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For anyone planning to stay in China for a year or more, the Chinese government requires a thorough health examination within two months before arrival, including a chest X-ray and an HIV test for AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome), which must be administered less than a month before entry. China will not allow entry to anyone who has tested HIV-positive.
The host organization will provide health forms to be filled out by your doctor or hospital, and a visa will be granted only when the consulate processing your application is satisfied that the forms are in proper order. Your Chinese work unit will review them again on arrival in China. A copy of the form is provided in Appendix G. The procedures are lengthy, cumbersome, and expensive. Individual costs may be as high as $400, and for a family of four the cost will be more than $1,000. All forms must be original and certified, and some Chinese work units prefer that the tests be done by a hospital rather than a clinic. To quote one student in China:
The real nuisance was getting the form certified as genuine. To begin with we had to convince a local notary to go with us to the doctor's office, since the doctor was too busy to go to the notary. The infuriating part was that the Los Angeles Chinese consulate would not accept the single notary seal; they insisted the we also have the California state seal certifying that the Santa Barbara notary was indeed a genuine one. This entailed sending everything to Sacramento by express mail and making countless phone calls to the state office. We had to make three trips to the LA consulate, and finally managed to get the visa the day before departing.
The Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C. appears to be more flexible in issuing notary seals than are the consulates.
Some people arrive in China after spending much money and time on the health certificate to discover that their institution treats the health forms as an empty formality and that certification could have been done quickly and inexpensively in China. Other Chinese institutions refuse to accept forms that they believe are not properly filled out or certified or that come from clinics rather than hospitals. Some people want to avoid having the health tests repeated in China because X-ray equipment may be older and because physical exams in Chinese hospitals may not be as private as in the United States. To avoid having to repeat the tests in China, it is important that the form be filled out completely and that you bring with you to China the original certified health forms and your chest X-ray. If you are planning to be in China less than one