New Police Certificate Rules Issued by China’s Ministry of Public Security

Our law firm has a team that helps foreigners and residents of Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan apply for mainland China police certificates, also known as certificates of no criminal conviction (CNCCs) or 无犯罪记录证明. (See here). So, we have followed closely the implementation of new Ministry of Public Security rules on issuance of police certificates, entitled the Regulations on Criminal Records Inquiries with Public Security Organs (公安机关办理犯罪记录查询工作规定), Doc. No. 19 [2021], promulgated Dec. 3, 2021, effective Dec. 31, 2021.

What follows are the key points of the regulations and why they are significant, then an English translation of the regulations.

Key Points

  • Responsible agency: These are the first Ministry of Public Security regulations on issuance of police certificates. For foreigners who have lived in China for 180 days or more, applications should be accepted by the exit-entry administration of the public security bureau (PSB) at or above the county level in the place of their residence. (Article 5). This creates some uniformity regarding the application procedures. Previously, each city employed its own procedures, with applications sometimes filed with the exit-entry administration, or at the local police station, or at the notary office. For applications in small cities, in the past our team often had to spend significant time trying to convince local agencies that they should take responsibility for accepting foreigners’ applications.
  • Criminal Information Inquiry Platform: The regulations state that the Ministry should establish a “criminal information inquiry platform,” basically a single database that can be queried to determine if an individual has a criminal record. (Article 3). That platform has not yet been finished. Until then, each locality will have its own procedures for investigating whether an individual has a criminal record.
  • Application materials: The regulations require foreign applicants to submit their valid identification (i.e., current passport) and an application form. Where the applicant entrusts an agent to apply on their behalf, a power of attorney and the agent’s ID is also needed. (Article 6). This sounds simple, but localities may formulate their own detailed rules to implement the regulations. (Article 18). Local entities may still require additional documents, such as originals or authenticated copies of prior passports used in China, temporary residence registration forms (临时住宿登记卡), evidence of name change if applicable, letters from former schools or employers, etc. In the past, some cities have even required applicants to appear in person to submit fingerprints. Hopefully, the regulations will encourage cities to streamline their documentary requirements. For example, Shanghai has dropped the requirement to submit tax records.
  • Unclear Local Rules: The persistence of local rules will continue to be a challenge for additional reasons. First, as in the past, local exit-entry administrations may or may not make the rules available to the public, creating ambiguities in application requirements and procedures. Second, police certificates to be used for immigration purposes normally must be notarized. As in the past, local notary offices and associations will continue to impose their own rules, some public and some not.
  • Refusals: The new regulations state that if the materials submitted are complete, the application will be accepted; if the materials are incomplete, they applicant “should be notified of all supplementary materials required.” (Article 7). It is disappointing that the regulations do not require the exit-entry administration to provide such notice in writing. Normally, if a police certificate to be used for immigration purposes cannot be issued, the applicant will be required to prove to the foreign government that the application was made, was denied, and that the denial cannot be overcome. Without written notice from the exit-entry administration, applicants will need to work harder to gather evidence on these points, and such evidence which will still be less persuasive than a written refusal notice.

Translation

Index Numbers

000000000/2021-00425

Issuing AgencyCriminal Investigation Bureau

Title

Ministry of Public Security Notice Regarding Issuance of “Regulations on Criminal Records Inquiries with Public Security Organs”

Creation Date

2021-12-29

Subject Classification

Important Work > Criminal Investigation Work

Summary of the Content

Document No. 19 [2021] Issued by the
Ministry of Public Security

Ministry of Public Security Notice Regarding Issuance of “Regulations on Criminal Records Inquiries with Public Security Organs”

To: Public security departments and bureaus of all provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities directly under the Central Government, and the Public Security Bureau of Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps:

In order to regulate the procedures for criminal records inquiries with public security organs, the Ministry of Public Security has formulated these Regulations on Criminal Records Inquiries with Public Security Organs, which are hereby printed and distributed to you. Please implement them carefully.

Ministry of Public Security

Dec. 3, 2021

Regulations on Criminal Records Inquiries with Public Security Organs

Chapter I. General Provisions

Article 1. These Provisions are formulated in accordance with the Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China, the Criminal Procedure Law of the People’s Republic of China, and other relevant laws, in order to meet the needs of economic and social development, facilitate relevant units and individuals to carry out and engage in relevant activities, and standardize the procedure of criminal conviction inquiry with public security organs.

Article 2. The term “criminal records” as used in these Provisions refers to the objective records from China’s specialized state organs. With the exception of an effective judgment of the people’s court confirming guilt, other circumstances should not be regarded as convictions.

The following circumstances are not regarded as convictions: suspicion of guilt absent an effective judgment or ruling by the people’s court, the decision of a people’s procuratorate not to prosecute, withdrawal of a case by a case handling unit, and withdrawal of prosecution.


Article 3. The Ministry of Public Security shall establish a criminal information inquiry platform. Inquiry results reflect only information entered and existing on the platform at the time an inquiry is made.

Chapter II. Application and Acceptance

Article 4. An individual may inquire about their criminal record, or may entrust an agent to inquire on their behalf. An agent should have full capacity for civil conduct.

A work unit may inquire about the criminal convictions of its current personnel or job applicants, but it shall comply with the provisions of laws and administrative regulations on employment.

When administrative organs carry out responsibilities related to administrative licensing and issuance professional qualifications, and when notary public offices handle applications for notarization of criminal records, they may inquire about the criminal records of individuals according to law. Refer to the above regulations for procedures for inquiries by work units.

Article 5. Chinese citizens’ applications for criminal records inquiries shall be accepted by the local police station with jurisdiction over their place of household registration or residence.

Applications by foreigners who have lived in China for 180 days or more shall be accepted by the exit-entry administrative department of the public security bureau at or above the county level of their residence. If an applicant entrusts an agent to inquire, the application shall be accepted by the office with jurisdiction over the applicant’s place of household registration or residence.

A work unit’s application shall be accepted by the local police station. If the object of inquiry is a foreigner, it shall be accepted by the public security bureau’s entry-exit administration at or above the county level in the place where the work unit is located.

Each locality can designate additional offices to receive applications and can process applications online or through an automated process if it suits local working conditions and is convenient.

Article 6 A citizen who applies in the location of their household registration should submit a valid identity card and an application form or, if applying in the location of their residence, a citizen should submit their residence certificate and an application form. A foreigner who applies should submit their valid identification and an application form. Where an applicant entrusts an agent to apply on their behalf, also submit a power of attorney and the agent’s valid identification.

If an individual applies three or times within a year, they shall submit relevant materials that prove reasonable purposes.

If a work unit applies for inquiry, it shall submit an introduction letter issued by the work unit, the valid identity card of the individual applying on the work unit’s behalf, an application form stamped with the official seal of the work unit, and evidence that the object of inquiry is a current employee or job applicant. The application form shall specify the legal basis for the application.

Article 7. The accepting unit shall carefully review the relevant materials submitted by the work unit or applicant. If the materials are complete, the application will be accepted; if the materials are incomplete, they should be notified of all supplementary materials required. If a work unit’s inquiry does not meet the statutory conditions, it will not be accepted, and the reason will be explained to the work unit.

Chapter III. Inquiry and Notification

Article 8. if the accepting unit can complete the procedure of criminal record inquiry on the spot, it shall be completed on the spot. If it is impossible to complete it on the spot, the accepting unit shall issue an “Acceptance Notice” to the unit or the applicant and complete the inquiry within 3 working days.

If the situation is complicated, investigation and verification may be carried out with the approval of the person in charge of the public security organ at or above the county level. The time needed for investigation and verification is not included in the processing period. Where the investigation and verification require the cooperation of the concerned parties, the parties shall cooperate.

Article 9. For an inquiry by an individual, if no criminal conviction is found, a “Certificate of No Criminal Conviction” shall be issued. If a criminal conviction is found, a “Notice of Refusal to Issue a Certificate of No Criminal Conviction” shall be issued.

For an inquiry by a work unit, the results should be issued in the form of an “Inquiry Notification Letter.”

Article 10. The feedback of inquiry results shall comply with the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Law of the People’s Republic of China on the sealing of juvenile criminal records.

For individual inquiries, if the applicant has a criminal conviction but was under age 18 at the time of committing the crime and was sentenced to a fixed term of not more than five years’ imprisonment, the accepting unit shall issue a “Certificate of No Criminal Conviction.”

For an inquiry by a work unit, if object of the inquiry has a criminal record but was under age 18 at the time of committing the crime and was sentenced to a fixed term of not more than five years’ imprisonment, the accepting unit shall issue an “Inquiry Notification Letter” specifying that the object of the inquiry has no criminal conviction. If the law provides otherwise, such provisions shall prevail.

Chapter IV. Objections and Complaints

Article 11. If the party concerned is not satisfied with the inquiry results, they may file a written objection to the original acceptance unit and apply for reconsideration. If an objection is raised, the applicant shall cooperate with the public security organ in carrying out the review.

Article 12. The original accepting unit shall re-examine the inquiry objected to, and the results of the re-examination shall be provided to the applicant in writing within 15 working days after acceptance. If the situation is complex and cannot be investigated and replied to within the specified time limit, it may be appropriately extended with the approval of the person in charge of the public security organ at or above the county level, and the objection applicant shall be informed, but the extension period shall not exceed 30 working days.

Article 13. If the “Certificate of No Criminal Conviction,” the “Notice of Refusal to Issue a Certificate of No Criminal Conviction,” or the “Inquiry Notification Letter” is determined to have been incorrect, the public security organ issuing the document or its superior public security organ shall promptly revoke and reissue the document.

Article 14. If an applicant believes that the court judgment based on which the accepting unit refused to issue a “Certificate of No Criminal Conviction” is erroneous and meets the statutory appeal conditions, the accepting unit may inform the applicant to appeal to the relevant court or and procuratorate in accordance with the statutory procedures.

Article 15. A work unit or individual applying for a criminal record check is prohibited from fabricating facts, concealing the truth, providing false materials, using a false identity, etc., or forging or altering the “Inquiry Notification Letter” or “Certificate of No Criminal Conviction.” Violations will be punished according to law. If a crime is constituted, criminal responsibility shall be investigated according to law.

Article 16. Relevant units and individuals shall conduct inquiries in strict accordance with the procedures stipulated in this regulation, keep confidential the relevant criminal information obtained through inquiry, and shall not disseminate or use it for other purposes. Those who violate the regulations shall be investigated for corresponding responsibilities according to law. If a crime is constituted, criminal responsibility shall be investigated according to law.

Article 17. Where a relevant unit or individual carries out inquiry work in violation of regulations, resulting in serious consequences, the relevant unit or individual shall be investigated for responsibility according to law. If a crime is constituted, criminal responsibility shall be investigated according to law.

Chapter VI. Supplementary Provisions

Article 18. Localities may formulate detailed implementation rules in light of local actual conditions and work needs.

Article 19. Where relevant state units have special provisions for inquiries concerning criminal records for specific matters, those provisions shall prevail.

Article 20. These regulations shall come into force on December 31, 2021.

Attachments

  1. Inquiry Application Form (Work Unit)
  2. Inquiry Application Form (Chinese Citizen)
  3. Inquiry Application Form (Foreigner)
  4. Application Form for Reconsideration (Chinese Citizen)
  5. Application Form for Reconsideration (Foreigner)
  6. Certificate of No Criminal Conviction
  7. Notice of Refusal to Issue a Certificate of No Criminal Conviction
  8. Inquiry Notification Letter of Criminal Inquiry Results
  9. Results of Reconsideration

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