Within minutes, this information will likely be out of date, but it still provides a glimpse into what crossing a border entails these days.  As countries work to implement agreements, policies, and procedures for opening their borders, preventing the import of new Covid-19 cases is a priority.  Our team from China recently outlined what foreigners arriving into the country might experience upon arrival.  Returning Chinese nationals also have additional pre-departure procedures to follow.

The travel policies change depending on the city of entry in China.  We focus here on our office location of Shanghai.

Foreigner Entry

For foreign passengers entering Shanghai, currently, there are two channels, a normal channel and a fast track channel (available to employees of companies whose country of origin has signed a fast track agreement with China). For foreigners entering via the fast track channel, the quarantine number of days may vary, if it is required, and will be based upon bilateral agreements between the two countries as well as the COVID-19 situation.

Returning Chinese Nationals Entry

Chinese passengers returning from a list of  26 countries (the United States included), are for the 14 consecutive days before boarding the plane required to submit their personal data, health status and recent travel information daily via a  WeChat mini program  “防疫健康码国际版.” Those failing to do so will be barred from boarding the aircraft. If false information is provided, they will be blocked from further continuing their trip and could face legal penalties.

For additional information, refer to the announcement: http://www.caac.gov.cn/en/XWZX/202004/t20200409_201956.html

Arrival Process 

When the plane arrives in Shanghai,  customs officials will board the aircraft to screen passengers. After the passengers disembark, a nucleic acid test (NAT) will be carried out. Passengers displaying symptoms such as a fever will be subjected to further medical observation. If a traveler shows no obvious signs of Covid-19, they will be directed to the representatives of the district and taken to a designated facility to wait for the results of the NAT.  Test results that may take up to a day and travelers must remain in the designated facility until they are returned.

Anyone testing positive will be taken by the representative of the Disease Control Centre (CDC) to a designated medical facility to receive treatment and additional medical observation.  Those with negative test results will be taken to the appropriate designated quarantine facility.


Unless excluded or different due to an agreement with the two countries involved, travelers entering Shanghai will be subjected to a 14-day quarantine at a designated central facility. Designated central facilities are all over Shanghai and are usually local hotels that are dedicated for quarantine. If the traveler has a place of residence, the designated central quarantine centre is generally located in the district close to the residence.



China continues to work with other governments to provide paths for more border crossings to help businesses.  Each location or point of entry into China will have its own set of policies to be followed.  While the procedures presented here are accurate at the time of writing regarding entry into Shanghai, they are subject to change at any moment.  For questions regarding any individual assignee’s going into China, our team is busy working with the relocation managers at our clients to inform and coordinate based upon the real-time local situations.

A very special thanks to Relo Network Asia team members covering China,  Christina Zar and Glenda Poei for providing the detailed information for this post.

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