Residents Permit

China Residence Permit FAQ

China Residence Permit FAQ

(The following information is guidance, the Chinese government reserves the right to change, alter or cancel any part of the residence permit process or information.)

What is a residence permit?

A residence permit allows foreigners to live, work and study in China for extended periods, usually longer than 180 days.

I have a “X” “Z” “S1” or “Q1” visa that is issued by the Chinese Consulate, are they not residence permits?

“X1” “Z” “S1” or “Q1” are visas that allow entry into China. They are not residence permits. In most cases these visas are single entry, valid for 90 days and provide 30 days for you to obtain your residence permit.

Who can receive a residence permit?

  • Foreign national spouses and children or dependents of Chinese nationals who are currently living in China and intend to stay in China for an extended period.
  • Foreign students who intend to study in China for over 180 days. Foreign students that are studying less than 180 days will received an X2 visa with multiple entries for a 5 year duration and can stay in China for 120 days at a time.
  • Foreign employees who will work in China and their dependents (spouse/children)
  • Foreign nationals that have obtained the Q1 visa. For more information on the Q1 visa, please visit our Q1 visa page.

What are the types of the residence permits?

There are three types of residence permits:

  • Permanent residence permits (little green booklets) are issued to those holding a D visa and are renewable every 10 years.
  • Temporary residence permits are valid for 6-12 months. Generally required for visiting scholars or those entering for job training or those holding Q1 visa.
  • Foreigner Residence Permits are normally valid for one year and are renewable annually. They are the standard residence permits issued to most foreigners working in China and their dependents.

Where do you get a residence permit?

Residence permits are obtained in China at the local police station where they have a public security bureau (PSB) exit and entry administration. You must leave your passport with them for at least 15 days so arrange your travel in China around that. Your school or employer should have more information on this as well. If you are married to a Chinese national and are applying to stay as his/her spouse, it is best to visit the local police station that is responsible for your spouse’s residing address. If you enter China on a Q1 visa, you can apply at the local police station that is responsible for the address you will reside at.

What to bring to get a residence permit?

Each police station has different requirements and it is best to visit your local station for a complete list of required documents. Below is a general list of documents:

  • Your original passport with the respective visa matching the residence permit you are applying for
  • One passport photo (local police might require you to take the photos with their designated photographer)
  • Residence registration (you can obtain this from the local police station or your work/school might already have a copy)
  • The respective application form (each visa has corresponding application form, please inform the local police which visa you enter on)
  • For “X1” visa, you need to bring your school acceptance letter, for “Z” visa, you need to bring your job contract, for “S1” you need to bring your birth certification, marriage license and the “Z” visa holder’s original passport and/or residence permit, for Q1 visa, you will need to bring evidence to justify a longer stay in China.
  • For S1 visa, your dependent’s birth certification and/or marriage license should have been authenticated. If you need them to be authenticated while in China, please visit our authentication page. We offer authentication service for those documents without the original document.
  • Medical exam. You might have completed one already before applying for your visa, however, local police might still require one to be done in China at their designated doctor’s office.

Because of all the documents and exams involved, we advise you to start the process as soon as you enter China. Your employer or school should have more information as well.

What does the process involve?

Once you have completed all the forms and submitted the required supporting documents, you will have to wait for around 15-20 days before the residence permit is approved. During this time your passport will be held by the local police, so don’t plan any travels within the first 30 days of arriving in China. Once your residence permit is approved, you will receive a similar document that looks like the visa in your passport and that is the residence permit. Residence permits are usually valid for a minimum of 6 months and can be valid for up to 10 years. The expiration date is on the permit, so you can check the validity. Residence permits allow you to enter and exit China as many times as you like and stay in China for the duration of the permit.

How do I renew a residence permit?

Renewal of a residence permit is different depending on what type of visa you first obtained. For “S1” visas this is dependent on the “Z” visa holder. If the “Z” visa holder’s work is extended, and his/her residence permit is extended then “S1” visa residence permit will be extended. For “Z” visa holders, the residence permit is extended if his/her work contract is extended. In some cases, “Z” visa holders might have to return to his/her country of citizenship to reapply first. For “X” visa holders, if his/her studying is extended, then the residence permit can be extended, however, in some cases, he/she must return to the country of citizenship to reapply for entry. For Q1 visa holders, he/she must show continuous proof of necessity to stay in China.

Whatever visa you used to enter China, when renewing your residence permit, you must go to the local police station and submit applications again.

Remember to submit a renewal at least 30 days before your residence permit expires.

Final Note: Remember to exit China before your residence permit expires. If you have submitted a renewal and it doesn’t look like it will be ready before your residence permit expires, you will need to apply for a temporary visa. You cannot stay in China without a valid visa or residence permit.