Tuesday, April 9th, 2013...4:46 pm
Surviving China: Some Tips from an American in Shanghai. Episode 1: The Passport
Are you a foreigner coming to China? Here already? Here are some tips for survival that might make your experience better. Today we start with basic issue #1, the passport.
- Your passport is life. Protect it. Keep it in a safe place unless you need it. Never leave it with someone you don’t trust. If a hotel wants to hold it, give them a copy but check out before you leave it with them. A friend of mine had their passport stolen while it was in the safe keeping of a hotel. Street value of a US passport is around $5,000-$15,000, I’ve heard. It may be the most tempting and valuable thing you possess. Chinese people are typically very honest, but it just takes that 1 in 10,000 to change your life quickly.
- Know when you will need to bring your passport. You will need to have it with you for hotels, trains (rarely checked, but it does happen, and will be needed to buy a ticket or make changes), and planes. You will need to do anything with people at a bank, or even registering for, say, a customer loyalty card at a grocery store). Also may need it for checking into a hospital, but check to see if a photocopy will do. In any case, always have a photocopy or two of your passport with you. Carry one in your wallet or purse, and perhaps somewhere else also.
- If your passport is lost, don’t waste time waiting for it to be returned to a lost and found area. Chances are it was stolen or quickly will be. Start on the path of getting a replacement for your passport and Chinese visa. The replacement passport can be done fairly quickly, but the visa takes extra time. This will take about 3 business days typically, if things go well, so change your travel arrangements as needed. Immediately contact the US Consulate in your area. They can get you started on this process. It’s also going to involve several hundred dollars and you will need to leave the country (Hong Kong is a good choice) and come back in to get your new temporary passport stamped and validated. I’ll explain more later.