Ask Beijing Today is our weekly attempt to make life in China less confusing. Whether it’s tracking down the papers to apply for a Chinese green card, dealing with KTV-crazy neighbors or finding the best buy on saffron, we are happy to help.

Send your questions to or post with the hash tag #askbjtoday on Twitter or #askbt# on Sina Weibo.

This Week…

Q. I am considering vacationing in Beijing in January. Do you think this is a good idea? I don’t know if there will be too much snow and/or if the weather is too bad that time of the year.

A. January is not an ideal time to be travelling to Beijing mostly because of the weather. It could be very cold and windy, and dry too. And you will have to prepare for potential respiratory problems. During winter, the air conditions in China’s capital are always bad because of coal burning and other factors.

But there are advantages too. It just snowed in late November, and it created beautiful sceneries around the city. Besides, January is normally the end of China’s lunar year, and you can see people busy shopping for the upcoming Spring Festival. If you stay long enough, you can even experience China’s most important festival! Happy travels!

Q. I now study in Shanghai, and I’m 23 years old. I married a Chinese man in September, but the family visa doesn’t allow me to work. So I would like to ask you how I could get a visa that would allow me to work in Shanghai.

A. It’s true – the family visa doesn’t allow you to work. You have to go through the entire process of finding a job, having the company apply for the visa, etc. Here is a webpage that explains clearly the Z Visa requirements in China:

You must exit China and apply for a Z visa at a Chinese embassy abroad, most likely in your home country. You can’t convert any other visa to a Z visa while you’re in China.

Q. There is no heat in my side of the building. I’ve called management, and they said they are waiting on the heating company, who have keys to pull the switches and turn the heat on. I called the heating company, and they are having problems because of something wrong on the 11th floor. What can I do?

A. Try the city’s heating system customer service hotline at 12319. Another related department is the Beijing District Heating Group; its hotline is 96069.

Q. Do kids need a health check for a resident permit?

A. You could get reliable information about it at SAFEA (State Administration of Foreign Expert Affairs) in the city where you live. It is the same office where you got your Foreign Expert Certificate.

Q. I’m about to take the HSK level 3 exam next year. What study materials do I need?

A. You can find everything you need to know on the official HSK website Good luck!

Yang Xin

About Yang Xin

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Yang Xin is a '90s girl who is obsessed with music, tennis, reading and pretty boys. She hopes her life and career will take her around the world.

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