There are more foreigners living in Shanghai than any other city in China. Correspondingly, the city has seen a high demand for police certificates, aks certificates of no criminal record. In this article, I will discuss how a foreign national in Shanghai who is not a citizen of China apply for a China police certificate, also known as a police clearance certificate or certificate of no criminal record.
Where to Apply for a Police Certificate in Shanghai?
Unlike many other cities where local public security agencies issue police certificates to foreigners in Shanghai must apply to a local notary office. In 2016, Shanghai Notary Association issued “Notice on Launching the Online Information Look-Up System Connecting Shanghai Notary Association and Shanghai High People’s Court”. This Notice authorizes notary offices to issue police certificates to foreigners. Instead of checking with police, notary offices issue the certificates based on search results of the court database.
Shanghai has a total of 20 notary offices, but most applicants apply to the central notary office–Shanghai Oriental Notary Office. The reason is that most of the other offices are unfamiliar with the application.
You can contact Shanghai Oriental Notary Office at:
#1 Tel.: +86 (021) 6215 4848.
#2 Tel.: 4008214848
Address: Jing’an District, Fengyang Lu 598 Hao, Shanghai. (In Chinese: 上海市静安区凤 阳路598号)
( #1 telephone is the number of the front desk employee who is not a notary officer and does not answer questions about applications. If you’d like to talk to a real notary officer, dial #2 telephone and then dial extension “3” “12” and “0”.)
The processing time at Shanghai Oriental Notary Office is about 15 to 25 days, depending on the office’s workload.
Who are eligible for applying for a police certificate in Shanghai?
Shanghai only issues police certificates to long-term foreign residents. To be considered as a long-term resident, you must have lived in the city for 6 months or more evidenced by China residence permits, Temporary Residence Registration Form(s) (TRRF), property ownership certificate(s) and/or tenancy agreement(s).
A residence permit is a visa-like sticker in your passport. It allows you to reside in China for a fixed period during which you can leave and re-enter China unlimited times. A residence permit always shows the purpose of your residence. The common purposes of residence are employment, study, family reunion and private affairs.
A China police certificate always specifies the periods during which an applicant has no criminal record. Generally, a police certificate issued to a foreign national cannot cover periods earlier than January 1, 2008. This is due to the limitation of the criminal record database used by the local notary. According to some officers, the database does not have the ability to set the time range earlier than 2008.
What are the required documents for applying for a police certificate in Shanghai?
The below documents are required by Shanghai Oriental Notary Office for issuance of police certificates to foreign nationals. Other notary offices in Shanghai may require different documents.
Category #1: General documents that all applicants need to provide
All applicants need provide the following documents to Shanghai Oriental Notary Office:
- Passport(s) including pages with China entry and exit stamps and residence permit
- A power of attorney if a third-party representative makes the application on your behalf.
Q: Is a passport copy acceptable?
Yes, but the copy needs to be complete, including all blank pages and the front and back covers.
Q: I have been issued multiple TRRFs. Do I need to provide all of them?
A; Not necessary. Just one TRRF will suffice.
Q: My TRRF is lost. What can I do?
A: You may request the local police stations to re-print your TRRF. Make sure that the documents come with the police’s official stamp.
Q: My prior passport is lost and I don’t have a copy. What can I do?
A: There’s nothing you can do because the notary will not accept your application if you cannot provide the passport. If you need the certificate for immigration purposes, you may consider preparing a statement explaining why you cannot get a China police certificate.
Category #2: Documents based on your purpose of residence
In addition to the general document, Shanghai Oriental Notary Office requires applicants to provide documents specifically applicable to the purpose of residence as shown in residence permits. In particular, the notary divides applicants into 3 categories: (1) applicants with residence permits for study; (2) applicants with residence permits for work; and (3) applicants with residence permits for private affairs or family reunion.
(1) An applicant who held residence permits for work need to provide the following documents:
- Employer letter confirming no criminal conviction
- China Individual Income Tax Completion Certificate or Individual Income Tax Payments List
- China work permit
- Labor contract
(2) An applicant who held residence permits for study needs to provide the following documents:
- At least one school documents, such as a graduation certificate for a degree program or course completion certificate for a non-degree program.
- Student ID
- School letter confirming no criminal conviction
(3) If you held residence permits for private affairs or family reunion and the person you visited stayed in Shanghai for work, you need to provide the following documents:
- The person you visited gets his company to issue an employer letter confirming that you, as the police certificate applicant, have no criminal conviction.
- The person you visited provides his China Individual Income Tax Completion Certificate or Individual Income Tax Payments List
- The person you visited provides his China work permit
- The person you visited provides his labor contract
- Documents proving your relationship with the person you visited, such as a marriage certificate or birth certificate. If the document is issued by a foreign authority, it needs to be authenticated by a Chinese consulate.
Q: Are copies of these documents acceptable?
A: Generally no.
Q: My employer refuses to provide a letter confirming no conviction. What can I do?
A: There’s nothing you can do because the notary will not accept your application. If you need the certificate for immigration purposes, you may consider preparing a statement explaining why you cannot get a China police certificate.
Q: I believe my employer has filed the tax for me, but the employer never gave me the tax completion certificates. What should I do?
A: You can request the local tax bureau to provide the certificates.
Q: I no longer keep my China work permit, nor any copies. What can I do?
A: You can visit Shanghai Talents Tower (in Chinese 上海人才大厦) to request an official letter stating the information of your work permit. The notary will accept such a letter as an alternative to your work permit.
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