Why You Should Carry Your Passport When You Go Out This Weekend

Wallet, check. Keys, check. Money, check. Passport...check that one off too.

With March beginning tomorrow, it's time again for the annual Beijing event known as the "Two Meetings" or liang hui. Both the China People's Political Consultative Conference, which starts March 3, and the National People's Congress (NPC), which opens March 5, will bring heightened security to the capital to ensure the two most important national political meetings of the year go off without a hitch. All the excitement dies down around March 10 when the NPC, China's parliament, adjourns.

As we learned the hard way last year when certain individuals decided to do dumb things like run their motor scooter into a pedestrian, thus triggering a harder look at foreigners and especially their visas, the time of  hanging around in China and not be on the legit is over.

All foreigners are required by law to carry their passports at all times. Sometimes a photocopy of the passport's main information page and the page bearing the person's visa will be accepted, but officially foreigners are required to bear the original document on their person at all times.

Case in point: the most recent meeting of Beijing Creatives, held on February 18, received a surprise: a visit by local police, as reported by Beijing Cream. While it seems they were checking host venue Dada's licensing and fire equipment, they also did some credential checks of attendees. The Public Security Bureau (PSB) is authorized to check anyone's identification papers at anytime, and "it's at my apartment" doesn't count.

We offered these three pieces of advice in December and we'll offer them again:

1. If you don't have a driver's license, stop driving and get one. The penalty for driving (an automobile) in China without a license is 15 days in jail.
2. If your vehicle is unregistered, stop driving and get one.
3. If you are working illegally, go on strike until your employer gives you the proper paperwork. The penalty for working illegally in China is deportation.

If you are asked for identification, be nice and cooperate. If your visa and household registration are up to date, then the inspection should end quickly. If not, then this might be a good weekend to stay home and watch DVDs.

Photo: Iambo.com


Welcome to China! Papers, please.

The Police Advice notice is the standard procedure for foreigners entering China. What's your point?

Does this really look like the face of concern?

Thanks as always alwn1708 for your positive attitude and extremely helpful comments. The point is that people need to pay attention to these things, it's not a slap on the wrist anymore.

all your visas are belong to us

What's the penalty if asked to produce your passport, but don't have it on the spot? Night in the slammer? Fine? Garnishment of wages...? What does the law actually state could happen?

That's a good question mtnerror and I will find out.

Most probably you will get a free ride home and save your taxi fare, but after losing a couple hours at the station. I want to run both days this weekend and Im pretty slow so they can catch me if they want. I am not in the habit of carrying my passport for a jog. Anyone know a good T shirt printing shop where I can have my passport printed on the back and my visa on the front? Actually it might be pretty cool to have.

All information stated by this poster is for informational purposes only. The content should not substitute you seeking psychiatric advice should you have a problem with it.

mtnerror wrote:

What's the penalty if asked to produce your passport, but don't have it on the spot? Night in the slammer? Fine? Garnishment of wages...? What does the law actually state could happen?

But isn't that the point? Everything can happen to you... or nothing.

The story regarding the foreigner who bumped into a lady (who morphed from "middle-aged" to "elderly") had the punishments increased as the public scrutiny increased with it. He didn't get deported because he was driving without registration: he got deported because he had to go.

Steven is hard at work trying to find out a definitive answer in a legal grey area, but it honestly doesn't matter: don't let that happen to you. Carry your passport with you this weekend. "Jiayou!" to anything suggested to you. Answer in the affirmative about eating hamburgers everyday.

Be a good guest.

There's no direct penalty, all you have to do is go to the police station with them while almost every individual on duty or off duty will have an interview with you. some playing nice while some trying to play bad... while some just testing thier english level... and then when the laoda arrives you will need to sign some documents and then go back home and again go back to the police station during the office hours with you passports and documents ... if you are lucky you might not have to go again incase the officer had a fight with his wife you might have to do that for a couple of days ...

I, probably along with other readers, are curious. The article is about following the rules -- as every Chinese and non-Chinese should -- and although folks may not like the rules, the time for voicing one's opinion is not AFTER breaking one. The article largely serves as a reminder to carry one's passport around town; it ends with specific penalties for other offences, but not this specific offence. If there are no specifics (which I doubt) but merely up to the discretion of the officer(s) and whichever gov't entity has jurisdiction over such an offence, state it. If there is a min. and a max. penalty, with myriad penalties in between which vary depending on the individual in question, demeanor of the official or which direction the wind is coming from, that actually also tells we readers a lot. Thanks for looking further into this, Steven.

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