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Preparing to Move

Moving to Beijing involves a lot of paperwork and administration. This initially starts with the visa application process, as well as choosing a school and a new home. Then you have to decide what to leave behind and what to bring with you, finishing with that one way flight to China. Experience tells us that a good check list can make all difference.

China has a strict visa application process that involves documentation you may not have seen in a while. If you are moving to Beijing as a family, you will need to bring medical records, school records, copies and sometimes originals of birth as well as marriage certificates. DO NOT put these in your shipment, and make copies and scans of everything. When you arrive, expect to be without your passport for 3 – 6 weeks for visa procedures and shipment customs clearance. Here is a list of documents to bring for a long-term stay in Beijing:

Passport and visas (Tip – if you lose your passport a copy of your visa is necessary for documentation at the Exit Entry Bureau even before you can proceed to your Embassy for a replacement)

  • Extra passport photos
  • Children’s birth certificates
  • Marriage certificate
  • Children’s school records
  • Diploma/graduation certificates and CV
  • Driving license
  • Inventory of everything shipped
  • Medical records

Shipping personal effects to China is common; however it can take up to three months to receive a large shipment. As housing provided in China is fully furnished including appliances and even curtains, a shipment of just your personal effects such as clothes and a few pieces of home decoration or pictures can help to alleviate homesickness. Almost everything is available for purchase in Beijing apart from rare cheese, and for some reason, quality deodorant. Western sized clothes and shoes are widely available through widely recognised stores including Mothercare, H&M, The Gap, and Zara. Pricing is not cheap, as for some reason, these stores are priced as if they were imported, and tall or large size shoes can be a rarity, so bring things from home. A local favourite in China is Decathlon with low pricing and a range of sports clothes, shoes and sport equipment available including bicycles and ice skates.

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