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What can I do if my old employer refuses to give me my Foreign Expert Certificate back?

The Foreign Expert Certificate is a type of ID used by some foreigners working on the Chinese mainland as an alternative to the Foreign Employment Permit. Exactly which one is required depends on the nature of the job. It gives its owner the right to work in the country. 

Sometimes employers may decide to withhold the document once their employee leaves the company – presumably with the aim of ensuring that they cannot work for anybody else. 


If you registered your own certificate when you got your job

The easiest way to deal with the situation – and one that doesn’t require you to call in the law – is to log in to the Foreign Expert Certificate management system. This is operated by the State Administration for Foreign Expert Affairs, and allows foreigners to both apply for, and cancel, their certificates. You should have created a log in account when you registered for the certificate.

Once it has been cancelled via that website, it will be invalid and cannot be used for any purpose, rendering your former boss’s machinations meaningless. You will then be able to apply for a new certificate for your next job.

However, to do so you will need the login and password created when the certificate was first applied for. If your company registered this on your behalf (and never gave you the login and password) then you will have to take things down a different route.


If your company registered your certificate

The good news is that, according Chinese mainland laws, withholding the certificate (or any of your other pieces of ID) from you is completely illegal. If such practices are revealed to the police, the employers attempting to keep the certificates may lose their license to employ foreign staff. 

Consequently, if you find that your boss is refusing to give you your Foreign Expert Certificate, you can tell them that they are in breach of the law and that you can turn them over to the police. Hopefully this will persuade them to play ball.

If not, however, and if you do not wish to involve the police, then the only thing to do is wait for the certificate to expire. However, this could take years, depending on the expiration date of the certificate.


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