Navigating medical services in Shanghai: a guide for expats

If you are seeking medical services in Shanghai, it may be helpful to know that the city has both public and private healthcare facilities. Many of these facilities offer medical care in various languages, including English.

Additionally, you can access medical services through mobile healthcare applications. It's important to note that healthcare practices and regulations may differ from those in your home country, so it's recommended to do research beforehand or seek advice from a medical professional.

In case of an emergency, call "120" for pre-hospital care, which covers on-site first aid, emergency treatment in transit, and care-oriented medical services. Almost all hospitals are equipped with an emergency department to provide emergency medical treatment to patients in need.

Outpatient appointments

To book an out-patient appointment, foreigners may register for a medical card at the hospital using their passport or other forms of identification. They may also use the same online appointment reservation service as Chinese residents through the Eshimin app. The reservation procedure is as follows:

Open the app → Touch "Healthcare" on the home page → Touch "Registration Reservation" at the top → Select the hospital, department, and doctor → Then touch "Reserve" to confirm the appointment time and details.

Navigating medical services in Shanghai: a guide for expats

If it's your first visit, touch "Patient" → "Add Patient" → "Foreigner" → Then enter your personal information as required → Finally, touch "Save." After confirming your information, touch "Submit," and the system will send a verification code to your mobile phone. Enter the SMS verification code on the reservation screen. Following verification, your reservation will be confirmed.

Medical emergencies

In the event of a medical emergency, the procedure for expats is basically the same as for Chinese citizens. Below is the specific process:

1. Go to the triage desk of the hospital for pre-examination, and register to see a doctor in the relevant department based on the triage outcome.

2. Present your registration ticket at the payment counter and pay for the consultation.

3. Wait until you are called into the designated consultation room.

4. The doctor will diagnose your condition and offer treatment, a prescription, or advice for further examination.

5. Take your prescription, treatment sheet, test sheet, and examination sheet to the emergency payment counter, and then collect medication for the pharmacy after making payment.


Patients in a critical condition may be given emergency treatment before formally registering at the hospital.

Medical insurance

Expats working legally in China shall be covered by social security (including pension, medical, work-related injury, unemployment, and maternity insurance). This should be paid by the employer and expat as legally required.

Expats should enjoy the same insurance package as any other insured persons, and can find the list of designated hospitals, coverage, and medical reimbursement rates on the website of the local human resources and social security bureau. Employers shall, within 30 days of the date when a work permit is issued, complete insurance registration procedure for foreign employees at their local social security center. The documents required for expats to purchase social security in Shanghai include:

1. Employment documents. Labor contract or employment contract (excluding Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau residents who have completed employment registration and filing procedures).

2. Other documents, which may include the following documents:

Expats are required to bring with them one of three documents, namely, a Foreigner's Permanent Residence ID Card, Foreigner's Work Permit in China, or a Shanghai Residence Card (Type B), as well as their passport (not required for holders of a Foreigner's Permanent Residence ID Card).

Nationals of countries that have signed bilateral or multilateral agreements on social security with China (including Germany, South Korea, Denmark, Finland, Canada, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Spain, Luxembourg, Japan, and Serbia) and are employed in China shall purchase social security in accordance with those agreements.

In addition to medical insurance, expats or their employers can purchase commercial health insurance, which covers private hospitals and international medical departments affiliated to some public hospitals. Usually, expats are required to have lived in China for more than 180 days before they can buy commercial health insurance. There are no special restrictions on expats' purchasing commercial health insurance in China, except for certain insurance products and certain China-foreign joint ventures which are subject to the policies of the countries where their parent companies are located. All qualified expats are free to purchase commercial health insurance available in China. There are many kinds of products, which should meet their basic needs. For information about specific products and application documents, please consult the insurance company in question.


Over-the-counter drugs are available from pharmacies, while prescription drugs cannot be purchased without a prescription from a licensed physician or a medical professional who can prescribe them.

Source: Shanghai Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs