Laws of Living; 4 Top Legal Concepts for Foreigners in China

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The four most likely scenarios for foreigners to be in Nanjing are participating in an exchange program, studying for a higher degree, looking for a long-term job, or placement from an employer overseas. During the course thereof, the difference in culture and laws can bring about many issues. The Nanjinger urges all to pay attention to the following.

Should One Rent in Advance?

With the assistance of the internet, finding a home before departure is not difficult. Even though it is recommended for travellers to speak with landlords and obtain pictures of accommodations before one travels to the new country, one should book a hotel for the first few nights. This way one may see the house with one’s own eyes, and have time to further discuss the lease. The lease should be written in English and specify all utilities included in the rent. Please also be noted that, in China, one shall go through registration formalities with public security organs in places of residence within 24 hours of  arrival, as described in Article 39 of the Exit-Entry Administration Law of PRC, otherwise a warning plus a fine is likely to be applied.

Is One Allowed to Work?

It is important to check whether one is allowed to work before applying for a job in a foreign country. In most cases, if one enters the country under a tourist visa, one cannot work. For example, foreigners are not allowed to be hired legally in China without a working permit, pursuant to the Circular on the Issuance of the Regulations on the Management of the Employment of Foreigners in China. Besides, those under a student visa are unable to work outside school or be hired as intern without the consent of their school, as regulated in Article 22 of Administrative Regulations of the People’s Republic of China on Entry and Exit of Aliens. 

Obtaining the approval from school is not enough, one need apply for the annotation of information such as the place and period for work with the exit and entry administration institution of the public security authority. One should also understand the basic regulations in regards to the maximum permitted working hours, minimum wage and other documents, such as work permit, that grant the right to work in a foreign country. It is especially advisable to be aware of employers who are willing to hire with a tourist visa; it may mean they are looking for someone who would work for a low salary and extra hours.

Is Travel Insurance a Must?

Travel insurance is for the purpose of paying expenses due to losses occurring abroad, such as loss of luggage, accident, illness or other risks, depending on the insurance package for which was opted. When arriving in an unfamiliar land, especially for first-time travellers, mistakes and losses are very likely to occur.  Even though Chinese government does not issued any mandatory regulations requiring foreign tourists to buy travel insurance, be sure to note that in China, the United States and many countries in Europe, medical expenses are often quite expensive. It is therefore recommended to find a reliable insurance company and buy suitable insurance, even if the trip lasts only a few months.

Should One Pay Tax in China? 

The general principal is if one works in any country, one shall pay personal income tax on the salary earned therein. For example, foreigners living in China for more than 90 days will be required to pay taxes after the new revised Individual Income Tax Law that was implemented in January 1, 2019. Meanwhile, depending on the national regulations and the travel period, one may still have to pay tax for income back home. Therefore, it is of paramount importance to ask for clarification from the tax authorities of both countries, as well as to talk to those with similar experiences, in order to strictly follow the law.

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Legal columnist Carlo D’Andrea is Chair of the Legal & Competition Working group of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China; Shanghai Chapter, Coordinator of the Nanjing Working Group of the Italian Chamber of Commerce in China and has taught Chinese law (commercial and contractual) at Rome 3 University. 法律作家代开乐担任中国欧盟商会上海分会法律与竞争工作组主席,中国意大利商会劳动集团的协调员与曾经在罗马三大担任企业咨询课程中中国商法、合同法的课程教授。