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Tips for expat couples in Shanghai


Foreigners who have a baby born in the city may get a Chinese birth certificate from the hospital and should go to the local public security administration for registration within a month. Otherwise the baby won't be able to get a valid endorsement on his or her passport which may hinder him or her leaving the country with the parents.


Go to your embassy or consulate-general to report and register the birth is also necessary. Generally, the embassy will issue a consular report of birth abroad and a passport, which will be needed for the child to depart China. The report may be used as a birth certificate for school, work, or other purposes.

Before issuing passports and the consular report to new-born infants, consular officials may require some documentation, including an original Chinese birth certificate and the parents' marriage certificate and passports, to verify their marriage status and citizenship. You may find the list of the required documentation from the Website of the embassy or consulate.

Some foreign countries will also issue social security numbers within several months after the birth.

Choosing a Maternity Hospital

There are a handful of clinics which are geared towards the expatriate population. At these hospitals, you are more likely to find English speaking staff as well as doctors and nurses who trained in Europe, the US, or UK. If you decide to turn to a local Chinese hospital, you will need to be prepared for staff with little or no English and, at times, vast cultural differences, particularly in terms of expectations about privacy and the bedside manner of staff. Reportedly, it is also more likely that you will be encouraged to have a caesarean section, if you choose to deliver at a Chinese hospital.       


One other concern would most likely be the cost. Many of the international hospitals have considerably high charges and most of their patients have their expenses covered by their medical insurance (either their own or part of their salary package). Make sure that your health insurance will cover the costs of your pregnancy but, at the same time, be mindful of the fact that some, if not many, hospitals and clinics in this country will not allow direct billing. You will have to pay first (by cash or credit card) and then make a claim from your insurance provider. Some hospitals provide a list of insurers with whom they have direct billing arrangements in place. One of the advantages of choosing a local Chinese hospital is that, in all probability, the cost will be lower. However, it is also less likely that you will be able to pay by direct billing. Make sure you get solid information from the hospital of your choice about your payment options ahead of time.

The list of some international hospitals is as follows:

Parkway Health (formerly called World link)

Address: 170 Danshui Rd, near Xingye Rd, Xintiandi

Tel: 021- 6445 5999     

Website: http://www.parkwayhealth.cn

Shanghai United Family Hospital and Clinics

Address: 1139 Xian Xia Rd, Changning

Tel: 021- 2216 3900     

Website: http://www.unitedfamilyhospitals.com

American-Sino OB/GYN

Address: 14/F of Huashan Hospital, 12 Wulumuqi Zhong Rd near Changle Rd.

Phone: 021- 6249 3246 or 021- 5288 7240

Website: http://www.americanobgyn.com

CWI International Peace Maternity Hospital

Address: 910 Hengshan Rd near Huashan Rd

Phone: 021- 6407 0434     

Website: http://english.cwi.org.cn/overview/ut01.htm

Shanghai East International Medical Center

Address: 551 South Pudong Rd

Phone: 021- 5879 9999     

Website: http://www.seimc.com.cn/

Below is a list of local Chinese hospitals. Do note, however, that it is notoriously difficult to secure a place at this hospital. You are advised to register in the first 40 days of your pregnancy. 

Shanghai Changning Maternity & Infant Health Hospital

Address: 773 Yi Wu Rd, Changning District

Phone: 021- 6228 8686     

Website: http://www.shcnfb.com/ (Chinese service available only)

Shanghai No.1 Maternity and Child Health Hospital

Address: 536 Chang Le Rd near North Xiang Yang Rd

Phone: +86 (21) 5403 5206     

Address: 379 Yao Hua Rd, Pudong New Area

Phone: +86 (86) 5883 8888


In accordance with the laws and regulations of China and their own countries, foreigners may adopt Chinese orphans or other children but they may also be required to follow various procedures at the local civil affairs department and authorities in their own countries.

Foreigners who have been approved by China Center of Adoption Affairs have to register if they want to adopt abandoned infants or children from the Shanghai Children Welfare Center. Under the Chinese Adoption Law, the adopter's country must have an established agreement with China. At present, these are Australia, Belgium, Britain, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Holland, Iceland, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the United States.


If foreigners want to adopt children in China, they should submit an application and certifying documents through their government departments or authorized adoption agencies. Documents required for certification by the Chinese embassy or consulates in the host country for adoption in China include:

- Inter-country adoption application letter;

- Birth certificate;

- Marital status certificate;

- Occupation, income and financial status certificate;

- Physical examination certificate;

- Criminal/non-criminal record certificate;

- Certificate certifying the approval of the inter-country adoption by the competent authority of the country where the adoption application resides;

- Home study report (including adopter's status, suitability of adoption, family situation, disease history, adoption motivation and characteristics suitable for child care);

-Three 4x6 cm photographs of the adopter and the child.

Adopter should submit adoption applications, including all certificates, via his/her host country's adoption organization to the CCAA. Once the application is approved, it will issue a Notice of Inter-Country Adoption to the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau. Once the adopter and the party giving the child submit an agreement on adoption, both parties enter a period when they can get to know each other. Finally an Adoption Registration Certificate will be issued by Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau.

Once an agreement is signed by both parties (adopter and party giving the child) the two parties should deal with procedures for the period of getting to know each other which should be no less than 24 hours. Once this period is over, the adopter should register at the Adoption Registration Center, Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau if he/she agrees to adopt the child (the adopter should submit passport and the Notice of Inter-Country Adoption issued by CCAA), fill in the adoption registration form and finish all procedures for adoption if the adoption is approved.

When the Adoption Registration Center receives a notice of overseas adoption and relevant materials issued by CCAA, the center will review and deal with the adoption application and registration within seven days.

Requirements for Adopters

In accordance with the provisions set forth in the Adoption Law of the People's Republic of China, the adopters should meet the following requirements:

Childless, have neither biological children, nor any adopted children, nor step-children.

The capacity of rearing and educating the adoptees, physically, intellectually, resourcefully and morally as well as the capacity of fulfilling parental obligations to their children.

No mental or infectious diseases considered medically unfit for adoption. A key criterion is that applicants should have a Body Mass Index (BMI) a measure of body fat based on height and weight that applies to both adult men and women of less than 40.

Thirty years old or above.

The applicant couple must be married for at least two years; and those who were earlier divorced should have been currently married for at least five years.

Where a person with spouse adopts a child, the husband or wife should get consent from the other to adopt the child in concert.

Where a spouseless male adopts a female child, the full years of age between the adopter and the adoptee should be over 40 years.

Orphans, disabled children or abandoned infants and children, who are raised in the social welfare institutes, and whose biological parents cannot be ascertained or found, may be adopted irrespective of the restrictions that the adopter should be childless and adopt one child only.

Foreigners who work or study in China for more than a year should also deliver certificates on their marital status, occupation, income, financial status and criminal record from their companies or schools and health certificates from designated local hospitals.



Foreigners who want to marry a Chinese citizen in Shanghai should abide by Chinese marriage law and municipal government procedures. Some diplomatic and consular officers have the authority to perform marriages and are required to witness the marriages of their citizens. But it is advised to register your marriage in local marriage registration offices to ensure your marriage is legal in China and will be protected by Chinese law.

Certain categories of Chinese citizens, such as diplomats, security officials, and others whose work is considered to be crucial to national security, are not legally free to marry foreigners.

Upon receipt of an application to register a marriage, the civil affairs office will ascertain that both parties are of legal age to marry (22 for men and 20 for women) and that both parties are single.

Documents for marriage between Shanghai residents and foreigners are as follows:

A. Shanghai Residents Are Required To Have:

(1) Permanent Residence Booklet and ID card

(2) Marital status certificate issued by the county-level unit, above-county-level unit, where he or she is working, sub-district office or town people's government where he or she is living.

(3) Marital Status certificate issued by Chinese Embassy or Consulate-General abroad for those who have travelled outside China on business or for personal matters.

(4) Divorce paper in case of having divorce history. Foreign authority issued divorce paper or death certificate approved by the Chinese Embassy or Consulate-General in the country where he or she has been.

B. Foreigners Are Required To Have:

(1) Passport, ID Card or National Certificate

(2) Foreigner's Residence Permit issued by the Shanghai Public Security Bureau, Citizenship Certificate issued by the Shanghai Foreign Affairs Department or temporary residence certificate issued either by the Public security Bureau or the hotel where he or she is living.

(3)Notarized marital status certificate or statement approved by the foreign affairs department in his or her own country and then re-approved by Chinese Embassy or Consulate General there.

(4) Marital status certificate issued by the Embassy or Consulate General of his or her own country in China (acceptable only for the applicant who has lived in China for over 6 months in succession).

(5) Original or certified death certificate or divorce paper in case of being widowed or divorced.

Besides all of the above, three passport-size photographs and health check reports issued by the designated hospital are required.

When the above-mentioned requirements are ready, the applicants will be given an application form to fill in. Once the authenticity of all the papers handed in is established, the Shanghai Marriage Administration Office will approve their application for marriage and grant the marriage licence to them.

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