How to Get a Certificate of No Criminal Record in China – A Guide for Foreign Residents

Posted by Written by Arendse Huld Reading Time: 5 minutes

Foreign residents living in China can request a criminal record check from the local security bureau in the city in which they have lived for at least 180 days. Certificates of no criminal record may be required for people leaving China, or those who are starting a new position in China and applying for a new visa or residence permit. Taking Shanghai as an example, we outline the requirements for obtaining a China criminal record check.

Securing a Certificate of No Criminal Record, often referred to as a criminal record or criminal background check, is a crucial step for various employment opportunities, as well as visa applications and residency permits in China. Nevertheless, navigating the process can be a daunting task due to bureaucratic procedures and language barriers.

In this article, we use Shanghai as an example to explore the essential information and steps required to successfully obtain a no-criminal record check. Requirements and procedures may differ in other cities and counties in China.

Who needs a no-criminal record certificate in China?

A criminal record check is required for foreign residents when they seek to apply for a new work or study visa whilst already living in China. Some people may also need a criminal record check from China when they apply for a certain job position, visa, or other official matters in another country after having left the country.

Note that foreigners who are not currently living in China and need a criminal record check to apply for a Chinese visa must obtain the certificate from their country of residence or nationality, and have it notarized by a Chinese embassy or consulate in that country.

Who can apply for a no-criminal record certificate in Shanghai?

Foreigners who have a valid residence permit and have lived in Shanghai for at least 180 days can request a criminal record check in the city. This means that the applicant will also need to currently have a work, study, or other form of visa or stay permit that allows them to live in China long-term.

If a foreigner has lived in another part of China and is planning to or has recently moved to Shanghai, they will need to request a criminal record check in the place where they previously spent at least 180 days.

How to get a Certificate of No Criminal Record in Shanghai

There are two steps to obtaining a criminal record certificate in Shanghai: requesting the criminal record check from the Public Security Bureau (PSB) and getting the resulting Certificate of No Criminal Record notarized by an authorized notary agency.

Requesting a criminal record check from the PSB

Individuals can request a criminal record check by themselves or authorize another person to do it on their behalf.

Companies can also request a criminal record check for their current or prospective employees. However, companies must comply with the provisions of laws and administrative regulations regarding employment prohibitions.

Foreign individuals in Shanghai must apply for the criminal record check at the Entry-Exit Administration Bureau of the PSB, located at 1500 Minsheng Road, Pudong New Area.

China criminal record certificate

Sample Certificate of No Criminal Record. Source: Ministry of Public Security.

According to the Provisions on the work of public security organs in handling criminal record inquiries (the “provisions”) released by the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) in 2021, requests by companies on behalf of an employee will be handled by the local PSB in the employee’s place of residence. If the employee is a foreigner, the request will be handled by the Entry-Exit Administration Bureau of the PSB at or above the county level of the company’s place of residence.

Foreigners requesting a criminal record check should submit the following documents:

  • Original valid passport (as well as any previous passports covering the period in which the applicant has lived in Shanghai);
  • Photocopies of the photo page, visas, and residence permits covering the period the application has lived in Shanghai;
  • A copy of a Foreigner Temporary Accommodation Registration Form, which can be obtained from the applicant’s local police station;
  • The foreigner application form, which can be downloaded from the MPS website but is usually also provided at the Entry-Exit Bureau; and
  • If the applicant entrusts another person to submit the application, a power of attorney and the trustee’s valid identity document.

If an individual requests a check more than three times within a year, they must submit relevant materials proving that the request is for reasonable purposes.

If a company requests a check on behalf of an employee, it must submit the following materials:

  • A letter of introduction from the company;
  • The valid identity document of the company’s person in charge;
  • An application form stamped with the company’s official seal; and
  • Relevant materials indicating that the person for which the check is being requested is an employee or prospective employee of the company or a person to be recruited.

For individual requests, if no criminal record is found for the applicant, a “Certificate of No Criminal Record” will be issued. Once the processing is completed, the applicant or entrusted person must go back to the department where they applied to pick up the certificate. If a criminal record is found for the applicant, a “Notice of Refusal to Issue a Certificate of No Criminal Record” will be issued instead.

For requests made by companies, the results will be communicated to the requesting company in the form of a “Notice of Inquiry.”

Timeline for receiving criminal record results from PSB

According to the provisions, if the department in question is able to process the request immediately, it should be done on the spot. If immediate processing is not possible, the department should issue an “Acceptance Receipt” to the applicant or the requesting company (or third-party person), and the processing should be completed within three working days.

However, in practice, the processing may take longer than the stipulated time limit and can take up to two weeks.

In some cases where the situation is complex, and further investigation and verification are required, the processing time may be longer. The time taken for investigation and verification is not counted towards the processing time.

Notarizing the Certificate of No Criminal Record

After the applicant has received the Certificate, they must apply for notarization at a notary office. The notary office will verify the contents of the Certificate with the PSB. It will then notarize the certificate if the PSB confirms that the information is correct.

Several notary agencies in Shanghai can notarize Certificates of No Criminal Record in Shanghai, such as the Shanghai Dongfang Notary Public Office.

According to the Shanghai Dongfang Notary Public Office, the following materials must be submitted when applying for the notarization:

  1. Valid passport (if the passport has been updated, the old passport for the period of residence in China must also be provided),
  2. Photocopies of the photo page and all visas and residence permits covering the period of residence in Shanghai;
  3. A copy of a Foreigner Temporary Accommodation Registration Form;
  4. Proof of work or study in Shanghai, such as foreign employment certificate, labor contract, tax bill, and employment certificate issued by the company. Students can provide a student ID card, certificate of enrolment, and graduation certificate;
  5. Accompanying family members must provide proof of kinship with the employed person (such as marriage or birth certificate);
  6. Original copy of the Certificate of No Criminal Record issued by Shanghai Exit-Entry Administration Bureau; and
  7. If the applicant has entrusted someone else to handle the procedures, power of attorney, and the trustee’s identity document.

The processing time for the notarization may depend on the notary service but can typically take two weeks.

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