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Certificate of Temporary Residency
Certificate of Temporary Residency (CTR)

By law all foreigners must register with local Police within 24 hours of entering China (72 hours in rural locations). This is done for you automatically if you are staying at a hotel - so you have no need to worry about it. Hotel staff will ask to see your passport, fill in the forms for you, and hand back your passport. They will not keep your passport, as you are supposed to carry this with you at all times

If you are not staying in a hotel, you will need to register with the local Police - it is a simple formality. Each small city district will have many Police Offices, but only one will process and issue Temporary Residency Certificates. This may be miles away from where you are living, and you will probably need help finding it.

Despite what regulations dictate, the one local Police Office dealing will normally only have a few specific staff to process you, and they will invariably only work 'Bank Hours' ie: 9 to 5 Monday to Friday, with 2-hour break for lunch. If this is your first visit to China, or you are an independent traveller, then we strongly urge you to go to the relevant Police Station within the 24 hour period - at least you have tried to register. Old hands will know the local system well, and be well known by the local Police also = no problem

The first time you register can be quite a lengthy process - and this applies every time you change to a new location! However, it becomes a quick formality for all subsequent visits once you are logged in the local system.

Generally you will need the following:
* Passport with current visa.
* One passport type photo.
* Photocopies of your personal passport page, and current visa showing entry stamp - which you should provide.
* You may also be required to fill in a form or book entry, briefly stating your address and other details in Chinese characters - you may need a friend to help you with this, as officially Police cannot do this for you!
* Once issued, this form also requires a round, red, official stamp or seal, which is normally done as part of a seamless process.
* The Certificate when issued is a page in convenient A4 size, which can easily be folded to fit your wallet

All Chinese must carry their Identity Card with them at all times. This in turn means Foreigners must carry their passport. However, those in possession of a Certificate of Temporary Residency may carry this instead, and it is valid for all purposes within China, except things such as buying a car or placing orders with China Telecom.

Regional Variations

The above is the standard form for issue of this certificate, but the national policy is interpreted in differing ways by regional city governments. By this I mean large state governments below Province level, and above City level. Guangdong Province has approximately 18 of these, each comprising of 5 or 6 counties.

Each of these City Districts has its own version of issue criteria for the Certificate of Temporary Residence.

I lived in Foshan for 6 years, and the basics were as given above. I have since moved to neighbouring Tai Shan City proper, which is also capital of Tai Shan City District. However, this in turn forms part of Jiang Men City District Upper Level, and they have a different set of rules.

In essence we are moving away from an area where it is common for foreigners to live, to an adjacent area where it is more unusual. In Jiang Men City they implement an additional policy of only allowing processing of CTR supported by invitation. This should pose no problems to those who have a business visa, as this already includes a company invitation to come and stay in China.

I personally have an extended L or Tourist visa (Cheapest option until June 2010), and therefore need to supply additional information to above as listed below:
* Family book of my spouse's family.
* My spouse in person.
* My spouse's Chinese Identity Card.
* My house rental contract.

Having attended at the first opportunity, we were then allowed 2-months 'Grace' before needing to complete the registration process. This was probably due to the fact my current visa is: single entry, 90 day stay (No exit every 30-days). Your situation may be different.

It is common for the family head to keep the Family Book, and in our case this was my Father-in-Laws Brother. We returned with all credentials required within a week to complete formalities. However, this was only for the initial registration, as all future ones will be completed quite simply by myself only.

Note: the 2-months 'Grace' period means exactly that, and we were warned that we would be fined and annotated to official records if we strayed into month 3!

China Expats believe other areas may operate slightly differing policies, and we look forward to hearing from you if you have had other experiences?
This information is as supplied by the Chinese Embassy in UK, as dated 20th June 2008, and/or other reliable sources. Please check this information yourself as it may alter without notice, and whilst we try our best to ensure it is correct, please do not hold us responsible for any errors - this is intended as a simple guide only
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