China: Foreign Nationals Must Register Their Residence with Local Police within 24 Hours

Foreign nationals in China must register their temporary residence with the public security bureau (PSB).

This registration is a prerequisite to filing with the PSB Exit-Entry Administration an application for a new visa, stay certificate, or residence permit.

In many cities, no police certificate will be issued to a foreigner unless temporary residence registration was previously completed.

Here’s a FAQ:

Q1: What does the Exit-Entry Administration Law require?

“Article 39. If a foreigner stays in a hotel in China, the hotel shall register their accommodation (住宿登记) according to public security management provisions for hotels, and report accommodation registration information of the foreign to local public security organs.

“If a foreigner resides or stays in a dwelling place (住所) other than a hotel, they or the persons who accommodate them shall, within 24 hours after the foreigner’s arrival (入住) at that dwelling place, go through the registration formalities with the public security organs in the place of residence.”

Q2: What are the penalties for failure to register?

“Article 76. Under any of the following circumstances, a warning shall be given, and a fine of not more than RMB 2,000 yuan may also be imposed: ….”

“(6) Persons concerned fail to go through registration formalities in accordance with the provisions in the second paragraph of Article 39 of this Law.”

Q3: What are the procedures for registering if you are staying at a hotel?

The hotel will register you. When you check in, the hotel is supposed to copy your passport and then file your registration online with the public security bureau within 24 hours, according to the Measures for Safety in the Hotel Industry.

In May 2024, the Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of Commerce, and the National Immigration Bureau announced they were requiring hotels to stop refusing foreign guests on the grounds that “the hotel lacks a license to receive foreigners.”

Previously, in Beijing, foreigners could stay at any hotel. Rules restricting them to just certain hotels were cancelled in 2006. But some localities–such as Henan Province and Lhasa–still had hotels not open to foreigners (非涉外旅馆). The country’s largest budget hotel chain, Jinjiang Inns, noted on their website that some of their hotels were off-limits for foreigners.

Q4: What are the procedures for registering if you are staying some place other than a hotel?

You or the person whose home you are staying at should register with the police within 24 hours of the time you arrive at that home. Most commonly, registration is done at the local police station (派出所), but in some locations this is done at a police substation (警务室) or foreigner services station (外国人服务站), according to the National Immigration Administration.

You will need to present your original passport and copies of the ID page, visa (or residence permit or stay certificate), and PRC entry stamp. If your current passport is not the one you used to enter China, then also bring the old passport and copies of the relevant pages.

If you are staying in your own home, present the lease or deed. If you are staying at another person’s home, present the host’s hukou (户口簿). If the hukou doesn’t list the address where you’re staying, the host may be required to present a lease or deed as well.  Bring copies of these documents for the police to keep for their files. Don’t be surprised if the host at an AirBNB or an illegally rented apartment doesn’t cooperate.

Be prepared for some local variation in procedures. For example:

  • In Beijing, you may be required to present a letter from the neighborhood where you live or from your apartment complex’s management company (物业).
  • If you are staying at the hospital in Beijing, you will need the hospital’s residence registration certificate issued to you.
  • You may be asked to present your previous TRRF.
  • Some places will allow a third party to register on your behalf.
  • If you are in an area generally closed to foreigners, you may need to show a travel certificate (旅行证) authorizing your presence.
  • You may be required to submit 1 or 2 photos.

Q5. What is the registration procedure at a college or university or work unit with foreigners living on site?

According to the National Immigration Administration, colleges and universities that enroll foreign students and work units with foreigners living onsite can apply for registration to the local public security agency on behalf of foreigners living there.

Q6. Is it possible to register online instead of in person?

Effective October 2019, it’s possible to register online in Shanghai. Read more. Shenzhen also allows registration online.

Q7: What evidence of registration will be provided to you when you register?

When you register at the local police station, you will be given a Temporary Residence Registration Form (TRRF or 临时住宿登记表). The form looks different for each city–here are examples from Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shenyang.

If you are staying at a hotel, you should ask for the TRRF at the time you check in. Here’s an example from Shanghai, referred to as a Registration Form of Temporary Residence. Note the hotel’s stamp, check in date, and check out date:

Registration Form of Temorary Residence

Q8: If your application to the PSB for a new visa, stay certificate, or residence permit is pending, can you use the acceptance receipt to register?

If you’ve applied to the public security bureau’s exit-entry division for a new visa, stay certificate, or residence permit, you should–at least in theory–be able to use the acceptance receipt for your pending application to register your temporary residence.

Q9: Does a foreign national need to re-register each time she returns from a trip to another city or country?

The answer is different for a person with a visa versus a person with a residence permit.

A person with a visa should register after each move to a new place within China (hotel, apartment, etc.) and each time she returns to a place from abroad.

In contrast, for persons holding a valid, unexpired residence permit, the answer is not so clear:

  • At the national level, instructions written by the Ministry of Public Security prior to enactment of the Exit and Entry Administration Law (and not updated since) say yes, re-registration is required. Draft regulations implementing the new law said that “a foreign national possessing a residence permit that indicates his or her place of residence need not re-register that accommodation” upon returning from another place. But that provision was deleted from the final regulations, so it’s not authoritative.
  • So check your local rules. For example, the PSB in Fujian province and Guangzhou says a person with a residence permit returning to their previously registered China address need not re-register.

Q10: Does a person who has just obtained an extension of his or her visa, stay certificate, or residence permit need to re-register?

The Exit-Entry Administration Law is silent on this, but the best practice is to re-register. Some local governments (e.g., Fujian Province and Fengtai District in Beijing) explicitly require it. Besides, when you’ll go to extend your visa, stay certificate, or residence permit again, you’ll need a current Registration Form of Temporary Residence at that time.

Q11: How do you register when you are camping or staying in a recreational vehicle?

Unclear. According to former rules which have been repealed, both the foreign national lodging in “movable living facilities” and the person who provides the site where the foreign national is staying must register.

Who Is Reading This Article?

This article is cited in James Palmer, Is UNESCO the Next Arena for U.S.-China Tensions, Foreign Policy (June 13, 2023), which argues that enforcement of temporary residence registration systems is increasing.

93 responses to “China: Foreign Nationals Must Register Their Residence with Local Police within 24 Hours”

  1. Marian Rosenberg Avatar
    Marian Rosenberg

    It’s a bit of a hobby of mine trying to prove that most hotels which say “we don’t accept foreigners” hotels are only 非涉外 because they (or someone at their local police station) personally doesn’t want to deal with foreigners and not because there are any current laws.

    If you’ll notice in your link for Henan, although it was posted online in 2013, the law in question is from 1989. I’ve got links from between 2000 and 2009 for various parts of Henan 取消境外人员定点住宿限制等.

    Not quite as official as the specific law you linked to but, I’m wondering what the current law is called as every search I did for 河南旅馆业治安管理办法 brings me back to the same 1989 law.

    1. Gary Chodorow Avatar
      Gary Chodorow

      Marian: I won’t comment on whether your “hobby” is, uh, unique. People who live in glass houses and all that. Seriously, the purpose of this blog is discussion, so I’m happy to hear from you. I’m certainly no expert (or even novice) on Henan law, but here’s the quick take of a Henan lawyer in our office: the Henan rule (河南省《旅馆业治安管理办法》实施细则) linked to above is still in effect per 法律图书馆. It was actually amended in 2011, but the article related to hotels not open to foreigners was left in place.

      1. Marian Rosenberg Avatar
        Marian Rosenberg

        Re: Glass Houses – When I’m not actively being paid for my ability to read Chinese, open ended research projects give me the motivation to continue studying.

        If the Henan law is still in effect, what would the 取消境外人员定点住宿限制等 be referring to?

        I’ve had less aggressive (less fluent) friends give up on cycling trips (or take a bus to the border) because they were tired of camping but no hotel would take them.

        Once I’ve reached my personal maximum limit of no more than three hotels telling me “foreigners can’t stay here”, my usual approach is to go annoy the officers at the local 派出所 until they grudgingly tell me I can stay.

        I’ve never had a situation that started as “you can’t stay here” continued through talking to the police and ended with anyone actually being able to show me any documentation of any kind to support my inability to stay there.

        1. Gary Chodorow Avatar
          Gary Chodorow

          Marian: I bet you could add a chapter to Yury et al’s famous book on negotiation, “Getting to Yes.” Thanks for checking in, and I hope we can get to the bottom of the 非涉外 hotel issue. Then you’ll need a new hobby, though.

  2. pbdecker Avatar

    Agree 100% with Marian’s comment; I’ve been turned down from hotels in Beijing’s suburbs that say they don’t accept foreigners–pretty sure it’s just managers who don’t want to deal with foreigners/the hassle of registering us.

    I do have a question, I live in Xiamen, and was given only a 6 month work visa this time around, which to my understanding was ‘punishment’ for not registering within 24 hours of arriving back in the country following winter vacation (same thing happened to my colleague). Just a little bit of a hassle for me as I’ll get another 6 months when this is up (more hassle for my employer), but my question is two fold. First, is there a way to register with the PSB for a night’s stay on a train? For example, let’s say someone arrives in Guangzhou on the morning of the 20th, then takes a night time 14 hour train ride to Xiamen and arrives at noontime the next day. They’ve now been in China for more than 24 hours without registering with the police, which as I’ve learned here in Xiamen could be a problem in some municipalities.

    Secondly, what about the weekends? I’ve tried to register myself at the PSB police station on a Saturday or Sunday before and been told to come back on Monday, by which time my registration was already technically overdue (again as I learned here in Xiamen, there is a big difference between something being ok with the local PSB and being ok with the National Registration System for Foreigners)…

    1. Gary Chodorow Avatar

      Hi PB:

      Let’s start with your example of someone who spends less than 24 hours in Guangzhou then takes a 14-hour train ride to Xiamen.

      Art. 39 of the law says:


      For foreigners who reside or stay in domiciles other than hotels, they or the persons who accommodate them shall, within 24 hours after the foreigners’ arrival, go through the registration formalities with the public security organs in the places of residence.

      No registration was required in Guangzhou because you didn’t stay in any domicile there for 24 hours. And even if the train ride were 24 hours long, I’d like to think that the train doesn’t count as a “domicile,” so no registration is required. Requiring registration could pose logistical problems: at least according to the old rules mentioned above, a person living in “movable living facilities” and the person who provides the site must register together at the police station. Not sure how that would happen.

      As a practical matter, when you get to Xiamen, you may want to carry your plane ticket showing time of arrival in Guangzhou plus your train ticket, thus establishing the timeline under which you weren’t required to register earlier.

      As to your second question, in which a police station told you to come back on Monday because they have no staff to register you on the weekend, that is something I’ve experienced. I’ve never heard of this kind of late registration being a problem. Have you? (I guess it’s possible to ask the PSB to back date the registration form).

      1. pbdecker Avatar

        Thanks for the reply and explanation! As things have been explained to me (and granted, it’s possible that I misunderstood the explanation/ was misinformed) , Xiamen strictly requires that foreigners be registered in the (national) PSB system within 24 hours of arrival (or re-arrival) in country. Last year I arrived back from spring festival on a Wednesday, and, as I had to work on Thursday, called the local PSB (I speak Chinese) on Thursday to say that I would come on Friday to register, they did not indicate this would be a problem. I re-registered on Friday, however 3 months later, I was only given a 6 month extension of my residence permit. My colleague, who also was late in registering, and who also received only 6 months, told me that this had happened last year to him as well and that this was because we were not registered in the PSB’s system within 24 hours of rearrival in China after Spring Festival. Hence my question about the train, as this is a situation that may pop up this upcoming winter.

        It’s a great blog, really enjoy reading it, and thanks for the comment!

    2. Marian Rosenberg Avatar
      Marian Rosenberg

      Sometimes, even though a hotel properly registers you, it doesn’t get into the system. Last March, when I went to Guangdong, I spent 5 nights at the Crowne Plaza City Center followed by three nights of random hotels while cycling. When I got back to Haikou and tried to re-register with my local police, they *couldn’t* re-register me because, according to their computer, I’d never left.

      1. Gary Chodorow Avatar

        Marian: Perhaps as a precautionary measure ask the hotel to print out a copy of the online registration and add their chop.

        1. Marian Rosenberg Avatar
          Marian Rosenberg

          Hotels’ printers fail more often than not, and asking for a printout may make some hotels hesitant to take you as a guest.

    3. L Avatar

      I’ve also been turned down by hotels in Beijing claiming that foreigners are not legally allowed to stay – including in the central part of the city (Dongcheng District near Houhai) as recently as 2011. I didn’t have time to follow the argument through and slept on a school’s couch (unregistered of course). In the suburbs, such as Fangshan, there are areas where seemingly no hotels will take foreigners.

  3. pbdecker Avatar

    And just realized I didn’t address your question- I don’t think I have heard of anyone getting in trouble for this either, but am still a little worried about the weekend scenario because of how uptight Xiamen seems to be, and also because I’m not even sure how possible it is for your average Joe Schmo PSB officer to backdate a registration in their system.

  4. Gary Chodorow Avatar

    PB: Thanks for the personal story. It illustrates that failure to register timely could result in not just a fine, as mentioned above, but also perhaps even denial of a residence permit. Under article 31 of the law:

    A residence certificate will not be issued to a foreign national in any of the following circumstances:

    (iii) failure to submit relevant evidentiary materials required by law;
    (iv) the foreign national is in violation of relevant Chinese laws and administrative regulations or unsuitable for residence in China;
    (v) other situations under which the issuing authority believes it is inappropriate  to issue a residence certificate.

  5. […] basic documents for a residence permit include passport with S1 visa, application form, temporary residence registration form from the local police station, and 2 passport-style photos. In addition, a health certificate from […]

  6. […] The officer also addressed accommodation for persons staying in places other than hotels: Upon entry to China, visa holders must not staying at hotels must report their accommodation to the local police station within 24 hours. In contrast, residence permit holders need not report following each entry. But both visa and residence permit holders must report within 24 hours of either changing their accommodations or getting a new exit-entry document from PSB. For more, see China: Foreign Nationals Must Register at the Local Police Station within 24 Hours. […]

  7. dave Avatar

    Hi Gary,

    Are you aware of a new rule that requests all foreigners that reside in China to inform the PSB if they intend to leave their city of residence for more than 24 hours? Our school has been informed this week that this is now required and is the responsibility of the employer to fax in the form everytime. This form requests our departure and return time, where we will stay and usual passport stuff. We live very close to Beijing and often go in for the weekend and this is now a hassle to do every week for us and the school. And making last minute decisions are not out of the question. It seems odd to me as obviously any hotel we stay at will register us with PSB anyway.

    Many thanks,


    1. Gary Chodorow Avatar


      Are you working in Henan? Here’s a Henan PSB (省公安厅出入境管理局) rule requiring employers to report to the PSB cultural and educational foreign experts who are absent without leave or go away for a week or more:

      第七条 聘请单位应于外国人工作、学习、访问交流等结束离去后24小时内将外国人离去的时间及去向报告原住宿登记的公安派出所。对其中旷工旷课离去不归的,聘请单位应于发现后12小时内报告原住宿登记的公安派出所。外国人离开聘请单位临时外出一周以上的,聘请单位应分别于外国人外出后、返回后24小时内报告原临时住宿登记的公安派出所。

      Article 7. Work units should report to the original police station where their accommodations were registered within 24 hours after foreign workers, students, visitors, exchange visitors, etc. depart. Those who are absent from work or class without permission and don’t return should be reported to the original police station within 12 hours of discovering their absence. Those who are going away for one week or more should be reported to the original police station within 24 hours of their departure and return.

      Hebei Province PSB Exit-Entry Administration, Assessment and Regulation of Work Units Hiring Foreign Culture and Education Foreign Experts (Provisional Rules)


  8. Nicola Avatar

    Good evening Gary,

    I’ve been living in China since 2008, always with a residence permit for work. I register my accommodations only when I need to apply for a new residence permit (and to renew my auto registration and driver’s license).

    I don’t re-register each time I re-enter China. This has never caused me any problems. It would be a hassle to re-register within 24 hours of re-entry 5 or 6 time a year, especially since I often arrive in a different city (Guangdong) for a couple days before returning to my apartment.

    But this morning my Italian friend that lives in my same city but a different district (Ningbo for me, Beilun for him) told me that the police warned him he may be find 2000 RMB (and the police station will also be fined!) for failure to re-register upon re-entering the country.

    I hope the rules can be clarified for the police and foreigners.


  9. […] September 1, 2013China Law, IntroductionGary Chodorow […]

  10. Tommy Avatar

    “If you’re staying at another person’s home, present the host’s hukou (户口簿)”

    What if staying in someone’s home, but not where their hukou is?

    1. Gary Chodorow Avatar

      Tommy: Find out if your host has a local temporary residence permit (暂住证), and call the local police station to see if that will be acceptable.

  11. dan Avatar

    In Chengdu, I went to register on my arrival, the police on duty said, “you don’t need to be serious about it, I’m going now, you may want come back another time.”

    In Shanghai, I went to register, the police on duty said “you need to make a copy of your passport outside then come back.”

    I said, “your fax machine is right there, why don’t you just do it? Besides, there’s no such service nearby.”

    “That’s your problem,” the officer replied. I left, and didn’t register on that trip.

  12. pcsh Avatar

    My fiancee is staying with me in Sanya. She has an S2 visa. Does she need to tell the PSB when she is leaving the country?

    1. Gary Chodorow Avatar

      PCSH: She doesn’t need to notify PSB when she leaves the country, but she’ll be required to register her temporary residence with the local police station each time she enters.

  13. Bill Avatar

    I’m under a tourist visa. If I enter the country and stay in a hotel the first night, can I move into a friend’s place from then on? Or do I also need to register at my friend’s place? Also, do we register at the district’s PSB station (far away), or the closest police station?


    1. Gary Chodorow Avatar


      The statute in Chinese is clear that you need to register within 24 hours after arrival (入住) at any dwelling place, not just at the first place you stay in the country.

      Also, the statute says to register with the public security organ in the place of residence (居住地的公安机). That’s ambiguous as to whether it’s the city-level, district-level, or other PSB. But in practice registration takes place at the neighborhood police station (派出所).

    2. Winnie Lee Avatar
      Winnie Lee

      Will be going to Beijing for 12 days later this year. I will be staying in Airbnb and confirmed with the owner that they will send our passport details and help to register for this permit. We are only staying in beijing for 4 days, then xi an for 3 day and louyang for 2 days then back into Beijing for 3 days. May I know if I have to re register everytime I stay in a new place?

  14. W99 Avatar

    Hi guys, I’ve ran into abit of a fix and hope someone can give me some ideas on how to proceed.

    I recently relocated to Shanghai and found myself an apartment. Paid the housing agency a fee, signed a 1-year contract and moved in, all was well. The 管理员 (receptionist) in the complex said I don’t need to register my residence with the local police station. When I went to the PSB to apply for a new residence permit, PSB told me that I do need a temporary residence registration. And when I went to the local police station to register, the officer said my apartment is not authorized to accept foreign nationals. What do I do?

    1. Gary Chodorow Avatar


      Under the Exit-Entry Administration Law, Article 44, public security organs and national security organs may impose restrictions on foreigners residing in certain areas “on the basis of the need for maintaining national security and public security.” It’s possible–but unlikely–that you’ve unwittingly moved into a compound, such as a PLA compound, where foreigners are not allowed. You may want to go back to the local police station and ask to speak to a supervisor to get more detailed information about whether you can register at this address.

  15. W99 Avatar

    I paid a visa agency to create a temporary residence registration for me at a hotel. But they told me that after I get my passport back I would have to re-register myself somewhere. If I don’t re-register, will this be a problem for renewing my residence permit next year?

    1. Gary Chodorow Avatar


      Obviously, there are risks in providing false information to the PSB in a temporary residence registration.

      As to whether you need to re-register your temporary accommodations after getting a new residence permit from PSB, see Q8 above.

  16. Asim Avatar

    I entered China 27 days ago with an S2 visa. I failed to register my temporary residence. Could this be a problem when I try to depart China?

    1. Gary Chodorow Avatar


      Unlikely. As mentioned above, the penalties for failing to register are a warning or fine of up to RMB 2000. Typically, enforcement takes place when an individual wants to apply to the PSB Exit-Entry Bureau for a benefit (e.g., visa extension, stay permit, residence permit). At that point, a temporary residence registration is needed, and when the individual who is out of compliance requests one from the local police station, the warning or fine is triggered. So if you may need such a benefit, you may want to get into get into compliance with the temporary residence registration now. Hypothetically, the the same rules could be enforced during passport control when leaving the country, but I haven’t heard of that.

  17. Dave Avatar

    Can I use a temporary residence permit issued by PSB to travel within China while PSB holds my passport for processing? Do you have any suggestions about how to do so? My problem is that the 15 days of processing will encompass the entire October holiday, so I will be stuck if I can’t leave town.

  18. Angie Avatar

    Thanks for the helpful information. One question that I cannot find the answer to anywhere. My layover is only 20 hours in Shanghai and I would like to stay at a friends apartment. Because it is less than 24 hours, would I still need to register with the police station? This seems awfully time-consuming for such a short stay. Thank you!

    1. Gary Chodorow Avatar


      There’s no explicit government rule on point. But the regulation can be reasonably interpreted to mean that you don’t need to register a “dwelling place” if your stay there won’t exceed 24 hours.

  19. Dave Avatar

    Two questions regarding this post:

    1. How do you account for several hotels in Beijing (Mudanyuan, in particular) just last week telling me they don’t accept foreigners?

    2. If I have a residence permit and I am registered with the police at my home, and I stay in a hotel (where they register me) for 4 days to another province, do I need to re-register when I come back home?

    1. Gary Chodorow Avatar


      1. See Marian’s comments above about why some hotels don’t accept foreigners.
      2. See Q7 in the above article.

    2. Marian Avatar

      My most recent experience with suburban Beijing hotels was in 2012. I was refused accommodation from a hotel with the standard registration system. I went to the nearby police station, was nicely told “no such law exists”, got a hand drawn map of all the cheap hotels in the vicinity and instructions to come back for an escort if none of those hotels would take me. I could check my blog entry but I believe it was hotel #6 that finally took me.

      With the exception of Shanghai (whose actual published rule both the PSB and the Tourism Bureau are equally unfamiliar with), I have yet to encounter any current valid _rules_ on No Foreigners Allowed.

      At any given mid-price hotel, a hotel clerk can do one of the following:

      a) take the foreigner’s passport and spend the next 40 minutes fighting the system
      b) take the foreigner’s passport and spend the next 20 minutes randomly filling in incorrect information just to get the system to eventually say “ok”
      c) borrow some Chinese person’s ID card and register them because they know how to do that
      d) just give the foreigner a key
      e) tell the foreigner “we’re sorry, this hotel does not have the license to accept foreigners”

      A is the correct option. It also takes a lot of time and effort while ultimately having no effect on how much money the front desk staff is going to make.

      Option B is popular at places that get a decently large number of foreigners. The last time I found myself at a hostel, I was really impressed by how little of my passport they looked at and how quickly they had me registered. However, in the event of an inspection by the police, it could get the hotel in trouble. It probably won’t but it could. Besides which, it requires knowledge of how to work the foreigner registration system and most hotels in suburban Beijing don’t have that knowledge.

      Option C requires that there be a spare ID card hanging about. If the hotel is the kind of hotel that has a pile of spare ID cards hanging about, you probably don’t want to stay there. Also, if the hotel gets inspected (out of 500+ room nights in hotels in China I’ve been in hotels that were inspected perhaps 5 or 10 times), the hotel cannot pretend (like they do with the Chinese people who didn’t want to use their name on check-in) that they didn’t realize that the ID card doesn’t match the face. They _will_ be fined.

      Option D requires the hotel be the kind where the front desk staff is trusted by the owners to be able to give out keys without the system logging it. This is more rural than it is suburban. In fact, the owner’s family is probably the front desk staff. They’re just happy to take your money. Unless of course they’ve recently heard about a friend of a cousin’s classmate whose brother’s hotel got inspected and who was fined a bajillion renminbi because they had a foreigner staying there who wasn’t registered.

      Option E is the easiest. It doesn’t involve losing any face by admitting “I don’t know how to do that”. It doesn’t waste time that could otherwise be spent chatting on QQ (the foreigner registration system is sufficiently painful that it can take me 5 to 10 minutes to register myself). It doesn’t risk the hotel being fined (or the employee losing her job). It’s perfect. And, unless you are in a moderately touristed area with police who actively want all foreigners to stay in specific hotels because it makes their job easier, it’s normally the reason you are being refused.

    3. Marian Avatar

      For the longest time my local police were of the opinion that so long as you had a current Temporary Residence Registration Form when you went to the PSB to get your visa renewed, all was fine.

      Then, they moved to a policy wherein they would appreciate if you could try to come back to them in the first week or two after you came back from overseas visits.

      Then, all the sudden, it was always being required to re-register no matter where you stayed even if you stayed in a hotel that was still inside Haikou County.

      For the past two years, all of my re-registering has been done by my assistant. My local police have repeatedly told her that she doesn’t need to keep wasting their time coming in to re-register me after something still in Haikou, still in Hainan, or (most recently after a trip to Shanghai) still in China.

      However, as I have an on-file signed thumbprinted statement that says I have been told the rules and will be fined if I break them again, I still get re-registered every single time.

  20. Roger Avatar

    Where does the responsibility (and the warning/ fine) ultimately rest in non-hotel cases – with the foreigner or with the person accommodating them?

    For example, suppose a foreigner is residing in a house leased to a Chinese person by a Chinese owner, and the two Chinese parties are in no hurry over to provide the paperwork.

    1. Gary Chodorow Avatar

      The legal obigation is on the foreign national. See Q2. So the best practice is to not move in until you’ve gotten a commitment that the owner or lessor of the house will assist you with registration.

  21. […] US & China Visa Law Blog (published September 2013) […]

  22. Sam Avatar

    Hi Gary,
    When I arrived in China with Q2 visa and Canadian passport, the hotel registered me. Next I moved to a hostel for few weeks, then I moved to couch surfing’s and friends’ place. Furthermore they didn’t register me during my trip.

    Before my visa expiration, I easily departed China and went to HK to obtain a tourist visa. I came back to China. Stayed in the same apartment before I left for HK.

    Your article got me thinking, Do I need to re-register at the local police station this time?

  23. Per Avatar

    Hi Gary,

    I arrived China on a Saturday and stayed with my wife’s family. The PSB was closed and opened on Monday. On Sunday we went to a rural area hotel where they were not able to register me even though they tried. I went with the hotel owner to the local police station on Monday but they said he was not allowed to accomodate foreigners. I took a flight back Monday evening and arrived after midnight at a hotel where I got registered. Did I break the 24 hour rule and could this be a problem when I want to renew my visa?

    All the best

    1. Marian Avatar

      It is far more likely that the police officer was lying because he did not know how to register you than it is for the hotel to actually not have the right to host foreigners.

      As for whether or not you technically broke the law by not being registered – yes. However, I’ve never heard of a foreigner getting in trouble for this.

  24. […] For details, see “China: Foreign Nationals Must Register with Local Police within 24 Hours” at . Prior to your entry, please give us a copy of your visa, flight itinerary, and information about […]

  25. […] is an excellent article on temporary residence registration right here, so I’m not going to go into any more detail as to what is involved. Instead, I want to move on […]

  26. Erin_B Avatar

    I’m reading about all these hotel problems in China. Travelling in Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam, we as foreigners can stay in every hotel. In China we were in Tibet, we paid for the worst hotels and guesthouses totally overpriced rates booked through a travel agent, because foreigners cannot travel in Tibet individualyl. But all other provinces in China will have some quality standards and will not allow foreigners to stay there? I totally recommend travelling with a rental car (SUV), folding down the back seats, and sleeping there. You can choose now every location in China and avoid traffic jams in the cities. Plus you don’t have to register because if you are sleeping only one night at one location and driving every day to another place, 24 hours later we are already in another province! Once a week stay in a 5***** hotel (Hilton, Novotel, Crown Plaza, etc.) and all the other days sleep in the car. It’s like camping – and go to nice restaurants. There is the possibility for a shower at service areas if needed. I’m wondering more people don’t travel with campers too.

  27. Ami Avatar

    This article was super helpful!! Thanks.

    A friend and I are going to be spending a month hitting quite a few cities in a short amount of time (super – tourists). I’m thinking that re-registering in every single place we’ll stay for 24 hours–especially since we anticipate staying in some air BNBs (and not hotels)–is going to be a pain. Any tips?

    Thank you!!

    1. Gary Chodorow Avatar

      A lawyer’s tip is always going to be to obey the law, even if it’s a pain.

      1. Gary Chodorow Avatar

        Here’s an anecdote of a person being denied entry under the Shanghai 144-hour transit visa waiver program in 2017 on the basis that in 2015, when staying at an airBnB, he failed to complete temporary residence registration with the local police station. Apparently, immigration authorities had also given him a warning when he left China in 2015.

  28. Ethan Avatar

    Hi Gary,

    I live and work in Xinjiang on a residence permit. An officer at the local police station has threatened that my residence permit won’t be renewed (thus requiring me to apply for a new Z visa) because I failed to register my temporary residence after a trip abroad. I’m going back to the local police station to confirm whether this threat can really be carried out. I previously had no plans to return home this year as it’s very expensive and inconvenient to do so.

  29. BacktoBeijing88 Avatar

    Question: If my residence permit is issued in Shanghai, am I allowed to live in Beijing and register at the Beijing local police station?
    I have some serious concerns about this as my company is telling me they will do my work visa and resident permit in Shanghai and then send me off to Beijing to work.
    These seems like it is not completely legal, or doesn’t sound legal to me anyway.

    Please let me know if I will be breaking the law by doing so.

    1. Gary Chodorow Avatar

      The problem here isn’t the legality of registering your residence. It’s that you are required to work at the Shanghai address shown in your employment license. The Exit-Entry Administration Law, art. 43(2) specifies that work outside the scope of your employment license is considered illegal employment.

      1. Quib Avatar

        Hi Gary,

        I’m currently living in Beijing and has work permit issued from there, plus registered temporary residence in Beijing. But planning to move to Shanghai and hoping to find a job there, so can I rent an apartment and register at the police station in Shanghai or you would suggest that I fid job first and then rent house? Because I know you need a local Temporary Registration to make a work visa from Shanghai.

        1. Gary Chodorow Avatar

          Quib: Perahps this isn’t really a question about temporary residence registration. Because for temporary residence registration, if you spend 24 hours in a residence in Shanghai (hotel, apartment, own home, etc.) then you need to register. Maybe your question is about making sure that you have a smooth transition from your current job to a new job in Shanghai, avoiding violation of status in the process. For more on this topic, see our Z Visa Guide.

  30. Casschina Avatar

    I rented an apartment using, moving in 2 weeks ago. The landlord took photos of my passport and assured me he would do the temporary residence registration for me. Today I went to the PSB in Beijing to extend my visa, and they told me I wasn’t registered anywhere. Who is at fault, my landlord or me? Should I register and try to extend my visa or just leave the country?

  31. […] China: Foreign Nationals Must Register with Local Police within 24 Hours – Chodorow Law Offices […]

  32. Shay Avatar

    hi Gary,
    i am on a tourist visa and recently am staying at an apartment registered in my name. I went to register the apartment when I signed the lease and have left the country and come back since to China. I am in the jingan district in Shanghai. I keep getting mix stories on whether I need to re-register with the police every time i leave and enter the country. I am on the L visa (10-year) and have an apartment registered. Do i need to re-register each time I come back to Shanghai?

    1. Gary Chodorow Avatar

      Yes. Persons with visas (as opposed to residence permits) must re-register each time they return from abroad.

  33. Caroline Avatar

    Hi Gary, I’m on tourist visa and I’m in China already a month, but I haven’t registered yet. Will I have any problems at the airport while going back to my home country? Thanks in advance.

    1. Gary Chodorow Avatar

      I have not heard of such cases.

  34. Tania Avatar

    Hi Gary,
    I went to Xiamen, China for the first time in February of this year with a tourist visa. I stayed with family who are working in China and not at a hotel. I realized as I was leaving the country that I was supposed to register at the police station but failed to do so. In your experience, if I arrive in China with an S1 visa, will I be rejected for a temporary residence permit? Thanks.

    1. Gary Chodorow Avatar

      That would be rare.

    2. Pat k Avatar
      Pat k

      I went to shanghai in May with a tourist visa and stayed at a hotel that my friend had arranged for me. I did not go to the police station to register as I was staying at a hotel but I’m not sure if the hotel had correctly processed my registration as I did not have to fill any forms when I checked in. They had only taken a photo of my passport. When I left the country I had no problems with immigration. I am going back to shanghai and this time doing the 144 hour visa free transit. Would I have any problem with entering shanghai?

      1. Gary Chodorow Avatar

        Pat K: See my above answer to Asim’s question.

  35. […] Do the HK ID card and HRP suffice to enter Mainland China? Or will he need to show his passport? If he needs a passport, should we get one from HK (considering the dual nationality issue in China)? I already read this thread but our situation is a little bit different (no HKSAR passport). Also, once we get to Mainland China, does he need to register with the Public Security Service? Or can he register upon arrival at the airport / temporary accomodation? HRP or Foreign Passport with China visa (or visa exempt/on-arrival) is needed to enter China. HK SAR passport isn't valid for entry to China. One point to note is that with a HRP, you're supposed to go to Chinese nationals queues v foreigners, so you and husband could end up in different queues. PSB registration is based on where you're staying – If you're staying at a hotel that has a license for foreigners, they do it. If you're staying with a friend/family, they're supposed to go with you to the local PSB within 24h. China: Foreign Nationals Must Register with Local Police within 24 Hours | Chodorow Law Offices […]

  36. […] Foreign Nationals and Individuals That Intent to Teach English in China Must Register with Local Police within 24 Hours. More information here   and   here! […]

  37. Khan Avatar

    if i am a residence permit holder, and i go to another city to visit and stay with my friend, in that case, do i need to register with the police of that (my friend’s resident) city?

    1. Gary Chodorow Avatar
  38. 李明 Avatar

    Hello fellow expats,
    I have a working visa and resident permit from Jiangxi and i recently travelled to Guangzhou and didn’t know about registering with the local PSB. And unfortunately when the police came to where I was residing, they confiscated my passport as usual which is understandable. They issued me with a letter to carry with me replacing my passport. When it got expired i went back and they asked me to give them return flight ticket. ( I wasn’t supposed to be returning home any time soon according to my schedule) but I had to buy one because i was so desperate on getting back my passport and the fear of my permit being cancelled! But once I went back to the bureau they saw the ticket and just issued me with another paper replacing the expired one. (It is usually valid for 2weeks). Now I’m going to spend more 2 weeks still waiting for my passport (making it full one month). They won’t tell me if I have to pay the 2000RMB fine or what to do. They keep telling me to come back later. And one officer said to come back again two days before my departure! I find this stressing. I’m now stuck in Guangzhou and cannot travel back to my city (Jiangxi).
    If anyone faced the same issue at some point please tell me your experiences.


  39. […] advised that foreigners are required to register with the Public Security Bureau (PSB) within 24 hours of arrival. If you stay at a hotel, they will take care of the registration for […]

  40. Genica Chavez Avatar
    Genica Chavez

    Hi! I have a problem on getting the accommodation form. We’re renting an apartment in Beijing thru ziroom. The agent doesn’t want to give us the contact of the owner of the apartment. We went to the police station and explained our case. The police couldn’t help us. The police said that we have to bring the owner there upon registration. But Ziroom doesn’t want to cooperate. What should we do?

    1. Gary Chodorow Avatar

      Sounds like maybe Ziroom’s business model doesn’t take into account the need for foreigners to complete the temporary residence registration process. If you can’t resolve the issue with Ziroom and your landlord, you may need to consider moving.

  41. Nicola Avatar

    Following this discussion for years is extremely interesting.
    I want share my experience, after 11 years in China on working permit, to add some info.
    Recently thanks to facial recognition, many Chinese hotels started to use a fully automatic check in procedure and off course they reduce the desk clerks numbers for cost reasons.
    As you can imagine this system can be applied only to Chinese nationals.
    So some hotel that before could register foreigners, now have no more people and less will to do that.
    If you use good agency like Ctrip, usually the aware you in advance if the hotel can’t register foreigners, but not 100% of the time.
    I’m not a huge hotel user, but i am always in Chinese brands and i got this problem twice in the last year….

  42. […] policy regarding a change of address is surprisingly similar to Thailand’s. All foreigners are expected to submit a change of address within 24 hours of their move. Hotels are used to taking care of this […]

  43. […] For more on the temporary residence registration process, see here. […]

  44. […] can have a wonderful independent hotel or Airbnb stay, but there are registration issues for non-Chinese tourists that chain hotels are more likely to handle smoothly. You can register yourself and each member of […]

  45. […] failed to complete the temporary residence registration (临时住宿登记) process when you lived in the city, or you have lost and the police cannot find […]

  46. David Avatar

    I didn’t register at the police station, and I’ve been in China for 30 days. I’m applying to extend my status for 30 days, so I need a temporary residence registration form as part of my application. THe police station told to come back tomorrow and that I might get fined. Any way to get this reduced to a warning?

    1. Gary Chodorow Avatar

      To the extent it is true, you can emphasize that you’ve spent little time in China, that you were not aware of the registration requirement, that the failure to register was not willful, that it was your first violation, and that you will be sure to comply in the future.

  47. Marian Rosenberg Avatar
    Marian Rosenberg

    Regarding the whole “getting to yes” negotiations thing you said some years ago… the Marian vs. The Men in Blue score is now 122 to 6 (lost 3 times, conceded 3 times cause I just didn’t feel like arguing).

    I have tried everything in my power, including provisionally agreeing to do what the police want (i.e. leave and go somewhere else) and offering the police large sums of money *if they could show me ANYTHING IN WRITING* restricting foreigners to certain kinds of hotels.

    However, I’m dropping in to mention that I went back to my local police to re-register after the latest trip (which included Hong Kong and Macao) expecting them to be not there and for me to need to fob it off on my staff the way I usually do, and the whole thing took less than 5 minutes, including standing in line behind other people.

    Also, in *theory*, per some contacts at the PSB, the local police stations are *supposed to* accept re-registrations (not initial registrations) from resident foreigners via multiple methods and are *encouraged* to accept phone-in, text message, and WeChat re-registrations as a method of ensuring compliance by intentionally choosing not to be a massive pain in the ass.

  48. […] SIM cards can be bought without needing to show ID, and that foreign residents do not need to go register with the police when they move to a new apartment, and that churches are not controlled by government authorities, […]

  49. […] 你没有完成申请临时居住登记的工作。警察找不到你的临时居住证副本。 […]

  50. […] systems of control that were once largely ignored, such as registering with the police for an overnight stay at a friend’s. Online censorship is more pervasive than in previous decades, and the foreign […]

  51. […] systems of control that were once largely ignored, such as registering with the police for an overnight stay at a friend’s. Online censorship is more pervasive than in previous decades, and the foreign […]

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