This guide is for teachers who are renting their accommodation in China on their own. Some accommodation is organised by the employer or, if you’re a student, by the learning institution. In such cases the institution will usually help arrange things.
Upon arrival in China with your Work Visa, you will be required to register your address with the police. This is called the Police Registration or Police Interview but the former is a more accurate description.
Movement within China for foreigners (and also locals to some extent) is closely monitored. So if you stay at a hotel when you arrive, you will need to show your passport and register. Then you cannot leave the province that you arrived in until you have your Residence Permit.
Once you move in to your new flat or house, you will need to register again with the police. Once you register, you are given a piece of paper that is then used to apply for your Work Permit, which then lets you get the Residence Permit.
To get this piece of paper you will need a few things:
- Your passport
- Photocopies of your passport: You will need a) the passport photo page; b) the visa page; c) the entry stamp page
- Proof of employment: Get this from your employer, it can be the employment contract but your employer may provide you with a single stamped sheet with your details as proof. Both work.
- A copy of your Rental Agreement
- A copy of the landlord’s Property Deed
- A copy of the landlord’s ID: This is included in the landlord’s Household Register Booklet or Residence Booklet and includes a citizen ID number
- Proof of Accommodation (住宿证明): I obtained this from the office of the estate where I rented my apartment. My estate agent helped me acquire it. You will need items 4 to 6 to get this.
Take these to the police station and give them to the officer. You will be asked for your phone number too and be registered onto the system.
Once they’ve registered you onto the system they’ll print out a document which you then sign. Then you will get a slip of paper with your details on it to provide your employer or learning institution.
The first time I registered with the police was in my last job in Guangdong province. My employer handled my accommodation and so a representative took my passport for a day to complete the police registration. I never needed to attend myself.
It depends on where you go and how your accommodation is handled. I now work at a university in Sichuan Province and I handled accommodation myself. The police here are quite used to doing registrations at this time due to international students and teachers all arriving in the summer for the Autumn semester so it was smooth. I waited for about twenty minutes and the registration took about fifteen minutes. There was no need to book an appointment but be aware that 12 pm to 2 pm is usually lunch time so there may well be a morning and afternoon time slot.
It’s also worth noting that if you’re moving house but staying within the same province or even city, or with the same employer, certain documents and evidence might not be needed.
Always ask your employer and also your colleagues for advice. This was the notice at the police station where I went:
As is often the case in China, different people have different experiences with the bureaucracy.
Share yours in the comments below and feel free to ask any questions.