Social insurance is an economic and social system relating to the vital interests of members of the entire society for safeguarding social stability, promoting economic development. It is designed to provide material compensation or aid to help citizens overcome difficulties in their livelihood and unexpected disaster.

According to the “People’s Republic of China Social Insurance Law” and the “Interim Measures for Participation in Social Insurance System by Foreigners Employed in China (‘Measures’),” which will come into effect on October 15, 2011, companies that hired foreign employees should buy social insurance for their staff, or be punished by the current laws and regulations. Social insurance fees will be paid by both employers and foreign employees in accordance with the regulations.

The Measures specify that employers who employ foreigners should, within 30 days of applying for their employment permits, undertake their social insurance registration.

The Shenzhen Social Insurance Bureau is the Shenzhen government agency that administers the city’s insurance system. The system includes pension, medical,casualty,unemployment and maternity insurance. But foreigners employed in China will participate in three kinds of insurance: basic pension insurance, basic medical insurance and work-related injury insurance, at present.

The medical insurance plan will allow foreigners to choose which hospitals they would like to go to. An unspecified percentage of expenses will be reimbursed using the funds from the account. Officials have not yet specified whether insurance will cover a foreigner outside China’s borders.

Pension Pensions can be collected if the foreigner has contributed for 15 years. They will be paid until death. The Ministry has not specified a retirement age for foreigners or how foreigners will collect the fund.

What Are Needed

To buy social insurance for their foreign employees, office administrator of the company should prepare the following materials.

1. The original and copy of Employment Permit for Foreigners if the foreigner works as an ordinary worker; the original and copy of Foreign Experts Certificate if works as an expert. Foreign journalists should provide the Certificate of Permanent Foreign Correspondent.

2. The original and copy of their valid passports.

3. Personal Information Registration Form from the Shenzhen Social Security Bureau with a seal of the company.

4. Digital photograph receipt recognized by the Shenzhen Public Security Bureau.

How to Participate in Social Insurance

Firstly, a social insurance specialist entrusted by the company must go to the service window of the Social Security Bureau, and then get the Personal Information Registration Form. Secondly, collect the required materials, and then fill the form. Don’t forget to seal the company’s seal after the second step.

At last, submit the materials and the correctly filled form to the company’s social insurance agency. The whole process will cost no more than ten working days since the date of acceptance.

What Can You Receive

For foreigners who leave China before the reach the stipulated age for receiving pension, their social insurance individual account will be retained, and when they return to work in China, their accumulative years will continue to count.

If the foreigner applies to end the social insurance, he or she can receive the social insurance savings amount in his or her individual account in one lump sum. If the employee were dead, the sum remaining in the social insurance individual account can be inherited in accordance with the law.

Foreigners receiving social insurance payments on a monthly basis outside of China should submit to the social insurance agency from which he or she receives payments a certification every year, proving that he or she is still alive, or one that is authenticated by the relevant agencies in their country of domicile, and certified by the Chinese embassy or consulate. Foreigners who are legally residing in China can show such proof by going to the social insurance agency in person.