At first, Shanghai can feel overwhelming. Uprooting and travelling over multiple time zones is a strain on the constitution. To have to then navigate a gigantic, crowded and confusing city in a foreign language is altogether exhausting.
If you can, take adequate time to adjust and get your bearings. Take the necessary precautions to stay healthy and rested during the first few weeks in Shanghai. Besides eating well and becoming accustomed to a new sleeping pattern, make an effort to exercise and socialise with other expats. These measures will accelerate the adjustment to your new environment, alleviate stress and prevent the feeling of isolation that often accompanies the initial period in a new city and country. Keep in mind that as time passes things will become more familiar, and things that seem impossible now will morph into routine. There are exciting things to do and see in Shanghai, but first it is important to take care of the necessities and learn the ropes. This section is designed to provide resources and orientation for new arrivals, laying the foundation for exploring and getting to know Shanghai as a new resident.
Register with the Police
Every foreigner arriving in China must immediately register with the local police. If you are staying in a hotel, they will take care of this for you. Otherwise, simply go to the nearest police station in your neighbourhood, present your passport, along with a photocopy of both your identification and visa pages, and report where you are staying and for how long. Once registered, you receive a form, which is your temporary residence permit. Hold on to this, as you will need it when applying for a longer-term residence permit. If you move into a housing compound, ask if your landlord will take care of this for foreign tenants. Always re-register whenever you change residence in Shanghai. Late registration results in a nominal fine. Failure to register at all could lead to major bureaucratic hassles.
Prepare an Emergency Plan
Before an emergency occurs, work out a plan of action with your family. This includes mapping out the nearest 24-hour medical facility and registering your family there (you don’t want to have to worry about paperwork in the event of an emergency). Prepare an emergency folder listing all of your family’s medical conditions, allergies, medications and surgical histories. Make cards for your children to carry with them that list your home address and the address of your preferred hospital in both English and Chinese.