How to Apply for a China Police Certificate in General

Immigration authorities of the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the U.K. have provided instructions about how to apply for a China police certificate, also known as a police clearance certificate or certificate of no criminal record. However, these instructions may be too general to follow. In this article, I will explain how you can get the certificate with more details.

Where to Apply for a China Police Certificate

China does not issue national police certificates to foreigners. A single certificate only covers an applicant’s time in a particular city. In general, there are two government agencies in China that may issue police certificates to foreigners. Depending on the city where you apply, the issuing authority is either a notary office or a public security agency. Where the certificate is issued by a public security agency, it needs to be notarized by a notary office for immigration purposes.

Notary Office

Despite calling it a “police certificate”, it is commonly issued by notary offices in major China cities, such as Shanghai, Nanjing and Chengdu.

In 1990, China 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.” 1. This rule authorizes notary offices to issue police certificates to foreigners. However, authorities in some cities reject the 1990 rule as they consider it outdated and incompatible with the current situation.

In a city where there are multiple notary offices, only the major notary office(s) issue the certificates to foreigners.

Public Security Agency

In some cities, it is a public security agency that issues police certificates to foreigners. However, knowing this is not enough for figuring out where to apply, because public security agencies refer to a complex police system. You need to know specifically which public security agency that issues the certificates in a particular city. Among those agencies, the most common ones are police station (派出所), public security district bureau (公安分局) and municipal PSB exit-entry administration (市出入境管理局).

Police station

Police station is the smallest unit of the complex public security system. Hangzhou, Dongguan and Qingdao are examples of the cities where foreigners must apply at police stations.

Public security district bureau

A public security district bureau administers the police stations within the same geographic district. As far as the administrative level is concerned, district bureaus are higher than police stations and lower than municipal PSB. District bureaus perform a role similar to larger police stations, but have a more complex structure. In the city of Chongqing, foreigners must apply to the exit-entry administration brigade of the district bureau (分局出入境管理大队). Another example is the city of Changsha where foreigners must apply to the criminal investigation brigades of district bureaus (分局刑侦大队).

Exit-entry administration of PSB

An exit-entry administration of municipal PSB handles administrative affairs concerning all foreigners in a city. Their responsibilities include the issuance of police certificates to foreigners in some cities such as Tianjin, Xi’an, Changchun and Kunming.

Required Documents for Applying for a China Police Certificate

The required documents for applying for a China police certificate are different from one city to another. It can be as simple as the requirements in Beijing where an applicant may only need to submit passport copies. In contract, the documents required in some other cities can be quite difficult to gather. For example, in Shanghai applicants are required to provide up to nine documents. In addition to varying by city, the required documents also vary by your China immigration status. For example, foreigners who reside in China with student status may be required to provide different documents than foreigners with work status. Below is a list of the commonly required documents (click to see samples):

Apply a China police certificate through a third party representative

If you are currently living outside of China, you may appoint a representative to file the application at a notary office on your behalf. This is provided by Article 26 of China Notary Law (2017) (“《中华人民共和国公证法》“).

Your representative must appear in person at the issuing agency with your written authorization, i.e. power of attorney (POA). Some local authorities require that powers of attorney be authenticated by a China consulate. For more information about how to apply for China consular authentication, please see our article Guide to Applying for China Consular Authentication.

If your application is in a city where the issuing authority is a police station or other public security agencies, a third party may or may not be allowed to file the application on your half. Cases where they refuse to accept third-party applications happen rarely.


The procedures and required documents for applying for China police certificates are rather confusing. One important reason is that China does not have a central authority for managing criminal records. In 2012, China national authorities issued the “Opinions on Establishing the system of Criminal Records of Criminal Personnel” (《关于建立犯罪人员犯罪记录制度的意见》), which envisions a national criminal records information database. This could be the future solution to the current confusion and help streamline the application process.

Our service

We are specialized in assisting foreigners in obtaining China police certificates or preparing statements explaining why a certificate is unobtainable. Our services cover almost every city in China. If you are interested in hiring us, please click the below button to fill in a quote request form.

  1. 《关于办理外国公民在华居住期间是否受过刑事制裁证明的通知》

6 thoughts on “How to Apply for a China Police Certificate in General”

  1. Hello Pete,

    you mention it is needed to provide “Passports including pages with China entry and exit stamps” but I don’t have the passport from the time I entered China because French government doesn’t allow you to keep the old one when you renew it as it is property of the government. I also have no exit stamp from my last exit because I used the Echannel system and I can’t find a way to get Statements of Travel Records issued in China. Do you think you still would be able to help?

    Thanks and with the best regards.

    • Hi Yolaine. Local authorities in China are likely to refuse your application for a police certificate if you are unable to provide a complete copy of your old passport. In a case where a police certificate is unobtainable, we could help you write a letter explaining the reasons for the unattainability. For more information about unobtainable police certificates, see our article What if a China police certificate is unobtainable?


Leave a Comment