China Strengthens Enforcement of 24-Hour Registration Rule for Foreigners

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Aug. 15 – China’s new Exit and Entry Law, which came into effect on July 1, 2013, requires all foreigners to register with their local public security bureau within 24 hours of arrival in the country, and failure to do so will result in a maximum fine of RMB2,000.

The new Exit and Entry Law has laid down the following provisions regarding the 24 hour registration rule:

  • For foreigners who reside or stay in places 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 appropriate public security bureau near to the place of residence.
  • For foreigners who stay in hotels: Such hotels shall process check-in formalities for them in accordance with the regulations on the public security administration of the hotel industry, and shall submit foreigners’ check-in information to the appropriate local public security bureau.

In fact, the 24 hour registration rule has been in place since 2010 (with initial guidelines released in 2008), but enforcement has varied widely across regions. In previous practice, public security bureaus in many regions have not been particularly strict with the 24 hour rule, even though the Registration Form of Temporary Resident is a compulsory document required when conducting work permit registration. During such work permit application procedures in the past, the public security bureau has typically only checked if the foreigner had made the registration when the application was submitted, without paying particular attention to whether or not it was made within 24 hours of arriving in the country.

However, with China’s recent efforts to crack down on foreigners living and working in the country illegally, immigration authorities are expected to strengthen enforcement of the existing laws through various measures, including spot-checks of foreign nationals.

Therefore, it is strongly recommended that foreigners register with their local public security bureau as soon as they arrive in the country. Failing to do so will not only likely result in a fine, but may also substantially delay and/or complicate applications for resident permits with the Chinese immigration authorities.

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