The online registration system is working again. We've updated the links used in this article to the latest version.
According to the law, temporary residents in China have to register with the police within 24 hours of arriving in-country. Unless you're staying at a hotel, this requires going to your nearest police station, waiting in line, and filling out a form. It's not hard, it's just inconvenient.
With the launch of the "Self-Help Declaration System For Overseas Personnel's Accommodation Registration," that's a thing of the past.
SmartShanghai: minimizing your contact with the fuzz since 2005! Here's how to find the nearest police station (if you are staying in a hotel) and how to register online with the police.
1Who needs to do this?
Foreigners entering China for the first time if they are not staying at a hotel. After that, you don't need to do it again if you live here on a resident permit, unless you stay at a different address or use a different passport.
3Fill in Your Details
The next step is to fill in your info, once you click off the thoughtful "you don't need to register if you stay in a hotel" tip. This might be the most foreign user-friendly website the government has ever made.
Just upload an image of the photo ID page in your passport. It'll pick the details out automatically, but you can add or correct anything that wasn't right.
Don't mind the "with your certificate" bit, just upload a passport photo or a clean, passport-style selfie. I did it at my desk. The address system is a slight pain in the butt, owing to the interminable difficulty in translating sometimes complex Chinese addresses into English ones. Do your best. Trust us. We know all about that.
Note: the "Date of Departure" info doesn't appear on your final certificate, just put the last date you left China.
[Update: or, if it's your first time, the day you plan to leave the country, for example when your visa ends.]
4Wait for Processing
Now you just wait!
Processing can take five to ten minutes.
[Update: apparently it can take much longer sometimes.]
You'll get an email confirmation when it's done, and it might show up in your spam folder.
5Download Your Registration Form of Temporary Residence
Back on the website, select the QR code that's replaced the "processing" bit and you'll have the option to "preview" (download), email, or share a PDF of your form, with chop, filled in for you. Magic!
Whoops. Sorry, officer! Next time I will!
Here's the website for the Self-Help Declaration System For Overseas Personnel's Accommodation Registration: https://gaj.sh.gov.cn/crj/24hr
6How to Find the Nearest Police Station
Just in case you can't do it online, you can, of course, go to the nearest police station and do it there. Here's how you find it:
Open your preferred maps app, such as Baidu Maps or Gaode Maps. Type in "派出所" (pai chu suo), and you'll be presented with a list of nearby police stations, sorted by distance. Choose the closest one, and you're all set!
This How-To guide is work in progress, we are constantly updating it as we receive new information. We rely on readers like you (yes YOU). If you find this guide useful please help us improve it by adding comments in each step or by clicking the "Verify" link if you find the information provided to be correct.