 

Remeber to bring your bank card (you should use this account for more than 6 months). Bureaus may not accept cards from banks other than ICBC, Agricultural Bank of China (ABC), Bank of China (BOC) and Construction Bank of China (CCB). However, most of the companies are also paying salaries on accounts from those banks.

Note that once your employment is terminated, your residence permit will be canceled and you have one month to leave China (some employers forget to do so, but this is not legal).

Processing time takes usually seven working days and you should receive your pension fund into your bank account. 


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What happens if you don’t apply before leaving China?

The contribution years will be calculated on a cumulative basis in the event the person comes back to China to work again in the future. 

If you reach the age of pension and if you have contributed to Chinese Pension scheme for longer than 15 years and you reside outside China, you will receive monthly social insurance benefits. 

However, you must submit every year to the in-charge social insurance agency a certification of existence issued by a Chinese embassy or consulate. 


2. Get Your Money Out From China


Getting money out of China is a question that frequently comes up. Many expatriates have their jobs and daily lives in China, saving up their hard-earned Chinese RMB for the future. It is likely that those wanting to leave China will want to take their RMB with them.


So how to take all your money in your Chinese bank account? 

First, you need to know you cannot withdraw it all from ATM at one time.

If your account has more than 50K and you would like to withdraw it at once in cash, you have to make an appointment with the bank in advance. It is also possible to physically take cash out of China when leaving. The amount of money is limited to RMB 20,000/person or the equivalent of USD 5,000 in any other currency.

The most common way is to transfer to your account in your home country. This will cost you transfer fee and it depends on how much you have transferred and to which country.

You might also be thinking to withdraw the money from ATM outside of China. However, you can only withdraw it from the ATM with UnionPay’s logo on. And if you did find one, it is likely you would incur heavy withdrawal fees. Also, there’s a limit amount per year that you can withdraw from Chinese account abroad.


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Last but not least, remember to cancel your bank account in person. 


The thing you will need:

1. The original passport that you opened your bank account. 

Some might have changed the passport, and if you don’t have the original one, you will need to ask your embassy to offer a letter that proves you renewed your passport.

2. Your debit card 

3. Go to the same bank branch

You have to go to the same bank branch that you opened your account. Otherwise, the bank cannot find your information and it will take weeks to send the copy from the head office.


3. What Can You Put Inside Your Container


Sure China does have lots of cool and cheap stuff you would like to take them home, but hold on a second!

Each container needs to be examed by the custom to see what you are bringing out of China. For example, you might have some Chinese wooden furniture and it might be made of “rare woods” and in that case, you are not allowed to bring it out of China. 


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It is better to keep the tag that when you bought it, that it will shows which kind of wood it is made of, especially when you seeking treasure at Panjiayuan Market. However, the custom will stamp on the staff they approve to ship which will destroy a bit.

Other things you need to know is, does your destination allow these things to ship. Such as your scooter, it is everywhere in China but does it allow running in your destination? In this case, you have to check in advance otherwise it’s a waste of space in your container. Also, the battery of the scooter is lithium battery which is categorized as the dangerous item, you will need a lot of documents.

Check with your relocation company about what you can bring with you in the container.


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4. Bring Your Best Friend Home


The 4 simple steps for ensuring pet owners based in Beijing meet exit requirements are summarized below. Usually will ask the owner to prepare in 6 months in advance. So once you have set your departure date, better start to prepare all these procedure.


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1. Provide rabies vaccination records and Official Vaccination Immunity Certificate

Complete the rabies vaccinations and obtain an official PRC Animal Health and Immunity Certificate certifying that your pet was vaccinated at least 30 days before but not more than 12 months before departure.

Animals departing China must be rabies vaccinated at an officially designated animal vaccination hospital in the PRC and must have the official “Beijing Animal Health and Immunity Certificate” (vaccination red book).

It is recommended that owners keep good records of their pet’s local vaccinations upon adoption or arrival in Beijing. By law, pets must be rabies vaccinated annually in the PRC. China does not recognize the two- or three-year rabies vaccines from other countries, so pets must be vaccinated annually here. 


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2. Health Examination and Health Certificate

Pets must undergo a health examination not more than seven days before their departure date at government-run Entry-Exit Inspection & Quarantine Bureau animal hospital.

After your pets have completed their vaccinations and have obtained the official “vaccination red books,” pet owners may take their pets for an exit health examination at the designated government Quarantine Bureau animal hospital, Guan Shang, seven days prior to the animal’s departure date. 

Once completed, you will be issued a “Beijing International Companion Animal Health Inspection Certificate” (Health Certificate), which is required to obtain the official “Animal Health Certificate for Exit” (Exit Permit) from the Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau. Fees will be charged for the examination and the tests. Owners should take the pet, the official vaccination red book, passport or photocopy (one passport per pet) and cash (at least RMB 800 per pet) at the time of the visit.


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Microchipping Pets

In November 2011, the Guan Shang animal hospital that performs the official exit health examinations began requiring all animals to be microchipped at the time of the exam. The microchips required are the European Union certified. 

Note: This microchip requirement is not a national or Beijing municipal government or an Entry/Exit Quarantine and Inspection Bureau requirement. This is only the requirement of the Guan Shang animal hospital in Beijing to help them uniquely track the thousands of animals they clear each year for export. ICVS can help microchip all pets and has universal microchip scanners to ensure microchip readability of already microchipped pets.

It’s best to go for the health examination in the morning when the Quarantine Bureau’s Guan Shang animal hospital opens at 8.30am. Appointments are not accepted. If you are not proficient in Mandarin, it may be helpful to bring a Chinese-speaking friend to help.

The health certificate is usually issued within two working days after the examination and is valid for seven days from the issue date. If the health certificate is not exchanged for an exit permit before the expiration date, the health examination must be repeated.


3. “Animal Health Certificate for Exit” (Exit Permit)

Be sure to pick up the exit permit from the Entry-Exit Inspection & Quarantine Bureau after receiving the health certificate.

Owners may present the health certificate to obtain the official “Animal Health Certificate for Exit” (exit permit). The Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau has a satellite office on the second floor of the Quarantine Bureau’s animal hospital where owners may process the exit permit. Bring your “vaccination red book,” the health certificate and your passport (or passport photocopy). It is not necessary to bring your pet to apply for the exit permit. The exit permit fee is around RMB 100 and is usually processed within two working days and is valid for 14 days once issued. Once you receive the exit permit, pet owners have 14 days to take pets overseas.


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The Entry-Exit Inspection & Quarantine Bureau’s office hours are: Monday to Friday, 9 am to 11:30 am and 1.30pm to 4.30pm. (Note: The office is closed for all public and national holidays).


4. Last but not least, pick an airline

Every airline is different, we recommend that you call up the airline you want to travel with before you book a flight to find out if they can accommodate you in case it turns out that your flight can’t take the pet (for whatever reason), you’ll be stuck with having to purchase another ticket. 


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Generally speaking, to fit your pet, the carrier needs to have enough room for the pet to stand up, turn around, and lie down with natural comfort, and it needs to be well ventilated and leak-proof. You will be able to use large carriers if you are checking your pet as baggage to be placed in the cargo hold, but there are still size limitations, and they are different for each airline. 

ICVS is an officially designated animal vaccination hospital in the PRC and can vaccinate all pets and issue the official vaccination certificates required for export and offers comprehensive pre-departure screening examinations and consultations to help ensure your pets meet all PRC exit requirements and the entry requirements of your destination country. 

ICVS will host an information session called “Departing from China with Pets” from time to time. 

Please contact ICVS for more information.

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5.  SIM Card

Remember to cancel your Chinese SIM card! Even though is pre-pay card but as long as you didn’t top up for it, the mobile company will take it back the number however it also will deduct your credit. 

It will cause trouble that if you come back to China and apply for the SIM card again in the future.

To cancel your SIM card, you have to go to the mobile company in person with your original passport.


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6. Unlink Your WeChat with Cellphone


If you forget to cancel your phone number and unlink your WeChat ID with your phone, other people may have access to your WeChat. 

If your Chinese phone bill is not paid for six months,  the number will be cancelled and is considered a brand new number. Another person will use it. That person can log into your WeChat account with your number! This may explain why many expats lost their WeChat ID after returning to their home countries for a certain period of time. 

What you should do is unlink your WeChat ID with your phone. 

Go to “Me” – “Settings” – “My Account” –“Phone” to unlink.


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7. Non-Criminal Record


You may need a report of your stay in China when you are looking for a new place of residence. If you do not have these on file in the future getting a new place of residence after you leave China can be impossible as they may need to see your original passport and tenancy agreement.

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If you decide to leave China or move to another Chinese city – go to the local police station before you leave, and ask for a non-criminal record (无犯罪记录证明) for the entire stay you were in that city. Ask for a report with no gaps in the dates. If you registered at several police stations during your time of stay, you will need to go to each one to get a report. After getting your non-criminal record from the Public Security Bureau office, you must bring it to the Notary Public Office to get a notarized translation.


8. Translate Chinese Documents that You May Need at Home


Since you may need to translate your record from the police department, bring other things that you may need in your home country translated. Having valuable documents translated before you go back with. 


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Make sure that it gets done before you may really need them. Trying to do things last minute or if you are not aware of a certified notary in your home country may prove to be a mistake.


9. Get Reference From Your Landlord and Company


It is said to be very hard to rent anywhere without references. Get a reference from your landlord in China, in case you want to rent somewhere when you get home. If you have a Chinese speaking landlord, you can always write the letter yourself and ask them to sign it.


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You may want to have some sort references other than just contacts from you place of work in China. Going back to your home country and still working for the same company you may not think anything to do so. Having that reference may help with promotions and other opportunities within the company. It is always good to have it in writing about your good work.

1. Have a letter of reference from your landlord.

2. Get any letter of recommendation or references in China before you leave.


10. Cancel Your Alien Employment Permit/ Foreign Expert Certificate and Work Visa


​When your labor contract is terminated, your HR will normally get the employment permit (外国人就业证) or foreign expert certificate (外国专家证) from you and cancel it. It’s very important you can get the cancellation certificate(注销证明), at least the scanned copy, issued by the relevant authority.


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This certificate can be an official proof of your work experience in China. And if you want to come back to China to get a work visa again, the cancellation certificate is also required.



Farewells are said, bags are packed, flight is waiting and…

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