Clarification on Foreigner Registration

Rae Dillon   |   August 24, 2021

There has been a fair amount of speculation and conflicting information in the last couple of weeks about foreigners having to register with police. Aaron Cannon, owner of Chill’s bar and manager of Shekou Pub, has been liaising with Jason, the Foreign Affairs Officer for Shekou police, to get the correct information out to everyone.

These are the key facts you need to know:

  • It is a legal requirement for all foreigners visiting or living in China to register with their local police station within 24 hours of arrival. If you are staying at a hotel this will be done for you (which is why you need to provide your passport at check in).
  • All foreigners must carry their passports and registration document with them at all times.
  • The Head of Shenzhen Police has given all foreigners until Friday 17th June to register. No questions will be asked if you haven’t registered before.
  • If you have already registered and your passport, visa, home address and employment are still the same you do not have to re-register when re-entering the country after a trip or visit to another country, be it a day in Hong Kong or a month in Thailand.

Most police stations are open from Monday to Friday 9am-12pm and 2pm-6pm. Check with your local station for exact times. You do not need to make an appointment; however, be prepared to wait. Although police stations have taken on additional staff to deal with the new registrations, there are thousands of foreigners living in Shenzhen so it is likely there will be many people queuing. You may also have to wait a couple of days to collect your registration document due to the increased amount of registration documents being processed. Please be patient and respectful of the officers and staff while you are waiting.

To help speed up the process make sure you have the following documents prepared:

  • Passport
  • Copy of photo page and visa page of passport
  • Copy of last entry stamp to China in passport
  • Original rent agreement
  • Copy of rent agreement
  • Passport photo (usually only needed for first registration).

Other documents may be required. You will be informed whether you need any additional documents by the officer processing your registration.

Aaron will be volunteering for the next few days at his local station in Shekou to help speed up the process and give information to foreigners. The police are asking for more foreigners to help out as well, so if you are interested in volunteering please contact your local police station.

The reason that it is a legal requirement not only to register with the police but also to carry identification with you at all times (a foreign driving licence is not accepted), is in case of emergencies. If something happens to you but you are registered and have ID on you, the police will know who you are, where you live and who to contact on your behalf.

Currently there is up to a ¥2000 fine for not registering, with the possibility of being deported. If you do get questioned or detained by the police for not having the correct documents, being polite and respectful will mean you are much less likely to incur charges than if you are aggressive and rude.

Once the 17th June deadline has been reached, there is going to be a city-wide door-to-door check of all foreigners by police. They are not doing this to intimidate or scare foreigners; the police are simply following orders, upholding the law and educating visitors to China about the legal requirements here.

At the end of the day, we are all guests in a foreign country and we need to respect the people, laws and customs of the place we are lucky enough to live in.