China Reduced Red Tape

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In the past, working in mainland China for Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan (HMT) residents meant they had to obtain a work permit. As a result, employers of HMT residents would have to submit a tedious amount of paperwork.

However, following China’s State Council announcement of August 3rd 2018 residents from the Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan regions would in the future no longer be required to have a work permit in order to work in mainland China.

What has Changed?

Although the work permit application process for Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan residents was already substantially shorter (only 1-3 weeks) compared to the application process of other foreign applicants, the process will be eliminated in the future. The Decision of the State Council on Abolishing a Batch of Administrative Approval Items will mean that residents from the aforementioned regions will be treated equally to residents of Mainland China.

Previously, any employer of an HMT resident had to file paperwork containing among other things the company business license, employee heath certificate as well as travel documents. Additionally, once the new reform comes in effect HMT residents are no longer required to re-apply for a work permit after the two-year work permit term expired (under previous legislation HMT work permits had a validity of two years). Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan residents will also not have to re-apply upon changing of employer.

Related Reading

HR Compliance in China (Part 1)
HR Compliance in China (Part 2)

Other Developments

Following the recent announcement, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security said it will introduce supporting measures to facilitate Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan residents to work in the mainland.

As a result, as of September 1 of this year Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan residents who have lived in China for over six months are eligible to receive a residence permit. The Measures for Application and Issuance of Residence Permits for Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan Residents will grant permit holder access to certain basic rights, services, and further facilitation measures such as social insurance.


In spite of the abolishing of work permits for HMT residents, differences will continue to exist between them and mainland Chinese employees. Therefore, the measues have been described by the South China Morning Post as largely “symbolic”. For example, and similarly to all foreigners working in China, residents from Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan have to pay full prices for medical services before they can seek reimbursement from social security insurance.
It is also unclear whether the statutory retirement age will become compulsory and if HMT residents will obtain access to pension benefits.

MSA has fast experience with the ongoing legal and economic developments in China. If you have any questions about this or other topics, please do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected]