Frequently Asked Questions
Updated: June 18, 2024 12:30

1. Mutual visa exemption agreements signed between China and other countries state that those eligible for visa exemption may "stay in China for no more than 90 days within any 180-day period". How should this provision be understood and how are the periods calculated?

National Immigration Administration: The provision "No more than 90 days within any 180-day period" means that the total number of days a foreign national stays in China must not exceed 90 within 180 days prior to any date. The 90-day period does not include the days spent in China under visa, residence permit and other visa documents or APEC Business Travel Card. The visa-free entry will not be granted to any foreigner whose cumulative duration of visa-free stay has reached 90 days within a 180-day period. In the case where a foreigner's cumulative duration of stay has not reached 90 days while the remaining period is less than 30 days, the visa-free stay period for the foreigner concerned for this entry shall not exceed the remaining visa-free stay period.

(Updated on June 18, 2024)

2. If a foreign national has successfully entered China under a mutual visa exemption agreement but subsequently lost his/her passport verified and stamped by a border inspection authority, can he/she leave China with an emergency travel document issued by the embassy of his/her home country in China?

National Immigration Administration: The types of documents accepted are specified in the mutual visa exemption agreements between China and other relevant countries, which in most cases, are passports. Some of these agreements also permit the use of temporary travel documents and other international travel documents. If a foreign national has lost his/her international travel document required by the corresponding mutual visa exemption agreement after entering China without a visa, he/she can leave the country with a re-issued document, provided that the document is one of those specified in the agreement and that he/she has not overstayed the visa-free stay period. However, if the visa-free stay period has expired or the new travel document is not covered by the agreement, the foreign national concerned will have to obtain a stay permit from the exit/entry administration of a public security organ, and then leave China within the period specified in the permit.

(Updated on June 18, 2024)

3. After a foreign national has entered China under a mutual visa exemption agreement, what should he/she do if he/she needs to extend his/her stay in China beyond the visa-free stay period?

National Immigration Administration: Any foreign national having entered China under a mutual visa exemption agreement must leave the country before his/her visa-free stay period expires. Those seeking to extend their stay in China due to emergencies or force majeure of other kinds must apply at the exit/entry administrations of public security organs before their visa-free stay periods expire.

(Updated on June 18, 2024)

4. For a foreign national who has entered China under a mutual visa exemption agreement, does he/she need to register his/her accommodation?

National Immigration Administration: Article 39 of the Exit and Entry Administration Law of the People's Republic of China stipulates that, for any foreigner staying in a hotel in China, the hotel concerned shall register his/her accommodation in accordance with the regulations on the public security administration of the hotel industry, and submit the foreigner's accommodation registration information to the public security organ in the place where the hotel is located. For any foreigner who resides or stays in a domicile that is not a hotel, he/she or the person who accommodates him/her shall, within 24 hours after the foreigner's arrival, complete the registration at the public security organ in the place of residence. According to the aforementioned regulations, foreign nationals who have entered China under mutual visa exemption agreements still need to register their accommodation.

The ARRIVAL CARD, which must be completed to enter China, provides clear information regarding accommodation registration in the "Important Notes" section in both Chinese and English. Foreign nationals shall complete accommodation registration in accordance with the information on the card and the relevant laws. The immigration management authorities and public security organs in China have streamlined the registration process, and are working to further simplify the registration and declaration procedures by utilizing the Internet and other related technologies for foreign nationals visiting China and those intending to stay in the country.

(Updated on June 18, 2024)

5. To use marriage certificates registered in Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions, Taiwan and foreign countries in the Chinese mainland, is it necessary to notarize the certificates?

According to Article 22 of the Law of the People's Republic of China on Choice of Law for Foreign-related Civil Relationships (Order No.36 of the President of the People’s Republic of China), marriages are valid if they conform to the laws of the locality where the marriage is established or the laws of the habitual residence, or of the state of nationality of one party.

To use the marriage certificates within the Chinese mainland, they should be notarized at the locality and authenticated by foreign affairs departments of the country or by the institutions authorized by those departments. Meanwhile, authentication by Chinese embassies or consulates in the country is also required.

6. Is it necessary to change my residence permit (still valid) along with my work permit when I move to another city in China for work?

Yes. For any changes to a foreigner's residence permit, the applicant should submit relevant materials or basic personal information, and materials for the residence change, to the local exit-entry department, to replace the old permit. For more information, please call the service hotline of the National Immigration Administration at 12367.

7. How many children can foreigners adopt at a time in China?

Foreigners may adopt one child at a time, male or female (unless the adoptees are twins or brothers and sisters living together).

If the foreigner who has already adopted a child in China wants to adopt another one, he or she can submit an application and family situation report, at least one year after the first adoption.

8. How many shares does the foreign capital in a listed company hold and still be termed a foreign-funded company or a Sino-foreign joint venture?

According to the Foreign Investment Law, foreign investment refers to the investment activities directly or indirectly carried out in China by foreign natural persons, enterprises or other organizations (hereinafter called foreign investors), including the following situations: foreign investors establish foreign-invested enterprises in China alone or jointly with other investors; foreign investors acquire shares, equity, property shares or other similar rights and interests of enterprises within the borders of China; foreign investors invest in new projects in China alone or jointly with other investors; other forms of investment stipulated by laws, administrative regulations or the State Council. And foreign-invested enterprises refer to enterprises that are wholly or partially invested by foreign investors and registered in China in accordance with Chinese laws.

9. In addition to changes in industrial and commercial registration, are there any other government approval or filing procedures when a wholly foreign-owned enterprise needs a stock rights transfer? Is Some Rules Concerning Making Changes in Stock Rights for Investors of Foreign-invested Enterprises still effective?

According to the Foreign Investment Law and regulations governing its implementation, commercial authorities no longer require approval and filing for setting up or altering a foreign-invested enterprise. Foreign investment should go through obligatory information reporting as required by the Foreign Investment Law, regulations governing its implementation and the Measures for Reporting Foreign Investment Information.

Some Rules Concerning Making Changes in Stock Rights for Investors of Foreign-invested Enterprises has been annulled.

10. Can a foreigner serve as a customs declarer in a Chinese enterprise?

No regulation has set nationality requirements for customs declarers.

11. Are foreigners allowed to become directors or supervisors of private non-enterprise units?

There are no provisions prohibiting this in related laws or regulations at present.

12. Are foreigners allowed to apply for patents in China?

Foreigners, foreign enterprises and other foreign organizations with residence or place of business in China are under the protection of patent rights. They have the same right to apply for patents as Chinese nationals under the patent protection. A foreigner, foreign enterprise or other foreign organization with no residence or business in China may apply for a patent in China under any of the following circumstances in accordance with the patent law:

(1) The bilateral agreement between China and the foreigner’s home country or any international treaty they're part of stipulates reciprocal patent protection;

(2) Where there is no bilateral agreement or international treaty, the foreign country’s patent law has granted patent protection to Chinese nationals.

13. What are the other types of visa exemptions, besides visa-free entry based on mutual agreements and 24/72/144-hour visa-free entry?

(1) Holders of valid APEC business travel cards. The APEC business travel card is equivalent to a multiple-entry visa good for 5 years. The cardholder may enter China within the validity period of the travel card with a valid passport consistent with the card. The duration of each stay can be up to 60 days or 90 days.

(2) Citizens of countries that have diplomatic relations with China holding ordinary passports and on a tour to Hong Kong or Macao, and part of group tours to the Zhujiang River (Pearl River) Delta Area for a stay of less than 6 days organized by travel services registered in Hong Kong or Macao, do not need to apply for a visa. The Zhujiang River (Pearl River) Delta Area refers to the following cities: Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Jiangmen, Zhaoqing and Huizhou. The policies are also applicable to group travel to Shantou, with direct exit from Shantou, and provided the scope of activities does not exceed the administrative area of Shantou.

(3) Citizens of the following countries holding ordinary passports are exempt from a visa, if they travel to Hainan province in a tour group (five or more people) organized by an international travel agency registered in Hainan province and approved by the China National Tourism Administration, and also if their stay is not to exceed 15 days: the US, Malaysia, Thailand, Republic of Korea, the Philippines, Indonesia, Germany, the UK, France, Austria, Italy, Russia, Switzerland, Sweden, Spain, Netherlands, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Japan, and Singapore. Among the listed countries, visitors from the Republic of Korea, Germany and Russia may stay for 21 days if their group includes two or more people.

(4) Citizens of Singapore and Brunei holding ordinary passports may enter China without a visa provided that they travel to China for tourism, family visit, business or transit, and intend to stay in China for no more than 15 days.

(5) Tourist groups from 10 ASEAN countries (Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Singapore, Brunei, Philippines) to Guilin for a stay of no more than 6 days organized by travel services approved by the Guilin Municipal Tourism Administration do not need to apply for a visa, with direct entry/exit from Guilin Airport.

14. Can a holder of foreign permanent residence ID card enter China without a visa?

Those who hold a valid Permanent Residence Card for Aliens of the People's Republic of China may stay in China, and enjoy multiple entries and exits without a separate visa.

15. What materials do foreigners or foreign companies need to provide for trademark registration in the Chinese mainland? Should the documents be translated into Chinese? What is the process of registering foreign trademarks via the online service system, and how does it operate?

If the applicants are legal persons or other organizations from Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan or other countries, they should submit copies of the registration certificates of the regions or countries to which they belong.

A copy of the registration certificate of a foreign enterprise's office or permanent representative office in China shouldn't be used as an ID.

If the document is in a foreign language, a Chinese version should be attached. Otherwise it will be deemed invalid.

Please visit the website of the Trademark Office of China National Intellectual Property Administration, and log onto "Commodity and service trademarks" under "Guidance to trademark application" for more detailed information.

If the applicant wants to submit the Madrid international registration application via the online service system, they should register and log onto the trademark online application system, fill in the information and upload materials onto the "international registration application" column in accordance with instructions on the website.

16. What is in a Chinese visa?

Registration items of a Chinese visa are as follows:

Type of visa, name of the holder, sex, date of birth, entries, period of validity for entry, duration of each stay, date of issue, place of issue, passport number or numbers of other international travel certificates.

17. What are the requirements for foreigners applying for a work permit in China?

Basic requirements for domestic employers:

Enterprises that hire foreigners should be established in accordance with laws and have no record of severe illegal or credit defaults. Job positions should have special requirements for foreigners, temporarily lack suitable candidates at home and do not break related laws in China. Salaries and wages should be no less than local minimum wages. And employers should apply to related departments for approval in advance if laws and regulations require.

Basic requirements for applicants:

Foreign applicants should be at least 18, in good health and have no criminal record. They should have identified employers in China and possess necessary specific skills or appropriate knowledge to engage in the work. The work should be in line with the needs of China's economic and social development, and employees should be technical personnel in urgent domestic need. If there are other provisions in laws and regulations on foreigners' work in China, such provisions shall prevail.

18. What is the procedure for hiring foreigners to work in China (working in China for more than 90 days)?

(1) Employers or trusted agencies should register accounts at the website of Services System for Foreigners Working in China, submit permit applications and print the Notification Letter of Foreigner's Work Permit in China.

(2) Foreigners could apply for Z-, F- or R-type visas at local Chinese embassies or consulates with the Notification Letter of Foreigner's Work Permit in China and other required materials.

(3) Employers can apply for the Foreigner's Work Permit Card online within 15 days after foreigners' entry in China with valid visas, and pick up the cards at local departments charged with foreigners' work in China.

(4) Foreigners should apply for work-type resident certificates at the entry and exit administrative institutions of local police organs within 30 days after their entry in China with valid visas.

19. Can a foreigner apply for Chinese nationality as a spouse of a Chinese citizen?

According to the Nationality Law of the People's Republic of China, foreign nationals or stateless persons who are willing to abide by China's constitution and laws and who meet one of the following conditions may be naturalized upon approval of their applications:

(1) They are near relatives of Chinese nationals;

(2) They have settled in China;

(3) They have other legitimate reasons.

Foreigners who want to apply for Chinese nationality as a spouse of a Chinese citizen should apply to the exit and entry administration department of the local public security bureau where their Chinese relatives are located and submit documents such as international travel documents, marriage certificates, and residence certificates in China for approval by the Ministry of Public Security. Residence certificate in China refers to Foreign Permanent Resident ID Card.

According to the Measures for the Administration of Examination and Approval of Foreigners' Permanent Residence in China, Chinese citizens' foreign spouses can apply for permanent residence in China if they meet the following conditions:

(1) They have been married for at least five years;

(2) They have stayed in China for at least five successive years with no less than nine months' residence per year;

(3) They have stable source of subsistence and a dwelling place.

They can visit the website of the National Immigration Administration of the Ministry of Public Security for further information on application materials.

20. Can two people of foreign nationalities register their marriage in China?

According to the Department of Social Affairs, Ministry of Civil Affairs, two people who are both foreign nationals cannot register their marriage with China's civil affairs department.

21. Why do Chinese visas have different types and categories?

A visa is the basis for the activities the holder may engage in while in China. In light of China's laws and regulations, Consular Officers make the decision on what type of visa to issue to an applicant based on the applicant's personal status and purpose for visiting China.

22. What is the relationship between the duration of stay and period of validity of a visa?

Duration of stay refers to the longest period the visa holder is allowed to stay in China from the date of entry into China on each visit.

The holder of a visa is eligible to enter China at any time prior to the expiry of its period of validity (allowed to enter China even before the 24:00 hour of the last date of its period of validity) provided that the granted entries on the visa have not been used up. Duration of stay is no longer useful once the period of validity expires.

23. How do I extend the duration of stay of a Chinese visa?

Some types of visas may be extended. You may apply for extension of the duration of stay of your visa at a local public security authority at the county level and above before the expiration of your stay. Overstay will violate the law of China and will result in punishment.

24. What would be the best time for me to apply for a Chinese visa?

It is advisable that you apply for a visa one month in advance of your intended date of entry into China, and do not apply 3 months earlier than your intended date of entry. Your visa might expire before your intended departure date for China if you apply too early; but if you apply too late, you might not be able to obtain a visa in time for your scheduled departure. For instance, if you plan to enter China on July 1, the best time for you to submit your visa application is the early of June. If you need express service or rush service, you will be required to pay an extra visa fee plus express service fee or rush service fee.

25. Where do I apply for a Chinese visa?

If you are ordinary passport holders of your own country, please submit your application to the Chinese Visa Application Service Centre. However, Holders of diplomatic and service (official) passports or applicants eligible for applying for China's diplomatic, courtesy, and service visas, and applicants applying for a visa /entry permit to the Hong Kong and Macao Special Administrative Region of China should still apply directly to the Chinese Embassy.

26. Can I apply for a visa online?

For the time being, you cannot apply for a visa through the internet, however you can complete your application form online.

27. I want to tour China by driving my own vehicle; what type of visa should I apply for?

You should apply for a L-visa for a special tour. A special tour includes: mountain climbing, self-driving, hiking, cycling, horse-riding, hot air balloon, or other expeditions. You need to provide a visa notification issued by China National Tourism Administration or the tourism administration of related province, autonomous region or municipality directly under the Central Government.

28. What type of visa should I apply for?

It depends on the purpose of your visit. Please see the section "A Brief Introduction to Chinese Visas". It is up to the consular official to decide on the type of visa to be issued.

29. How long in advance should I apply for a visa?

It is advised that you submit the application one month in advance of your planned date of entry. Application made too early may cause the expiry of the visa and you won't be able to use it in the end, but if you submit an application too late, there might not be enough time for the application to be processed.

30. What are the measures China uses to promote foreign investment?

Investment promotion refers a series of activities that governments adopt to attract foreign direct investment.

Investment promotion includes the following specific types of activities: advertising, direct mail, investment seminars, investment group, participating in the industry fair and exhibition, distributing materials, one-to-one direct marketing, preparing agenda for potential investors, facilitate interaction between potential investors and local partners, acquiring licenses and approval documents from the various government agencies, preparing project proposals, conducting feasibility study, and providing services to investors after the project begins to operate and so on.

Investment promotion does not include offering incentives to foreign investors, screening foreign investment or negotiating with foreign investors, although many organizations that are responsible for carrying out investment promotion activities also carry out these kinds of activities.

31. How can I get the latest information about Chinese Government Scholarship?

Please visit our website for up-to-date information. You can also consult the Chinese Embassy (or Consulate General) in your home countries or designated Chinese universities for related information.

32. Who qualifies to work as a foreign expert in China?

The term 'foreign expert' refers to foreign professionals who work in China in a capacity that is considered important for the country's economic and social development - at the invitation of the Chinese government or an enterprise, institution, multinational or other organization.

The following foreign professionals are eligible for foreign expert status in China:

1). Technical or management personnel – based upon specific requirements concerning agreements between governments or international organizations.

2). Professionals specializing in education, scientific research, news media, publication, culture, art, health, sports and other fields.

3). Senior technical or management professionals, at the level of vice-general manager or above - or a similar level.

4). Representatives of overseas organizations or agencies, accredited by the State Bureau of Foreign Expert Affairs.

5). Professionals specializing in fields such as economics, technology, engineering, trade, finance, accounting, taxes and tourism - with special expertise that is required in China.

33. Which department is in charge of these foreigners employed in China?

According to the Regulations on the Administration of Employment of Foreigners in China, foreigners employed in China are in the charge of the of people's governments of provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities and the authorized prefecture-level administrative departments of labor security.

Foreigners here refers to: people do not have Chinese nationality in accordance with the stipulations of the nationality law of the People's Republic of China; and the term "foreigners employed in China" here refers to the foreigners who are engaged in social labor and obtain the labor remuneration but have not obtained a residency in China in accordance with the law.

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