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U.S. citizens traveling to China must obtain a Chinese visa before embarking on the trip. A few different types of visas are issued to visitors, including the tourist visa (Type L) that allows the bearer one- to two entries to stay up to one month each time. Consult the Chinese Embassy or Consulate General on obtaining the right type of visa or apply through a travel agency.

Those who wish to work and stay in China for extended periods of time need to apply for employment visa (Type Z), which allows multiple entries into China and is valid for up to one year. The application process is long and bothersome and requirements many, including a complete physical check-up. Upon expiration, the Type Z visa can be renewed with reasonable amount of effort and paperwork.

Trade Shows & Exhibitions:
Participants can come into China on tourist visas and travel in-country. Notebook computers, cameras, portable printers, VCRs can be brought into China as personal belongings.

Business firms seeking to bring in exhibits and items for display should consult with Customs authorities for regulation on the procedures and to obtain copies of appropriate forms.

Temporary Entry:
Goods imported in China for display or demonstration at trade shows and exhibitions are exempt from Customs duty, provided they are re-exported within three months. The exhibition organizer must obtain advance approval from the Customs, provide certain shipping documents and a list of items to be exhibited, and coordinate with Customs officials. Customs may sometimes request a guarantee in the form of a deposit or letter.

A local sponsor with authority to engage in foreign trade may sponsor small exhibitions or technical seminars, requiring less than 500 square meters in exhibition space, without first seeking approval from MOFTEC. Customs will handle the tariff exemption formalities based upon a guarantee of re-export that is signed between the sponsor and the foreign party.

Food and beverage exhibition "not-for-sale" sample-entry rules are not clearly defined and appear capriciously applied. U.S. exhibitors should contact the exhibition organizers to determine their liabilities regarding sample entries for such events before registering to participate, to obtain a clearer understanding of exhibition-related expenses.

Some exhibits or samples imported under the temporary not-for-sale regulations may be sold after the trade event is completed, in which case the duties owed on these items are levied by the Customs.

Passenger Baggage:
Reasonable quantities of items for personal use by short-term visitors may be imported duty-free. Other items such as cameras, televisions, stereo equipment, computers, and tape recorders must be declared and may be assessed a duty depending upon the item's value.

Advertising Materials and Trade Samples:
Samples and advertising materials are exempt from customs duty and Value-Added Tax (VAT) if the item's value does not exceed RMB200. Samples and advertising materials concerning certain electronic products, however, are subject to customs duty and VAT regardless of value.

Representative Offices:
Representative offices must submit a written application to Customs if they intend to import any personal effects or vehicles. Approval by Customs waives any relevant import license requirements and allows the office to import the equipment in reasonable amounts for office-use only.

Overseas Assignment to China:
Expatriate managers who are assigned to work in China need to apply for employment visas (see above). On their first trip into China on the Z visa, they are entitled to bring duty-free reasonable and personal- and household- use items including the otherwise dutiable items such as VCRs, PCs, and video cameras.
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