Moving to China, the Covid 19 pandemic is like an adventure; you never know what will happen next. However, with the right information, you can be fully prepared and succeed in your move.
Canadian who are planning to work in China need a work visa called a Z visa. The process usually takes about 30 to 45 days from accepting a teaching job to getting your visa. The process includes:
- Notarizing and authenticating your required documents
- Legalizing your documents by the nearest Chinese visa center
- Receiving your ‘PU letter’ (invitation letter) and work permit notification letter
- Booking your flight
- Getting a PCR nucleic acid COVID test and IgM antibody test within 48 hours of your flight.
- Departing from Canada
- Arriving in China and Quarantine
Keep reading to find out an easy step by step guide from your visa application process in Canada to landing in China.
STEP 1: Notarize and Legalize your Required Documents
First, you will need to apply for a criminal background check from your local police in Canada. If you are in Toronto, you can apply online at the Toronto police website. Your criminal report is valid six months from its issue date.
Required Documents to be Notarized and Authenticated:
- A university degree (Bachelor, Master and above)
- 120 Hour TEFL Certification
- Criminal background check
Process of notarization and authentication
The process of notarization and authentication includes 2 steps:
- Take a copy of your documents to be notarized by a local public notary or lawyer.
- And, then take them to the provincial ministry in your city to be authenticated. See below a list of provincial jurisdictions to authenticate your document after notarization.
Note: Contact the Chinese visa center in your jurisdiction to find out the nearest provincial ministry in your city. I contacted them and they provided me with the address of Official Documents Services at 222 Jarvis St, Toronto, ON M7A 0B6, Canada.
List of provincial jurisdictions to authenticate your document after notarization
|Alberta||Deputy Provincial Secretary’s Office|
|British Columbia||Order in Council Administrative Office|
|Manitoba||Commissioner for Oaths/Notary Public|
|New Brunswick||Executive Council Office|
|Newfoundland||Deputy Minister’s Office|
|Nova Scotia||Department of Justice|
|Northwest Territories||Department of Justice|
|Nunavut||Nunavut Court of Justice|
|Ontario||Official Document Services|
|Prince Edward Island||Department of Justice and Public Safety|
|Québec||Chambre des notaires de Québec|
|Saskatchewan||Ministry of Justice and Attorney General|
|Yukon||The Commissioner of Yukon|
STEP 2: Authenticate your Documents by the nearest Chinese Visa Center
Once you have your documents notarized and authenticated, the next step is to get your documents legalized (authenticated) by the Chinese Visa Center. Legalization (authentication) is a stamp the Chinese embassy in Canada affixes to your documents to certify your Canadian documents for future use in China.
- To have your documents legalized by the nearest Chinese Visa Center, send an email with the subject line: “Urgent_Your first and last name_Type of documents to be authenticated“
Include the following documents in your email:
- The authentication application form
- The document to be authenticated (the required documents you have notarized in step 1)
- A photocopy of your passport information page
- A personal statement stating the nature of the emergency, dated with your signature
- An invitation letter from your employer that states the emergency
The Chinese Embassy in Canada and Chinese Consulates do not accept visa applications directly; you will need to apply at a Chinese Visa Application Service Center.
Make sure to contact the appropriate Chinese visa center because they will only process visas for people in their jurisdiction. See below a list of Chinese Visa Application Service Centres per jurisdiction.
Chinese Visa Application Service Centre in Calgary
|855 8 Ave SW Unit 200, Calgary, Alberta|
Chinese Visa Application Service Centre in Montreal
|2000 Rue Mansfield Suite 700, Montreal, Quebec|
Chinese Visa Application Service Centre in Ottawa
Newfoundland and Labrador
Prince Edward Island
|220 Laurier Ave W Suite 1450, Ottawa Ontario|
Chinese Visa Application Service Centre in Toronto
|393 University Ave Suite 1501, Toronto, Ontario|
Chinese Visa Application Service Centre in Vancouver
|550 W Broadway Suite 730, Vancouver, British Columbia|
STEP 3: Your School or agency will Apply for your ‘PU Letter’ (invitation letter) and Work Permit Notification Letter
- Usually, this process takes about 15 business days for SIE Shenzhen; however, due to the current pandemic, it is currently taking longer to issue PU letters.
STEP 4: Book your Flight
Officially, the Chinese embassy and visa application centers suggest not to buy your flight before receiving your visa, however, in my experience, they reply faster if you add your flight itinerary when applying for your visa.
Before booking your flight, make sure:
- You confirm with your school and HR person.
- That the Airline is approved to fly to China, some airlines list flights that are not approved by the Chinese authorities, which result in flight cancellation.
- Check the list below for a list of approved flights to fly from Canada to China.
- Check FlightRadar24 to verify the flight history of any flight for the last seven days and the coming seven days to make sure flights flew and were not canceled.
List of Confirmed Airline from Canada to China
|Airline||Route||Flight Number||Day and Time|
|China Southern||Vancouver to Guangzhou||CZ329||Wednesday 11:10|
|China Southern||Toronto to Guangzhou||CZ312||Friday 14:30|
|Xiamen Air||Vancouver to Xiamen||MF806||Tuesday 00:55 and Friday 00:55|
|Air China||Vancouver to Zhengzhou (Beijing)||CA998||Saturday 13:00|
|Air China||Vancouver to Beijing||CA992||Sunday 13:00|
|Air Canada||Toronto to Shanghai*|
*Flights technically stops in Seoul.
|AC27||Saturday or Sunday |
11:55 pm or 00:55 am
Vancouver to Shanghai*
*Flights technically stops in Seoul.
|AC025||Thursday or Friday |
11:55 pm or 00:55 am
|Hainan Air||Toronto to Beijing||HU7976||Wednesday 16:10 and Sunday 16:10|
|China Eastern||Vancouver to Nanjing||MU216||Tuesday 10:00|
|China Eastern||Toronto to Shanghai (seems sold out)||MU208||Saturday 15:25|
|Sichuan Airlines||Vancouver to Chengdu||3U8502||Wednesday and Saturday 12:45|
STEP 4: Get a PCR nucleic acid COVID-19 test and IgM antibody test within 48 hours of your flight
On 31 October 2020, the Chinese embassy in China announced that starting from On 7 November 2020, passengers traveling from Canada to China need to provide:
- Negative PCR nucleic acid CVOID test
- IgM antibody test
What to do after receiving your negative nucleic acid COVID-19 and IgM antibody test results?
- Once you receive your negative nucleic acid COVID and IgM antibody test results upload them on via an Online health declaration form (here is a link Online health declaration form, and then you will receive a Green Code of Health Declaration Form
- Get ready – Pack your luggage and do your goodbyes
- Fill out your Chinese custom declaration within two hours before your flight ( preferably from home, the airline will not let you check-in without it and it will help avoid unnecessary stress at the airport)
- Most of the flights from Canada to China, leave from Vancouver Airport so make sure you redo your Chinese custom declaration again and take a screenshot
See also: What Is It Like Being an ESL Teacher?
I took both my PCR nucleic acid COVID-19 test and IgM antibody test at 12:00 pm at Cloud Health Care. I received my result the next day at the same time and uploaded the results to the Health Declaration Certificate system. About 15 minutes later, I received a green QR from the Chinese Embassy in Toronto, allowing me to fly to China.
|Ichor Blood Services (Calgary)||Ichor Blood Services Calgary|
|Ichor Blood Services (Edmonton)||Ichor Blood Services Edmonton|
|Ichor Blood Services (Medicine Hat)||Ichor Blood Services Medicine Hat|
|Midtown Medical Centre||Midtown Medical Centre|
|Inwell Medical||Inwell Medical|
|PolyCan Health Centre||PolyCan Health Centre|
|Care Point Medical & Wellness Clinic||Care Point Medical & Wellness Clinic|
|Megafu Medical||Megafu Medical|
|Ichor Blood Services||Ichor Blood Services|
STEP 5: Departure from Canada
On January 17, 2021, around 7:00 am, I boarded Air Canada, flight number AC025 to Shanghai from Toronto Pearson International Airport.
My flight was Toronto to Vancouver, and then Shanghai. After we left Vancouver, we had about 2 hours of technical stop in Seoul for crew change and refuel. We didn’t need to disembark because it didn’t count as a transit.
Advice: Try to be at the airport at least 4 hours before your flight.
Quick Checklist of the Required Documents before your flight:
- Flight tickets
- Copies of your negative COVID and IgM antibody test result, issued within 48 hours of your flight
- A green HDC QR Code. According to the Chinese Embassy in Canada, all passengers flying to China from Canada will require the HDC QR Code. Before boarding, you must upload your documents, passport, visa, other documents, and test certificates of your IgM antibody and PCR covid tests, taken no more than 48 hours before boarding. The Chinese embassy will then approve or disapprove and issue you a green health QR code if approved, which you will need to board the plane.
- Health Customs App filled out no more than 24 hours before you land. Don’t forget to screenshot the QR generated. You will also need it to board the plane and at your arrivals in China.
See also: Is Being an ESL Teacher a Good Career?
STEP 6: Arrival in China and Quarantine
Once your plane lands in China, you will quarantine for 21 days (14 hotels quarantine and seven days home/ apartment isolation)
After we landed in Shanghai Pudong airport, we waited about an hour before disembarking the airplane. They brought the Chinese quarantine team on the plane to check on some people who weren’t feeling well.
Once we exited the plane, we started lining up. There are quarantine team members everywhere to guide us.
First, they checked the health code and distributed consent letters to sign for a covid test at Shanghai Pudong airport. For the health code, they just needed a screenshot of the Chinese custom declaration; make sure to complete your health during your Vancouver transit.
I asked one of the Chinese custom members for Wifi because Shanghai Pudong airport internet requires a local phone number to send me a code. A guy from the Chinese custom helped me connect to the internet (but I needed to stay close to him for the internet to work). Once I connected to the internet I sent a WeChat message to Jenny, the SIE Shenzhen HR manager, to let her know that I landed safely.
After we continued to do a Covid test, they did a nose swab ( both noses), then they also issued a new QR code for the testing in China and quarantine. The new QR code is attached to my passport.
They sealed the results in a tube, and we dropped them with other agents. And then continue to baggage claim and collect our luggage.
The final line up is for quarantine hotel; at this step, we needed to set up a new QR code ( an agent helped me set up mine as I didn’t have internet)
Just before getting on the quarantine buses, they divide us into groups of 15 people. At this step, they collect our passports, check the QR code. They only gave us our passports at the designated quarantine hotel.
Overall, this is the step-by-step process for Canadian applying for a Chinese work visa and flying to China during the pandemic.
My experience applying for a Chinese work visa and flying first time to China has been great. My HR manager from SIE Shenzhen, Jenny, has been very supportive throughout the process. She always replies promptly and provides me with all the information needed to make my visa application and trip successful.
I hope this article has helped you and wish you good luck during your visa application process and travel to China.