As a rule, foreign nationals must have their presence in China registered. Also affected by this requirement are persons from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan.
If you are staying in a hotel:—
- Registration will be done at the hotel’s reception
- Mainland Chinese citizens are also required to complete registration
- Just present your passport or entry ID, check details (where needed), then sign to confirm
However, rules are different where you stay in other residences.
You must proceed to the next (as in: nearest) police station and report yourself individually without being requested to do so, if you are staying in:—
- any home (regardless if it is a flat, a house; or is rented, bought; or is owned by a Chinese or foreigner)
- any moveable accommodation
If you are a student, proceed to your school, college or university’s International / Foreign Students Centre and complete registration procedures there.
You risk a fine of CNY 500.— if you do fail to register in time, although in practice, this may, in a number of cases, be covered by an unofficial grace period (a day or two maximum) or you will only be “officially reprimanded”.
Procedures can be different or toughened if you are (legally) in a place in China where passage for non-mainlanders is by special permit only.
When you register at the police office, you must present the following:—
- Passport or entry ID of any non-mainland citizen staying in the stated accommodation
- Visa, stay permit, residence permit, or Chinese Green Card (for the first three, it will be stuck in your passport), or any endorsement permitting you to enter the mainland
- Proof of address
- Details about your place of accommodation
In some cases, the owner of the home must also be present, with his or her ID presented.
You must check all details and ensure they are correct. You may request changes on the spot if you find there are factual discrepancies.
Before proceeding to the police station, bring photocopies of your passport or entry ID, as well as your visa, stay permit, residence permit, Chinese Green Card, or any endorsement permitting you to enter Mainland China. (Try getting them photocopied beforehand; there have been reports where people were charged excesses near the police office.) You must also photocopy the page with your most recent entry stand for Mainland China and be prepared to explain where you entered mainland China (as a few checkpoints may have had names changed).
The entire procedure should not take more than 5 minutes, but be patient and be sure to answer any questions police officers may ask you. Remember they are there to do their job.
Important: You must also report to the police office if:—
- you start using a new passport
- you have had a visa, stay permit, residence permit, Chinese Green Card, or any endorsement permitting you to enter the mainland extended or transferred onto a new passport
- you move away
When using a new passport, it is advisable to register this with the police both before you transfer your visa, stay permit or residence permit onto your new passport and after the transfer.
If you complete any of this whilst staying at a hotel, you should proceed to the reception instead; if at schools, colleges or universities, proceed instead to the International / Foreign Students Centre.