Getting a Temporary Residence Permit in China

In China, all foreigners are required by law to register for a temporary residence permit. The correct document name is “Registration Form of Temporary Residence”.

The law requires foreigners (referred to as “aliens”) apply for a temporary residence permit within 24 hours of entering mainland Chinaor moving residences within China. This is 72 hours if you are staying in the countryside). Although the offices are open only during business hours (Monday to Friday, 9 to 5, with a two hour lunch break), so they probably take that into account if you land early on Saturday morning.

The penalty of not applying for a temporary residence permit, and it is later uncovered, is a fine up to RMB 5000, possible revokacation of your existing visa. It can also hamper when applying for future visas, be it tourist, or work visas.

Staying in a hotel

When staying in a hotel, especially one catering for foreign tourists, this is normally done by the hotel on your behalf when you check in. The hotel concierge will ask for your passport and record your details.

If you plan on revisiting China again, it is worth checking that the hotel is doing the temporary residence permit in your behalf. Hotels for Chinese residents may not do this, so do ask.

If your hotel does not do the temporary residence permit on your behalf then you will need to do it yourself. So follow along with the process for staying with family and friends.

Staying with friends/family

If you are staying with a friend or family, then you have to do the application yourself. This is done at the local police station that covers the area you are staying. Your host should know which police station that is. In Futian, Shenzhen, our local police station has a specific office dealing with residencies.

As I understand it some local police stations don’t offer temporary residence permits. If you find yourself in that particular situation, then you need to find the Exit-Entry Administration Department office in your current or nearest city.

For Futian District in Shenzhen the address is:

Exit-Entry Administration Department of Futian Public Security Sub-Bureau
Building No. 105,
Jindi Industrial Zone,
Fuqiang Road,
Futian District
Tel: 0755-82918708

And for Shenzhen:

Exit-Entry Administration Division of Shenzhen Public Security Bureau
4016 Jiefang Road,
Louhu District,

You need the following:

  • Your passport, along with photocopies of your passport’s:
    • Photo / information page
    • Page containing the valid / unexpired Chinese visa you are currently using
    • Page containing the most recent entry stamp into China — you will need to find somewhere in China to make a copy of this
  • Two passport-type photos of you. For current Chinese travel visa applications they require colour photos, so to be on the safe side, provide two colour ones here too.
  • The current rental agreement (and a photocopy) of the place you are staying (your host should have this, in their capacity of either renting the premises or being the landlord). I recommend checking with your host that this won’t be a problem; some accommodation in China is provided without paying the 10% tax, and so the landlord may be reluctant to provide necessary details that suggest unpaid taxes. If you are staying in a hotel, then I guess the hotel address and contact details, along with photocopied proof you are staying there would be sensible.
  • A contact phone number, which can be used if authorities need to check any security-related matters. It is practical to use your host’s phone number if you don’t speak the Chinese.
  • Take your host along too. They need to bring their hukou (or in Shenzhen their residence card is an accepted alternative). Also they can help answer any questions/clarifications. Various districts do things slightly differently, including asking a few additional questions.

In our local office the above details are entered and printed out on a document that looks like this:

Chinese Registration Form of Temporary Residence for Guangdong

Some local offices may ask for additional information. So make sure you do have time to go in to find out, and quickly get any remaining information and revisit the office. The official guidelines stipulate more information, if you decide to err on the side of caution and completedness.

The overall process should take under an hour.

When in China foreigners must have their passport with them at all times (correspondingly Chinese citizens should have their Chinese Id with them). Foreigners can use their temporary residence permit instead of their passport, with a few exceptions.

Losing your temporary residence permit

The Futian District in Shenzhen website suggests that if you lose your temporary residence permit you should report it to the nearest police station and get a “Receipt of Case Reporting” in order to renew your visa and passport. And this is to be done at the Shenzhen Exit-Entry Administration Division in Louhu.


  • Can I use the temporary residence permit to travel within China while the PSB holds my passport for processing?

    • Yes, I believe so. I’ve seen it mentioned that carrying your temporary residence permit is an acceptable equivalent to carrying your passport.

      • Funny story that answers my own question: I got the temporary permit the day before the National Day holiday began two years ago. No hotel in Beijing would take it because it wouldn’t fit in the scanner they use for ID cards and passports, and the train wouldn’t accept it, either. I had to go to the police window at the train station and get a handwritten note. The handwritten note worked, but the printed permit with State Security all over it wasn’t acceptable. When I asked the station employee why, he said, “they are governed by state security law, but we are governed by railroad law.” Ah, China…

  • Hi! I want to live in china as an english teacher. Do I need an L visa at first and then apply for the temporary visa?

  • Temporary residency*

    • Hi Aiden,

      Have you been in China for how long?
      I’m Brazilian and I was teaching English privately, I mean, working by myself (not for any company or school) as a tutor one-to-one, in coffee shops, like starbucks, in Shenzhen. I had a “L” visa, 5 years, multiple entries. I lived in China for 6 years. (Of course I had other visas in the beginning) And in January of this year (2019) a person (mother of my former student) denounced me to the police. First she told I owed money for her. The official of immigration came and detained me for 30 days and deported me. Beside that I had to pay 20,000 rmb. The official told me I was working illegally since my visa was “L” tourism! Sorry to write only now. Hope you receive it. Best

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