Check (in) with the Police – Part 2

Matt | Finding an Apartment,Police | Thursday, July 10th, 2008

Last week, a friend of mine followed my advice, to check in with the police as soon as they moved into a new apartment, and got burned.

In China, the police want to know where all foreigners (all people?) are living. So when you move, or if a friend comes to visit, you need to report in with the police. If you moved into a new apartment, you’ll need to bring your lease agreement, usually your landlord or maybe just her ID (she has to agree to sign you in with the police – something to confirm before you sign a contract), and your visa. With all this documentation, the police will sign you in, photocopy your information you’ll receive a


Which is a little white slip of paper that says you’re legally allowed to be living where you are.

Unfortunately for my friend, Moe, he was in a short-term living arrangement. He took over someone else’s lease. Moe’s previous tenants did NOT tell their landlord. Moe paid the new tenants the rent, the new tenants left and Moe tried to do the right thing and went to check in with the police. But when the landlord found out she said, “No Deal!”

It turns out that in most standard Chinese rental contracts the renters are NOT allowed to sublet the apartment legally. It happens, but this makes it difficult to check in with the police.

As Moe’s previous tenants actually did their landlord a favour by finding a new renter, the only thing they forgot to do was to inform the landlord they were leaving and that they found someone else to take over the place.

A better approach would probably have been for the old tenants to inform the landlord they were leaving, introduce Moe to the landlord, have the old contract torn up and have a new contract signed between Moe and the landlord. Unfortunately, this may have resulted in the old tenants losing a few months rent (as it’s paid 3 months in advance), but if you have a good landlord and a good relationship with her this probably will not be a problem.

So sometimes in China, the rules or procedures aren’t so clear cut. If you are legally in your apartment, then check in with the police. If you aren’t, try to get into a legal living situation, with the lease in your name, and then go check in with the police.

Check (in) With the Police

Matt | Police | Thursday, July 3rd, 2008

Last week I had a friend visit me from Japan and I was debating if I should check him in with the police station or not. In China, you must report and sign in all foreigners (foreign aliens is the direct translation) with the police within 24 hours of their arrival if they are staying with you.

Normally, I don’t like messing around with the police, but in this case my friend was only staying 2 1/2 days and his schedule was pretty tight. I knew we were running a risk. I even had an ominous sign when the security guards down in front of my building were handing out fliers to remind me of this law. But, I still disregarded this law and didn’t check my friend in with the police station.

And….things worked out fine. No security forces busted down my door.

But yesterday, exactly one week later, the police pounded on my door, and all the doors on my floor, asking to see my residence permit, passport and to see if I had anyone living with me. I had registered legally with them, so it wasn’t a problem. They were actually quite nice about everything and they politely reminded me if I have a guest stay that we should report to the police within 24 hours.

These are the rules in China and it was actually quite easy to register myself with the police the first time. All I needed was bring my lease agreement, my passport and my work visa. So I think having a guest stay would be easy too. I will register my future guests with the local police station if they are staying with me.

If your guest is staying in a hotel then it’s no problem as the hotel has a record of them and a copy of their passport. This rule only applies if your guest is staying with you.

I guess it’s their country and they are allowed to know who is staying in their country and where they are living.

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