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I have to replace my passport but my Chinese mainland residency permit or visa is still active. What do I do?

Everybody’s passport needs to be replaced from time to time – maybe the old one is damaged, or perhaps it’s running out of pages and you have big travel plans coming up. So what happens if your residency permit is still valid, and a long time away from renewal? There are two ways to deal with this situation.


Don’t do anything

Yes, it’s true – you can just apply for a new passport and keep the old one. Depending on which country you are from, you may have to mail your passport off to a processing center or other office, or you may be allowed to hold onto your existing passport until the new one arrives. If it’s the former, then your old passport should be returned with the front cover corner cut off to show that it is no longer active; if it’s the latter then you should cut it off yourself (but be careful not to damage your residence permit!).

Either way, once you have your new passports, you can carry them both with you when crossing borders – the old passport has a valid residency permit in it, showing that you live in China, while the new one shows that you are able to cross country borders. It might be a good idea to use an elastic band or something similar to keep the two together. 

If carrying two passports around seems like too much of a hassle – especially if the next renewal is a long way off – then you may instead wish to…


Transfer your valid residency permit to your new passport

To do this, you should go to the Entry and Exit Administration Offices of your city’s Public Security Bureau (you can find addresses for the first-tier city offices here) to apply for the change of residency permit.

The documents you will need to take are:

  1. Your new valid passport.
  2. A photocopy of your new passport info page and the relevant visa pages.
  3. Your old passport containing the current residency permit.
  4. A completed Visa/Stay Permit/Residency Permit Application Form (you can download this here).
  5. Your Registration Form of Temporary Residence.
  6. A passport photo.
  7. Your Alien Work Permit (if necessary; see below).

If your residency permit is approaching the expiration date, you can apply for the extension directly. The procedure and documents needed for extension can be found here, although again this is something your company may deal with on your behalf.

If you are on a working visa, then you should update the work permit as well


How to update your work permit

If you are in China on a Z Visa you will have an Alien Employment Permit book, although you might never see it – some companies keep it in their HR department for safekeeping. When you get a new passport it may be necessary for you update the work permit (check with your HR department to be sure). 

If you do need to update it and your company isn’t willing or able to do it for you, take the following documents to your local Human Resource and Social Security Bureau (first-tier addresses are under Social Welfare Insurance Center in this article):    

  1. A work permit update application letter stamped by your employer. This should state clearly what needs to be updated. Ask your employer for a sample letter.
  2. You new passport and a photocopy of the new passport information page.
  3. Your Alien Work Permit book (you may need to get this from your employer).
  4. If you have run out of update pages in your Alien Work Permit, you should take a passport photo with you to get a new book.


Useful Chinese words and phrases 

变更 biàngēng Change/Update
人力资源与社会保障局 rénlì zīyuán yǔ shèhuì bǎozhàng jú Human Resource and Social Security Bureau
外国人签证证件申请表 wàiguórén qiānzhèng zhèngjiàn shēnqǐng biǎo Application Form for Visa/Stay Permit/Residency Permit 
居留许可变更 jūliú xǔkě biàngēng Change of Residency Permit
外国人就业证变更 wàiguórén jiùyè zhèng biàngēng Update of Alien Work Permit Book


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One Response to I have to replace my passport but my Chinese mainland residency permit or visa is still active. What do I do?

  • I have been offered a job in Beijing for July 2016. I have to apply, naturally, for a work visa. I have no pages left on my passport, so I have ordered a new passport. The person responsible for my visa application process says that I can’t apply for a work visa with a brand new passport and will have to wait 6 months after I get my new passport until I apply.
    Is this true?

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