pre-departure advice

We often receive pre-departure questions from candidates who have successfully secured teaching positions in China and who are about to relocate to commence their new employment. Below you will find the recommendations we commonly provide, which we hope will help make your arrival in China as smooth as possible. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

When I arrive in China, how do I ensure that I can meet up with the person collecting me from the airport? 

• Keep your WeChat app, which you will have used previously for your interview with the school, activated on your phone – Social interaction in China is increasingly organised using this app and, unless another arrangement has specifically been made, your contact at the school is likely to get in touch with you via WeChat when they come to collect you from the airport upon your arrival. Therefore, as WeChat is registered to your phone number, you should ensure that you have sufficient data available to you on your account and that your network provider has provisions in place to allow calls and data usage within China. We recommend that you do not cancel or suspend your phone contract at least until you have an operational Chinese mobile number. Also make sure you have to hand contact phone numbers for the school and for the person collecting you from the airport. 

I have heard that some websites and apps cannot be accessed from within China – is there any way I can continue to use them? 

• Set up a VPN (Virtual Private Network) – you will need this to access Google, Skype, WhatsApp, Youtube, Twitter, Facebook and other apps. Make sure you set up a VPN before you depart as this is usually much simpler than setting up once you are in China. Common choices include NORDVPN and expressVPN

What about electrical equipment – what do I need in order to continue using my phone, tablet and laptop once in China? 

• China electrical mains circuits operate at 220V, so if you are relocating from the UK or elsewhere in Europe, you will just need to purchase an electrical plug adapter before you leave – this will enable you to continue using your electrical equipment without disruption upon arrival. Note that while China uses two types of plug (2-pin and 3-pin) you can use either just as easily. A quick search for 'UK to China adapter' on any online shopping platform should bring up the options available to you. For users of Apple products, rest assured that Apple products are very popular in China and, with a great many Apple stores across China, you will have plenty of product support available to you. 

Should I bring some Chinese currency with me? 

• Do take some local currency with you, even if you anticipate using your existing bank cards – we recommend bringing not less than RMB 1,000 in any event, and enough to tide you over until your first pay check if you are not using your existing bank cards while in China. Also, remember that some banks require advance notification of overseas card use to avoid account blocking or inconvenient security checks. 

Are there any other things to consider before I depart? 

• Ensure that you have signed the formal contract with the school and that, prior to signing, you have verified that all the main terms and agreed benefits are reflected in the contract, especially insurance. This is something that too many candidates omit to check in detail. 

• Check with your doctor about the recommended vaccinations for China. Having up-to-date Hepatitis immunisation is essential, although your doctor will be able to provide you with a full list of recommendations. 

• Take a passport-size ID photo with you, to save yourself having to do this in China when you apply for your residence permit. 

• If you have brands of cosmetics and other toiletries to which you are particularly attached, consider bringing a supply of these – while close equivalents can usually be found in China, particularly in the biggest cities, you may wish to have these to hand while you figure out where to buy such products. 

• If you are tall or large, ensure you bring sufficient clothing with you – depending on your destination city, you may find clothing in your size is in short supply or takes some time to track down. 

• Learn a few words of Mandarin before you leave – even just being able to say 'Ni Hao' (Hello) and 'Xie Xie' (Thank You) will stand you in good stead.