What to expect when I return to China?

As everyday life is slowly returning to normal across China, an increasing number of expats are expected to return soon. For those who have already landed in China, welcome back and stay vigilant as China is still in the epidemic prevention and control period.

If youre planning to return to China recently, heres what you should prepare and expect as airports across the country have imposed strict prevention measures against the coronavirus.

IMPORTANT: All Chinese and foreign nationals who had either traveled to or stayed in South Korea, Italy, Iran, Japan within 14 days prior to their arrival in Shanghai must be placed under a 14-day home-based or centralized quarantine for health observation.

You might STILL be asked to quarantine even youre not from virus-stricken countries/regions, deepening on the rules of each district, community, or your employer.

LATEST: All international travelers entering Beijing MUST quarantine themselves for 14 days. Mandatory health registration required for all arrivals in Shanghai.

According to China Customs, Health declaration required when you enter/exit China. Learn more HERE.

What steps should I go through to enter Shanghai via air?

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After your plane reached the boarding bridge at the airport, youre required to remain seated to receive an initial immigration inspection. Customs officials will get on the aircraft to check every passengers temperature and information. Anyone who has a fever or other suspected symptoms will be sent directly to the hospital by an ambulance standing by on the tarmac.


After you get off the aircraft, you must go through an epidemiological investigation.


Officials will ask for your health declaration card, which can be filled out electronically (long press on the mini-program code to access). Your temperature will be checked again.

Report to officials if two persons or more in your family or workplace have a fever or other symptoms and whether they have taken an antipyretic or cold medicine in the past 3 days.


You will then get a label on your passport/ID based on the investigation and declaration information.

GREEN label: You can leave the airport freely

RED/YELLOW labels: You need to be quarantined at home or designated hotels for 14 days

Travelers with high temperature or risks in their health declaration will receive further epidemiological investigation in a designated room. Throat swabs or blood samples will be collected from suspected patients.

Samples will be sent to the Shanghai International Travel Healthcare Center for testing. The suspected patients will then be handed over to the local health authority.


Staff sent from Shanghai's 16 districts, Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces will transport those who need to be quarantined.

If you have arranged a private car as transportation, the following info MUST be registered with district officials in advance:

  • Drivers name, ID card, and contact

  • Accompanying persons

  • Car plate number

  • Destination

Youll be accompanied by officials to the pickup spot to verify info and inform communities.


When you arrive at residential complexes, staff from health service centers, neighborhood committees, police, and foreign language translation volunteers will wait for you and have you sign a home quarantine commitment letter.

NOTICE: If youre from key affected regions and have no accommodation in the city, youll be sent to designated hotels at each district for the 14-day observation.

TRANSIT PASSENGERS: Transit passengers will also be transported to designated hotels. The district, airline or railway staff will arrange vehicles to take them to their following flight or train.

Source: Shanghai Daily

Recounts from expats who recently traveled to Shanghai

I returned 9 march quite late at puding aiport. After landing at pudong airport we had to wait about 2hr in the airplane. About 10 people were called by name to leave the plane. After that everyone could leave. At the airport they've asked me several times if I've been to Germany, France, Italy, Iran, Korea or Japan in the last 14 days. As i've not been there I got a green sticker on my passport and could leave the airport, the process including waiting took about 15 min. Since I'm not and have not been in those countries I thought I didn't need any quarantine. But the next day a doctor and volunteer came to my flat, with several papers I had to sign and a temperature meter. Conclusion, I have to stay in quarantaine for 14 days as well, in the meantime I have to measure my temperature twice a day.

There was no onboard check for me when I landed this morning (March 11). But they did call out 3 passengers for them to alight first, presumably for enhanced health screening.

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What to expect when taking the Shanghai metro?

Masks and temperature checks are required at all stations.

Do expect long lines during peak hours as crowd-control measures were implemented at 20 more stations. Some lines also have earlier last trains, so make sure to travel accordingly.

AnyHelper suggests you to use your phone to take the metro to avoid touching surfaces. Remember to scan the QR code on the train's window in case you travel with an infected passenger.

You're suggested to take a one-stop bike ride to reduce the risk of infection amid the COVID-19 epidemic too.

What to expect when taking the taxi/bus in Shanghai?

Wearing your mask is a must when taking the taxi/bus. Although it's not mandatory, we suggest you scan the QR code after you get on a taxi or bus. The codes are in taxis and buses to make sure you can be contacted if any passenger you traveled with is later discovered as a COVID-19 infected person. Learn more HERE.

Expats express feelings about China's fight against COVID-19

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From Charmaine

I went to the community to drop off some vegetables and fruit for my teacher. Obviously we had a language problem. The security added me to their group on WeChat. They called in the help of another person to translate, not an employee a resident. They were concerned their community didnt have measures in place to to receive foreigners returning from abroad. They then added another lady to the group to translate all the Chinese documents. She translated it to Russian, Korean, Japanese, English and some other languages. They arranged for a guard who can speak English to work during the night to receive them when they arrive. The way they handled the whole situation is amazing, before my teacher landed in Shanghai, everything was in place to receive them at home. It was super cool to see these people jump into action.

Then they thanked me! I helped them to prepare, that was not my intention, I just wanted to leave fresh vegetables.

Last note, did I mention I love China!

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From Bob Riley

Its been quite a time since the outbreak suddenly changed our lifestyle , businesses and the way we all used to communicate with our friends and relatives.  Id like to say thank you to communities, Chinese people and government for their hard work, care and contribution to every ones life.  I never hesitated to leave Shanghai or to stay here. I always knew I would stay no matter what as I believe in Chinese strong willpower, courage and ability to consider every situation, every issue with a highest level of professionalism .  And, of course, I would never separate from my beloved one, my family,  as support and being together  is something that should exist not only when times are good and stable. I personally think that all this hardship we all experienced taught us to be more flexible, more considerate and sensitive to each other. Id like to praise and thank my community    and local government in Putuo district, Zhenruzhen for their great job and measures they took to make sure everyones safe and sound while at the same time providing high quality services as residents used to have during normal time.  During this difficult time I can say that I felt protected  and safe all the time. I didnt experience any lack in food or medicine (especially masks) , I still could be outdoors, exercise at home and have online meetings and conversations.  And now as this hard time is obviously almost over and we are back to our usual busy life Id like to say that one of the best way to overcome hardship is to keep a positive mind and be patient. Thats what I exactly witnessed during all this time in the way how Chinese people and we, foreigners , deal with this situation. And I feel happy about this! Hard times dont create heroes. It is during the hard times when the hero within us is revealed.

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Travel freely with a GREEN health code

You might be asked to show your Shanghai health QR code when entering an office building, residence complex, or other public areas. Learn more about how to get your health code HERE.

Other things you should be aware of

1. AnyHelper is closely monitoring any updated entry-exit info for expats. Our daily-updated WeChat account AnyShanghai provides COVID-19 updates on a daily basis.

AnyShanghai -- Your daily updates on COVID-19

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2. Read the "Letter to Foreign Friends Working in Shanghai" from the city government. Read more messages and advice for expats to fight coronavirus HERE.

3. Use FREE resources: AnyHelper followers can consult with doctors from Jiahui Health for FREE now. Learn more HERE.

4. IMPORTANT: Don't forget to complete your residence registration. You can do it online HERE.


Ask bilingual volunteers stationed at the transportation hub

Shanghai Pudong/Hongqiao airports' service hotline: 021-96990

Call Shanghai expats hotline HERE. Other cities click HERE

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COVID-19 stats

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Source: CGTN

Did you return to China safe and sound?

How was your experience?

Share with us in the comments below!

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