December 26, 2021
USCCC recently helped one of our sponsors process visas for employees returning to China. One married couple was kind enough to share their experience. Overall they were very pleased with the process. We hope their experience can help you prepare for your trip as well.
Please note, depending on which airport you fly into and your final destination, each individuals experience will be unique.
- Especially in smaller cities and towns, the mayors and local officials are concerned about the economic impact if there is an outbreak, so they are being very careful.
- The company inviting you to China must have good communication with the local authorities and it is important to be cooperative and patient each step of the way.
- Any experiences shared on the U.S.-China Chamber of Commerce website are for reference only and should not be taken as a complete guide.
- It is essential that everyone traveling to China, foreigners and locals alike, adhere to COVID policies and respect the officials, medical staff and volunteers that help you through this process.
The following is a first hand experience from members that finished their quarantine in December 2021:
A few tips for entering the country:
1) You will need a WeChat account. There are several steps where this makes it work much easier. And some where it is the only way.
2) If you do not have a Chinese bank account attached to your existing WeChat or Alipay account, take about 6000 RMB with you. Get cash exchanged before going to the aiport in the United States. The first hotel did not take CC or USD. With Covid there were no cash machines or exchanges operating at the airport in the United States or China.
3) Once you select the direct flight to Shanghai you will need to go to the departing city three days before your flight. In the departing city you will need to get a covid test two days before the flight to Shanghai and then submit everything to the consulate for that city to get your Green QR code. I went ahead and got all three tests. There is a possibility that one of the tests will show positive if you have been vaccinated so the third one is a backup. My wife’s and mine were all negative and we have had the booster.
- For the covid test you will need to go to a sanctioned testing site that is on the local consulates list. I departed out of San Francisco. There were five companies on the list. In researching them one has stopped performing the tests for China, one was not testing due to no reagent, and one was up in Seattle. I was lucky to get an appointment at the one I picked.
- Once you receive the covid test results you log onto (hrhk.cs.mfa.gov.cn/H5/) and upload all required information. Make sure you save your login credentials. The consulate then reviews everything and issues a Green QR code which you need to check in for the flight. Note: When you receive the code, log into the website on your phone so you can easily pull it up at check-in.
- On the day of your flight you will need to fill out the entry form online (https://health.customsapp.com/healthweb/home/pages/healthDeclare/declare.html). Again, keep the login credentials and test so that you can get to the QR code on your phone. What is important is that the expiration time on the QR code is well after your flight lands.
4) When you land, you will first go to the health center where they will take a nasal and throat swab. There are a couple of stops along the path where they will check your documents. This is where you will need the QR code from 3c above. It is CRUCIAL that you snap a picture of the green stamp you get because you will need it repeatedly at different stations at the airport.
5) Next you go through immigrations, then collect your luggage, and go through customs. These steps were pretty much what they have always been.
6) Next you will go to a holding location depending upon the province of your final destination. Ours is in Zhejiang.
- Here you will need to fill out another form. A lot of the same information, but for a different agency.
- Then you are directed to a holding area.
7) When the bus arrives, you will be transported to the hotel. (about an hour plus).
- At check in, there is another couple of forms to be filled out.
- After providing a 1000 RMB deposit and we get our room keys. (My wife and I had to quarantine in separate rooms.) You will also get some supplies (ask for the instructions in English, they have them printed.)
- You will download an application that allows them to track you.
- This hotel is for the first three days and is a complete lockdown.
- The food is very good. It is Chinese. It is a standard box meal, no options. If you cannot use chop sticks bring a fork.
8) Total time from landing to in the hotel room was about 6 plus hours. Make sure you use the facilities on the plane right before you land. There are no restrooms anywhere due to Covid. Take extra measures if you will have issues with no toilet access (i.e. lower fluid intake or use Depends).
9) Every day we had specific times to take our own temperatures on thermometers the hotel provided. After we took our temp, we put our thermometers on the chair outside our rooms. They would come and read the temp and knock on the door to ask us if we were well and if we were coughing. After that they would give us the thermometer back. Food was delivered to our rooms 3x every day. They gave us 6 bottles of water.
We moved from the first hotel to the second hotel Sunday morning. Transportation via bus. The second hotel set up a WeChat group, so any questions are shared along with the answers for all in quarantine. BTW, WeChat translate works well so no issue in reading the group chat.
The room was larger by about 1.5 to almost 2 times the first hotel. We will be here for the next 11 days. Again, total isolation. My wife and I are still in separate rooms.
We take four Covid tests while we are here; if all four are negative we move to the next hotel. There are two temperature checks a day (same as first hotel), the only difference is you post your reading to the group. They did nasal COVID tests every 3 days and told us as soon as they got the results.
Food here is the same, via a box meal. However, there is a menu option for ordering other dishes, fruit, drinks (no alcohol). At this hotel, they provided 14 bottles of water.
Some items we brought that help:
- Ground coffee and a small single cup drip system. (If you are a tea drinker bring your own tea.)
- Clothes soap, line, and clothes pins. With Covid there is no laundry service.
- Toys for exercise and fun. We brought an Oculus (VR machine). Make sure the games you download do not require wifi.
- Exercise videos.
- Food spices such as salt, pepper, etc. Some of the dishes can be a little bland.
When we left the hotel, they gave us a document with a red stamp and our signatures that summarized the covid tests and test results. They also gave us 4 official covid test result documents. It is very important to take photos of all these documents and papers.
Day 15-21 (soft quarantine) 21-35 (waiting to travel)
We have moved on to the third hotel for the last 7-day period. If you have a private home in Shanghai, you can be quarantined in your home under community office supervision. The hotel we moved to is in the new Pudong area not far from several attractions in Shanghai. The hotel is nice. The rooms are like the first two in that they are very simple with no pictures, refrigerators, etc. I believe this is because they are very easy to sanitize between guests.
No one at the hotel speaks English, but they have enough documents in English and use their cell phones to translate so you can get through the process.
Two times every day, we go downstairs and do a temperature test with a touchless thermometer they have setup there. We write down our temps on a piece of paper they gave us when we checked in.
On the 16th day of quarantine (since you landed in Shanghai), we walked to the hospital following a map that you take a photo of at the front desk. There is also a picture at the front desk of the entrance you must go to at the hospital. They do a nasal swab test at the hospital and put a barcode stamp on our Covid document that we got from the previous hotel that lists our previous 4 covid tests and their results. The next day, we walked to the hospital again. They scanned the bar code and printed out an official covid test result document that they gave us. We photographed the official covid test document.
It turns out that [our coworker] was in different hotels for his first two. However, his experiences were similar.
[The township we are going to requested that we refrain from entering until a 21-day period lapsed after the initial 14-day quarantine period in Shanghai.] For this 21-day period, the first 7 days are the final required by the government quarantine. [It is soft quarantine period] You will take a covid test on the 2nd and 7th day. During this period, you are allowed to go out for essential items. This hotel only provides breakfast, so you have to go out for Lunch and Dinner. You also must go out to the hospital for your covid test. One other activity is to the phone company to get your local SIM chip. You can get there via taxi.
There is a small store next to the hotel that has cold beer (yea!). There are several restaurants along the street so no shortage of food and so far, everything we have tried is very good. There is a Dominoes, McDonalds, Starbucks, and KFC if you need western food.
Here are some additional items for the trip:
1) I would increase the RMB you bring to 6,000.Also make sure that you get it before you leave your own city. As I have indicated there are no cash stations or change booths available in the Shanghai airport. [Our coworker] also found out that there are no change booths open in the San Francisco airport due to Covid.
2) Make sure that you have cash advance turned on for your corporate card. Once you are out of quarantine you can get cash from the local ATMs.
3) Bring something to flavor water. Examples would be crystal light, nuum, etc. The hotel just provide water so this will give you a little variety.
4) We brought an exercise ball and TRX strap.
5) Bring a second smart phone that is unlocked. (Unless your phone supports two SIM chips). You will need this to get your health code.
6) Load a couple of translator apps on your phone. Basically no one speaks English.
We are set up to travel to [our final destination] on Thursday. The last two weeks are very easy with no restrictions on movement. Below are a few items that you will need to do while at the final hotel.
1) You will want to go to the phone company and get your prepaid phone chip as soon as possible. Once you have a local number you can download the health app. With that you will get your Green code. You will need that to go to most public areas.
2) Once you have your green code you can go to the Bank and open a bank account. You will need your Passport and the PU letter. You will use the company address or an apartment that is already rented for the account as they do not want a hotel address.
3) Once you have your bank account you will need to set up AliPay and WeChat pay. This will open access to all businesses/restaurants/taxis/ride share cars/etc. It makes life much easier here.