Top tips for moving to Shanghai

27 Jul 2011

Moving to a new city or country can be daunting, leaving the comfort zone of relatives, friends, food and everything familiar. In the weeks ahead, Business Traveller will furnish short guides to basic services available in major Asian business hubs that will make settling in – hopefully – less stressful. We start with Shanghai.



Citizens of Japan, Singapore and Brunei need not apply for a visa; the rest of the world does. Visas are available at Chinese embassies and consulates. A business visa is multiple-entry and valid for three to six months from the date of issue, subject to how much you paid for it. Obtaining a visa in Hong Kong is also an option.

For a more long-term visa, foreigners need to apply for a working visa, also known as the Z Visa, which comes with a one-year working permit and residence permit in Shanghai. It is renewed on a yearly basis. Applications can be processed at Chinese consulates abroad and require several documents, including an employment letter (from the company you will be working for in Shanghai), the labour contract and, in some cases, a medical report. 



Community Centre Shanghai (CCS) 

A community centre is a good place to start to get to know the neighbours and the neighbourhood. CCS is a non-profit organisation with branches located around Shanghai’s main districtrs, including Pudong, Hongqiao and Minhang. It provides all kinds of useful information, from emergency hotlines to medical services to counselling and care groups. For more information, visit


Relocation and Moving Companies

• Allied Pickfords

Allied Pickfords is a wholly owned foreign enterprise in China fully licensed to supply a range of moving and relocation services supervised by a multilingual expatriate team.

For more information, visit

• Joanna Real Estate (JRE)

JRE has more than 16 years of experience conducting relocation services in China for both corporate and private clients. Their core services include residential relocation services for expatriates and MNCS, corporate residential and commercial leasing. For more information, visit



Supermarkets with imported foodstuff

There is no need to be anxious about adapting to the local cuisine when you can stop by the establishments listed below for some good old "mac and cheese".   

• City Shop sells imported quality food and boasts its own bakery and produce sourced from organic farms. There are 10 stores throughout Shanghai. For more information and store locations, visit

• City’super

City’super offers a one-stop shopping experience for customers. It features an international food market, a lifestyle division, an international fast food court and a wine cellar. For more information, visit



There are some things – like health and education – that you just can't compromise on. 

Medical Centres

• ParkwayHealth

Singapore Parkway Holdings Limited, the largest private medical group in Asia, opened its first medical and surgical centre in the city in 2005. It offers a wide range of healthcare services, conducted by over 80 internationally trained physicians, who are English speaking. Curently, the company operates eight medical centres in different suburbs, including Puxi and Pudong, featuring both inpatient and outpatient care. For more information, visit

• United Family Healthcare

This is an international standard healthcare organisation in China focused on serving families. It has are three medical centres operating in Shanghai, which provide a wide range of medical services. For more information, visit


Educational facilities

• Concordia International School Shanghai

Concordia is an American-based curriculum international school with Christian stewardship. It was founded in 1998 and today the student enrolment is over 1,000. It accepts students from elementary school to high school. As the institution values Chinese language learning, students from preschool to Grade 12 study Mandarin every day. School-home communication is also an integral part of Concordia, with parent participation highly valued. For more information, visit

• Yew Chung International School of Shanghai

YCIS initially started in Hong Kong and now has expanded to Shanghai, Beijing, Chongqing, Qingdao and Silicon Valley, with a total student enrolment of over 5,000. YCIS offers early childhood education to primary and secondary education programmes and aims to combine the best of East and West by allowing students to learn in a bilingual and co-cultural environment. YCIS Shanghai is one of the only five international schools to hold joint accreditations through Council of International Schools, New England Association of Schools and Colleges and National Centre for School Curriculum and Textbook Development. For more information, please visit


• China Ayi Home Service

It provides a full range of household services to expatriate families, foreign residents and local high-income families. All ayi (which means maids in Mandarin) are guaranteed by a health certificate and good command of English and Mandarin. Chauffeur service is also available. For more information, visit

• Shanghai YASH Family Care

YASH furnishes services such as housekeeping and babysitting. Staff receive training from certified schools and possess national certificates and licenses for housekeeping or babysitting. For more information, visit


Driving license

A foreign driver's license or an international driver's license is not valid in Shanghai. This means applying for a local driver's permit at the Shanghai Driver’s Licensing Centre. Bring someone along who can write Chinese and get your foreign document translated into Chinese at an authorised translation centre. 

Contact: No. 179, Qinchun Road, Minhang District, tel +86 21 6498 7070

Hazel Ho 

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