It seems to not be uncommon that even those who have spent many years living in China are still not 100 percent clear of the facts relating to police registration. Find in this guide a brief explanation of when and how to register at a local police station in China.
When must I register?
- Every time you arrive in China (unless you are staying in a hotel or are returning on multiple entry visa to the address registered in your valid visa and work permit, if you have changed your place of residence you must register every time you return from abroad, including Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan)
- Every time you change your place of residence
- Every time your visa is renewed
What do I need for police registration?
- Passport and valid visa
- Copy of rental agreement with landlord OR with flatmate
How do I register?
Firstly you will need to find out which is your local police station (派出所). The management office of the compound you are staying in should have this information. You may ask them to write the name of it down in Chinese, so you can easily show it to a taxi driver. Before you head off to the station, make sure you have your passport with you. Sometimes they require you to prepare copies of the front page and the page with your visa.You may want to make copies just in case.
When you arrive at the police station you can say to one of the members of staff “Dengjì” (register), and they should point you to the correct counter. Here, you can present to them your passport and rental agreement. From this point on the whole police registration process should only take a few minutes.They will enter all of your information into the system and then hand you back a form called Registration Form of Temporary Residence (临时住宿 登记表).You will need to keep this form somewhere very safe, and perhaps even make a copy of it.
Another thing to bear in mind is that if you have previously been staying in a hotel then they may, in some cases, want proof of your stay. Ideally you will have a printed copy of your reservation, but if you have the name and address of the hotel then this will usually do.
You officially have 24 hours to register after entering the country, though if you are staying with a friend for up to three days and then move to another location, you do not need to immediately register. Failure to register can result in fines of up to ¥2,000. While on a daily basis people don’t check whether you are registered, once it gets to extending your visa, if you have not registered since the last time you returned from a vacation abroad, you will get into trouble.