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Bringing Children & Pets

Although bringing children to China isn’t usually a problem, the culture shock can be a huge factor on how easy it is to raise them within the country, this changes based on their age:

Finding domestic help to look after recent births isn’t difficult, most expats with young children have at least one person working part time as an Ayi (Auntie) who typically cooks, cleans, does laundry and takes care of children & pets. However, despite domestic help being in abundance, there’s a strong lack of equipment to help with child-rearing in the country, this includes but is not limited to public diaper-changing stations, restaurant high chairs, elevators not conductive to strollers and an incompatibility between public transportation and child car seats.

Pre-schoolers will have a much easier time in China than their younger variants, able to pick up a secondary language with incredible ease and simplicity while still being able to find child rides and cheap toys on nearly every corner. The only problem is during potty-training, since it’s already a nightmare for adults to find bathrooms in the country, for a pre-schooler it’s even more intimidating.

Primary school children and teenagers share much of the same problems, a difficulty in finding music from their homeland, clothes fitted to their body shapes and tastes (especially during puberty for girls), and the break in communication between old friends from back home. The other problem that parents can struggle with is the ease of access to alcohol due to a lack of a minimum drinking age in the country, on the plus side the drug-scene in China is incredibly scarce and compared to the West it’s barely active.

Pets can be incredibly easy or impossible to import into the country dependant on what sort of animal you are bringing in, for example; birds, rodents, ferrets, rabbits, snakes and fish are not allowed to be imported but cats can be imported without registration with the Chinese authorities. Dogs, however, need to be registered upon arrival and require a yearly fee of CNY 1,000 to 2,000 dependant on where you are living (the city centre is typically more expensive). It is important to mention that only Z type (Employment) VISA holders are allowed to import pets and only one pet per Z type VISA holder.

Typically upon arrival within the country, the animal will be held in quarantine for seven days, if it is approved as healthy after this time then you will be able to pay the basic CNY 1,000 fee and collect your pet, although typically it will have to be quarantined at home for a further twenty-three days following collection.
All imported pets require the following:

  • A Vaccination Record (Rabies, Cat Flu and Feline Encephalitis, as applicable, no less than 30 days before your departure to China and no more than one year prior to entry).
  • An International Health Certificate (dated less than 14 days prior to arrival and including all information concerning its name, species and breed, age, weight (and height for dogs), gender and a statement that the pet is vaccinated and healthy).
  • A copy of the owner’s passport, arrival date and flight number (please note that the owner’s name in the Vaccination Record and Health Certificate must be the same as their legal name in their passport).
All dogs must be licensed yearly and be registered with the local police department and this is vital as the police are cracking down on unlicensed dogs. If your dog is confiscated due to lacking a license then you may not be able to have your dog returned, even after paying the fine. For this you will require:
  • A copy of your Home’s Rent Contract or Property Certificate.
  • A one-inch colour photo of the owner.
  • A three-inch, side-on, colour photo of the full body of the dog.
  • A copy of your Passport.
  • A copy of your Working Permit.
  • A copy of your Residence Permission.
All dogs must be kept on-leash at all times, if your dog is found off-leash then it can be seized but there are some parks typically outside of the cities where, provided proof of licensing is shown upon entry, your dog can run free. Additionally, some parts of the cities require dogs to wear muzzles and it is recommended if your dog is prone to jumping at people, since just a single complaint can see confiscation. 

Despite a lack of licensing needed for cats in the country, it is strongly advised not to let your cats roam outside as, especially in the city centres, it is extremely common for cats to be stolen and processed for food, fur or just to be poisoned. We advise you to keep your cats indoors with the windows closed. 

It is also important to mention that if you are taking any animal to a vet then you should ask for a Western-standard training certificate as non-overseas trained vets do not have the same medical care standards as those in the West.