Medical examinations for work visas in China
Photo by Tomáš Vendiš
If you want to stay in China for longer than one year on a work visa – or longer than six months on an X1 student visa – you must pass an official health check.
You might wonder “Why do I need a health examination to live in China?”, but for most people the examination itself is usually a formality. Although a number of tests are carried out and certain issues may be flagged up (anecdotal evidence suggests many foreigners are found to have a “fatty liver”), it’s widely suspected that the whole exercise is really aimed at isolating applicants carrying contagious conditions such as HIV (and other contagious STDs) and hepatitis B and C. If you’re found to have any of those, your prospects for getting a visa are probably dim - although there may still be hope for those with hepatitis B and those who have HIV.
The standard health examination involves the following:
- A small blood test to rule out HIV, hepatitis and syphilis
- An ultrasound scan to check for diseases in internal organs
- An X-ray for tuberculosis
- An ear, nose and throat exam
- An electrocardiogram (ECG) check to rule out heart disease
- A skin check for contagious skin diseases
- A blood pressure check
- A lymph node check
- Confirmation of your height and weight
- Urine, feces and phlegm may also be checked in special – and rare – circumstances
The health check can be performed in your country of origin or within 30 days of your arrival in China, although the Chinese government may not accept health checks from foreign hospitals as valid, and may ask you to either have the report verified at a Chinese hospital or go through the examination again within the PRC.
Getting the test in your own country
If you want to be checked in your own country, you will need to go to your nearest Chinese government-approved hospital, clinic or medical center (call ahead to see whether they can perform examinations for Chinese visa applications; your nearest Chinese embassy or consulate may also be able to point you in the right direction) and ensure that the following steps are followed:
- Do not eat or drink anything the morning before undergoing the health check. Doing so will invalidate the findings.
- Print off a copy of the Chinese government’s BG-14 form, AIDS report form and syphilis report form, and take them with you to the examination. Your employer or university should be able to get digital copies of the forms from their local labor administration office.
- Make sure your physician performs all of the tests to fit the criteria outlined in the BG-14; you may need to specifically ask for AIDS and syphilis tests.
- The physician must record and stamp all of his or her findings on the BG-14.
- The stamp must show name and address of the hospital or clinic, and needs to be on every page of the BG-14, as well as the lab reports.
- If you test negative for tuberculosis, ask the doctor to write “No sign of tuberculosis evident” in the box for the chest X-ray exam.
- Ask for the physician to give you the original report, not just a photocopy, as well as the original chest X-ray and the ECG reports. The government will request the original X-ray, and possibly the other original documents; photocopies will not be enough.
- Make copies of all reports and documents for your records and keep them somewhere safe.
Getting the test in China
If you’re undergoing the health check in China, your company or university may make the booking for you; check with them first. Also make sure you find out who will pay the examination fees; many foreigners pay in cash after the examination, then get the money back from their company later. If this is the case you will need to ask the clinic for a fāpiào (发票) , an official invoice or receipt, when you pay.
For a list of official clinics in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, and their prices, see ‘The Clinics’, below. Check with the clinics directly to see if they require you to bring documentation such as a passport or photographs. Also, take the address of your company, as some hospitals may offer to deliver the documents to you at an additional charge, rather than making you pick them up at a later date.
Things to consider
If you fail the examination, your visa application may be rejected – particularly if you failed the checks for contagious diseases, though eating breakfast or even drinking water the morning before the test can invalidate the results, so resist that bowl of cornflakes! But do take along a snack or something so you can eat once you’re done (you may want to leave the blood test until last for that reason, especially if you tend to feel dizzy after giving blood).
If your centre doesn’t need a reservation (call to check), then it’s a good idea to get there in time for the opening hours – queues can be a real pain, especially if you’re in a major city like Beijing. And especially especially when you haven’t had breakfast…
Wear clothing that easily allows access to your inner elbow (for the blood test), your abdomen (for the ultrasound) and your ankles and wrists (for the ECG test). If you’re not wearing stacked or high heels, the height test may be performed while you wear your shoes, which also speeds things up a little.
In most cases, applicants simply find the whole process bizarre. However, in some cases applicants – particularly female applicants – may find the process embarrassing, even unsettling: some Chinese hospitals afford little privacy while examinations are conducted, while other facilities in the country fall short of the standard many foreigners expect in terms of hygiene (although the needles used in the blood tests should all be perfectly safe). Women should seek advice from other women who have taken the examination on what to wear to avoid discomfort. There’s no need to be scared: the examination is not unsafe. We’re simply alerting you to be prepared.
Approved clinics in China
Below are the contact details and prices for the official expat clinics of Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai. For clinics in other cities and provinces, contact your employer or university.
In Beijing (no reservation required)
Haidian Clinic of Beijing International Travel Healthcare Center, No.10 Dezheng Lu, Haidian district
Contact: 010-8240-3675; www.visawhy.com/HealthCheck.html
Hours: Mon-Fri, 8:30 am-11 am
Fees: 650 yuan; 400 yuan (students). Additional fees, such as delivery fees, may apply.
Transportation: Get off at the Xi’erqi subway station, Line 13. A taxi from the station to the clinic costs around 15 yuan.
In Guangzhou (reservation required)
Guangdong International Travel Healthcare Center, No.207 Longkou Xilu, Tianhe district
Contact: 020-8526-2033, 020-8753-7322, 020-8754-7129; fax: 020-8754-8649; www.gdwbzx.com
Hours: Mon-Sat 8 am-12 noon, 1 pm-4 pm
Fees: 593 yuan; 583 yuan (students). Additional fees, such as delivery fees, may apply.
In Shanghai (reservation required)
Shanghai International Travel Healthcare Center, 15 Jinbang Lu, Changning district
Contact: 021-6268-6171 (main line); 021-6268-8851 (physical examination for foreigners); 021-6268-5072 (vaccination for foreigners); fax: 021-6268-3088; www.sithc.com
Hours: No specific hours; make an appointment first.
Fees: 640 yuan; 470 yuan (students). Additional fees, such as delivery fees, may apply.
In Shenzhen (no reservation required)
Shenzhen International Travel Healthcare Center, F3, Shenzhen Kou’an Hospital, inside Huanggang Kou’an Residence Zone, Binghe Dadao, Futian district
Contact: 0755-8377-4013 (physical examination for foreigners); 0755-8399-4007 (vaccination); 0755-8377-4098 (general physical examination); www.szkah.com
Working hours: Mon-Fri, 8:30 am-11 am, 2:30 pm-5 pm
Fee: 480 yuan.
Useful Chinese words and phrases
|体检||tǐ jiǎn||Health check, medical check|
|指定医院||zhǐ dìng yī yuàn||Appointed hospital|
|出入境检验检疫局||chū rù jìng jiǎn yàn jiǎn yì jú||Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau|
|发票||fāpiào||Official invoice or receipt suitable for business expense forms|