How to register at the local police station?

Foreigners are required to register at the local police station within 24 hours of arrival (72 hours in rural areas).

It is important to register with the police in a timely manner to avoid a heavy fine or other consequences.

Chinese law requires foreigners to keep their police records with their passports at all times. Occasionally, officers may request to see this document, while in other situations, it may be convenient as a means of proving your address. The document is also necessary for renewals of work permits, visas, and/or residence permits.

The police registration can be completed in two ways:

In case you’re staying at a hotel

If you are staying in a first class or chain hotel, the staff will handle your police registration for you. If you are staying in a very low-end hotel, you will not be registered by the staff.

Despite the fact that foreigners are increasingly rare these days, not all hotels in China are open to foreigners.


In the local police station, you will need to find the foreigner registration window and present your documents. The officer will ask you for your mobile number and may ask you a few more questions. A form will be handed to you to sign and a copy will be given to you.

First-time registration documents

The following list is a general guide, some police stations may require some (or all) of these documents.

  • Passport containing current visa and most recent entry stamp
  • A photocopy of the current visa page and the most recent entry stamp page from the passport
  • A signed copy of your rental agreement or proof of housing (if you’re registering your own place) or your friend’s Registration Form of Temporary Residence (if you’re staying with them).
  • Copy of landlord’s ID card (if renting)
  • The landlord’s mobile phone number
  • Copy of house ownership certificate
  • Phone number for your local area
  • It is also necessary for your friend, who is staying at your house, to be present, and to bring his passport and form.

For some apartment complexes, this process can be handled at the management office through a special arrangement between the management office and the local police station, while others require that your landlord be present in person. The original ID card and housing document from your landlord may also be required by some police stations, or they may have special requirements.

For the registration form, you will need to provide your local mobile phone number. If so, you may receive text messages in Chinese reminding you to sign up.

If you register after the deadline, what happens?

In accordance with Article 76 of the relevant law, if you fail to register on time, you could be fined not more than 2,000 yuan or verbally reprimanded by the police.

Don’t challenge that and accept it (since you’re at fault anyway) so that your situation doesn’t worsen.

Getting a new certificate after returning from overseas

For faster and easier processing, you should bring your old “Registration Form of Temporary Residence” paper with you when entering China from overseas.

You should bring all of your other documents, in case they are requested, but generally, if your details have not changed, they will not need them.

Unless your status changes (e.g. an updated residency permit, a new passport number, or a new place of residence), many police stations do not require you to re-register every time you return from abroad. Each police station has its own requirements.

As a result, for short term visa holders requiring exits, your police station paper will no longer be valid at the end of your stay.

A new form must be obtained from the local police station within 24 hours if your details change (e.g. new passport number, new visa or residence permit, etc).

If you have moved to a new place, you must register with the local police within 24 hours. If the new place falls within the same jurisdiction, you can use the same police station.

Since most foreigners stay in hotels or with friends when they first arrive in China and then move to their own place, it is important to remember that your current registration at a hotel for example will expire on the day you check out, so the 24 hour rule still applies.