A Certificate of No Criminal Record (CNCR) proves you have no criminal record in China. The certificate is also referred to as a police certificate/check/clearance in other countries. Foreign nationals who have lived in China may need to obtain a Certificate of No Criminal Record for a variety of reasons, including immigration, employment, school attendance, etc. This article is a general guide about how foreign nationals request a criminal record check in China. For city-specific guides, please click here.
Applicants referred to in this article are individual foreign nationals, not employers. In some circumstances, employers can request to check the criminal record of someone applying for a job, which is not within the scope of this article.
Please note that a Certificate of No Criminal Record is typically not acceptable for use abroad until it is notarized and translated by a local notary office in China. In some cases, it also needs to be authenticated by the embassy representing the country where the certificate is to be used. For more information about the authentication process, please check our authentication guide.
In 1990, China’s Ministry of Justice issued the “Notice Regarding the Handling of Certificates of Whether Foreigners Have Criminal Sanctions During the Period of Their Residence in China” (hereinafter, the “1990 Notice”). This is the first nationally-applicable rule that deals with the matter.
On Dec. 31, 2021, the Provisions on the Handling of Criminal Record Check by Public Security Organs (hereinafter, the “2021 Provisions”) drawn up by China’s Ministry of Public Security came into effect. This is the only other national rule that talks about foreign nationals getting a Certificate of No Criminal Records in China.
Prior to the issuance of the 2021 Provisions, local authorities at the municipal or provincial level had made rules applicable in one city or province, such as the Procedures for Handling Overseas Personnel’s Applications for Checking Whether They Have Criminal Records During the Periods of Their Residence in Beijing (2019, Beijing), the Provisions of Guangdong Provincial Public Security Department Regarding the Application for and the Handling of Certificates of No Criminal Record (2019, Guangdong Province), and the Provisions on the Handling of Criminal Record Check by the Public Security Organs of Zhejiang Province (2021, Zhejiang Province).
WHERE TO APPLY
China does not issue national Certificates of No Criminal Record (CNCR) to foreign nationals. A single certificate only covers an applicant’s time in a particular city or province. This means if you have stayed in multiple cities/provinces of China, you may need to apply for a separate certificate in each of the cities/provinces. Depending on the city where you apply, your CNCR application should be filed to either a notary office or a police department. We will discuss each in more detail.
The police system in one city comprises various police departments which are generally divided into three levels:
- Police Station
Depending on which city you reside in, the police department in charge of taking CNCR applications can be at any of the three levels. We will discuss each.
Municipality & District
Article 5 of the 2021 Provisions states that foreign nationals’ CNCR applications “should be filed to the exit and entry administration of public security at the county level or above in the place of the applicant’s residence”.
At the level of municipality, it is always the division of exit and entry administration of the public security bureau (公安局出入境管理支队) that issues Certificates of No Criminal Record to foreign nationals. Cities in which you apply to a division of exit and entry administration include Guangzhou, Shenyang, Guilin, Xi’an, and Changchun.
The division of exit and entry administration in one city may have branches at the district level. The branch is called a brigade of exit and entry administration of the district bureau of public security (公安分局出入境管理大队). Cities that designate brigades of exit and entry administration to take CNCR applications include Beijing, Chongqing, Tianjin and Dalian.
While the 2021 Provisions specifies that the exit and entry administrations are responsible for handling CNCR applications filed by foreign nationals, it also leaves the door open for local variations.
Article 5 further provides, “According to local actualities and for the convenience of people, local public security bureaus may add additional work units for accepting applications …” This means local police may designate other police departments, in addition to exit and entry administrations, to take CNCR applications.
In some cities, the police station having jurisdiction over your residence is the police department for handling your CNCR application. Cities, where you apply to a police station, include Dali of Yunnan Province and Qingdao of Shandong Province.
In addition to police departments, the 1990 Notice authorizes notary offices to issue Notarial Certificates of No Criminal Record to foreign nationals.
Article 4 of the 2021 Provisions also says that notary offices can request criminal record checks for purposes of issuing Notarial Certificates of No Criminal Record. This seems to indicate that you can apply for a Certificate of No Criminal Record through a notary office, which conforms to our on-the-ground experience in many cities. One typical example is Chengdu.
The required documents for applying for a Certificate of No Criminal Record can be different from one city to another. Below is a list of the commonly required documents:
- Passports including pages with China entry and exit stamps and China residence permits
- Temporary residence registration form
- Power of attorney, if a third-party representative is appointed.
APPLICATION THROUGH A REPRESENTATIVE
If you are currently living outside of China, you may appoint a representative to apply for a Certificate of No Criminal Record on your behalf as well as the notarization of the certificate. See Article 4 of the 2021 Provisions and Article 26 of China Notary Law (2017).
Your representative must appear in person at the government agency with your written authorization, i.e. power of attorney (POA). Some local authorities require that powers of attorney be authenticated by a Chinese embassy/consulate.
Certificates of No Criminal Record Issued by Police Departments
Below are a few sample Certificates of No Criminal Record issued by police departments in different cities.
Notarial Certificate of No Criminal Record Issud by Notary
All notary offices across China issue Notarial Certificates of No Criminal Record in the same format. Please take a look at our article, What a Certificate of No Criminal Record Should Look Like.
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