Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Registering with the Police

In China everyone is required to register their location with the local police precinct. Hotel guests are registered by hotel staff so they may not realize that it is being done. When I arrived here in February one of the administrators of my program took care of the registration. Now I am staying with a friend who is about to go back to her country for a couple of months, enabling me to have a comfortable place to live while I postpone apartment hunting until after Beijing's Olympic-inflated rents have come back down out of the stratosphere, and am required to register so that the local police will have a record of me.

After a lunch of some of my favorite Chinese foods at Luogo we took a stroll to the local precinct, located in a one story cement building. Three uniformed police women sat in front of computers in a large room. When we walked in my friend explained that we needed to register me, and one of the officers got up and took my passport before sitting down at a panel with two large monitors. She started putting information into one of the two computers, then moved to the other. There she entered information and pulled up a scanned photograph of me that was already in the system, though from 10 feet away I couldn't tell if it was the photo from my passport or the one that I submitted as part of my visa application.

After requesting additional information about me from my friend (it's good to have friends who are fluent in the local language) the officer took a copy of the foreigner registration form and put it through the printer to have my data printed on it, in triplicate, then stamped it with a red stamp (all official documents here are stamped, usually with large red stamps), told me to sign it, and gave me a copy. The "Registration Form of Temporary Residence" has my name, gender, nationality, date of birth, passport number, type of visa, arrival date, visa expiration and departure dates, type of residence and address. The form is written in Chinese, and all of the information is also in characters with the exception of numbers and my name, though the labels for each data point are in both characters and English. The characters for 'Surname' and 'First Name' actually say "English Family Name" and "English First Name," which is in line with most things here which treat all languages other than Chinese as English.

I am to carry a copy of the registration with me at all times, along with my passport. If I leave the country for vacation and return I need to go back and re-register. Most countries where I've traveled require you to carry some form of ID (usually your passport or a locally issued government ID card for foreigners) but this is the first time I've ever had to register with the police. It was quick and easy, and the officers were pleasant.

1 comment:

AC said...

Hi Alicia,

My name is Annie. I am buddies with Helen Ho. She and I met while we were both working for Partnerships for Parks. She sent me a link to your blog, because I am coming to Beijing next weekend. My friend Shelly and I are currently teaching English in South Korea, and being art enthusiasts and adventurers, we have to visit Beijing before we leave the continent!

I was wondering if you might be able to meet up with us for tea or a drink? We'll arrive in Beijing on the morning of July 11 and will depart on July 14. We're trying to take in the architecture, galleries and maybe a peek at the great wall, but we're open to any other stuff that is a must-see.

My e-mail address is Hopefully we'll chat soon!