Leaving China and only leaving footprints

People come and go in China. Most expats and diplomats, for instance, stay in China for between three and six years. It is anticipated that due to Covid-19, a slowing world economy and an increase of anti-China sentiment, this “normal” outflow of people leaving China will increase.

Sovereign is certainly seeing an unwelcome increase in the number of enquiries related to closing down companies in China, a trend that would suggest that the outflow of people will increase.
A google trend analysis (below) shows the rise in people who are actively thinking about this:

Moving, especially an international move, is often described as one of the most stressful periods in anyone’s lifetime. And when leaving China for good there are a great many things that need to be arranged; your move, completing your responsibilities at work, getting your savings out of China, finding a new home at your destination, looking for a new school for your kid(s), updating your insurance(s), making sure your pet is ready to travel. A daunting task.

But have you thought about obtaining a non-criminal record, unlinking your phone for your Chinese APP’s, closing your bank accounts, getting a proof of funds letter from your bank (this can help you in certain counties to get a mortgage or rental contract), obtaining a tax resident certificate to avoid paying tax twice? Even this list is not all-encompassing.

You can quickly become trapped in Chinese red tape, from obtaining the right documents to having them translated accurately and getting them notarised by the correct authorities. You do not what to do all this work and then, when you reach your new destination, find that you have made a mistake or omitted an important detail.

Below are some tips that to assist you.

  • Start on time – When your contract stops, your work permit should be cancelled. This will give you only a limited time to arrange your affairs.
  • Obtain tax certificates to show you have paid your taxes in China – If you have worked in different regions and cities in China, you will need to obtain tax certificates in all these places. This will also help you to get your money out of China.
  • Get your documents translated and certified – The general process is as follows but different countries may have different requirements:
    • If the document is in Chinese only (most of them are), get it transited by a Chinese notary (normally into English)
    • The notary will then directly notarise the translation
    • Visit the local bureau of foreign affairs to get the documents certified
    • Visit your home country embassy to get the documents legalised.
  • Secure any pension funds – Depending on where you worked in China you may have contributed to the pension fund. If you have, you will be entitled to receive a portion of these funds back because you will not be benefitting.
  • Transfer your money – If you have worked and paid your taxes in China, you will be permitted to transfer your funds to you next destination or your home country. There is no specific restriction on this.
  • Uncouple your phone from WeChat and Alipay – If you leave China, you will probably close you phone number. This phone number will be made available six months after you end the subscription. If you have not uncoupled the phone number from WeChat or Alipay, the next person issued with your number will be able to access your data.

These are just some tips on what to do when leaving China. One thing is clear, leave only your footprints because you do not want China to come back and bite you.

What to do now?

Reach out to us at at info@sovereigngroup.com We can review your situation and advise you as to what needs to have done before you leave. Do not delay because the clock may already be ticking.

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Please contact us if you have any questions or queries and your local representative will be in touch with you as soon as possible.