There are more foreigners living in Shanghai than any other city in China. Correspondingly, the city has seen a high demand for police clearance certificates (PCC). In this article, I will discuss how people who are not a citizen of China apply for China police clearance certificates in Shanghai.
Where to Apply
Unlike many other cities where local public security agencies issue police clearance, foreigners in Shanghai must apply to a local notary office. In 2016, Shanghai Notary Association issued “Notice on Launching the Online Information Look-Up System Connecting Shanghai Notary Association and Shanghai High People’s Court”. This Notice authorizes notary offices to issue police clearance certificates to foreigners. Instead of checking with police, notary offices issue the certificates based on search results of the court database.
Shanghai has a total of 20 notary offices, but most applicants apply to the central notary office–Shanghai Oriental Notary Office. The reason is that most of the other offices are unfamiliar with the application.
You can contact Shanghai Oriental Notary Office at:
#1 Tel.: +86 (021) 6215 4848.
#2 Tel.: 4008214848
Address: Jing’an District, Fengyang Lu 598 Hao, Shanghai. (In Chinese: 上海市静安区凤 阳路598号)
( #1 telephone is the number of the front desk employee who is not a notary officer and does not answer questions about applications. If you’d like to talk to a real officer, dial #2 telephone and then dial extension “3” “12” and “0”.)
A foreigner who applies for a police clearance in Shanghai must be a long-term resident in Shanghai.
Shanghai only issues police clearance to long-term foreign residents. To be considered as a long-term resident, you must have lived in the city for 6 months or more evidenced by China residence permits, Temporary Residence Registration Form(s), property ownership certificate(s) and/or tenancy agreement(s).
In June 2019, we were told it is no longer required that your residence permits must be issued in Shanghai. For example, you can apply for a police certificate in Shanghai even if you held residence permits issued from Hangzhou so long as you have other acceptable proof of your residence in Shanghai.
What is a residence permit? A residence permit is a visa-like stamp in a passport, allowing a foreigner to reside in China for a fixed period. Foreigners who enter China with the following category of visas may need to apply for a residence permit: Z (work), X (study) or S (visiting family).
Police clearance issued in Shanghai only covers periods after 2008.
Each China police clearance specifies the periods during which an applicant has no criminal record. Typically, such periods may extend as long as the duration of time when an applicant lived in China. However, in Shanghai, no certificates can be issued to cover periods earlier than January 1, 2008. If you lived in Shanghai before 2008, you won’t be able to get a police clearance in Shanghai.
General documents applicable for all applicants
All applicants must provide the following documents to Shanghai Oriental Notary Office:
- Current passport
- Any prior passport that contains pages with China entry and exit stamps and residence permit.
- Temporary residence registration form(s) (TRRF).
- A power of attorney if a third-party representative makes the application on your behalf.
Is a passport copy acceptable?
Yes. Please make sure that the copy is complete, meaning that it includes all blank pages and the front and back covers.
I have been issued multiple TRRFs. Do I need to provide all of them?
Not necessary. Just one TRRF will suffice.
Is a TRRF copy acceptable?
No. It must be the original.
My TRRFs are lost. What can I do?
You or a third-party representative may request the local police stations to re-print your TRRFs. Make sure that the documents come with the police’s official stamp.
My prior passport is lost and I don’t have a copy. What can I do?
There’s nothing you can do, because the notary will not issue you a certificate for any periods when you used the lost passport. If you need the certificate immigration purposes, you should prepare a statement explaining why you cannot get a China police clearance certificate.
The other required documents vary by the category of residence permits held by an applicant.
In addition to the general document, Shanghai Oriental Notary Office requires applicants to provide documents specifically applicable to the category of residence permits they held. In particular, the notary divides applicants into 3 categories: (1) applicants with residence permits for study; (2) applicants with residence permits for work; and (3) applicants with residence permits for private affairs or family reunion. I will discuss below the required documents for each category.
Applicants with residence permits for work
An applicant who held residence permits for work must provide the following original documents:
- Employer letter confirming no criminal conviction
- China Individual Income Tax Completion Certificate
- China work permit
- Labor contract
Are copies of these documents acceptable?
No. All of them must be the originals.
My employer refuses to provide a letter confirming no conviction. What can I do.
There’s nothing you can do, because the notary will not issue you a certificate if you don’t provide the employer letter. If you need the certificate for immigration purposes, you should prepare a statement explaining why you cannot get a China police clearance certificate.
I believe my employer has filed the tax for me, but the employer never gave to me the tax completion certificates. What should I do?
If you currently live outside of China, you can send a representative to the local tax bureau to request the certificates on your behalf.
I only have a copy of my China work permit, not the original document. What can I do?
If you currently live outside of China, you can send a representative to Shanghai Talents Tower (in Chinese 上海人才大厦) to request an official letter stating the information of your work permit. The notary will accept such a letter as an alternative to your work permit.
Applicants with residence permits for study
An applicant who held residence permits for study must provide the following original documents:
- At least one school documents, such as graduation certificate for a degree program or course completion certificate for a non-degree program.
- Student ID
- School letter confirming no criminal conviction
Applicants with residence permits for private affairs or family reunion
An applicant who held residence permits for private affairs or family reunion must provide the following original documents:
- If you visited a family member who worked in Shanghai, you must provide a letter issued by his or her employer confirming YOU have no criminal conviction. In addition, you must provide the following original documents held by the same family member:
- China work permit
- Labor contract
- Also, you must prove your relationship with the person you visited by providing an official document such as a marriage certificate or birth certificate. If the document is issued by a foreign authority, it must be authenticated by a China consulate.
Processing Time & Application Fee
The processing time at the notary is about 15 to 25 days, depending on the office’s workload. Following the acceptance of your application, the notary will provide you with an acceptance notice which states the pick-up date and the fees incurred. See a sample acceptance notice below.
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