Here I will outline the process of switching employers and transferring your work permit and the corresponding resident permit (“visa”), and make the distinction between the two documents. Having had to totally take responsibility and go through this process myself, I realized that the internet needs a clear guide like this. Note that this guide applies only if your job title at your new employer is the same as it was at your previous employer. If you change job titles/fields, then you must restart the permit/visa application process from scratch, as if you were applying for a job in for the first time.

Step 1: Cancellation of Your Old Work Permit
First you and your former employer need to cancel your existing work permit, and ideally this is supposed to be done within 10 days of you leaving your job. Your former employer needs to do this by logging into their company’s account at and submitting the required documents. Upon preliminary approval of the online submission, your former employer will then need to go to the work permit bureau to physically drop off the original documents. When it’s approved you will get a cancellation certificate stating that your work permit has been cancelled and what was the reason for cancellation.

Your former employer will require the following documents for this step:

Application Form for Cancellation of Foreigner’s Work Permit (obtained by employer and stamped, signed by you)
Letter of termination (produced by employer and stamped)
Your current work permit (you or your employer should have the card)
Time Required: up to 10 working days in total.

Your passport is not required at this step, and your existing residence permit on your passport will still be valid.

Step 2: Application for Your New Work Permit
Your new employer needs to go into their SAFEA account (link in Step 1) and fill in your information. They should be able to type in your old work permit number and see most of your information auto-filled from the previous applications, and can update certain details as suitable. They will generate the application form based on your information and you will need to sign the form, followed by the company stamping with its seal. They will then upload the signed copy along with other required documents, including:

* Application form for Foreigner’s Work Permit (above, signed and stamped)
* Labour contract or proof of employment (from employer, signed and stamped)
* Passport photo page (scan/photo)
* Passport current residence permit page (scan/photo)
* Cancellation certificate of previous work permit (end product of Step 1)

Note that when you are doing a transfer between employers within 1 month of the old work permit cancellation, the other tedious documents are not required (notarized police record check, notarized diploma, proof of previous employment abroad, and physical examination). This is why you should absolutely do a visa transfer (with same job titles) instead of quitting a job and then reapplying for everything later — you save 70% of your time!

Step 3: Application for Your New Residence Permit
This step requires you to gather a bunch of documents from yourself and your new employer, and submitting them at the Entry & Exit Bureau of your city, including:

Residence Permit Application Form*
2″ portrait photo*
Police registration form for temporary residence (original + photocopy; make sure it’s from AFTER your latest entry stamp!)
Company application letter (produced and stamped by employer)
Individual application letter (produced by employer or yourself, signed by you)
Company registration “营业执照” (original + photocopy, from employer)
New work permit card (original + photocopy)**
* Normally you can print the form online and fill it in, sign and get company stamped, then attach the 2” photo. However, as of November 2018, in some first-tier cities (e.g. Shanghai) they have moved to an electronic system at the Entry & Exit Bureau where you take a photo in a booth and then scan your passport to get the application form printed on the spot. You then fill in some remaining information on the form and sign it, without needing the company stamp.

Note that when you are doing a transfer between employers within 1 month of the old work permit cancellation, you are not required to do a new health exam for this residence permit application! Once again, this is why you should absolutely do a visa transfer (with same job titles) instead of quitting a job and then reapplying for everything later.

After submitting these documents (including your actual passport) at the window without problems, you will be rewarded with a temporary ID in the form of a piece of paper/receipt.

Time Required: 7 working days.

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