FAQ's on Teaching in China

Q: Do you charge a fee for your service?

A: We do not charge a fee for finding you a teaching position except for 1) short-teaching positions such as a summer job and 2) specific requests that require extra legwork. In these two cases, our fee is $50, which is totally refundable should we fail to meet your requirements.

Q: Am I obligated to meet my commitment after I accept an offer?

A: Absolutely. When you accept an offer, please make sure that it is your final decision. After you give the hiring school your affirmative word, the school will decline the applications of other candidates and apply to the government for visa paperwork for you. This process is formality only, but very elaborate because several government departments are involved. The worst thing that can happen is for the school to go through this elaborate process only to find that you have changed your mind. In some cases, the position is considered filled by the government after it issues the visa paperwork even though the teacher later decided not to come for any reason. When this happens, you will leave the school in a devastating shape because the government will not issue more visa paperwork to the school for that semester at least. We cannot emphasize enough that you must treat your acceptance seriously.

Q: What is the course of action after I’m accepted?

A: Once an offer is made and you accepted, you will be usually, but not always, asked to submit the following documents so that the hiring school can prepare paperwork for you to apply for a visa:

Two reference letters.
Signed contract (in most cases)
Health certificate (see below)

Once the hiring school receives these documents and obtains approval from the State Bureau of Foreign Experts in Beijing or the provincial department of education (usually a formality), it will send you either by fax or mail an invitation issued by the provincial government or a particular ministry (schools in China are not authorized to issue invitations) a confirmation letter from the State Bureau of Foreign Experts. With these two documents in hand, you are ready to apply for a visa.

In most cases, the contract for teaching at a university is a standard one. It uses a form prepared by the State Bureau of Foreign Experts in Beijing for use by all the universities in China. The only difference is the section that deals with a teacher's salary, living arrangement, and benefits.

If you are only going to teach a summer program, there is usually no contract for you to sign.

Q: What is the visa application process?

A: Upon your acceptance of a position, the host school will apply to the government for visa approval, which is formality only but may take some time. When the approval is granted, you will receive the following two documents:

1. An invitation from the municipal or provincial government where the school is in, or from a ministry that has the jurisdiction over the school. In most cases, the university or the school is not authorized to issue an invitation.

2. A confirmation letter from the State Bureau of Foreign Experts in Beijing.

When you receive these two documents from the hiring school, you can proceed to apply for a Z-visa (work visa) from the Chinese embassy/consulate nearest you. You need to bring your passport, a photo, the above two documents and a fee. You will need to fill out a visa application form on the spot. If there is no Chinese consulate in the city where you live, you can apply for your visa by mail. In that case, you need to obtain the visa application form from the consulate first. You can either download the form from the consulate's website (see below) or use their fax-back service (see below). The visa-processing fee varies from country to country. It is reciprocally based, meaning that whatever amount your country charges Chinese citizens for granting a visa, the Chinese consulate will charge you the same. In the United States, it is $30 for application in person and $35 for application by mail. It takes five business days for you to get your visa back if you apply in person. It takes a little longer if you apply by mail. Since the visa is stamped on your passport, you will have to leave your passport in the Consulate for the duration. If it cuts too close to your departure date, you can always request a 24-hour rush service by paying a little extra. The rush service is only available for application in person. If you have to apply by mail and you have to have a rush service, you can ask a travel agency to handle it for you for a fee. You may find further information about the visa application process by checking the website for Chinese Embassy and Consulates in the U.S. at http://www.china-embassy.org. The phone numbers at the visa division of the Chinese Consulate in New York are 212-330-410 (recorded messages) and 212-502-021. If you don't live in the U.S., you may want to check with the Chinese Embassy or consulate nearest you for additional information. If you apply by mail, we suggest that you do it by FedEx and enclose a FedEx envelop for the consulate to send it back to you. Please make sure that everything is in order. If there is anything amiss, the consulate will send your application back unprocessed.

Sometimes it is possible for you to arrive in China on a tourist visa and adjust your status after you arrival. For you to do that, you must get advance approval from your host school.

If you are only going to teach a summer program, in most cases, you will be asked to teach under a tourist visa. In that event, you do not need any visa paperwork from the school. 

If you don’t plan to leave China during your contract period, you can apply for a single-entry visa. If you plan to leave China for a visit home or visit some other countries, including Hong Kong and Macao, you should apply for a double entry or multiple-entry visa. Double entry and multiple-entry visas cost a little more than a single entry visa, it will save you a lot of trouble later on. Please note that although Hong Kong and Macao are part of China now, they are treated differently for visa purposes. You don’t need a visa to go to Hong Kong or Macao from China, but when you reenter China, you need a visa. So if you plan to visit Hong Kong, apply for a double entry or multiple-entry visa.

Q: What is the health certificate?

A: If you teach for more than six months in China, you need to have your doctor fill out a Physical Examination Record for Foreigners and submit to the host school. This certificate is needed by the host school to apply for a resident permit upon your arrival. You need to obtain a standard form from the Chinese Consulate. There is an easy way for you to obtain this form without taking a trip there. All of the Chinese consulate offices in the U.S. provide a fax-back service, whereby you dial the number from a fax machine, follow the recorded instructions and the right form will be faxed back to you automatically. The fax-back numbers at the Chinese Consulate in New York are 212-868-7761, 7762, 7763, 7764. The fax-back number in Washington, D.C. is 202-265-9809. The medical check will include HIV test. You can also use this service to obtain a visa application form.

Further information can be found at


The website for the American Embassy in Beijing is


Q: Can you assist me with getting a cheaper airfare?

A: Definitely. If you are provided with airfare, in most cases you will be asked to purchase a ticket on your own to be reimbursed, often at the end of your contract. We have good working relationships with a number of consolidators in the U.S. that specialize in flights to China. When the occasion arises that you need to purchase a ticket, we suggest that you check with your travel agent first to obtain a quote and let us know. We can usually obtain a cheaper rate for the same flight. As a matter of fact, most of the candidates with our program booked their tickets through our source.

Q: Is there any source of information you can refer me to regarding travel planning?

A: U.S. consular officers, both in the State Department in D.C. and in China have compiled a pamphlet termed "Tips for Travelers to the People's Republic of China" to assist travelers to China. It is also called Department of State Publication 10271, Bureau of Consular Affairs and it is available at http://travel.state.gov/tips_china.html. It has the following sections: About China, Consular Information Program, Entry and Other Visa Requirements, While You Are in China, Customs Regulations, Crime, Currency Regulations, Legal Matters, Dual Nationality, Passport Confiscation and Business Disputes, Adoptions, Health, Travel Arrangement Within China, Restricted Areas, Travel to Tibet, Travel on the Trans-Siberian Express, Chinese Embassy and Consulates in the U.S. and U.S. Embassy and Consulates in China.

Q: What kinds of immunizations do I need to get before I arrive?

A: According to the above pamphlet by the U.S. State Department, you do not need any shot for traveling to China, but if you want to be extra cautious, you should consult with your physician. New York Hospital has an International Health Department for travelers who might need inoculations. They recommended that people have 4 shots for China:

hepatitis A
polio booster

(if you've never had measles you'd need that too)

If you are interested, you can call them to set up an appointment. The phone number is 212-746-5454. Ask for the international health department. The clinic is located at 440 East 69th Street, ground floor.

Q: How should I prepare myself logistically?

A: You should prepare or bring the following (many ideas were suggested by teachers who have taught in China):

You need two for visa application and possible six for your school.

You should bring as many medical supplies as you feel you'll need (for burns, rashes, colds, flu, eyes, teeth, etc.). Being so far away from family and your physician, it is a comfort to have familiar products on hand.

Teaching supplies:
Plan ahead (especially books and teaching materials) and bring the supplies with you as best you can and use them wisely. You do not need to bring multiple copies of the same material, as all the schools have duplicating facilities. Also, it is nice for both the students and you to bring some items/decorations for your home country holidays.  The students find them interesting and the decorations will help you cope with being away from home for the holidays.

Packing and shipping:
Pack what only is necessary and people usually would give away the majority of their clothing and linens upon their return.

Electric appliances:

If you can find an appliance with dual voltage - BUY IT!  China uses 220 V. With so many power surges, transformers don't always protect your appliance. If you bring your laptop computer with you, it is important that you never plug it directly into the outlet. Use batteries instead.

Dress code:
Unless there is a specific requirement from your school, business casual is the way to go. Never wear jeans and sneakers when you teach in the classroom. You should bring one or two formal attires, as there will be formal occasions. Also it is important for you to be formally dressed when you meet school officials for the first time. Appearance does make a difference in China or Taiwan.

Bring items that you often need for cooking, such as:  vanilla extract, spices, etc.  Also pack special snacks that you enjoy.  Pack enough to last for three to four months.

Some comfortable, well-made walking shoes. Many people cannot buy clothes of any kind because most Chinese are much smaller than most Westerners. So, taking everything you need is a must.  It's very expensive to ship by air and surface shipping  takes about 3 months.

A bicycle light; join a book club or subscribe to a magazine in your home country before you leave in order to have new reading selections every month.

Mosquito repellant, wash  n' wipes, mouthwash, dental floss.

Here is another what-to-bring list suggested by an American teacher. There are overlaps with the above:

Two pairs of long underwear; warm winter jacket; lighter weight jacket; comfortable walking shoes; warm socks, gloves and wool hat; casual clothes-jeans, T-shirts, flannel shirts, fleece for teaching; one dress outfit for each season; shorts, 2 pr., cool clothes for hot weather.

Teaching supplies:
Index cards are very useful; colored construction paper; post-it notes; highlighters, magic markers; glue sticks; battery-operated pencil sharpener; correction fluid; scotch tape; good dictionary; EFL activity Books; good English-Chinese dictionary; English songs to teach the students.

Household Supplies:
Stain sticks; rubber gloves; comet cleaner; can opener; If you cook a hand-mixer is useful; cookbook spices you like; western sheets queen-size, pillow you like.

Short-wave radio; aspirin, cold medicine, etc.; vitamins; chap stick; cosmetics you use; hairspray, hair gel, etc.; power converters- China is 220v; batteries, AA; clock; flashlight; good skin creams; videos.

Q: Do I need to give gifts? If I do, what kind of gifts should give to people?

A: Generally, you don’t need to give presents to anyone, but if you do, it will be appreciated. There are occasions when a token of thanks seems to be in order, such as when you are picked up at the airport or invited to someone’s house for dinner. Whatever presents you would give to people on similar occasions at home will be just as appropriate in China. Some of the presents that people have brought with them include a photo book about the U.S. (or your country), a bottle of wine, a Swiss knife, a stamp book, a metal lighter, an electric shaver, a music CD, a Walkman. Whatever you bring, please make sure that it must be made in the U.S. (or your country), not made in China or Taiwan. It is better for you to bring something that can tell something about the U.S. (or your country).

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