First 4 things to do when you relocate to Shanghai

You are relocating to Shanghai and you have just arrived?  Congratulations and welcome!

Here are the 4 things that you want to know when you arrive (this is only if you are relocating to Shanghai and have a proper Visa):

1/ Get your temporary residence registration

the form can be filled in at the local police station or at the reception of your hotel / serviced apartment if they provide this service. You only need your passport to get it.

2/ Get yourself a mobie phone number and internet data package

You can choose between China Unicom, China Telecom or China Mobile and you can get a prepaid sim after only a few minutes with only your passport. They usually run some promotion so check with the staff to see what the cheapest plan available is for voice & Data. You can pay cash and do not need any bank or Alipay account to get your phone number. You need a phone number for a lot of things in Shanghai: create an Alipay account, open a bank account, register an account on most online stores, … Chinese people use their phones all the time and you will feel much better after you get a local number and make sure that your plan includes enough data.

3/ Open a bank accout

Bring your passport and phone to open your account. Some banks are easier than others and I would personally recommend ICBC as only a passport and phone number are required. You can get your UnionPay debit card right away too. Also their internet banking site is in English. As far as I know you will need a work contract to open an account with Bank of China.

Note that getting a credit card can be quite difficult as most banks require you to have either a work contract, a large amount of cash on your account, one year visa or/and even sometimes to own a property in Shanghai… So do not take it personally if your bank only offers you a debit card at first. You can do most of the things with the UnionPay debit card anyway.

(read our article about banks and credit cards here)

4/ Load your phone with the basics apps

Now that you have a phone number, internet on your phone and a bank account, you can download and create an account with the most useful apps:

  • Alipay (you can pay almost everything with your Alipay app),
  • Wechat (everybody uses wechat, to both chat and pay, and you are not really living in Shanghai until you set up your Wechat account),
  • Didi: the chinese equivalent of Uber is very handy when you want a ride and can’t find a taxi.
  • Mobike, Ofo or any other rent-a-bike app.

(read our article about the 10 most useful apps here)


Now, you have all you need to start enjoying the city. You can travel around and you can pay for things. Nice work!

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