Blog: Navigating Shanghai without a Health Code

Night Capture of Baoshan District, Northern Shanghai.

When I arrived in Shanghai on January 23, 2021 I was armed only with my soon to be expired Z visa and only a Guangdong SuiKang Health code.

The Health QR codes (there is a national Health tracking code and several city codes) are a great way to track and identifiy thpse affected by Covid-19 outbreaks, however if you are new to China it may be very difficult to obtain one as they are accessed through Alipay or wechat.

With Alipay, you only have access to the international version outside of China (creating a new account), I had difficulty obtaining a health code through Alipay using my Chinese Number (then you need a Chinese Bank account to access Alipay).

Wechat on the other hand requires wechat pay, which needs your Chinese ID (residence permit) and at the moment I only have my tempoary.

Temporary Residence Permit

To obtain my temporary residence permit (TRP) I had to go to the local Police Security Bureau (PSB). My boyfriend was super nervous but the local police were very nice, since I didn’t have my QR code they just took my name and my boyfriends phone number and made copies of my previous TRP from the hotel I stayed at the first few nights, my passport and visa. After confirming our address by reviewing the rental contract, my new temporary permit was printed off. The whole process took 20 minutes. I recommend that you take a Chinese speaking friend with you to obtain the temporary permit as the local police may not have an English speaker.

Getting a Covid Test without a Health Code

Before I could start work I was required to get a covid test, again having a Chinese speaking friend is a great help as you need to make an appointment through an app on wechat. Since I didn’t have wechat pay or a health code, my boyfriend took me to a local hospital to get my Covid test.

1st: You need to scan the QR code outside of the hospital to enter (in Chinese only. You enter your name, address and phone number)

2nd: Stand in line to check your codes, health QR and Entry Code.

3rd: When I entered without my health code, I had to go to a table to take my temperature and sign my name, address and phone number.

4th: After the temperature check, head over to the registration window to get a hospital card (name, address, phone number). It was roughly 150 yuan for the card.

5th: To register for the covid test you head over to a digital kiosk where you swipe your health card and pay. If it doesn’t work, you go to another registration desk to pay for the covid test (around 200 yuan for mine).

6th: Walk over to the Covid testing center to again scan your code (no code, write name and phone number in a leger) receive a number, show your number at the window, wait in line and take your test.

If you don’t have a QR code you can get a Chinese speaking friend to call the hospital to get your results.

Going to the Mall/Grocery Store

Going to the grocery store was quite easy, I either use a translation app to show I didn’t have a QR code and was directed to a table that had a notebook for the collection of names and phone numbers.

Subway and Bus

It was actually really easy to take the bus and subway. I haven’t needed to scan a code at the moment. I have been taking the bus and subway to work without a problem.

I am hoping to get my residence permit soon, so that I can finally get wechat pay, Alipay, a bank account and a QR code.

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