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If you are a foreigner working in China and looking for a new employer, here is the guide on how to transfer your work permit from company A to company B!


VISA is short for Visitor's Intend to Stay Abroad. It is a document that gives people the right to enter or leave the country for which it was issued. In China visas are stamped into the passport.

There are two work visa categories in China:

  • Z Visa (Work): it is issued outside of China and is intended for the most work roles.
  • R Visa (High-level Talent): it is issued outside of China for highly-skilled senior work roles.

Work permit is a general term for any legal authorization which allows people to take employment. You need to apply for it after you have entered the country. Work permit isn’t stamped inside of the passport, it looks like a separated laminated card.

Residence permit allows people to reside in China and to enter and leave the country an unlimited number of times. You need to apply for it after you have entered the country. In China residence permits are stamped into the passport.

How to transfer your work permit:

Step 1: Cancel the current work permit

  • Resign from your current employer

Your resignation will go accordingly with the terms stated in your current contract, it may take a few days or weeks before you work your final day.

  • Cancel your current work permit

Your current employer should enter the online government system and access the cancellation forms. You will need to sign an ‘APPLICATION FORM FOR CANCELLATION OF FOREIGNER’S WORK PERMIT’, and a “MEMORANDUM OF LABOUR RELATIONS”, to state that you are stopped working for company A. Both documents have to be signed and stamped in original, a photocopy or scanned versions aren’t allowed.

  • Get the cancellation certificate

After the work permit has been cancelled, your current employer will receive a ‘FOREIGNER’S WORK PERMIT CANCELLATION CERTIFICATE’. You will need to provide this document to your new employer in order to start the application for your new work permit with the new company.

Step 2: Apply for a new work permit

The process of reapplying for a work permit is similar to the regular work permit application. It will be handled by the HR department at your new company. Your responsibilities will include :

  1. Making sure your new occupation title is THE SAME as the previous one.

If it is the case, you will be able to stay in China during the application process and will not need to apply for a new Z or R visa.

If you want to apply for a new occupation: first, you must leave China and re-enter on a new Z or R visa. And second, you might be rejected a new work permit if you fail to provide all the documents proving that you are qualified for the new occupation.

  1. Providing all the necessary documents:
  • Passport;
  • ID photo;
  • Letter of Cancellation from your previous employer.
  • Verification of past employment (not necessary  if the new occupation is the same);
  • Copy of the job contract or appointment letter (from new employer);
  • Application form for Foreigner’s Work Permit;
  • Physical examination record for foreigner or overseas Chinese;
  • Criminal record certificate (issued within last 6 months);
  • Information of accompanying members.


  • Your  former employer should apply for a work permit cancellation within 10 working days from when an employment contract is terminated.
  • The reason for cancellation of the work permit will be included on the cancellation certificate including any possible negative information as well. Therefore, you might want to keep a good relationship with your employers.
  • Same goes for a ‘FOREIGNER'S WORK PERMIT CANCELLATION CERTIFICATE’ which you must provide in order to get a new work permit. Sometimes the employer can hold this document under multiple pretexts, and if this it the case, the only option will be to leave China and start the new visa application process again.
  • Your new position must be similar to the previous one. Try to adjust the occupation title in your new contract to better correlate with your old one. Otherwise, if you are planning to change from a teacher to a business manager it might not be successful.
  • Before starting the process make sure to confirm whether or not your new employers have a Foreign Work Permit System account and are allowed to hire foreigners at all.
  • You can work only for the company that registered your work permit, NOT any other company.
  • Make sure your previous employer paid all the taxes for you, otherwise you will not get a new work permit.

Transferring your work permit might be a complicated issue both for you and your employers, the entire process takes between one and two months and it is often full of unforeseen issues and formalities. Many employers prefer to reduce the risks and entrust the services to a third party to assist in the work permit transfer process. Opportunity Guide has helped thousands of employees to successfully obtain their work permits and visas in China! Get in touch now to apply for our FREE VISA service!