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Living in Shanghai Guide

Dining · American Cuisine · French Cuisine · Italian Cuisine · Pizza · Coffee shops · Japanese Cuisine
· Cantonese Cuisine/Dim Sum · Fusion Cuisine · Shanghai Cuisine · Hot Pot · Thai Cuisine · Korean Cuisine
Housing · Shanghai Rental Guide · Maid Service · Shanghai Housing Market      
Transportation · Public Transport · Cars and Driving        
Education · International Schools · Children · Kindergarten      
Healthcare · Hospitals with English-language
· Dentists        
Leisure · Museums/Galleries · Sightseeing · Theaters/Cinemas  · Parks  · Zoos  
Sport Activities · Golf            · Stadiums · Swimming   · Yoga    
Life and Style · Beauty/hair Salons · Bars & Clubs  · Massage & Spas · Shopping  · Karaoke 
Tourism and Travel · Airlines          · Hotels  · Travel Agents      
Job · Career Guide      · Shanghai Job Search        
Misc · Shanghai Immigration · Emergency Info · Expats in Shanghai · Preview Visit     
You do not need a car to survive in Shanghai as taxis are cheap and plentiful and the subway system is new, clean and efficient.
If you live a considerable distance from downtown, it is likely you will have a car and driver supplied by your employer. Driving in Shanghai can also be particularly stressful due to most motorists flouting any kind of traffic regulations.
Plus, the traffic is particularly bad during the rush hour times of 7.30am-10am and 5pm-7pm.
However, a determined few are willing to take the expensive and complex route involved in buying and running a private vehicle in order to feel that sense of freedom that driving can bring.

Costs Of A License Plate
In a bid to curb traffic jams and pollution, Shanghai has restricted the number of license plates it issues each year and has priced cars as a luxury item for the local population. Although imported luxury cars (Mercedes, BMW) are very expensive, General Motors and Volkswagen cars, which are made in Shanghai, are cheap when compared to Europe or the States.
Individuals and private companies in Shanghai are free to buy a car but have to go through an arduous procedure before driving off. In order to register a new car, you have to bid in an auction for a restricted number of license plates. The "sealed bid" auctions have been held by the local government once a month since 1986, with the lofty goal of keeping the number of cars under control and curbing traffic congestion.  
About 5,000 license plates are sold each month at prices averaging above 30,000 RMB. Bidders usually exceed the supply of number plates by a factor of two.
What to be be aware of when buying a car
We recommend selecting a reputable car dealer when purchasing a car and rather buy a so-called luxurious version which would be more comparable with a car of Western standards.

Costs Of A Car

The following other costs are involved when buying your own car:

Car Price (new or secondhand car)

Registration Fee

Road Tax

License Plate


Monthly maintenance, tolls and insurance comes to about US$3,000 annually, while the cost of a base license plate is about US$ 4,000.
With the cost of top-of-the-line imported luxury cars in the US$ 100,000 range, most expatriates drive General Motors or VW cars, both of whom have factories located in Shanghai. The popular MPVs cost in the US$ 25,000 range。

Car Leasing
Long-term car leases are a viable alternative to buying a car. The costs actually work out to be higher. However, the cost is spread out over a year, instead of tying up capital, and at the end of the lease period, the lessee has the option of buying the car for a nominal price.
In order to lease a car, you will need the following documents: 

Info: Purchase versus Leasing

Car Model: Santana 2000


Lease for 3 years

Purchase/Leasing Price

165,000 Yuan (US$19,900)

263,000 Yuan

Insurance, taxes, license plate

55,000 Yuan



220,000 Yuan (USD 26,500)

263,000 Yuan (USD 32,000)



monthly: 7,300 Yuan (USD 880 )



Byback value: ,2000 Yuan (USD 240)



Longhui Car Rental
Tel:: (86-21) 1300-322-2327, 1333-199-7789

Heshi Car Rental
Tel: (86-21) 6252-2200

Jiuma Car Rental Co.
Tel:  (86-21) 5719-8360

Jiutong Car Rental Co.
Tel:  (86-21) 6252-0850

Volkswagen Car Rental Co.
Tel:  (86-21) 6318-5666



Car Renting




List of Car Rentals to compare Prices





Opt for reputable car rental companies to avoid problems.


Angel Car Rental Co.ltd. 
1387 Changning Lu
Tel:  6229 1118/8008 205818

Shanghai Da Zhong Group
 16F,920 Nanjing Xi Lu
Tel: 96822/96811

Shanghai Jin Jiang Car Rental Co .Ltd.
(Taxi & Minibus service)
1502 Hongqiao Lu
Tel: 6275 8800

Shanghai Jin Jiang Car Rental Co.Ltd.
(Bus services)
16 Wuzhong Lu
Tel:5605 2708

Suite 306 Changfeng Center
1088 Yan An Xi
Tel: 4008801658/52735276/13387622366


Hiring a Driver

The fear of navigating Shanghai's maniacal streets, is enough to detract all but the most car-mad of expats. So why not let someone else take up the strain - hire your own driver. For between 2,000rmb-3,000rmb per month, it is possible to hire an experienced driver.

He will also be able to help out with running errands like taking the ayi shopping or picking the kids up from school. Drivers are prepared to work long hours and collect you late at night after going out for drinks or dinner.

Shanghai drives on the right, but even those from countries where this is the norm find Shanghai driving challenging.
Drivers tend to gently waft in and out of lane with no warning, and pedestrians and bicyclists weave between the cars!
But, traffic is fairly slow, and most accidents are fender benders rather than fatal. Seat belts are required in the front seat but, unfortunately not yet for the rear seats.

Driving License
Anyone who wants to drive in China must have a valid Chinese driver's license.
Those without a license will need to take a theory exam, followed by a minimum of 35 hours of practical (ie driving) lessons, after which they can sit for the driver's licensing test. The total cost of this is estimated to be US$ 500.
Those who have a valid foreign license or international license will need to complete a registration form (notarized by your consulate), undergo a health check and in most cases take the theory test.Private driving schools are beginning to mushroom in Shanghai, but the 100 or so driving schools operated by the Traffic Patrol Division are still considered the best. Contact them for a list.

Converting a foreign driving license
Applicants will obtain a Chinese driver’s license after passing a theoretical exam. Expenses in total are RMB155, translation fee of RMB60 for the documents not included.

Info: What you need to convert a foreign driving licence

Valid passport, original and photocopy of record for entering the country.

    1. Driver license in English needs to be translated to Chinese at designated institution. (see above for address)
      Medical Checkup (take along documents in original and photocopy)
    2. Take photographs for license
    3. Make an appointment for theoretical examination ( Exam material will be provided)


Involved in a Car Accident
Chinese law requires that in the event of a car accident that causes injury, the injured should be taken to the hospital immediately, there should be no changes made to the accident scene, the police should be called, and all witnesses should remain at the scene until the police arrive. If there is no injury, the parties may settle the dispute on their own in terms of damages, but this may jeopardize any future insurance claim.


Traffic Police

Shanghai Traffic Patrol Division
1101 Zhongshan No. 1 Rd (N)
Tel: 6516 8168 ext. 5332

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