It is that time of year again when my family and I apply for a China Residence Permit to live in Yinchuan. This post shares the process and documents required to receive a residence permit. The China residence permit is necessary for all foreigners who wish to live in China and do not want to fly out every 30, 60 or 90 days. If you are on a student visa, work visa, or family/dependent visa, you will apply for a residence permit. It happens after you arrive in Yinchuan and after you receive your work permit card (if you have a work visa).

The process is straightforward. If all your documents are in order you will be fine. The biggest issue is the time it takes. The larger your family the more time it takes to apply. Regardless of the size of your family going prepared and organized makes the process faster.

I do want to provide a warning. This process can change at any time. The Entry/Exit Bureau can also ask you for more documents if they wish. Be prepared and be flexible.

Expat Employee Documents Required for China Residence Permit Application to Entry/Exit Bureau

  1. Residence permit application form with attached passport photo (1 or 2 inch size)
  2. Passport and copy of Photo page, Current Resident Permit/Visa page, last entry stamp into China)
  3. Foreigner’s Work Permit ID Card and Copy of two sides of card
  4. Introduction letter from employer on letterhead that has employer’s name in red
  5. Health Check and copy of Certificate of Verification and AIDS Testing Report
  6. Letter from the Foreign Experts Bureau
  7. Registration voucher from local police station where you register to live in Yinchuan

(4 and 6 need to be prepared by employer not employee)

Expat Employee’s Spouse — Documents Required for China Residence Permit Application to Entry/Exit Bureau

  1. Residence permit application form with attached passport photo (1 or 2 inch size)
  2. Copy of spouse’s passport including: Photo page, Current Resident Permit/Visa page, last entry stamp into China)
  3. Passport (and copy of Photo page, Current Resident Permit/Visa page, last entry stamp into China), Marriage Certificate with confirmed stamp by Chinese Embassy in home country (and copy)
  4. Copy of Foreigner’s Work Permit ID two sides
  5. Introduction letter from employer on letterhead that has employer’s name in red
  6. Health Check and the copy of Certificate of Verification and AIDS Testing Report
  7. Copy of letter from Foreign Experts Bureau
  8. Registration voucher from local police station where you register to live in Yinchuan

(4 and 6 need to be prepared by employer not employee)

Expat Employee’s Children — Documents Required for China Residence Permit Application to Entry/Exit Bureau

  1. Residence permit application form with attached passport photo (1 or 2 inch size)
  2. Copy of passport of parent with work permit including: Photo page, Current Resident Permit/Visa page, last entry stamp into China)
  3. Passport (and copy of Photo page, Current Resident Permit/Visa page, last entry stamp into China), Birth Certificate with confirmed stamp by Chinese Embassy in home country (and copy)
  4. Copy of Parent’s Foreigner Work Permit ID two sides
  5. Introduction letter from employer on letterhead that has employer’s name in red
  6. Copy of letter from Foreign Experts Bureau
  7. Registration voucher from local police station where you register to live in Yinchuan

(4 and 6 need to be prepared by employer not employee)

The above is the list of the documents required for individuals applying for a residence permit who are employees or dependents of employees. I assume the same documents are required if you are applying for student residence permit. The school will prepare different documents than an employer. You also will not have a work permit ID card.

China Residence Permit Application Form

The Entry/Exit Bureau has this two sided form, and you can fill it out on arrival if you choose. I have five members in my family, so I like to fill it out ahead of time. My employer received a copy of the form, and we print out five copies each year. I fill out some of the questions using clear English block lettering and one of our local employees fills out the address and business name in Chinese characters. We glue passport photos of each family member to the form for each person.

The form needs to be signed by the person applying and the representative of your employer who has been designated as responsible for all foreign employees. This individual is required to sign the form and go with you to the Entry/Exit Bureau. The form must also be stamped with the employer’s company chop.

Passport

During the residence permit application process, you must leave your passport and the passports of all family members with the Entry/Exit Bureau. The process can take up to 15 business days. The Entry/Exit Bureau will provide a piece of paper to use as a temporary ID in China. You can travel on a train or plane and stay in hotels with the temporary ID. You cannot leave the country.

You also need to provide a copy of your passport’s photo signature page, current visa/residence permit and entry stamp you received on your last entry to China. If the copies are not clear, they will require you to make new copies.

Marriage Certificate and Birth Certificate

For family members who will be living in Yinchuan to stay with the employee or student, a marriage license or birth certificate is required to show the individual’s relation. These documents must be authenticated by a Chinese embassy or consulate. This process can be time consuming and difficult. Do not wait till the last minute to apply for an authenticated marriage or birth certificate.

You do not leave your original marriage certificate or birth certificate at the Entry/Exit Bureau. You will be required to show the original. Then leave a copy of every page of the document.

Foreign Work Permit ID

After you arrive in China on a Z visa (work visa), your employer will first apply for the work permit card after you receive your health check. This should take about 5 days. Your employer should give you the work permit card. You will show this card during the China residence permit application process. You do not leave the original. You will give a copy of both sides of the card.

Health Check and the copy of Certificate of Verification and AIDS Testing Report

When you arrive in Yinchuan, one of the first things to do is to get a health check. It takes about 5 business days to receive the results. You need the results for the work permit ID application process and the residence permit application process. You will take the original booklet and certificates with you to apply, but you only need copies of the Verification Certificate and AIDS Testing Report.

Registration Voucher from Local Police Station

When living in China as a foreigner it is necessary to register with the local police station within 24 hours of arriving in a new place. If you stay in a hotel, the hotel registers for you. If you stay in a friend’s apartment or you rent an apartment, you are required to go to the police station and register. Each time you re-enter China, you go back to the police station and re-register. You are required to take your passport and copies of your passport photo page, current visa/residence permit and latest entry stamp, copy of your rental contract, copy of your landlord’s ID card and your landlord’s phone number. Every time you register these documents are required. After you register the police station will give you a stamped voucher that proves you are registered.

When you go to the Entry/Exit Bureau you will take your most recent voucher. You can give them a copy and keep the original. After you receive your new residence permit, you will go back and register with the police station again because you will have a new residence permit number.

Introduction Letter from Employer and Letter from Foreign Experts Bureau

These two documents are prepared by your employer. It is important that you check to make sure you have a copy for each family member before going to the Entry/Exit Bureau.

Your employer will receive the letter from the Foreign Experts Bureau when your work permit is approved. The original letter is submitted to the Entry/Exit Bureau with the paperwork for the family member who has the work permit. Dependent family members submit a copy of this letter.

The employer will write a letter inviting the employee and his or her family to work for them in China. This letter needs to be on red letterhead. This means the company name is at the top of the letter in large red letters. The letter lists each family member’s name and passport number and the length of time the company is inviting each person to stay. These dates should match the work contract. An original letter should be included with the application of each family member.

Process at Entry/Exit Bureau Counter

The Entry/Exit Bureau is located inside Yinchuan City Hall (市民大厅). After entering the main entrance, you want to go to the hall on the far right or northwest corner of the building labeled A1. It is to the left of the large meeting room that is normally playing a movie. There are two counters (25 and 26) on the right side in the hall dedicated to process China residence permits for foreigners.

Step 1: Present your paperwork at the counter. 

It is important that your paperwork is presented in the order listed above. They will flip through your paperwork. If satisfactory they will send you to step 2.

Step 2: Take photo for digital records

Take your documents and go to the photo room on the left side of the hall. You will sit in front of a white background and take a passport photo. You can not wear a white or light top for the picture. After the picture is taken, they will place a barcode on your residence permit application form. Then you return to the counter.

Step 3: Residence Permit Application is typed into computer

When you return to the counter and give them your paperwork, they will type the information into the computer system. When they finish you will take another photo at the counter. The work permit holder will also take a photo with each child that is applying. Then officials will check your original documents and return them.

Step 4: Entry/Exit Bureau Prints Temporary ID for each family member

When the process is completed a temporary paper ID for each family member will be printed and stamped. The document will have a return date when you can come back and pick up your passports with the new residence permits. Once you have the temporary IDs you can leave.

Step 5: Return to Entry/Exit Bureau to pay for residence permits and pick up passports

15 business days after the application, you or an employee in your company can return to the Entry/Exit Bureau with your temporary ID papers to pay the 400 RMB fee (if residence permit is longer than 364 days the fee is double) per applicant and pick up the passports.

That is the detailed process for applying for a China residence permit in Yinchuan, Ningxia, China. Please share about your experience in the comments below.