This article explains how parents can apply for an exit and entry permit (出入境通行证 churujing tongxingzheng) on behalf of a child who automatically acquires Chinese citizenship at birth. Our law firm can assist with the application and advise about other available options.
Certain children may automatically acquire Chinese citizenship at birth (in China or abroad) if one or both parents are Chinese. See Who Automatically Acquires Chinese Citizenship at Birth?
At the same time, the child may automatically acquire foreign citizenship at birth under foreign laws. For example, a child born in the U.S. is normally a citizen. And a child born outside the U.S. to one citizen parent and one noncitizen parent automatically acquires citizenship at birth if the parents are married and the citizen parent was previously physically present in the U.S. for periods totaling not less than 5 years, at least 2 of which were after age 14. INA § 301(g). See Guide to Aquisition of U.S. Citizenship by Birth Abroad.
However, under China’s Nationality Law, article 4, the PRC government doesn’t recognize the dual nationality of Chinese citizens.
Where the child is a PRC citizen but holds a foreign passport, the Chinese government may not be willing to issue a PRC passport to the child or place a Chinese visa in the child’s foreign passport on the ground that such benefits would amount to a nationality conflict (国籍冲突). In other words, granting such benefits would be tantamount to recognizing dual nationality.
Exit and Entry Permit
The public security bureau (PSB) exit and entry administration may, however, be willing to issue the child an Exit and Entry Permit, which is valid for one departure and one readmission to China within 3 months of issuance. PSB processing time is typically about 5 work days. The application fee is 20 RMB.
I’ve heard parents inaccurately refer to the Exit and Entry Permit as an “exit visa” for their baby. But remember that this is not a visa granted to a foreign national. Instead, it’s a travel document (not unlike a passport) granted to a PRC citizen whom the Chinese government has deemed unqualified for a passport. The inside cover states, “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China requests all civil and military authorities of foreign countries to allow the bearer of this permit to pass freely and afford assistance in case of need.” Still, as a practical matter, the only authorities who will need to review this document are the Ministry of Public Security’s border control troops at the airport, sea port, or land border when the child seeks to exit and reenter China.
Here’s what the Ministry of Public Security’s Working Rules for Managing Issuance of Exit and Entry Permits, art. 16, says:
If it is inappropriate to issue a regular passport due to the applicant’s nationality conflict, the exit-entry administration of the public security bureau set up in the district of domicile may examine, approve, manufacture, and issue an Exit and Entry Permit valid for 1 exit and entry during 3 months. The exit-entry administration of the public security bureau in the district of domicile should require the applicant too submit a foreign passport, 1 recent photograph with no hat, and a completed application form. Also, the individual’s identity should be checked in the public security bureau’s “nationwide legal database of persons not permitted to leave China” and “nationwide state personnel database.” Execution of procedures for examining, approving, issuing, manufacturing, and not issuing Exit and Entry Permits, etc., should be done in consultation with and consistent with the pertinent regulations of the exit-entry administration for the frontier area of the public security bureau.
Note that because of the so-called nationality conflict, the exit-entry administration may require, as a condition of issuance of the Exit and Entry Permit, that the child’s household registration be cancelled by the police station (派出所 paichusuo) where registered. This does not amount to renunciation of PRC citizenship. The child remains a PRC citizen but no longer will have access to benefits that depend on a hukou (e.g., treatment as a local for purposes of attending public schools and medical insurance).
Also note that since the above Working Rules require the application to be filed with the child’s place of domicile (居住地), the PSB may require evidence of that domicile, such as the PRC citizen parent’s local hukou or residence permit (居住证).
The PSB exit and entry administration’s procedures for issuance of an Exit and Entry Permit differ slightly depending on the locality:
- Beijing’s procedures are here.
- Shanghai requires that first time applicants have their nationality confirmed (国籍审定) when they apply for the permit.
- Shenyang’s procedures, as of Aug. 2014, are:
|This notice is only supplied for applicants’ reference and must not be photocopied.|
|The documents needed will depend on the applicant’s actual situation.|
|Guide to Applying for an Exit and Entry Permit|
|1. Fill in one copy of the Exit and Entry Permit Application Form (available at the information counter)|
|2. Two recent 2-inch color photographs with bar code (taken at the first floor photography studio)|
|3. Copy of most recent Exit and Entry Permit or Travel Permit (not required for first-time applicants)|
|4. Child’s foreign passport ID page (original and copy)|
|5. 出生证明原件及复印件，如为外文需由翻择社翻译成中文||5. Birth certificate (original and copy) (including a Chinese translation by a translation agency, if in a foreign language)|
|6. Foreign parent’s valid passport (original and copy of the ID page and visa page)|
|7. Chinese parent’s national ID card and household registration booklet (original and copy) (Shenyang household registration booklet only)|
|8. Each time the child must come in person to be photographed on the spot. The guardian must either come in person or be represented by an agent with a national ID and power of attorney|
|9. 公安机关认为有必要的其他材料||9. Other documents the public security agency believes are necessary|
Also note that if the child reenters China with the permit (i.e., without using a foreign passport), the PRC government may be able to prevent the foreign government from providing consular assistance.
Other Options to Consider
Depart and Reenter China with a PRC Passport: If the child is a PRC citizen, you should be able to obtain a PRC household registration booklet (户口 hukou) and PRC passport, prior to obtaining a foreign passport. To exit China, a PRC citizen is required to show the PRC passport (or other PRC travel document). See Exit-Entry Administration Law (EEAL), art. 11. The PRC passport would need to have a visa valid for the destination country unless no visa is required. EEAL, art. 9.
The problem that arises is, what destination country or region’s visa will the child show upon exiting mainland China?
- United Kingdom: According to the UK government, a person “may not obtain a visa for the UK in a Chinese passport if you also hold a British passport.” So if the child already holds a British passport, you may need to either relinquish it to apply for a UK visa in the child’s PRC passport or travel to the UK through a third country.
- United States: The U.S. will not normally issue visas to its own citizens (9 FAM 40.2 N1) and requires citizens to enter with a U.S. passport (7 FAM 085), with limited exceptions. So the child may need to travel to a third country from China. One of the limited exceptions where the U.S may stamp a visa into the PRC passport is that a “pro forma” visa may be issued where the U.S. consulate believes it is required to facilitate a citizen’s departure from China.
- Hong Kong and Macao: The PRC citizen child may be able to obtain a Hong Kong and Macao travel permit (往来港澳通行证). Could the child leave the Mainland with that permit, then leave Hong Kong or Macao with the foreign passport? My (preliminary) interpretation is that this would be lawful. The Exit and Entry Administration Law does not apply in Hong Kong (HK Basic Law, Annex III) and Hong Kong doesn’t seem to have a parallel requirement that PRC citizens exit with a PRC passport.
Similarly, upon returning to China, a PRC citizen is required to present the PRC passport (or other PRC travel document). EEAL, art. 11.
Travel Permit (旅行证): If abroad, the child may apply for a Travel Permit (旅行证 lvxingzheng) at a PRC consulate, valid for multiple entries to China over a 2-year period. Like the Exit and Entry Permit, the Travel Permit may be issued to a PRC citizen ineligible for a PRC passport due to a so-called nationality conflict.
Renounce PRC Citizenship: The child may apply to renounce the PRC citizenship and then obtain a PRC visa in the foreign passport.
Questions or comments?