Getting Around China’s PSB Hotel Registration

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July 14 – You’ve arrived late in a Chinese city, but you left your passport in your office. You need a bed for the night. What can you do?

At present, in many Chinese cities, such a scenario—being out and about, without a passport—will prevent you from staying in a hotel. As we reported last month, China has been clamping down on the law and insisting that all foreigners register “within 24 hours” with the local Public Security Bureau and provide their passport details. This obviously contains proof of who someone is as well as their visa status.

Inevitably, however, a handful of unlucky souls slip through the cracks, especially those traveling by train, coach or car. Maybe the passport was required for other China business registration purposes, or maybe it was just left it in a drawer by mistake. Either way – without a valid passport to help facilitate hotel check in, that person will be turned away, out on the street. So when without a passport, what choices does one have?

Curiously enough, rather good ones. China has a long history of massage, saunas, and therapeutic parlors—all legitimate, non-sleazy establishments at the high end of the market. With rates varying from RMB300–500 a stay, including the use of the facilities, these may be the only viable alternative if you get into trouble with finding accommodation in China. Every Chinese city has many of these, and they do not require a passport or PSB registrations to check in (sleeping over the night is legally classified as a “rest” rather than a “stay”). If you do get caught out with no hotel to stay at in China, just show this to the taxi driver:

“Can you please recommend a high quality, legitimate massage house with overnight accommodation?”


We’ve checked this personally—the system works. Check in, good facilities, great massage after a long day, comfortable rooms, no requirements to show a passport or undergo PSB registration. Waking up with a hot sauna ready before heading to the office is a pretty good deal. Like many things in China, inventiveness can often triumph, legitimately, over regulations. Happy traveling!