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International Travel

English

Country Information

China

Country Information

China
People's Republic of China
Last Updated: August 3, 2017
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Embassy Messages
Quick Facts
PASSPORT VALIDITY:

Six months

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:

Two pages

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:

Yes

VACCINATIONS:

None

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:

Max RMB 20,000

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:

Max RMB 20,000

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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Beijing

No. 55 An Jia Lou Road
Chaoyang District, Beijing 100600
China

Telephone: +(86)(10) 8531-4000

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(86)(10) 8531-4000

Fax: +(86)(10) 8531-3300

The Embassy consular district includes the municipalities of Beijing and Tianjin and the provinces/autonomous regions of Gansu, Hebei, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Inner Mongolia, Jiangxi, Ningxia, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Shandong, Shanxi, and Xinjiang.

Consulates

U.S. Consulate General Chengdu
Number 4 Lingshiguan Road
Section 4, Renmin Nanlu
Chengdu 61004,China

Telephone: (86)(28) 8558-3992

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(86)(10) 8531-4000

Fax: +(86)(28) 8554 6229

Email: AmCitChengdu@state.gov

This consular district includes the provinces/autonomous region of Guizhou, Sichuan, Xizang (Tibet) and Yunnan, as well as the municipality of Chongqing.

U.S. Consulate General Guangzhou
43 Hua Jiu Road, Zhujiang New Town, Tianhe District
Guangzhou 510623
China

Telephone: (86)(20) 3814-5775

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(86)(10) 8531-4000

Fax: +(86)(20) 3814-5572

Email: GuangzhouACS@state.gov

This consular district includes the provinces/autonomous region of Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan, and Fujian. 

U.S. Consulate General Shanghai
Westgate Mall, 8th Floor, 1038 Nanjing Xi Lu,
Shanghai 200031
China

Telephone: +(86)(21) 3217-4650

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: (86)(21) 3217-4650

Fax: +(86)(21) 6217-2071

Email: ShanghaiACS@state.gov

This consular district includes Shanghai municipality and the provinces of Anhui, Jiangsu and Zhejiang.

U.S. Consulate General Shenyang
No. 52, 14th Wei Road, Heping District,
Shenyang 110003
China

Telephone: +(86)(24) 2322-1198

Emergency After-Hours Telephone:+(86)(24) 2322-1198

Fax: +(86)(24) 2323-1465

Email: ShenyangACS@state.gov

This consular district includes: the provinces of Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Liaoning. 

The U.S. Consulate General in Wuhan
New World International Trade Tower I,
No. 568, Jianshe Avenue
Hankou, Wuhan 430022
China

Telephone: +(86)(027) 8555-7791

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(86)(10) 8531-4000

Fax: 027-8555-776

Please note that Wuhan does not provide regularly scheduled consular services. Contact the Embassy in Beijing for consular assistance.

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Destination Description

See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on China for information on U.S. - China relations. 

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Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

Entry & Exit:

  • Obtain a visa prior to arrival and have a passport with at least six months' validity remaining. The lack of either will result in a fine and immediate deportation.
  • Apply for a ten-year multiple entry visa, useful for repeated travel or trips to Hong Kong or Macau with returns to China.
  • You must have a valid visa to exit China and you must leave China before the expiration of the listed duration of stay. 

Lack of a visa, having an expired visa or overstaying your visa can result in detention and fines.

The Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), requires special permits for tourist travel, most often obtained through a Chinese travel agent.  If you do enter a restricted area without the requisite permit, you could be fined, taken into custody, and deported for illegal entry. To learn more about specific entry requirements for Tibet or other restricted areas, check with the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China.

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of China.

Transiting China:

  • When transiting certain international airports, you may stay in mainland China without a Chinese visa.
  • The duration of allowed stay and how broadly you may travel varies by region. 
  • Transiting without a visa requires a valid passport, a visa for your onward destination (if necessary), and an onward ticket from the same location.
  • You must inform your airline upon check-in, and get an endorsement stamp at the immigration desk before leaving the airport.
  • Consult the Chinese Embassy/consulate for a current list of eligible airports and more detailed guidance.

During Your Stay: 

  • Failure to register with the police within 24 hours of arrival in the country could result in fines and deportation.  You can register with hotel staff or the local police station. 
  • Carry your valid U.S. passport and Chinese visa or residence permit at all times.
  • Entry and exit requirements are strictly enforced, as are restrictions on activities allowed by any particular visa class. 
  • Police, school administrators, transportation officials, and hotel staff may check your visa to make sure you have not overstayed.  If you overstay your visa’s duration of stay, you may be denied service by hotels, airports and train stations, be charged a RMB 500 fine per day up to a maximum of RMB 10,000, and face possible detention.

If you encounter problems in Tibet, the U.S. government has limited ability to provide assistance, as the Chinese government does not usually authorize U.S. government personnel to travel there, even to provide consular assistance to U.S. citizens. 

Dual Nationality:  China does not recognize dual nationality. If you are a dual national of the United States and China, the Chinese government will usually not permit the U.S. Embassy to provide consular assistance to you unless you entered China on a U.S. passport with a valid Chinese visa. Regardless of your travel documents, if you are a dual national, or otherwise have ethnic or historical ties to China, it is possible that Chinese authorities will assert that you are a Chinese citizen and deny your access to U.S. consular representatives if you are detained.

If you are a naturalized U.S. citizen or have a possible claim to Chinese citizenship, and you are traveling to China, you should ensure that you are well informed about Chinese law and practices relating to determination and loss of Chinese citizenship, including the possible need to formally renounce Chinese citizenship, cancel a household register (“hukou”), etc. Chinese authorities generally consider a child born in China to at least one Chinese parent to be a Chinese citizen, even if the child was issued a U.S. passport at the time of birth. If you have or had a claim to Chinese citizenship and your child is born in China, prior to departing China with your child, you should contact the local Public Security Bureau and/or Entry-Exit Bureau for information on obtaining a travel document.

Information about dual nationality can be found on our website.  Contact the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China for specific information on China’s immigration and nationality laws.

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Safety and Security

For most visitors, China remains a very safe country. Petty street crime is the most common safety concern for U.S. citizens. The Chinese authorities are responsible for the safety and security of all residents in and travelers to China. Training, capability, and responsiveness of Chinese authorities varies. The U.S. Embassy and consulates general have no law enforcement authority. 

  • Take routine safety precautions.
  • Pay attention to surroundings.
  • Report any concerns to the local police.  
  • Call “110,” the local equivalent to the “911”; however, very few English speakers staff this hotline.

Violent crime is not common in China; however, remain vigilant.

  • Demonstrations may quickly turn violent without warning.
  • Domestic unrest and even terrorism do occur in China.
  • Business disputes between U.S. citizens and Chinese business partners can sometimes  result in physical confrontation or kidnapping. Go straight to the police if you feel threatened or relocate to a public place.
  • Be Alert to Criminal Schemes, such as:

o   “Tourist Tea” Scams: Young Chinese invite visitors out to tea and leave them with an exhorbitant bill.

o   Phone Scams: We have received reports that some individuals within China have received telephone calls where the callers pose as police officers and request a funds transfer to resolve an identity theft or money laundering investigation. In these cases, DO NOT WIRE any money. If you receive any suspicious calls or requests, contact the local Public Security Bureau (PSB) to verify the caller’s identity. 

o   “Black Cabs”: Be cautious when using taxi services, especially at airports. Avoid unlicensed “black cabs,” insist that the driver use the meter,  and get a receipt. Have the name of your destination written in Chinese characters and ask the driver to remove the bags from the trunk before you get out of the taxi and before you pay.

o   Counterfeit Currency: Counterfeit currency is a significant concern in China. Carrying small bills or using exact change, particularly in taxis, can help protect you. Use only ATMs at trusted financial institutions.

If you already have been victim of a scam, catalogue as many details as possible, including names, telephone and bank numbers, and email and IP addresses; file a police report, and inform the U.S. Embassy or a U.S. consulate. Please see the Department of State and the FBI pages for information on scams.

Victims of Crime:
If you are the victim of a crime, contact the local police and the U.S. Embassy or nearest consulate. We can:

  • help you find appropriate medical care
  • assist you in reporting a crime to the police
  • contact relatives or friends on your behalf
  • explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
  • provide a list of local attorneys
  • provide information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
  • provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
  • help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
  • replace a stolen or lost passport

Lost or Stolen Passports: If your passport is stolen, you must apply for both a new passport at the U.S. Embassy or consulate, and a new Chinese visa. File a police report at the nearest police station right away. You may also be directed to file a report at the local Exit/Entry Bureau.

Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy or consulate for assistance. Domestic violence in China is rarely recognized as a crime.

For further information:

 

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Local Laws & Special Circumstances

The Chinese legal system can be opaque and the interpretation and enforcement of local laws arbitrary. The judiciary does not enjoy independence from political influence. U.S. citizens traveling or residing in China should be aware of varying levels of scrutiny to which you will be subject from Chinese local law enforcement and state security. 

Criminal Penalties: You are subject to Chinese laws. If you violate Chinese laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Certain provisions of the PRC Criminal Law – such as “social order” crimes (Article 293) and crimes involving “endangering state security” and “state secrets” (Article 102 to 113) – are ill-defined and can be interpreted by the authorities arbitrarily and situationally. Information that may be common knowledge in other countries could be considered a “state secret” in China, and information can be designated a “state secret” retroactively.    

Be aware that some crimes are prosecutable in the United States, regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

  • Immigration violations can lead to arrest, detention, fines, and deportation.
  • Chinese law enforcement authorities have little tolerance for illegal drugs. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking illegal drugs in China are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences, heavy fines, or possibly the death penalty.
  • China also has strict laws against driving under the influence of alcohol that can lead to immediate detention on a criminal charge.

Arrest Notification:

  • If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy or the nearest consulate immediately. 
  • The Chinese must notify U.S. consular officer within four days; however this does not always occur in a timely manner.
  • A consular officer may be the only authorized visitor during your initial detention period. 
  • Bail is rarely granted.
  • Detention may last many months before a trial.
  • Travelers to China should enroll in the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) and you may wish to have someone contact the Embassy or nearest consulate if you are detained.
  • Please see the section on DUAL NATIONALITY for the limits on consular notification and access to dual nationals.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES:
Assisted Reproductive Technology:
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is widely and legally practiced in China. Surrogacy, however, is strictly forbidden under Chinese law and surrogacy contracts will not be considered valid in China. The use of reproductive technology for medical research and profit is strictly controlled in China.

Contracts and Commercial Disputes:  Before entering into a commercial or employment contract in China, have it reviewed by legal counsel both in the United States and in China. The U.S. Foreign Commercial Service can assist you in identifying and vetting business contacts and opportunities. Many U.S. citizens have reported difficulty getting their contracts enforced by Chinese courts or being forced out of profitable joint-ventures without opportunity to secure legal recourse in China.

Earthquakes: Earthquakes can occur throughout China. U.S. citizens in China should make contingency plans and leave emergency contact information with family members outside of China. Check here for information about earthquake preparedness.

English/Secondary School Teachers: English teachers in China frequently report employment disputes which can result in termination, lost wages, confiscation of passports, forced eviction from housing, and even threats of violence. Research your future workplace and make sure that you have the proper work visa to teach in China. Please see the Teaching in China Guide on the U.S. Embassy's website. If you have a serious dispute with your school, consult with a local attorney; and seek assistance from the police if your safety is threatened. 

Exit/Travel Bans: Business disputes, court orders to pay a settlement, or government investigations into both criminal and civil issues may result in an exit ban which will prohibit your departure from China until the issue is resolved.  Chinese authorities have confirmed that individuals and their family members who are not directly involved or even aware of these proceedings can be subject to an exit ban as well. Additionally, some local businesspeople who feel that they have been wronged by a foreign business partner may hire "debt collectors” to harass, intimidate, and sometimes physically detain foreign business partners or family members in hopes of collecting the debt. The U.S. Embassy or consulate can provide a list of local attorneys who serve U.S. clients, but otherwise are unable to intervene in civil cases. Local law enforcement authorities are generally unwilling to become involved in what they consider private business matters.

International Parental Child Abduction: Information on the prevention of international child abduction in China can be found on our website.

LGBTI Travelers: Homosexuality was decriminalized in China in 1997, but there are no civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination or harassment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Prejudices and discrimination still exist in many parts of the country. Same sex marriages are not legally recognized in China and local authorities will not provide marriage certificates to same-sex couples. There are growing LGBTI communities in some of China’s largest cities and violence against LGBTI individuals in China is relatively rare.

Non-Governmental Organizations:
In January 2017, China will implement a new law regulating the operations of foreign NGOs in China. NGOs and their employees should ensure they are complying with all relevant statutory requirements, particularly if working in sensitive areas or fields.

North Korea: China shares a lengthy border with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea or DPRK). We strongly recommend that you not to travel to North Korea. The United States does not have diplomatic relations with the DPRK, and Sweden, the Protecting Power for the United States, can provide only limited consular services. If you cross into North Korea, even inadvertently, you will be subject to North Korean law. For further information, consult the North Korea Country Specific Information webpage and the Travel Warning for North Korea.

Persons with Disabilities: U.S. citizens with mobility disabilities may face challenges while traveling in China. Sidewalks often do not have curb cuts and many streets can be crossed only via pedestrian bridges or underpasses accessible by staircase. Assistive technologies for blind people and those with other vision disabilities are unreliable, and access to elevators in public buildings can be restricted. In major cities, public restrooms in places visited by tourists usually have a least one accessible toilet.

Piracy: Do not buy counterfeit or pirated goods. The bootlegs are illegal in the United States and you may also be breaking local law by purchasing them.

Political and Religious Activity: Participating in unauthorized political or religious activities, including participating in public protests or sending private electronic messages critical of the government, may result in detention and Chinese government imposed restrictions on future travel to China. U.S. citizens have been detained and expelled for distributing religious literature, including Bibles.  If you bring religious literature with you, Chinese law dictates that it be a "reasonable amount” for your personal use. If you attempt to bring larger quantities, the literature will likely be confiscated and you may be fined, detained, or deported.

Social Insurance: China has a social insurance system to which foreigners who work in China must contribute. When you sign an employment contract, you must apply for a social insurance number, and it is important that your employer work with you to comply with the regulations. Please check the official website for updated information.

Special Scrutiny of Foreign Citizens: On occasion in recent years, citizens of the United States and other countries visiting or resident in China have been interrogated or detained for reasons said to be related to “state security.”  In such circumstances, you could face arrest, detention or an exit ban prohibiting your departure from China for a prolonged period. Dual U.S.-Chinese nationals and U.S. citizens of Chinese heritage may be at a higher risk of facing such special scrutiny. Information about dual nationality can be found on our website.  Foreigners working for NGOs in China have also recently faced additional scrutiny, and China will implement a new law regulating foreign NGO activity in January 2017. NGOs and their employees should ensure they are complying with all relevant statutory requirements, particularly if working in sensitive areas or fields.

Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

Surveillance and Monitoring: Security personnel carefully watch foreign visitors and may place you under surveillance. Hotel rooms (including meeting rooms), offices, cars, taxis, telephones, Internet usage, and fax machines may be monitored onsite or remotely, and personal possessions in hotel rooms, including computers, may be searched without your consent or knowledge.  Security personnel have been known to detain and deport U.S. citizens sending private electronic messages critical of the Chinese government.

Typhoons: The southeast coast of China is subject to strong typhoons and tropical storms, usually from July through September. For current information, please consult the Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Honolulu and the National Weather Service's Central Pacific Hurricane Center.

Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.

 

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Health

Quality of Care: The standards of medical care in China are not equivalent to those in the United States. Hospitals in major Chinese cities often have VIP wards (gaogan bingfang), which are fairly modern and typically staffed with well-trained English speaking doctors and nurses. However, even in these VIP/foreigner wards, English-speaking patients frequently encounter difficulty due to cultural, language, and regulatory differences. Rural areas have rudimentary facilities and inadequate staffing. Additionally, Rh-negative blood may be difficult to obtain; the blood type of the general Asian populace is Rh positive.

Payment and Insurance: Chinese ambulances are often slow to arrive, and most do not have sophisticated medical equipment or trained responders. Cash payment for services is often required prior to treatment, including emergency cases. Travelers will be asked to post a deposit prior to admission to cover the expected cost of treatment. Hospitals in major cities may accept credit cards. The U.S. Embassy and consulates general in China maintain lists of local English-speaking doctors and hospitals.

We do not pay medical bills.
Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments.   See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage. We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.

Medication: Carry prescription medication in original packaging, along with the prescription. Many commonly-used U.S. drugs and medications are not available in China, and counterfeit, low-quality knockoffs are prevalent. If you try to have medications sent to you from outside China, you may have problems getting them released by Chinese Customs and/or you may have to pay high customs duties.

Air Quality: Air pollution is a significant problem in many locations. The U.S. Embassy in Beijing and the U.S. Consulates in Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Shenyang make air quality data available to the U.S. citizen community. The Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection provides its own air quality data for cities throughout China.

Most roads and towns in Tibet, Qinghai, parts of Xinjiang, and western Sichuan are situated at altitudes over 10,000 feet. Take appropriate precautions to prepare for and be alert to altitude sickness.

Disease: The following diseases are prevalent: influenza, typhoid, measles, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and tuberculosis.

Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For further health information, go to:

 

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Travel and Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety: Rules, regulations, and conditions vary greatly throughout China, but a general rule of thumb is that traffic safety is poor and driving in China can be dangerous.

Traffic can be chaotic and largely unregulated and the rate of accidents in China, including fatal accidents, is among the highest in the world. Motorcycle and bicycle accidents are frequent and often deadly. Pedestrians do not have the right of way, and you should show extreme caution when walking in traffic, even in marked crosswalks. Child safety seats are not widely available.

Traffic Laws:

  • You may not drive in China using a U.S. or international driver’s license. 
  • You can apply for a Chinese driver’s license if you have a resident permit.
  • If you are involved in a traffic accident, stay calm and call and wait for the police.
    • If there are no injuries and damage is minimal, the parties often come to agreement on the spot.
    • Unresolved disputes are handled by the courts.
    • In cases involving injuries, the driver determined at fault is responsible for the injured person’s medical costs. Sometimes, the police may hold your passport until the other parties are satisfied with the compensation they receive.    
  • Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information. Also, we suggest that you visit China’s national tourist office and national authority responsible for road safety.

Public Transportation: China has a rapidly growing public transportation sector-- including subways, trains, and buses -- with a generally positive safety record. Mass transit is widely available in major cities, and is generally safe, although individuals on crowded buses and subways are often targeted by pick-pockets.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of China’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of China’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.

 

Hague Convention Participation
Party to the Hague Abduction Convention?
No
U.S. Treaty Partner under the Hague Abduction Convention?
No
What You Can Do
Learn how to respond to abductions FROM the US
Learn how to respond to abductions TO the US
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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Beijing

No. 55 An Jia Lou Road
Chaoyang District, Beijing 100600
China

Telephone: +(86)(10) 8531-4000

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(86)(10) 8531-4000

Fax: +(86)(10) 8531-3300

The Embassy consular district includes the municipalities of Beijing and Tianjin and the provinces/autonomous regions of Gansu, Hebei, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Inner Mongolia, Jiangxi, Ningxia, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Shandong, Shanxi, and Xinjiang.

Consulates

U.S. Consulate General Chengdu
Number 4 Lingshiguan Road
Section 4, Renmin Nanlu
Chengdu 61004,China

Telephone: (86)(28) 8558-3992

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(86)(10) 8531-4000

Fax: +(86)(28) 8554 6229

Email: AmCitChengdu@state.gov

This consular district includes the provinces/autonomous region of Guizhou, Sichuan, Xizang (Tibet) and Yunnan, as well as the municipality of Chongqing.

U.S. Consulate General Guangzhou
43 Hua Jiu Road, Zhujiang New Town, Tianhe District
Guangzhou 510623
China

Telephone: (86)(20) 3814-5775

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(86)(10) 8531-4000

Fax: +(86)(20) 3814-5572

Email: GuangzhouACS@state.gov

This consular district includes the provinces/autonomous region of Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan, and Fujian. 

U.S. Consulate General Shanghai
Westgate Mall, 8th Floor, 1038 Nanjing Xi Lu,
Shanghai 200031
China

Telephone: +(86)(21) 3217-4650

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: (86)(21) 3217-4650

Fax: +(86)(21) 6217-2071

Email: ShanghaiACS@state.gov

This consular district includes Shanghai municipality and the provinces of Anhui, Jiangsu and Zhejiang.

U.S. Consulate General Shenyang
No. 52, 14th Wei Road, Heping District,
Shenyang 110003
China

Telephone: +(86)(24) 2322-1198

Emergency After-Hours Telephone:+(86)(24) 2322-1198

Fax: +(86)(24) 2323-1465

Email: ShenyangACS@state.gov

This consular district includes: the provinces of Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Liaoning. 

The U.S. Consulate General in Wuhan
New World International Trade Tower I,
No. 568, Jianshe Avenue
Hankou, Wuhan 430022
China

Telephone: +(86)(027) 8555-7791

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(86)(10) 8531-4000

Fax: 027-8555-776

Please note that Wuhan does not provide regularly scheduled consular services. Contact the Embassy in Beijing for consular assistance.

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General Information

For information concerning travel to China, including information about the location of the U.S. Embassy, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, entry/exit requirements, safety and security, crime, medical facilities and health information, traffic safety, road conditions and aviation safety, please see country specific information for China. 

The U.S. Department of State reports statistics and compliance information for individual countries in the Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction (IPCA).  The report is located here.

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Hague Abduction Convention

China is not a signatory to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Abduction Convention), nor are there any bilateral agreements in force between China and the United States concerning international parental child abduction.

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Return

Legal systems and laws pertaining to custody, divorce, and parental abduction vary widely from country to country.  The government of China maintains information about custody, visitation, and family law on the Internet here under Marriage Law.  Parents are encouraged to consult with an attorney who specializes in family law in China and who can provide accurate legal guidance that is specific to their circumstances. 

The Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs, Directorate for Overseas Citizens Services, Office of Children's Issues provides assistance in cases of international parental child abduction.  For U.S. citizen parents whose children have been wrongfully removed to or retained in countries that are not U.S. partners under the Hague Abduction Convention, the Office of Children's Issues can provide information and resources about country-specific options for pursuing the return of or access to an abducted child.  The Office of Children's Issues may also coordinate with appropriate foreign and U.S. government authorities about the welfare of abducted U.S. citizen children.  Parents are strongly encouraged to contact the Department of State for assistance.

Contact information:

U.S. Department of State 
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children's Issues
CA/OCS/CI 
SA-17, 9th Floor 
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Telephone:  1-888-407-4747
Outside the United States or Canada: 1-202-501-4444
Website: travel.state.gov

Under Article 262 of the Criminal Law, abduction of a child under the age of 14 that would cause the child to be separated from his/her family or guardian is a crime in China, Please see full text of the law, which does not clearly address how this law applies if the abductor is a parent.

Parents may wish to consult with an attorney in the United States and in the country to which the child has been removed or retained to learn more about how filing criminal charges may impact a custody case in the foreign court.  Please see Pressing Criminal Charges for more information. 

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Visitation/Access

Legal systems and laws pertaining to custody, divorce, and parental abduction vary widely from country to country.  Parents are encouraged to consult with an attorney who specializes in family law in China and who can provide accurate legal guidance that is specific to their circumstances.

The Office of Children's Issues may be able to assist parents seeking access to children who have been wrongfully removed from or retained outside the United States.   Parents who are seeking access to children who were not wrongfully removed from or retained outside the United States should contact the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate in China for information and possible assistance.

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Retaining an Attorney

Neither the Office of Children's Issues nor consular officials at the U.S. Embassy or Consulates in China are authorized to provide legal advice.

The U.S. Embassy in Beijing posts list of attorneys, including those who specialize in family law.

This list is provided as a courtesy service only and does not constitute an endorsement of any individual attorney. The Department of State assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the persons or firms included in this list.  Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the lawyers.

This list is provided as a courtesy service only and does not constitute an endorsement of any individual attorney. The Department of State assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the following persons or firms. Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the lawyers.

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Mediation

Divorce cases brought before the courts often include voluntary mediation to resolve conflicts and to help develop parenting plan(s) best for the family.  Parents are encouraged to consult with an attorney who specializes in family law in China who can provide accurate legal guidance that is specific to their circumstances. For more resources please check www.npc.gov.cnor for the Chinese version please obtain information at http://www.gov.cn.

Exercising Custody Rights

While travelling in a foreign country, you are subject to the laws of that country. It is important for parents to understand that, although a left-behind parent in the United States may have custody or visitation rights pursuant to a U.S. custody order, that order may not be valid and enforceable in the country in which the child is located.  For this reason, we strongly encourage you to speak to a local attorney if planning to remove a child from a foreign country without the consent of the other parent.  Attempts to remove your child to the United States may:

  • Endanger your child and others;
  • Prejudice any future judicial efforts; and
  • Could result in your arrest and imprisonment.

The U.S. government cannot interfere with another country’s court or law enforcement system.

To understand the legal effect of a U.S. order in a foreign country, a parent should consult with a local attorney in the country in which the child is located.  

For information about hiring an attorney abroad, see our section on Retaining a Foreign Attorney. 

Although we cannot recommend an attorney to you, most U.S. Embassies have lists of attorneys available online. Please visit the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate website for a full listing.

For more information on consular assistance for U.S. citizens arrested abroad, please see our website.

Country officers are available to speak with you Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.  For assistance with an abduction in progress or any emergency situation that occurs after normal business hours, on weekends, or federal holidays, please call toll free at 1-888-407-4747. See all contact information.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this flyer is provided for general information only, is not intended to be legal advice, and may change without notice. Questions involving interpretation of law should be addressed to an attorney licensed in the relevant jurisdiction. 

 

Hague Convention Participation
Hague Adoption Convention Country?
Yes
Are Intercountry Adoptions between this country and the United States possible?
Only adoptions from China to the United States are possible.
Is this country a U.S. Hague Partner?
Yes
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Hague Convention Information

China is a party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention or Convention). Intercountry adoption processing in Convention countries must be done in accordance with the requirements of the Hague Adoption Convention; the U.S. implementing legislation, the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (IAA); and the IAA’s implementing regulations; as well as the implementing legislation and regulations of China.

China still remains the top country of origin for intercountry adoptions to the United States. Until a decade ago, adoptees from China were predominately infant girls but now the pool of available children is comprised overwhelmingly of those with disabilities or older children split evenly across genders. This demographic shift is largely due to increased efforts by the Chinese government to promote domestic adoption for children in need of permanent homes and by improvements in the Chinese economy which have simultaneously reduced the number of orphans while increasing the number of families willing to adopt. As a result of China’s efforts to promote domestic solutions to child welfare issues, Chinese citizens now adopt 25,000 to 30,000 children each year.

U.S. IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS FOR INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTIONS

To bring an adopted child to the United States from China, you must meet certain suitability and eligibility requirements. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), determines who is suitable and eligible to adopt a child from another country and bring that child to live in the United States under U.S. immigration law.

Additionally, a child must meet the definition of a Convention adoptee under U.S. immigration law in order to immigrate to the United States with an IH-3 or IH-4 immigrant visa.

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Who Can Adopt

In addition to being found suitable and eligible to adopt by USCIS, prospective adoptive parents (PAPs) seeking to adopt a child from China must meet the following requirements imposed by China:

  • Residency: China does not require PAPs to reside in China for a specified period prior to completing an adoption. However, in order to finalize an adoption, at least one adopting parent must travel to China to execute the required documents in person before the appropriate Chinese authorities. If only one member of an adopting married couple travels to China, that person must have in his/her possession a power of attorney from the other spouse, notarized and authenticated by the Chinese Embassy in Washington or one of the Chinese Consulates General elsewhere in the United States.
  • Age of Adopting Parents: The minimum age for PAPs to adopt from China is 30. China will allow married PAPs over 50 years of age to adopt a child. The age difference between the child and the younger spouse should, however, be no more than 50 years. Single female PAPs may be no more than 45 years older than the child they wish to adopt.
  • Marriage: Chinese law permits intercountry adoption by married heterosexual couples and single women. At this time, China does not permit lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgendered, or intersex (LGBTI) individuals or same-sex couples to adopt. Married couples must adopt jointly. In addition, they must have been married at least two years; if either spouse has previously divorced, the couple must have been married at least five years. China does not consider individuals who have been divorced two or more times to be eligible to adopt. Specific age, income, and family environment requirements apply to single women (see relevant categories in the “who can adopt” and “who can be adopted” sections below).
  • Income: China requires an adopting family's annual income equal at least $10,000 for each family member in the household (including the child to be adopted). China requires married PAPs to have a net worth of at least $80,000. The net worth of a single prospective adoptive parent must be $100,000. The calculation of annual income should exclude sources such as a relief fund, pension, disability benefits, or foster care subsidy. China’s central authority may waive China’s annual income and net worth requirements in cases where the family’s income and net worth are above the average local living standard of the jurisdiction of residence, and the PAPs can provide valid certification to that effect. PAPs must be high school graduates or have vocational training equivalent to a high school education.
  • Physical/Mental Health: PAPS must be physically and mentally fit, with none of the following conditions:
    • HIV, AIDS, or an infectious disease that is actively contagious;
    • Mental disability;
    • Blind in both eyes, or blind in either eye or having impaired vision that is uncorrected by a corrective device.
    • Hearing loss in both ears or loss of language function (those adopting children with hearing or language function loss are exempted from this requirement);
    • Non-function or dysfunction of limbs or trunk caused by impairment, incomplete limbs, paralysis or deformation;
    • Severe facial deformation;
    • Severe diseases that require long-term treatment and that may affect life expectancy, including malignant tumors, lupus, nephrosis, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis;
    • Major organ transplant within ten years, China may consider an exemption to this restriction for couples in which one spouse had a transplant within 10 years but has recovered to a normal daily life;
    • Schizophrenia;
    • Severe mental disorders, including depression, mania, or anxiety neurosis (China may exempt this restriction for couples with proof of effective treatment); and
    • Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or more.
  • Other: A single prospective adoptive parent must not have more than two children in her household under the age of 18 and the youngest child must be at least six years old. The Chinese Central Authority will consider the occupation and lifestyle of prospective adoptive parents to determine whether the PAPs will be available and able to take care of the child that they seek to refer. PAPs must have a history of honorable behavior and good moral character, and must not have a criminal record, including without evidence of:
    • Domestic violence, sexual abuse, abandonment, or abuse of children; even if not arrested or convicted;
    • Recreational drug use and those with substance abuse histories; including opium, morphine (unless medically administered), marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, etc. Note that PAPs will be required to provide information regarding prescription medications to the Chinese central authority so that it may evaluate eligibility of the PAPs on a case-by-case basis.
    • Alcohol abuse, unless the individual can show she/he has been sober for at least ten years.

Note: Applications from individuals with past criminal records will be considered on a case-by-case basis if the individual has three or fewer minor criminal violations that did not result in severe outcomes (none in the last ten years) and five or fewer traffic violations with no severe outcomes.

The prospective parents must demonstrate the ability to provide a safe family environment capable of meeting the needs of a child placed for adoption and providing for her/his development, and an understanding of the special risks (including potential diseases, developmental delays, and post-placement maladjustment) that could come with inter-country adoption.

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Who Can Be Adopted

Because China is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, children from China must meet the requirements of the Convention in order to be eligible for intercountry adoption. For example, the adoption may take place only if the competent authorities of China have determined that placement of the child within China has been given due consideration and that an intercountry adoption is in the child’s best interests.

In addition to qualifying as a Convention adoptee under U.S. immigration law, a child must meet the following requirements of China:

  • Relinquishment: Birth parents may voluntarily relinquish their parental rights by presenting credible evidence to the provincial authorities and the Chinese Central Authority that they are unable to rear the child due to “unusual difficulties.” For example, birth parents must present credible evidence of hardship in order to the Chinese central authority or local authorities to allow voluntary relinquishment. Such credible evidence that birth parents may present includes when birth parents have physical or social incapacities which limit their ability to rear a child.
  • Abandonment: Children with no known birth parents must be placed from a Social Welfare Institute (SWI) licensed by China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs. The Civil Affairs Department of the province where the child was abandoned will publish a public announcement in a local provincial newspaper to locate biological parents. If the biological parents or other legal guardians do not claim the child after 60 days of the date of publication of the public notice, the child will be certified as abandoned.
  • Age of Adoptive Child: Chinese law permits the adoption of children up to and including age 13. An adoption involving the child of a blood relative of the same generation up to the third degree of kinship is exempted from the age limit. Please note that in order for a child to meet the definition of Convention adoptee under U.S. immigration law, a Form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative, must be filed on the child’s behalf while the child is under the age of 16 (or under the age of 18 if the child is the birth sibling of another adopted child who has immigrated or will immigrate based on adoption by the same adoptive parent(s)). Please see the USCIS website for special rules on filing dates for children aged 15-16 or siblings aged 17-18.
  • Sibling Adoptions: No specific requirements.
  • Medical Conditions Other Needs: China places children with disabilities and older children from its special focus (SF) and non-special focus (non-SF) children according to their degree of special needs and health conditions. See the “Apply to China’s Authorities to Adopt and be Matched with a Child” section for further detail on the procedures involved with adopting a child with disabilities or an older child.
  • Waiting Period or Foster Care: Recent experience indicates it can take approximately 9 years for PAPs to receive a referral of a healthy infant from China’s central authority. Cases involving children without disabilities or older children are generally much shorter.

    After the referral is sent and the prospective parent(s) accept the referral (see the step-by-step description of the Chinese adoption process, below), at least four to eight more weeks may elapse before the prospective adoptive parents receive the Chinese central authority’s final approval to travel to China.

    Families should allow at least three weeks in China to finalize their child's adoption and immigration procedures. The Chinese central authority has advised local officials to try to complete the process within 15 days after the prospective adoptive parents arrive in China. The child's Chinese passport, exit permits, and U.S. immigrant visa process will take another 7-10 days after the adoption is finalized.

Caution: Prospective adoptive parents should be aware that not all children in orphanages or children’s homes are available for adoption. In many countries, birth parents place their child(ren) temporarily in an orphanage or children’s home due to financial or other hardship, intending that the child return home when possible. In such cases, the birth parent(s) have rarely relinquished their parental rights or consented to the adoption of their child(ren).

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How to Adopt

Because China is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adoptions from China must follow a specific process designed to meet the Convention’s requirements. A brief summary of the Convention adoption process is provided below. You must complete these steps in the following order to meet all necessary legal requirements. Adoptions completed out of order may result in the child not being eligible for an immigrant visa to the United States.

  1. Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider to Act as Your Primary Provider that has been authorized by China’s Central Authority to Operate in China
  2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Suitable and Eligible to Adopt (Form I-800A)
  3. Apply to China’s Authorities to Adopt and Be Matched with a Child
  4. Apply to USCIS for the Child to be Found Provisionally Eligible for Immigration to the United States as a Convention Adoptee (Form I-800) and Receive U.S. Agreement to Proceed with the Adoption (Art. 5/17 letter)
  5. Adopt the Child in China
  6. Apply for a U.S. Immigrant Visa for Your Child and Bring Your Child Home

1. Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider to Act as Your Primary Provider That Has Been Authorized by China’s Central Authority to Operate in China

The first step in adopting a child from China is to select an adoption service provider in the United States that has been accredited or approved to provide services to U.S. citizens in Convention cases and that has been authorized by the Government of China. A list of the accredited ASPs authorized to operate in China is located here. A primary provider must be identified in each Convention case and only accredited or approved adoption service providers may act as the primary provider in your case. Your primary provider is responsible for:

  • Ensuring that all six adoption services defined at 22 CFR 96.2 are provided consistent with applicable laws and regulations;
  • Supervising and being responsible for supervised providers where used (see 22 CFR 96.14); and
  • Developing and implementing a service plan in accordance with 22 CFR 96.44.

Learn more about Agency Accreditation.

2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Suitable and Eligible to Adopt

After you choose an accredited or approved adoption service provider, you must be found suitable and eligible to adopt by USCIS by submitting Form I-800A, Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country. You will need to submit a home study, fingerprints, and a background check as part of this application. Read more about Suitability and Eligibility Requirements.

3. Apply to China’s Authorities to Adopt and be Matched with a Child

Submit Your Dossier to the Central Authority
After USCIS determines that you are suitable and eligible to adopt and approves the Form I-800A application, your adoption service provider will provide your approval notice, home study, and any other required information to the adoption authority in China as part of your adoption application. China’s adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also suitable and eligible to adopt under China’s law.

Receive a Referral for a Child from the Central Authority
If both the United States and China determine that you are suitable and eligible to adopt, and China’s Central Authority for Convention adoptions has determined that a child is available for adoption and that intercountry adoption is in that child’s best interests, the Central Authority for Convention adoptions in China may provide you with a referral for a child. The referral is a proposed match between you and a specific child based on a review of your dossier and the needs of the child. The adoption authority in China will provide a background study and other information, if available, about the child to help you decide whether to accept the referral or not. We encourage families to consult with a medical professional and their adoption service provider to understand the needs of the specific child but family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of, and provide a permanent home for, a specific child and must conform to the recommendations in the home study submitted to USCIS for the number of children and capacity to deal with any disability-related needs of an adoptive child. Learn more about Health Considerations. If you accept the referral, the adoption service provider communicates that to the Central Authority in China. Learn more about this critical decision.

Prospective adoptive parents either accept or refuse a referral and send the document to their agency, which forwards it to CCCWA. CCCWA requires a response on a referral within three months of sending a referral to a family. If PAPs are considering refusing a referral they should work with their ASP to approach CCCWA for second referral. CCCWA will only accept requests for a second referral is the CCCWA considers the reason for rejecting the first referral to be justified. If the reason for the rejection is considered justifiable, such as a medical need that the prospective adoptive parents feel they cannot meet, the CCCWA may refer a second child to the prospective adoptive parents within a month's time. If CCCWA regards the rejection as unreasonable, the prospective adoptive parents will have difficulty obtaining a second referral and CCCWA may suggest that the prospective adoptive parents withdraw their application for adoption in China.

Requirements for Adopting Children with disabilities or older children: Once prospective adoptive parents decide to accept a referral of a child with disabilities or an older child, they have 72 hours to fill out the necessary forms to complete their pre-approval application. Prospective adoptive parents can review the case, including the medical and growth records and a photo of the child. The specific medical or other needs of the child is documented in the referral and the prospective adoptive parents can decide if they can meet the child's needs; for example, whether their insurance would cover the child's medical needs, and whether they themselves are able to provide any educational or rehabilitative support, etc. If the prospective adoptive parents decide they are able to meet this child's needs, they indicate such to the CCCWA and from that point onward they have 72 hours to fill out the necessary forms to complete the dossier. If the prospective adoptive parents have not completed the forms and submitted them within 72 hours, the child's name goes back on the list and other prospective adoptive parents can review that child's file. For detailed information, please consult your adoption service provider.

4. Apply to USCIS for the Child to be Found Provisionally Eligible for Immigration to the United States as a Convention Adoptee and Receive U.S. Agreement to Proceed with the Adoption

Submit a Petition for a Determination on the Child’s Immigration Eligibility
After you accept being matched with a particular child, you will apply to USCIS for provisional approval for the child to immigrate to the United States by filing the Form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative. USCIS will make a provisional determination as to whether the child appears to meet the definition of a Convention adoptee and will likely be eligible to enter and remain in the United States.

Submit an Immigrant Visa Application
After provisional approval of Form I-800 petition, you or your adoption service provider will submit a visa application to the consular section of the U.S. Consulate General in Guangzhou responsible for issuing immigrant visas to children from China.

You should receive a letter from the National Visa Center (NVC) confirming receipt of the provisionally approved Form I-800 petition and assigning a case number and an invoice ID number. Use this information to log into the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) to file the Electronic Immigrant Visa Application (DS-260) for your child. You should fill out these forms in your prospective adoptive child's name. Answer every item on the form. If information is not applicable, please write “N/A” in the block. Please review the DS-260 FAQs, our Online Immigrant Visa Forms page, or contact the NVC at NVCAdoptions@state.gov or +1-603-334-0700 if you have questions about completing the online DS-260 form. A consular officer will review the provisionally approved Form I-800 petition and the visa application and, if applicable, advises you of options for the waiver of any ineligibilities related to the visa application.

Warning: Do not attempt to adopt of a child in China before you receive provisional approval of your Form I-800 petition AND a U.S. consular officer issues the “Article 5/17 Letter” for your adoption case.

Remember: The consular officer will make a final decision about a child’s eligibility for an immigrant visa later in the adoption process.

5. Adopt the Child in China

Remember: Before you adopt or obtain legal custody of a child in China, you must have completed the above four steps. Only after completing these steps can you proceed to finalize the adoption or a grant of legal custody by China for the purposes of emigration and adoption. The process for finalizing the adoption [or obtaining legal custody] in China generally includes the following:

  • Role of Adoption Authority:
    • The CCCWA as the Chinese Central Authority:
      • Regulates and monitors intercountry adoptions, and implements the Hague Adoption Convention in China;
      • Provides information regarding children available for intercountry adoption;
      • Authorizes Adoption Service Providers; and
      • Issues “Letters of Seeking Confirmation” and "Notices of Coming to China for Adoption"
    • The Ministry of Civil Affairs
      • Administers the provincial Departments of Civil Affairs, which issue the final adoption certificate; and
      • Licenses Child Welfare Institutes (CWI) and SWIs which place children for intercountry adoption.
  • Role of Adoption Agencies: Accredited agencies and approved persons facilitate case specific communication with, and submit supporting documentation on behalf of PAPs to, CCCWA.
  • Time Frame: The time between when the adoption process commences and when a match is completed may vary based on the specific circumstances of the case and availability of necessary documents. In general, intercountry adoption of a healthy infant may take 9 or more years to be matched with a child. Intercountry adoptions involving a child with special needs generally may take between six months to two years.
  • Adoption Application: Adoption application letter (submitted with dossier through ASP). See full list of documents required below.
  • Adoption Fees:
    We encourage prospective adoptive parents to obtain detailed receipts for all fees and donations paid, either directly or through your U.S. adoption service provider, and to raise any concerns regarding any payment that you believe may be contrary to the Convention, U.S. law, or the law of China with your adoption service provider, or, when appropriate, through the Complaint Registry. For more information in this regard, please refer to information concerning the Complaint Registry. Improper payments may violate applicable law or create the appearance of child buying, and could put all future adoptions from China at risk. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, for instance, makes it unlawful to make payments to foreign government officials to assist in obtaining or retaining business. Further, the IAA makes certain actions relating to intercountry adoptions unlawful, and subject to civil and criminal penalties. These include offering, giving, soliciting, or accepting inducement by way of compensation intended to influence or affect the relinquishment of parental rights, parental consent relating to adoption of a child, a decision by an entity performing a central authority function or a decision by an accrediting entity with respect to accreditation of an agency or approval of a person.

    In the adoption services contract that you sign at the beginning of the adoption process, your agency will itemize the fees and estimated expenses related to your adoption process.

    Some of the fees specifically associated with adopting from China include:

    The authentication/legalization of documents by the Chinese Embassy or Consulate in the United States costs $10 per document, whether the document is one or multiple pages. The fee is for authentication of the seal.

    The initial CCCWA service fee is $1100, plus $350 for translation of the documents submitted in the dossier. For step-children who are being adopted by a step-parent, the service fee is $800, and there is no translation fee. The translations can be done in the United States or China, however, the CCCWA advises that the translations must be correct and that CCCWA will rectify, and charge for correcting any errors.

    Fees for issuance of certificates, and for notarization of those certificates, may vary based on province.

    Note: The certificate approving the adoption, birth certificate and abandonment certificate normally come together in a packet notarized by the provincial notary office. The U.S. Consulate General in Guangzhou no longer requests the notarized adoption certificate but still requires the birth certificate and abandonment certificate to be notarized. Many provincial notary offices still issue these three notaries as a package. Additional documents may be required (e.g., death certificates, if applicable) but the cost of issuance and notarization of such documents is not included in this fee.

    Chinese passports cost $25 for the normal 15-working-day issuance. Charges for expedited service differ by province.

    Individual Children's Welfare Institutes (if where the child lives before adoption) may charge 35,000 RMB (approximately $5,000 dollars in local currency) as a combined donation to the institution and a fee for caring for the child.

    U.S. adoptive parent(s) who believe that they were compelled at any point during the adoption process to pay exorbitant fees not in of keeping with the general information provided in this information sheet should notify the U.S. Consulate General in Guangzhou.
  • Documents Required:
    • Adoption application letter.
    • Birth certificate(s) of the prospective adoptive parent(s).
    • Marital status statement - Either a marriage certificate, divorce or death certificate (if applicable) or statement of single status is required.
    • Certificates of profession, income and property which may include; verification of employment and salary; bank statements; a copy of your property trust deeds, if applicable. All documents must be notarized or certified.
    • Health examination certificate(s) of the prospective adoptive parent(s).
    • Certificate(s) of criminal or no-criminal record - A certificate of good conduct for the adoptive parent(s) from a local police department notarized or bearing the police department seal and authenticated. An FBI report is acceptable in lieu of a local police record. This is separate from the FBI check conducted by USCIS as part of the petition process. You can request an FBI record check by sending two sets of fingerprints, an $18 money order, your full name, date and place of birth, social security number and letter of request explaining purpose for clearance to: FBI ID Division, Room 10104, Washington, DC 20537-9700. The FBI certificate should also be authenticated.
    • Home study report.
    • Certificate of child adoption approval by the competent department of the adopter's country of residence, also known as the Department of Homeland Security Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services I-797 Notice of Action on an I-800A application along with copies of the U.S. passport(s) of the prospective adoptive parent(s).
    • Each applicant parent should also submit two front-view photos and several other photos reflecting the family's life in the United States.
    • Power of attorney notarized and authenticated (if only one spouse will travel to China). In case of married couples, if only one adopting parent comes to China, Chinese law requires that the spouse traveling bring a power of attorney from his/her spouse, notarized and properly authenticated by Chinese Embassy or one of the Chinese consulates general in the United States.

    Note: Additional documents may be requested.
  • 6. Apply for a U.S. Immigrant Visa for Your Child and Bring Your Child Home

    Now that your adoption is complete there are a few more steps to take before your child can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for three documents before your child can travel to the United States:

    Birth Certificate
    If you have finalized the adoption in China, you will first need to apply for a birth certificate for your child so that you can later apply for a passport.

    Requirements vary from province to province. The SWIs and ASPs help adopting parents obtain birth certificates and Chinese passports. Birth certificates always have birth-parents’ names if known or otherwise state “unknown.” Authorities do not put in adopting parents’ names in the birth certificate.

    Chinese Passport
    Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from China. The Social Welfare Institute (SWI) will assist in obtaining a passport from the Public Security Bureau in the city of SWI for the prospective adoptee.

    U.S. Immigrant Visa

    After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to finalize your application for a U.S. visa for your child from the U.S.Consulate General in Guangzhou, China. After the adoption or custody for purposes of emigration and adoption is granted, visit the U.S. Consulate General for a final review of the case, and if applicable, the issuance of a U.S. Hague Adoption Certificate or Hague Custody Certificate, the final approval of the Form I-800 petition, and to obtain your child’s immigrant visa. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you and be admitted to the United States as your child. Please contact the U.S. Consulate General in Guangzhou by email at ACIVUappointment@state.gov to schedule your child’s immigrant visa appointment. As part of this process, you must provide the consular officer with the Panel Physician’s medical report on the child if you did not provide it during the provisional approval stage. Read more about the Medical Examination in China here.

    Before coming for your child’s immigrant visa interview, please be sure to complete an Electronic Immigrant Visa Application (DS-260) online at the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC). You should receive a letter from the National Visa Center (NVC) confirming receipt of the provisionally approved Form I-800 petition and assigning a case number and an invoice ID number. You will need this information to log into CEAC to file the DS-260 for your child. An adoptive parent should fill out these forms in your child's name. Answer every item on the form. If information is not applicable, please write “N/A” in the block. Print and bring the DS-260 form confirmation page to the visa interview. Please review the DS-260 FAQs, our Online Immigrant Visa Forms page, or contact the NVC at NVCAdoptions@state.gov or +1-603-334-0700 if you have questions about completing the online DS-260 form.

    Please visit the U.S. Consulate General Guangzhou’s website for the latest information on appointment scheduling and visa procedures.

    Child Citizenship Act
    For adoptions finalized abroad prior to the child’s entry into the United States: An adopted child residing in the United States in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent pursuant to a lawful admission for permanent residence generally will acquire U.S. citizenship automatically upon entry into the United States if the child otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, including the child is under the age of eighteen.

    For adoptions finalized after the child’s entry into the United States: You will need to complete an adoption following your child’s entry into the United States and before the child turns eighteen for the child (if he or she otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000) to automatically acquire U.S. citizenship.

    Read more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.
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Traveling Abroad

Applying for Your U.S. Passport
U.S. citizens are required by law to enter and depart the United States on a valid U.S. passport. Once your child has acquired U.S. citizenship, s/he will need a U.S. passport for any international travel. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify U.S. passports.

Getting or renewing a passport is easy. The Department of State’s Passport Application Wizard will help you determine which passport form you need, help you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the form for you to print—all in one place.

Obtaining a Visa to Travel to China
In addition to a U.S. passport, you may also need to obtain a visa to travel abroad. Where required, visas are affixed to a traveler’s passport and allow him or her to enter a foreign nation. To find information about obtaining a visa for China, see the Department of State’s Country Specific Information.

Staying Safe on Your Trip
Before you travel, it is always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country in the world about various issues, including health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.

Staying in Touch on Your Trip
When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to enroll with the Department of State through our Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country. Enrollment makes it possible for the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in China, to contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency. Whether there is a family emergency in the United States or a crisis in China, enrollment assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.

Enrollment is free and can be done online via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

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After Adoption

Post-Adoption/Post-Placement Reporting Requirements
We urge you to comply with China’s post-adoption/post-placement requirements in a timely manner. Your adoption service provider may be able to help you with this process. Your cooperation will contribute to China’s history of positive experiences with U.S. citizen adoptive parents.

Prospective adoptive parents must provide an adoption application letter that makes clear the willingness to allow post-placement follow-ups and provide post-placement reports as required. (Compliance with post-placement and post-adoption reports is extremely important for continued close cooperation on adoption between the United States and China.)

For cases issued a Notice of Coming to China for Adoption after January 1, 2015, CCCWA requires PAPs to submit post placement reports six months, one year, two years, three years, four years, and five years after the adoption registration.

The first three reports must be prepared by the social workers who prepared the home study. The last three reports may be written by the families themselves. Please consult your adoption service provider for further details.

Post-Adoption Resources
Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption. There are many public and private nonprofit post-adoption services available for children and their families. There are also numerous adoptive family support groups and adoptee organizations active in the United States that provide a network of options for adoptees who seek out other adoptees from the same country of origin. You may wish to take advantage of all the resources available to your family, whether it is another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services. Your primary provider can provide or point you to post- placement/post-adoption services to help your adopted child and your family transition smoothly and deal effectively with the many adjustments required in an intercountry adoption.

COMPLAINTS

If you have concerns about your adoption process, we ask that you share this information with the Consulate General in Guangzhou, particularly if it involves possible fraud or misconduct specific to your child’s case. The Department of State takes all allegations of fraud or misconduct seriously. Our Adoption Comment Page provides several points of contact for adoptive families to comment on their adoption service provider, their experience applying for their child’s visa, or about the Form I-800 petition process.

The Complaint Registry is an internet based registry for filing complaints about the compliance of U.S. accredited or approved adoption service providers with U.S. accreditation standards. If you think your provider's conduct may have been out of substantial compliance with accreditation standards, first submit your complaint in writing directly to your provider. If the complaint is not resolved through the provider's complaint process, you may file the complaint through the Complaint Registry.

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Contact Information

U.S. Embassy in China
U.S. Embassy Beijing
No. 55 An Jia Lou Road
Beijing, China 100600
Tel: (86-10) 8531-4000
Fax: (86-10) 8531-3300
Email: BeijingACS@state.gov

U.S. Consulate General of the United States in Guangzhou
Mailing Address: 43 Hua Jiu Road, Zhujiang New Town
Tianhe District
Guangzhou, China. 510623
Physical Address: Huaxia Road, Zhujiang New Town, (near Exit B1 of the Zhujiang New Town subway station, Line 3 and Line 5),
Tianhe District
Guangzhou, China
Tel: 011-86-20-3814 5000
Email: GuangzhouA@state.gov
Internet: https://china.usembassy-china.org.cn/u-s-citizen-services/child-family-matters/adoption/

China’s Adoption Authority
The China Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption
16 Wang Jia Yuan Lane
Dongcheng District
Beijing, China 100027
Tel: 010-655-48998
Email: cccwa@cccwa.cn
Internet: http://cccwaen.mca.gov.cn

Embassy of China
2201 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W. Suite 110
Washington, D.C. 20007Tel: 202-337-1956
Fax: 202-588-9760
Email: visa_us@mfa.gov.cn
Internet: http://www.china-embassy.org/eng/ywzn/lsyw/

China also has consulates in: Los Angeles, CA; San Francisco, CA; Chicago, IL; New York, NY; and Houston, TX.

Office of Children’s Issues
U.S. Department of State
CA/OCS/CI
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20522-1709
Tel: 1-888-407-4747
Email: Adoption@state.gov
Internet: adoption.state.gov

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about immigration procedures:
USCIS National Customer Service Center (NCSC)
Tel: 1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)
Internet: uscis.gov

For questions about filing a Form I-800A application or a Form I-800 petition:
USCIS National Benefits Center (NBC)
Tel: 1-877-424-8374 (toll free); 1-816-251-2770 (local)
Email: NBC.Hague@uscis.dhs.gov

Reciprocity Schedule

Select a visa category below to find the visa issuance fee, number of entries, and validity period for visas issued to applicants from this country*/area of authority.

Explanation of Terms

Visa Classification: The type of nonimmigrant visa you are applying for.

Fee: The reciprocity fee, also known as the visa issuance fee, you must pay. This fee is in addition to the nonimmigrant visa application fee (MRV fee).

Number of Entries: The number of times you may seek entry into the United States with that visa. "M" means multiple times. If there is a number, such as "One", you may apply for entry one time with that visa.

Validity Period: This generally means the visa is valid, or can be used, from the date it is issued until the date it expires, for travel with that visa. If your Validity Period is 60 months, your visa will be valid for 60 months from the date it is issued.

Visa Classifications
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
K
L
M
N
O
P
Q
R
S
T
U
V
 
Visa
Classification
Fee Number
of Entries
Validity
Period
A-1 None Multiple 60 Months
A-2 None Multiple 60 Months A
A-2 (TDY) None Two 6 Months
A-3 1 None Multiple 12 Months
B-1 None Multiple 120 Months C
B-2 None Multiple 120 Months C
B-1/B-2 None Multiple 120 Months C
C-1 None Multiple 60 Months
C-1/D None Multiple 60 Months
C-2 None Multiple 24 Months
C-3 None Multiple 24 Months A
C-3 (TDY) None Two 6 Months
CW-1 11 None Multiple 12 Months
CW-2 11 None Multiple 12 Months
D None Multiple 60 Months
E-1 2 No Treaty N/A N/A
E-2 2 No Treaty N/A N/A
E-2C 12 None Multiple 24 Months
F-1 None Multiple 60 Months
F-2 None Multiple 60 Months
G-1 None Multiple 36 Months
G-2 None Two 6 Months
G-3 None Multiple 36 Months
G-4 None Multiple 36 Months
G-5 1 None Multiple 6 Months
H-1B None Multiple 12 Months 3
H-1C None Multiple 12 Months 3
H-2A None N/A N/A3
H-2B None N/A N/A3
H-2R None Multiple 12 Months 3
H-3 None Multiple 12 Months 3
H-4 None Multiple 12 Months 3
I None One 3 Months
J-1 4 None Multiple 60 Months
J-2 4 None Multiple 60 Months
K-1 None One 6 Months
K-2 None One 6 Months
K-3 None Multiple 24 Months
K-4 None Multiple 24 Months
L-1 $120.00 B Multiple 24 Months
L-2 $120.00 B Multiple 24 Months
M-1 None Multiple 60 Months
M-2 None Multiple 60 Months
N-8 None Two 6 Months
N-9 None Two 6 Months
NATO 1-7 N/A N/A N/A
O-1 None One 3 Months 3
O-2 None One 3 Months 3
O-3 None One 3 Months 3
P-1 None One 3 Months 3
P-2 None One 3 Months 3
P-3 None One 3 Months 3
P-4 None One 3 Months 3
Q-1 6 None One 3 Months 3
R-1 None One 3 Months
R-2 None One 3 Months
S-5 7 None One 1 Month
S-6 7 None One 1 Month
S-7 7 None One 1 Month
T-1 9 N/A N/A N/A
T-2 None One 6 Months
T-3 None One 6 Months
T-4 None One 6 Months
T-5 None One 6 Months
T-6 None One 6 Months
TD 5 N/A N/A N/A
U-1 None Multiple 48 Months
U-2 None Multiple 48 Months
U-3 None Multiple 48 Months
U-4 None Multiple 48 Months
U-5 None Multiple 48 Months
V-1 None Multiple 120 Months
V-2 None Multiple 120 Months 8
V-3 None Multiple 120 Months 8
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Country Specific Footnotes
  1. Type Duration

    Assigned personnel receive full validity. Temporary duty personnel receive limited validity.

    Two entries/6 months
    Professional diplomatic couriers Multiple entries/36 months
  2. Type Fee Duration
    Single entry No fee 3 months
  3. All NIV adjudicating posts worldwide must annotate each 10-year, multiple-entry, B-1/B-2, B-1, or B-2 visa issued in a People's Republic of China passport. 

    Visa annotation must read:
    EVUS Enrollment required beginning November 29, 2016.
    Details at www.cbp.gov/EVUS

    Subsequent to the November 29, 2016 start date of the program, the annotation will be:
    EVUS enrollment required
    Details at www.cbp.gov/EVUS

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.

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Visa Category Footnotes
  1. The validity of A-3, G-5, and NATO 7 visas may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the person who is employing the applicant. The "employer" would have one of the following visa classifications:

    • A-1
    • A-2
    • G-1 through G-4
    • NATO 1 through NATO 6

  2. An E-1 and E-2 visa may be issued only to a principal alien who is a national of a country having a treaty, or its equivalent, with the United States. E-1 and E-2 visas may not be issued to a principal alien if he/she is a stateless resident. The spouse and children of an E-1 or E-2 principal alien are accorded derivative E-1 or E-2 status following the reciprocity schedule, including any reciprocity fees, of the principle alien’s country of nationality.  

    Example: John Doe is a national of the country of Z that has an E-1/E-2 treaty with the U.S. His wife and child are nationals of the country of Y which has no treaty with the U.S. The wife and child would, therefore, be entitled to derivative status and receive the same reciprocity as Mr. Doe, the principal visa holder.  

  3. The validity of H-1 through H-3, O-1 and O-2, P-1 through P-3, and Q visas may not exceed the period of validity of the approved petition or the number of months shown, whichever is less.

    Under 8 CFR §214.2, H-2A and H-2B petitions may generally only be approved for nationals of countries that the Secretary of Homeland Security has designated as participating countries. The current list of eligible countries is available on USCIS's website for both H-2A and H-2B visas. Nationals of countries not on this list may be the beneficiary of an approved H-2A or H2-B petition in limited circumstances at the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security if specifically named on the petition.  

    Derivative H-4, L-2, O-3, and P-4 visas, issued to accompanying or following-to-join spouses and children, may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the principal alien.

  4. There is no reciprocity fee for the issuance of a J visa if the alien is a United States Government grantee or a participant in an exchange program sponsored by the United States Government.

    Also, there is no reciprocity fee for visa issuance to an accompanying or following-to-join spouse or child (J-2) of an exchange visitor grantee or participant.

    In addition, an applicant is eligible for an exemption from the MRV fee if he or she is participating in a State Department, USAID, or other federally funded educational and cultural exchange program (program serial numbers G-1, G-2, G-3 and G-7).

    However, all other applicants with U.S. Government sponsorships, including other J-visa applicants, are subject to the MRV processing fee.

  5. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canadian and Mexican nationals coming to engage in certain types of professional employment in the United States may be admitted in a special nonimmigrant category known as the "trade NAFTA" or "TN" category. Their dependents (spouse and children) accompanying or following to join them may be admitted in the "trade dependent" or "TD" category whether or not they possess Canadian or Mexican nationality. Except as noted below, the number of entries, fees and validity for non-Canadian or non-Mexican family members of a TN status holder seeking TD visas should be based on the reciprocity schedule of the TN principal alien.

    Canadian Nationals

    Since Canadian nationals generally are exempt from visa requirement, a Canadian "TN' or "TD" alien does not require a visa to enter the United States. However, the non-Canadian national dependent of a Canadian "TN", unless otherwise exempt from the visa requirement, must obtain a "TD" visa before attempting to enter the United States. The standard reciprocity fee and validity period for all non-Canadian "TD"s is no fee, issued for multiple entries for a period of 36 months, or for the duration of the principal alien's visa and/or authorized period of stay, whichever is less. See 'NOTE' under Canadian reciprocity schedule regarding applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality.

    Mexican Nationals

    Mexican nationals are not visa-exempt. Therefore, all Mexican "TN"s and both Mexican and non-Mexican national "TD"s accompanying or following to join them who are not otherwise exempt from the visa requirement (e.g., the Canadian spouse of a Mexican national "TN") must obtain nonimmigrant visas.

    Applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality, who have a permanent resident or refugee status in Canada/Mexico, may not be accorded Canadian/Mexican reciprocity, even when applying in Canada/Mexico. The reciprocity fee and period for "TD" applicants from Libya is $10.00 for one entry over a period of 3 months. The Iranian and Iraqi "TD" is no fee with one entry over a period of 3 months.

  6. Q-2 (principal) and Q-3 (dependent) visa categories are in existence as a result of the 'Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training Program Act of 1998'. However, because the Department anticipates that virtually all applicants for this special program will be either Irish or U.K. nationals, the Q-2 and Q-3 categories have been placed only in the reciprocity schedules for those two countries. Q-2 and Q-3 visas are available only at the Embassy in Dublin and the Consulate General in Belfast.

  7. No S visa may be issued without first obtaining the Department's authorization.

  8. V-2 and V-3 status is limited to persons who have not yet attained their 21st birthday. Accordingly, the period of validity of a V-2 or V-3 visa must be limited to expire on or before the applicant's twenty-first birthday.

  9. Posts may not issue a T-1 visa. A T-1 applicant must be physically present in the United States, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands or a U.S. port of entry, where he/she will apply for an adjustment of status to that of a T-1. The following dependents of a T-1 visa holder, however, may be issued a T visa at a U.S. consular office abroad:

    • T-2 (spouse)
    • T-3 (child)
    • T-4 (parent)
  10. The validity of NATO-5 visas may not exceed the period of validity of the employment contract or 12 months, whichever is less.

  11. The validity of CW-1 and CW-2 visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (12 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

  12. The validity of E-2C visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (24 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

 

 

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General Documents

Most of the documents listed below can be obtained from one of China's Notarial Offices (Gong Zheng Chu). All Chinese documentation to be used abroad is processed through the notary offices and issued in the form of notarial certificates. Notarial offices are located in all major Chinese cities and in rural county seats. These offices are part of the Ministry of Justice structure, but are separate from the people's court system.

Notaries in China do not perform the same functions as their American counterparts. Chinese notaries affix their signatures and office seal to certificates that attest to the probity of claims made by the applicants. By regulation, notaries are empowered to issue certificates only after they conclude that the applicant's claims are true. Notarial certificates of birth, death, marriage, divorce, no criminal record and pre-1981 adoptions are, at best, secondary evidence of the events they purport to document. Although these certificates are secondary evidence, they are used because primary evidence is not standardized, is easily forged, and difficult to evaluate. Notarial certificates are easier to interpret than primary evidence and theoretically represent an expert judgment on the part of the notarial official as to the facts documented.

The certificates can be based upon primary evidence, secondary evidence, testimony of the applicant or other parties, or investigation by the notary. For most notarial certificates of birth or adoption, the primary underlying documentation is the household register (HHR) which appears to be extremely susceptible to fraud and manipulation, especially if the holder of the HHR lives outside of a major metropolitan area. Notarial certificates rarely cite the basis for their issuance.*

Thus a certificate in itself may not be adequate evidence of the facts claimed, and is best used in conjunction with primary and contemporaneous secondary evidence: old land deeds and old family registers; letters or money receipts; family records from countries that have reliable public documents; school and medical records. In relationship cases, especially where the petitioner left China years before, the best evidence of relationship, or lack of it, would be the Hong Kong Certificate of Registered Particulars (for petitioners who lived in Hong Kong), or the petitioner's immigration and/or naturalization file.

Local conditions often do not permit consular officers to conduct on-site inquiries. However, if there is a reason to doubt the claims in a certificate issued by a Chinese notary, the American consular post in the issuing office's area may verify the information through the notarial office, or, if possible, by field investigation. A copy of the document in question should be submitted to the post, as well as detailed reasons for the suspicion. For suspected relationship fraud, the first step should be a check of the information contained in the INS file or Joint Voluntary Agency (JVA) files for former refugees. Given sufficient reason, notaries do investigate, and in some cases, revoke certificates. Several months should be allowed for a reply.

Individuals residing outside of China may obtain notarial certificates from the notarial office with jurisdiction over the county of previous residence. Chinese relatives or friends may request issuance of certificates on behalf of someone now living abroad. Relatives and friends should have specific written authorization from the interested party before they request certificates. Alternatively, persons in need of notarial documents may contact the PRC Embassy or Consulate nearest to their residence abroad and ask that the request be forwarded to the appropriate notarial office. Obtaining a notarial certificate through a PRC Embassy or Consulate can require considerable time.

Birth, Death, Burial Certificates

Birth

Original medical certificates of birth (Chu Sheng Yi Xue Zheng Ming) are available starting from 1996. Also available are notarial birth certificates, which are secondary evidence. Due to the lack of a standardized format for birth certificates prior to 1996, original medical certificate of birth (when available) along with a notarial certificate of birth should be requested.  Notarial certificates of birth (Chu Sheng Gong Zheng Shu or Chu Sheng Zheng Ming Shu) for persons living in or recently departed from China are generally reliable, but are best used in conjunction with other evidence. They are most often based upon an HHR, (Household Record) which is easily susceptible to fraud, especially in villages. Notarial birth certificates for persons long departed from China are most likely based merely upon the testimony of interested parties.

While some notarial birth certificates will list stepparents or adoptive parents along with natural parents, this is not always the case. In some cases, the certificates will list only the natural parents, covering up an adoption.

Some applicants will present notarial certificates of relationship (Guan Xi Gong Zheng [or Zheng Ming] Shu) in lieu of notarial birth certificates. These certificates of relationship are unreliable and tend to be based solely upon the testimony of interested parties. Notarial birth certificates should be required. Care should be taken with any certificate that lists step relationships. These relationships are as of the date of issuance of the certificate only. Marriage certificates should also be required.

Death/Burial

Available in the form of notarial marriage certificates (Jie Hun Gong Zheng [or Zheng Wing] Shu) or death certificates which are generally reliable.

 

 

Marriage, Divorce Certificates

Marriage

Available in the form of notarial marriage certificates (Jie Hun Gong Zheng [or Zheng Ming] Shu) or death certificates which are generally reliable.

Same-sex marriage is not recognized in China.

Divorce

Available. Notarial offices will issue notarial divorce certificates based upon extant records to confirm either a court-decreed or uncontested divorce. In an uncontested divorce, a couple can obtain a divorce certificate from the marriage registration office in the neighborhood where they reside. In a contested divorce, both parties will receive a copy of the formal divorce decree from the court at the time the divorce is approved. If the original decree is lost, the same court will often issue a duplicate, but these various decrees or certificates should not be accepted in lieu of the notarial certificates.

 

Adoption Certificates

Certification is available in the form of a Notarial Adoption Certificate ("Shou Yang Gong Zheng" or "Zheng Ming Shu"); however, in accordance with the most recent revisions to China's adoptions law, a Notarial Adoption Certificateis no longer a requirement in adoption cases that were initiated after April 1, 1999, the effective date of the revisions. Notarial Adoptions Certificatesremain available should any party involved in the adoptions process wish to have one (Adoption Law of the PRC, Chapter II, Article 15).

Early Adoptions

Prior to January 1981, there were no standardized adoptions laws and regulations in China. Commonly, adoptions were orally agreed to by the adoptive parent(s) and natural parents and/or surviving family members. There may or may not be a written record dating from the time of the adoption in these older cases. Parties to pre-1981 adoptions, however, often secured Notarial Adoptions Certificates at a later point in time that listed the natural parents' names, adoptive parents' names, and the date of the adoption. These certificates were supposedly issued only after the notary ascertained that an adoption took place conforming to local practice and regulation. Although notarial offices issued certificates for pre-January 1981 adoptions, these are considered to have been extremely susceptible to fraud, such that contemporaneous evidence of the adoption and co-residence, especially in the form of school records, is required for verification purposes.

Following Enactment of the Adoption Law of China, Effective April 1, 1992

China codified its adoptions laws and regulations in the Current Adoption Law of China on December 29, 1991, which came into force on April 1, 1992. Under this law, a Notarial Adoption Certificate was required in all adoption cases, and the inability to obtain a Notarial Adoption Certificate was prima facie evidence no adoption ever took place. Therefore, adoptions taking place after January 1981 and before April 1, 1999 are considered valid only with the issuance of a Notarial Adoptions Certificate. Additionally, for adoptions cases initiated during this period, the date of issuance of the Notarial Adoptions Certification serves as the effective date of adoption.

Revisions to the Adoption Law of China, Effective April 1, 1999

On November 4, 1998, China amended its adoptions law, effective April 1, 1999. Under the revised law, Notarial Adoption Certificates are no longer required in the adoptions process, nor are they used to establish the effective date of adoption. Instead, a Certificate of Registration of Adoption is used, and the effective date of an adoption is the date of registration (Revised Measures for Registration of Adoption of Children by Foreigners, Article 11). These certificates are issued by the provincial-level Ministry of Civil Affairs, which is responsible for approving all adoptions of parentless or abandoned children who becomes the wards of the Chinese state.

International (Inter-country) Adoptions in China

Foreigners may, in accordance with the Adoption Law of China, adopt a child (male or female) in the PRC. As in a domestic adoption, the adoptive relationship shall be established as the date of registration in all adoptions concluded on or after April 1, 1999, the effective date of the revised law. For adoptions occurring prior to that date, failure to obtain a Notarial Certificate of Adoption remains prima facie evidence a legal adoption never took place. While a Notarized Adoptions Certificate is no longer required, one may be obtained should any party involved in the adoption relationship wish to have one. Moreover, it remains true that if a foreign parent or married couple adopts a Chinese orphan, at least one of the adoptive parents must travel to China to complete the adoption, at which time they will receive a Notarial Birth Certificate and a Notarial Abandonment Certificate (Revised Measures for Registration of Adoption of Children by Foreigners, Article 8). The Notarial Abandonment Certificate should detail under what circumstances the child was either orphaned or abandoned. Please consult the U.S. Consulate Guangzhou's Adoption Unit for more on the inter-country adoptions process.

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Identity Card

Unavailable.

Police, Court, Prison Records

Police Records

Generally available, reliable. Persons should apply for a certificate of no criminal record at the local Public Security Bureau (PSB) (or certain types of employers such as state owned enterprises), then make application to the notary office for a certificate based on the PSB document. Persons without a criminal record will be able to obtain a certificate to that effect. Certificates for individuals with one or more criminal convictions will list all convictions for which records still exist. The certificates purport to reflect all criminal convictions during residence in China. Police records are generally not available for the period prior to 1949. Certificates are available for those in the J-1, Z, and X categories. The GOC does not issue police records for temporary residents of China in L or F visa categories.

Police records also are not available for those who were in China in diplomatic status including those working for international organizations such as the United Nations. Notarial police certificates are based in part upon records from an individual's employer. If an employer refuses to release records, the notarial office is not able to issue a certificate. This is the case for persons sent abroad for education by the Chinese Government who fail to return to China.

According to a 1957 state council ruling that is still in force, the imposition of a re-education through labor (Lao Dong Jiao Yu) term does not result from a criminal conviction. Administrative organs, rather than courts, impose re-education through labor. It is important to distinguish re-education through labor from labor reform (Lao Dong Gai Zao), which is a sentence meted out for criminal offenses.

Court Records

Available in most cases. Normally, when someone is tried by a people's court or by an organ of the executive branch of government, some record remains of the case even for a political crime. In some instances, the entire formal court verdict (Pan Jue Shu) is available upon request by the former defendant. In other cases, the court can provide only a synopsis of the charges and the verdict. In all instances, it is necessary to have the applicant request court records. If an applicant is unable to secure court records, the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, or the posts in China with jurisdiction over the area where the record is located can contact the appropriate provincial foreign affairs office and request assistance in securing records. It is not advisable for other U.S. officials to contact courts directly. Most court records will also indicate the original sentence, the actual sentence served and any reduction or commutation of the original sentence. Court records are generally not available for the period prior to 1949.

Prison Records

See Court Record above.

Military Records

Generally not available.

Passports & Other Travel Documents

There are four types of Chinese passports:

  1. Diplomatic Passports: Bright Red. Used for diplomats, and certain other senior government officials, (e.g., provincial governors, ministers, etc.) and the heads of some large state corporations.
  2. Service Passports: Green. Used for other government-sponsored travelers who are at, or below, the vice-minister level. Service passports are issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  3. Public Affairs Passports: Dark brown. Used for other government-sponsored travelers who are at, or below, the vice-minister level. Public Affairs passports are issued by Provincial Foreign Affairs Offices.
    Note: Beijing has seen a variety of government sponsored travelers from trading company officials to Kung Fu experts, traveling on Public Affairs passports. The Provincial Foreign Affairs officers appear to have some latitude in deciding who can travel on a Public Affairs passport.
  4. Private Passport: Red. (The current red passports first appeared in 1992. Earlier versions, some of which are still in use, are brown.) Both types are used for Chinese traveling for unofficial purposes. The main difference between service and public affairs passports on the one hand and private passports on the other is that a Chinese traveling on a service or public affairs passport must be sponsored officially by the government, (though that does not mean the government is necessarily paying for the trip). Most applications for travel by holders of diplomatic service, and public affairs passports come to the U.S. under cover of a note from the sponsoring Chinese organization.


Travel Document
:  Blue.  A Travel Document is issued by Chinese diplomatic representative offices outside of China to Chinese citizens who, due to time constraints or other reasons, are unable to apply for a regular passport.  If the Travel Document is annotated as “Valid only for return travel to China” the document becomes invalid as soon as the holder enters China. A Travel Document may also be issued by Chinese diplomatic representative offices to residents of Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan who do not possess mainland travel permits and who need to travel to mainland China. A Travel Document will typically either be issued as single entry for mainland China with one year of validity, or as multiple entries/exits for mainland China with two years of validity. Travel Document validity cannot be extended. A Travel Document can also be used to apply for third country visas as well as used to travel to a third country.   

 

Other Records

Notarial Work Experience Certificates

Available. Notarial Work Experience Certificates (NWECS) briefly describe an applicant's work experience in the PRC. They should be required of all employment based preference immigrant applicants who claim work experience in China. Employer's letters or sworn statements from persons claiming person's knowledge should not be accepted in lieu of NWECS. The inability of an applicant to obtain a NWEC should be regarded as prima facie evidence the applicant does not possess the claimed experience.

Visa Issuing Posts

Beijing (Embassy) -- NIV except K

Mailing Address:
Unit 7300
DPO AP 96521-7300

Street Address:
No. 55 An Jia Lou Road
Beijing, China 100600

Tel: (86-10) 8531-4000 (ACS), 8531-3000 (NIV)

Fax: (86-10) 8531-3333 (NIV), 8531-3300 (ACS)

AmCitBeijing@state.gov

Chengdu (Consulate General)-- NIV except K

Mailing Address:

Unit 4080

DPO, AP 96521-4080

Street Address:
Number 4, Lingshiguan Road,
Chengdu, Sichuan, PRC 610041

Tel: (28) 8558-3992, 8558-9642

Fax: (28) 88-3520

Guangzhou (Consulate General) -- All categories

Mailing Address:
U.S. Consulate General
43 Hua Jiu Road, Zhujiang New Town
Tianhe District
Guangzhou, China
510623

Street Address:
Huaxia Road, Zhujiang New Town, (near Exit B1 of the Zhujiang New Town subway station, Line 3 and Line 5)
Tianhe District
Guangzhou, China

Phone: 020-3814-5000

Shanghai (Consulate General)-- NIV except K

Mailing Address:

Unit 4100

DPO, AP 96521-4100

Street Address:
1469 Huai Hai Zhong Lu
Shanghai, PRC 200031

Tel: (86-21) 6433-6880
(after hours) (86-21) 6433-3936

Fax: (86-21) 6471-1493, 6433-4122, 6471-1148

Shenyang (Consulate General) -- NIV except K

Mailing Address:

Unit 4110

DPO, AP 8531-4110

Street Address:
No. 52, 14 Wei Road
Heping District
Shenyang, Liaoning, PRC 110003

Tel: (86-24) 2322-1198, 2322-0368

Fax: (86-24) 2322-2374

Visa Services
IV
Guangzhou All IV applications for China (PRC).
All K NIV applications for China.
NIV
Beijing All of China except for areas serviced by Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Shenyang.
Chengdu Chongqing Municipality Sichuan Province, Tibet Autonomous Region, and Yunnan Province.
Guangzhou Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and the provinces of Fujian, Guangdong, and Hainan.
Shanghai Shanghai Municipality and the provinces of Anhui, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang.
Shenyang Provinces of Liaoning, Jilin, and Heilongjiang.

The embassy/consular districts include the following provinces/regions of China:

Embassy/Consular District Provinces/Regions
Beijing
  • Beijing
  • Tianjin
  • Shandong
  • Shanxi
  • Inner Mongolia
  • Ningxia
  • Shaanxi
  • Qinghai
  • Gansu
  • Xinjiang
  • Hebei
  • Henan
  • Hubei
  • Hunan
  • Jiangxi
Chengdu
  • Guizhou
  • Sichuan 
  • Xizang (Tibet)
  • Yunnan
  • Municipality of Chongqing
Guangzhou
  • Guangdong
  • Guangxi
  • Hainan
  • Fujian
Shanghai
  • Shanghai
  • Anhui
  • Jiangsu
  • Zhejiang
Shenyang
  • Liaoning
  • Heilongjian
  • Jilin

Foreign Consular Office Contact Information

Washington, DC (202) 495-2266 (202) 495-2138

Chicago, IL (312) 803-0095 (312) 803-0104

Houston, TX (713) 520-1462 (713) 521-3064

Los Angeles, CA (213) 807-8088 (213) 807-8091

New York, NY (212) 244-9392 (212) 244-9456

San Francisco, CA (415) 852-5924 during working hours, (415) 216-8525 outside working hours (415) 852-5920

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Beijing
No. 55 An Jia Lou Road
Chaoyang District, Beijing 100600
China
Telephone
+(86)(10) 8531-4000
Emergency
+(86)(10) 8531-4000
Fax
+(86)(10) 8531-3300
China Country Map

Learn about your destination
Additional Information for Reciprocity

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.

Country Information

China
People's Republic of China
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Embassy Messages
Quick Facts
PASSPORT VALIDITY:

Six months

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:

Two pages

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:

Yes

VACCINATIONS:

None

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:

Max RMB 20,000

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:

Max RMB 20,000

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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Beijing

No. 55 An Jia Lou Road
Chaoyang District, Beijing 100600
China

Telephone: +(86)(10) 8531-4000

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(86)(10) 8531-4000

Fax: +(86)(10) 8531-3300

The Embassy consular district includes the municipalities of Beijing and Tianjin and the provinces/autonomous regions of Gansu, Hebei, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Inner Mongolia, Jiangxi, Ningxia, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Shandong, Shanxi, and Xinjiang.

Consulates

U.S. Consulate General Chengdu
Number 4 Lingshiguan Road
Section 4, Renmin Nanlu
Chengdu 61004,China

Telephone: (86)(28) 8558-3992

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(86)(10) 8531-4000

Fax: +(86)(28) 8554 6229

Email: AmCitChengdu@state.gov

This consular district includes the provinces/autonomous region of Guizhou, Sichuan, Xizang (Tibet) and Yunnan, as well as the municipality of Chongqing.

U.S. Consulate General Guangzhou
43 Hua Jiu Road, Zhujiang New Town, Tianhe District
Guangzhou 510623
China

Telephone: (86)(20) 3814-5775

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(86)(10) 8531-4000

Fax: +(86)(20) 3814-5572

Email: GuangzhouACS@state.gov

This consular district includes the provinces/autonomous region of Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan, and Fujian. 

U.S. Consulate General Shanghai
Westgate Mall, 8th Floor, 1038 Nanjing Xi Lu,
Shanghai 200031
China

Telephone: +(86)(21) 3217-4650

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: (86)(21) 3217-4650

Fax: +(86)(21) 6217-2071

Email: ShanghaiACS@state.gov

This consular district includes Shanghai municipality and the provinces of Anhui, Jiangsu and Zhejiang.

U.S. Consulate General Shenyang
No. 52, 14th Wei Road, Heping District,
Shenyang 110003
China

Telephone: +(86)(24) 2322-1198

Emergency After-Hours Telephone:+(86)(24) 2322-1198

Fax: +(86)(24) 2323-1465

Email: ShenyangACS@state.gov

This consular district includes: the provinces of Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Liaoning. 

The U.S. Consulate General in Wuhan
New World International Trade Tower I,
No. 568, Jianshe Avenue
Hankou, Wuhan 430022
China

Telephone: +(86)(027) 8555-7791

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(86)(10) 8531-4000

Fax: 027-8555-776

Please note that Wuhan does not provide regularly scheduled consular services. Contact the Embassy in Beijing for consular assistance.

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Destination Description

See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on China for information on U.S. - China relations. 

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Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

Entry & Exit:

  • Obtain a visa prior to arrival and have a passport with at least six months' validity remaining. The lack of either will result in a fine and immediate deportation.
  • Apply for a ten-year multiple entry visa, useful for repeated travel or trips to Hong Kong or Macau with returns to China.
  • You must have a valid visa to exit China and you must leave China before the expiration of the listed duration of stay. 

Lack of a visa, having an expired visa or overstaying your visa can result in detention and fines.

The Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), requires special permits for tourist travel, most often obtained through a Chinese travel agent.  If you do enter a restricted area without the requisite permit, you could be fined, taken into custody, and deported for illegal entry. To learn more about specific entry requirements for Tibet or other restricted areas, check with the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China.

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of China.

Transiting China:

  • When transiting certain international airports, you may stay in mainland China without a Chinese visa.
  • The duration of allowed stay and how broadly you may travel varies by region. 
  • Transiting without a visa requires a valid passport, a visa for your onward destination (if necessary), and an onward ticket from the same location.
  • You must inform your airline upon check-in, and get an endorsement stamp at the immigration desk before leaving the airport.
  • Consult the Chinese Embassy/consulate for a current list of eligible airports and more detailed guidance.

During Your Stay: 

  • Failure to register with the police within 24 hours of arrival in the country could result in fines and deportation.  You can register with hotel staff or the local police station. 
  • Carry your valid U.S. passport and Chinese visa or residence permit at all times.
  • Entry and exit requirements are strictly enforced, as are restrictions on activities allowed by any particular visa class. 
  • Police, school administrators, transportation officials, and hotel staff may check your visa to make sure you have not overstayed.  If you overstay your visa’s duration of stay, you may be denied service by hotels, airports and train stations, be charged a RMB 500 fine per day up to a maximum of RMB 10,000, and face possible detention.

If you encounter problems in Tibet, the U.S. government has limited ability to provide assistance, as the Chinese government does not usually authorize U.S. government personnel to travel there, even to provide consular assistance to U.S. citizens. 

Dual Nationality:  China does not recognize dual nationality. If you are a dual national of the United States and China, the Chinese government will usually not permit the U.S. Embassy to provide consular assistance to you unless you entered China on a U.S. passport with a valid Chinese visa. Regardless of your travel documents, if you are a dual national, or otherwise have ethnic or historical ties to China, it is possible that Chinese authorities will assert that you are a Chinese citizen and deny your access to U.S. consular representatives if you are detained.

If you are a naturalized U.S. citizen or have a possible claim to Chinese citizenship, and you are traveling to China, you should ensure that you are well informed about Chinese law and practices relating to determination and loss of Chinese citizenship, including the possible need to formally renounce Chinese citizenship, cancel a household register (“hukou”), etc. Chinese authorities generally consider a child born in China to at least one Chinese parent to be a Chinese citizen, even if the child was issued a U.S. passport at the time of birth. If you have or had a claim to Chinese citizenship and your child is born in China, prior to departing China with your child, you should contact the local Public Security Bureau and/or Entry-Exit Bureau for information on obtaining a travel document.

Information about dual nationality can be found on our website.  Contact the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China for specific information on China’s immigration and nationality laws.

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Safety and Security

For most visitors, China remains a very safe country. Petty street crime is the most common safety concern for U.S. citizens. The Chinese authorities are responsible for the safety and security of all residents in and travelers to China. Training, capability, and responsiveness of Chinese authorities varies. The U.S. Embassy and consulates general have no law enforcement authority. 

  • Take routine safety precautions.
  • Pay attention to surroundings.
  • Report any concerns to the local police.  
  • Call “110,” the local equivalent to the “911”; however, very few English speakers staff this hotline.

Violent crime is not common in China; however, remain vigilant.

  • Demonstrations may quickly turn violent without warning.
  • Domestic unrest and even terrorism do occur in China.
  • Business disputes between U.S. citizens and Chinese business partners can sometimes  result in physical confrontation or kidnapping. Go straight to the police if you feel threatened or relocate to a public place.
  • Be Alert to Criminal Schemes, such as:

o   “Tourist Tea” Scams: Young Chinese invite visitors out to tea and leave them with an exhorbitant bill.

o   Phone Scams: We have received reports that some individuals within China have received telephone calls where the callers pose as police officers and request a funds transfer to resolve an identity theft or money laundering investigation. In these cases, DO NOT WIRE any money. If you receive any suspicious calls or requests, contact the local Public Security Bureau (PSB) to verify the caller’s identity. 

o   “Black Cabs”: Be cautious when using taxi services, especially at airports. Avoid unlicensed “black cabs,” insist that the driver use the meter,  and get a receipt. Have the name of your destination written in Chinese characters and ask the driver to remove the bags from the trunk before you get out of the taxi and before you pay.

o   Counterfeit Currency: Counterfeit currency is a significant concern in China. Carrying small bills or using exact change, particularly in taxis, can help protect you. Use only ATMs at trusted financial institutions.

If you already have been victim of a scam, catalogue as many details as possible, including names, telephone and bank numbers, and email and IP addresses; file a police report, and inform the U.S. Embassy or a U.S. consulate. Please see the Department of State and the FBI pages for information on scams.

Victims of Crime:
If you are the victim of a crime, contact the local police and the U.S. Embassy or nearest consulate. We can:

  • help you find appropriate medical care
  • assist you in reporting a crime to the police
  • contact relatives or friends on your behalf
  • explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
  • provide a list of local attorneys
  • provide information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
  • provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
  • help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
  • replace a stolen or lost passport

Lost or Stolen Passports: If your passport is stolen, you must apply for both a new passport at the U.S. Embassy or consulate, and a new Chinese visa. File a police report at the nearest police station right away. You may also be directed to file a report at the local Exit/Entry Bureau.

Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy or consulate for assistance. Domestic violence in China is rarely recognized as a crime.

For further information:

 

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Local Laws & Special Circumstances

The Chinese legal system can be opaque and the interpretation and enforcement of local laws arbitrary. The judiciary does not enjoy independence from political influence. U.S. citizens traveling or residing in China should be aware of varying levels of scrutiny to which you will be subject from Chinese local law enforcement and state security. 

Criminal Penalties: You are subject to Chinese laws. If you violate Chinese laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Certain provisions of the PRC Criminal Law – such as “social order” crimes (Article 293) and crimes involving “endangering state security” and “state secrets” (Article 102 to 113) – are ill-defined and can be interpreted by the authorities arbitrarily and situationally. Information that may be common knowledge in other countries could be considered a “state secret” in China, and information can be designated a “state secret” retroactively.    

Be aware that some crimes are prosecutable in the United States, regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

  • Immigration violations can lead to arrest, detention, fines, and deportation.
  • Chinese law enforcement authorities have little tolerance for illegal drugs. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking illegal drugs in China are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences, heavy fines, or possibly the death penalty.
  • China also has strict laws against driving under the influence of alcohol that can lead to immediate detention on a criminal charge.

Arrest Notification:

  • If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy or the nearest consulate immediately. 
  • The Chinese must notify U.S. consular officer within four days; however this does not always occur in a timely manner.
  • A consular officer may be the only authorized visitor during your initial detention period. 
  • Bail is rarely granted.
  • Detention may last many months before a trial.
  • Travelers to China should enroll in the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) and you may wish to have someone contact the Embassy or nearest consulate if you are detained.
  • Please see the section on DUAL NATIONALITY for the limits on consular notification and access to dual nationals.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES:
Assisted Reproductive Technology:
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is widely and legally practiced in China. Surrogacy, however, is strictly forbidden under Chinese law and surrogacy contracts will not be considered valid in China. The use of reproductive technology for medical research and profit is strictly controlled in China.

Contracts and Commercial Disputes:  Before entering into a commercial or employment contract in China, have it reviewed by legal counsel both in the United States and in China. The U.S. Foreign Commercial Service can assist you in identifying and vetting business contacts and opportunities. Many U.S. citizens have reported difficulty getting their contracts enforced by Chinese courts or being forced out of profitable joint-ventures without opportunity to secure legal recourse in China.

Earthquakes: Earthquakes can occur throughout China. U.S. citizens in China should make contingency plans and leave emergency contact information with family members outside of China. Check here for information about earthquake preparedness.

English/Secondary School Teachers: English teachers in China frequently report employment disputes which can result in termination, lost wages, confiscation of passports, forced eviction from housing, and even threats of violence. Research your future workplace and make sure that you have the proper work visa to teach in China. Please see the Teaching in China Guide on the U.S. Embassy's website. If you have a serious dispute with your school, consult with a local attorney; and seek assistance from the police if your safety is threatened. 

Exit/Travel Bans: Business disputes, court orders to pay a settlement, or government investigations into both criminal and civil issues may result in an exit ban which will prohibit your departure from China until the issue is resolved.  Chinese authorities have confirmed that individuals and their family members who are not directly involved or even aware of these proceedings can be subject to an exit ban as well. Additionally, some local businesspeople who feel that they have been wronged by a foreign business partner may hire "debt collectors” to harass, intimidate, and sometimes physically detain foreign business partners or family members in hopes of collecting the debt. The U.S. Embassy or consulate can provide a list of local attorneys who serve U.S. clients, but otherwise are unable to intervene in civil cases. Local law enforcement authorities are generally unwilling to become involved in what they consider private business matters.

International Parental Child Abduction: Information on the prevention of international child abduction in China can be found on our website.

LGBTI Travelers: Homosexuality was decriminalized in China in 1997, but there are no civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination or harassment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Prejudices and discrimination still exist in many parts of the country. Same sex marriages are not legally recognized in China and local authorities will not provide marriage certificates to same-sex couples. There are growing LGBTI communities in some of China’s largest cities and violence against LGBTI individuals in China is relatively rare.

Non-Governmental Organizations:
In January 2017, China will implement a new law regulating the operations of foreign NGOs in China. NGOs and their employees should ensure they are complying with all relevant statutory requirements, particularly if working in sensitive areas or fields.

North Korea: China shares a lengthy border with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea or DPRK). We strongly recommend that you not to travel to North Korea. The United States does not have diplomatic relations with the DPRK, and Sweden, the Protecting Power for the United States, can provide only limited consular services. If you cross into North Korea, even inadvertently, you will be subject to North Korean law. For further information, consult the North Korea Country Specific Information webpage and the Travel Warning for North Korea.

Persons with Disabilities: U.S. citizens with mobility disabilities may face challenges while traveling in China. Sidewalks often do not have curb cuts and many streets can be crossed only via pedestrian bridges or underpasses accessible by staircase. Assistive technologies for blind people and those with other vision disabilities are unreliable, and access to elevators in public buildings can be restricted. In major cities, public restrooms in places visited by tourists usually have a least one accessible toilet.

Piracy: Do not buy counterfeit or pirated goods. The bootlegs are illegal in the United States and you may also be breaking local law by purchasing them.

Political and Religious Activity: Participating in unauthorized political or religious activities, including participating in public protests or sending private electronic messages critical of the government, may result in detention and Chinese government imposed restrictions on future travel to China. U.S. citizens have been detained and expelled for distributing religious literature, including Bibles.  If you bring religious literature with you, Chinese law dictates that it be a "reasonable amount” for your personal use. If you attempt to bring larger quantities, the literature will likely be confiscated and you may be fined, detained, or deported.

Social Insurance: China has a social insurance system to which foreigners who work in China must contribute. When you sign an employment contract, you must apply for a social insurance number, and it is important that your employer work with you to comply with the regulations. Please check the official website for updated information.

Special Scrutiny of Foreign Citizens: On occasion in recent years, citizens of the United States and other countries visiting or resident in China have been interrogated or detained for reasons said to be related to “state security.”  In such circumstances, you could face arrest, detention or an exit ban prohibiting your departure from China for a prolonged period. Dual U.S.-Chinese nationals and U.S. citizens of Chinese heritage may be at a higher risk of facing such special scrutiny. Information about dual nationality can be found on our website.  Foreigners working for NGOs in China have also recently faced additional scrutiny, and China will implement a new law regulating foreign NGO activity in January 2017. NGOs and their employees should ensure they are complying with all relevant statutory requirements, particularly if working in sensitive areas or fields.

Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

Surveillance and Monitoring: Security personnel carefully watch foreign visitors and may place you under surveillance. Hotel rooms (including meeting rooms), offices, cars, taxis, telephones, Internet usage, and fax machines may be monitored onsite or remotely, and personal possessions in hotel rooms, including computers, may be searched without your consent or knowledge.  Security personnel have been known to detain and deport U.S. citizens sending private electronic messages critical of the Chinese government.

Typhoons: The southeast coast of China is subject to strong typhoons and tropical storms, usually from July through September. For current information, please consult the Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Honolulu and the National Weather Service's Central Pacific Hurricane Center.

Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.

 

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Health

Quality of Care: The standards of medical care in China are not equivalent to those in the United States. Hospitals in major Chinese cities often have VIP wards (gaogan bingfang), which are fairly modern and typically staffed with well-trained English speaking doctors and nurses. However, even in these VIP/foreigner wards, English-speaking patients frequently encounter difficulty due to cultural, language, and regulatory differences. Rural areas have rudimentary facilities and inadequate staffing. Additionally, Rh-negative blood may be difficult to obtain; the blood type of the general Asian populace is Rh positive.

Payment and Insurance: Chinese ambulances are often slow to arrive, and most do not have sophisticated medical equipment or trained responders. Cash payment for services is often required prior to treatment, including emergency cases. Travelers will be asked to post a deposit prior to admission to cover the expected cost of treatment. Hospitals in major cities may accept credit cards. The U.S. Embassy and consulates general in China maintain lists of local English-speaking doctors and hospitals.

We do not pay medical bills.
Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments.   See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage. We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.

Medication: Carry prescription medication in original packaging, along with the prescription. Many commonly-used U.S. drugs and medications are not available in China, and counterfeit, low-quality knockoffs are prevalent. If you try to have medications sent to you from outside China, you may have problems getting them released by Chinese Customs and/or you may have to pay high customs duties.

Air Quality: Air pollution is a significant problem in many locations. The U.S. Embassy in Beijing and the U.S. Consulates in Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Shenyang make air quality data available to the U.S. citizen community. The Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection provides its own air quality data for cities throughout China.

Most roads and towns in Tibet, Qinghai, parts of Xinjiang, and western Sichuan are situated at altitudes over 10,000 feet. Take appropriate precautions to prepare for and be alert to altitude sickness.

Disease: The following diseases are prevalent: influenza, typhoid, measles, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and tuberculosis.

Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For further health information, go to:

 

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Travel and Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety: Rules, regulations, and conditions vary greatly throughout China, but a general rule of thumb is that traffic safety is poor and driving in China can be dangerous.

Traffic can be chaotic and largely unregulated and the rate of accidents in China, including fatal accidents, is among the highest in the world. Motorcycle and bicycle accidents are frequent and often deadly. Pedestrians do not have the right of way, and you should show extreme caution when walking in traffic, even in marked crosswalks. Child safety seats are not widely available.

Traffic Laws:

  • You may not drive in China using a U.S. or international driver’s license. 
  • You can apply for a Chinese driver’s license if you have a resident permit.
  • If you are involved in a traffic accident, stay calm and call and wait for the police.
    • If there are no injuries and damage is minimal, the parties often come to agreement on the spot.
    • Unresolved disputes are handled by the courts.
    • In cases involving injuries, the driver determined at fault is responsible for the injured person’s medical costs. Sometimes, the police may hold your passport until the other parties are satisfied with the compensation they receive.    
  • Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information. Also, we suggest that you visit China’s national tourist office and national authority responsible for road safety.

Public Transportation: China has a rapidly growing public transportation sector-- including subways, trains, and buses -- with a generally positive safety record. Mass transit is widely available in major cities, and is generally safe, although individuals on crowded buses and subways are often targeted by pick-pockets.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of China’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of China’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.

 

Hague Convention Participation
Party to the Hague Abduction Convention?
No
U.S. Treaty Partner under the Hague Abduction Convention?
No
What You Can Do
Learn how to respond to abductions FROM the US
Learn how to respond to abductions TO the US
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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Beijing

No. 55 An Jia Lou Road
Chaoyang District, Beijing 100600
China

Telephone: +(86)(10) 8531-4000

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(86)(10) 8531-4000

Fax: +(86)(10) 8531-3300

The Embassy consular district includes the municipalities of Beijing and Tianjin and the provinces/autonomous regions of Gansu, Hebei, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Inner Mongolia, Jiangxi, Ningxia, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Shandong, Shanxi, and Xinjiang.

Consulates

U.S. Consulate General Chengdu
Number 4 Lingshiguan Road
Section 4, Renmin Nanlu
Chengdu 61004,China

Telephone: (86)(28) 8558-3992

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(86)(10) 8531-4000

Fax: +(86)(28) 8554 6229

Email: AmCitChengdu@state.gov

This consular district includes the provinces/autonomous region of Guizhou, Sichuan, Xizang (Tibet) and Yunnan, as well as the municipality of Chongqing.

U.S. Consulate General Guangzhou
43 Hua Jiu Road, Zhujiang New Town, Tianhe District
Guangzhou 510623
China

Telephone: (86)(20) 3814-5775

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(86)(10) 8531-4000

Fax: +(86)(20) 3814-5572

Email: GuangzhouACS@state.gov

This consular district includes the provinces/autonomous region of Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan, and Fujian. 

U.S. Consulate General Shanghai
Westgate Mall, 8th Floor, 1038 Nanjing Xi Lu,
Shanghai 200031
China

Telephone: +(86)(21) 3217-4650

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: (86)(21) 3217-4650

Fax: +(86)(21) 6217-2071

Email: ShanghaiACS@state.gov

This consular district includes Shanghai municipality and the provinces of Anhui, Jiangsu and Zhejiang.

U.S. Consulate General Shenyang
No. 52, 14th Wei Road, Heping District,
Shenyang 110003
China

Telephone: +(86)(24) 2322-1198

Emergency After-Hours Telephone:+(86)(24) 2322-1198

Fax: +(86)(24) 2323-1465

Email: ShenyangACS@state.gov

This consular district includes: the provinces of Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Liaoning. 

The U.S. Consulate General in Wuhan
New World International Trade Tower I,
No. 568, Jianshe Avenue
Hankou, Wuhan 430022
China

Telephone: +(86)(027) 8555-7791

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(86)(10) 8531-4000

Fax: 027-8555-776

Please note that Wuhan does not provide regularly scheduled consular services. Contact the Embassy in Beijing for consular assistance.

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General Information

For information concerning travel to China, including information about the location of the U.S. Embassy, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, entry/exit requirements, safety and security, crime, medical facilities and health information, traffic safety, road conditions and aviation safety, please see country specific information for China. 

The U.S. Department of State reports statistics and compliance information for individual countries in the Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction (IPCA).  The report is located here.

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Hague Abduction Convention

China is not a signatory to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Abduction Convention), nor are there any bilateral agreements in force between China and the United States concerning international parental child abduction.

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Return

Legal systems and laws pertaining to custody, divorce, and parental abduction vary widely from country to country.  The government of China maintains information about custody, visitation, and family law on the Internet here under Marriage Law.  Parents are encouraged to consult with an attorney who specializes in family law in China and who can provide accurate legal guidance that is specific to their circumstances. 

The Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs, Directorate for Overseas Citizens Services, Office of Children's Issues provides assistance in cases of international parental child abduction.  For U.S. citizen parents whose children have been wrongfully removed to or retained in countries that are not U.S. partners under the Hague Abduction Convention, the Office of Children's Issues can provide information and resources about country-specific options for pursuing the return of or access to an abducted child.  The Office of Children's Issues may also coordinate with appropriate foreign and U.S. government authorities about the welfare of abducted U.S. citizen children.  Parents are strongly encouraged to contact the Department of State for assistance.

Contact information:

U.S. Department of State 
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children's Issues
CA/OCS/CI 
SA-17, 9th Floor 
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Telephone:  1-888-407-4747
Outside the United States or Canada: 1-202-501-4444
Website: travel.state.gov

Under Article 262 of the Criminal Law, abduction of a child under the age of 14 that would cause the child to be separated from his/her family or guardian is a crime in China, Please see full text of the law, which does not clearly address how this law applies if the abductor is a parent.

Parents may wish to consult with an attorney in the United States and in the country to which the child has been removed or retained to learn more about how filing criminal charges may impact a custody case in the foreign court.  Please see Pressing Criminal Charges for more information. 

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Visitation/Access

Legal systems and laws pertaining to custody, divorce, and parental abduction vary widely from country to country.  Parents are encouraged to consult with an attorney who specializes in family law in China and who can provide accurate legal guidance that is specific to their circumstances.

The Office of Children's Issues may be able to assist parents seeking access to children who have been wrongfully removed from or retained outside the United States.   Parents who are seeking access to children who were not wrongfully removed from or retained outside the United States should contact the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate in China for information and possible assistance.

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Retaining an Attorney

Neither the Office of Children's Issues nor consular officials at the U.S. Embassy or Consulates in China are authorized to provide legal advice.

The U.S. Embassy in Beijing posts list of attorneys, including those who specialize in family law.

This list is provided as a courtesy service only and does not constitute an endorsement of any individual attorney. The Department of State assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the persons or firms included in this list.  Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the lawyers.

This list is provided as a courtesy service only and does not constitute an endorsement of any individual attorney. The Department of State assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the following persons or firms. Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the lawyers.

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Mediation

Divorce cases brought before the courts often include voluntary mediation to resolve conflicts and to help develop parenting plan(s) best for the family.  Parents are encouraged to consult with an attorney who specializes in family law in China who can provide accurate legal guidance that is specific to their circumstances. For more resources please check www.npc.gov.cnor for the Chinese version please obtain information at http://www.gov.cn.

Exercising Custody Rights

While travelling in a foreign country, you are subject to the laws of that country. It is important for parents to understand that, although a left-behind parent in the United States may have custody or visitation rights pursuant to a U.S. custody order, that order may not be valid and enforceable in the country in which the child is located.  For this reason, we strongly encourage you to speak to a local attorney if planning to remove a child from a foreign country without the consent of the other parent.  Attempts to remove your child to the United States may:

  • Endanger your child and others;
  • Prejudice any future judicial efforts; and
  • Could result in your arrest and imprisonment.

The U.S. government cannot interfere with another country’s court or law enforcement system.

To understand the legal effect of a U.S. order in a foreign country, a parent should consult with a local attorney in the country in which the child is located.  

For information about hiring an attorney abroad, see our section on Retaining a Foreign Attorney. 

Although we cannot recommend an attorney to you, most U.S. Embassies have lists of attorneys available online. Please visit the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate website for a full listing.

For more information on consular assistance for U.S. citizens arrested abroad, please see our website.

Country officers are available to speak with you Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.  For assistance with an abduction in progress or any emergency situation that occurs after normal business hours, on weekends, or federal holidays, please call toll free at 1-888-407-4747. See all contact information.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this flyer is provided for general information only, is not intended to be legal advice, and may change without notice. Questions involving interpretation of law should be addressed to an attorney licensed in the relevant jurisdiction. 

 

Hague Convention Participation
Hague Adoption Convention Country?
Yes
Are Intercountry Adoptions between this country and the United States possible?
Only adoptions from China to the United States are possible.
Is this country a U.S. Hague Partner?
Yes
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Hague Convention Information

China is a party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention or Convention). Intercountry adoption processing in Convention countries must be done in accordance with the requirements of the Hague Adoption Convention; the U.S. implementing legislation, the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (IAA); and the IAA’s implementing regulations; as well as the implementing legislation and regulations of China.

China still remains the top country of origin for intercountry adoptions to the United States. Until a decade ago, adoptees from China were predominately infant girls but now the pool of available children is comprised overwhelmingly of those with disabilities or older children split evenly across genders. This demographic shift is largely due to increased efforts by the Chinese government to promote domestic adoption for children in need of permanent homes and by improvements in the Chinese economy which have simultaneously reduced the number of orphans while increasing the number of families willing to adopt. As a result of China’s efforts to promote domestic solutions to child welfare issues, Chinese citizens now adopt 25,000 to 30,000 children each year.

U.S. IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS FOR INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTIONS

To bring an adopted child to the United States from China, you must meet certain suitability and eligibility requirements. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), determines who is suitable and eligible to adopt a child from another country and bring that child to live in the United States under U.S. immigration law.

Additionally, a child must meet the definition of a Convention adoptee under U.S. immigration law in order to immigrate to the United States with an IH-3 or IH-4 immigrant visa.

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Who Can Adopt

In addition to being found suitable and eligible to adopt by USCIS, prospective adoptive parents (PAPs) seeking to adopt a child from China must meet the following requirements imposed by China:

  • Residency: China does not require PAPs to reside in China for a specified period prior to completing an adoption. However, in order to finalize an adoption, at least one adopting parent must travel to China to execute the required documents in person before the appropriate Chinese authorities. If only one member of an adopting married couple travels to China, that person must have in his/her possession a power of attorney from the other spouse, notarized and authenticated by the Chinese Embassy in Washington or one of the Chinese Consulates General elsewhere in the United States.
  • Age of Adopting Parents: The minimum age for PAPs to adopt from China is 30. China will allow married PAPs over 50 years of age to adopt a child. The age difference between the child and the younger spouse should, however, be no more than 50 years. Single female PAPs may be no more than 45 years older than the child they wish to adopt.
  • Marriage: Chinese law permits intercountry adoption by married heterosexual couples and single women. At this time, China does not permit lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgendered, or intersex (LGBTI) individuals or same-sex couples to adopt. Married couples must adopt jointly. In addition, they must have been married at least two years; if either spouse has previously divorced, the couple must have been married at least five years. China does not consider individuals who have been divorced two or more times to be eligible to adopt. Specific age, income, and family environment requirements apply to single women (see relevant categories in the “who can adopt” and “who can be adopted” sections below).
  • Income: China requires an adopting family's annual income equal at least $10,000 for each family member in the household (including the child to be adopted). China requires married PAPs to have a net worth of at least $80,000. The net worth of a single prospective adoptive parent must be $100,000. The calculation of annual income should exclude sources such as a relief fund, pension, disability benefits, or foster care subsidy. China’s central authority may waive China’s annual income and net worth requirements in cases where the family’s income and net worth are above the average local living standard of the jurisdiction of residence, and the PAPs can provide valid certification to that effect. PAPs must be high school graduates or have vocational training equivalent to a high school education.
  • Physical/Mental Health: PAPS must be physically and mentally fit, with none of the following conditions:
    • HIV, AIDS, or an infectious disease that is actively contagious;
    • Mental disability;
    • Blind in both eyes, or blind in either eye or having impaired vision that is uncorrected by a corrective device.
    • Hearing loss in both ears or loss of language function (those adopting children with hearing or language function loss are exempted from this requirement);
    • Non-function or dysfunction of limbs or trunk caused by impairment, incomplete limbs, paralysis or deformation;
    • Severe facial deformation;
    • Severe diseases that require long-term treatment and that may affect life expectancy, including malignant tumors, lupus, nephrosis, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis;
    • Major organ transplant within ten years, China may consider an exemption to this restriction for couples in which one spouse had a transplant within 10 years but has recovered to a normal daily life;
    • Schizophrenia;
    • Severe mental disorders, including depression, mania, or anxiety neurosis (China may exempt this restriction for couples with proof of effective treatment); and
    • Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or more.
  • Other: A single prospective adoptive parent must not have more than two children in her household under the age of 18 and the youngest child must be at least six years old. The Chinese Central Authority will consider the occupation and lifestyle of prospective adoptive parents to determine whether the PAPs will be available and able to take care of the child that they seek to refer. PAPs must have a history of honorable behavior and good moral character, and must not have a criminal record, including without evidence of:
    • Domestic violence, sexual abuse, abandonment, or abuse of children; even if not arrested or convicted;
    • Recreational drug use and those with substance abuse histories; including opium, morphine (unless medically administered), marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, etc. Note that PAPs will be required to provide information regarding prescription medications to the Chinese central authority so that it may evaluate eligibility of the PAPs on a case-by-case basis.
    • Alcohol abuse, unless the individual can show she/he has been sober for at least ten years.

Note: Applications from individuals with past criminal records will be considered on a case-by-case basis if the individual has three or fewer minor criminal violations that did not result in severe outcomes (none in the last ten years) and five or fewer traffic violations with no severe outcomes.

The prospective parents must demonstrate the ability to provide a safe family environment capable of meeting the needs of a child placed for adoption and providing for her/his development, and an understanding of the special risks (including potential diseases, developmental delays, and post-placement maladjustment) that could come with inter-country adoption.

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Who Can Be Adopted

Because China is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, children from China must meet the requirements of the Convention in order to be eligible for intercountry adoption. For example, the adoption may take place only if the competent authorities of China have determined that placement of the child within China has been given due consideration and that an intercountry adoption is in the child’s best interests.

In addition to qualifying as a Convention adoptee under U.S. immigration law, a child must meet the following requirements of China:

  • Relinquishment: Birth parents may voluntarily relinquish their parental rights by presenting credible evidence to the provincial authorities and the Chinese Central Authority that they are unable to rear the child due to “unusual difficulties.” For example, birth parents must present credible evidence of hardship in order to the Chinese central authority or local authorities to allow voluntary relinquishment. Such credible evidence that birth parents may present includes when birth parents have physical or social incapacities which limit their ability to rear a child.
  • Abandonment: Children with no known birth parents must be placed from a Social Welfare Institute (SWI) licensed by China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs. The Civil Affairs Department of the province where the child was abandoned will publish a public announcement in a local provincial newspaper to locate biological parents. If the biological parents or other legal guardians do not claim the child after 60 days of the date of publication of the public notice, the child will be certified as abandoned.
  • Age of Adoptive Child: Chinese law permits the adoption of children up to and including age 13. An adoption involving the child of a blood relative of the same generation up to the third degree of kinship is exempted from the age limit. Please note that in order for a child to meet the definition of Convention adoptee under U.S. immigration law, a Form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative, must be filed on the child’s behalf while the child is under the age of 16 (or under the age of 18 if the child is the birth sibling of another adopted child who has immigrated or will immigrate based on adoption by the same adoptive parent(s)). Please see the USCIS website for special rules on filing dates for children aged 15-16 or siblings aged 17-18.
  • Sibling Adoptions: No specific requirements.
  • Medical Conditions Other Needs: China places children with disabilities and older children from its special focus (SF) and non-special focus (non-SF) children according to their degree of special needs and health conditions. See the “Apply to China’s Authorities to Adopt and be Matched with a Child” section for further detail on the procedures involved with adopting a child with disabilities or an older child.
  • Waiting Period or Foster Care: Recent experience indicates it can take approximately 9 years for PAPs to receive a referral of a healthy infant from China’s central authority. Cases involving children without disabilities or older children are generally much shorter.

    After the referral is sent and the prospective parent(s) accept the referral (see the step-by-step description of the Chinese adoption process, below), at least four to eight more weeks may elapse before the prospective adoptive parents receive the Chinese central authority’s final approval to travel to China.

    Families should allow at least three weeks in China to finalize their child's adoption and immigration procedures. The Chinese central authority has advised local officials to try to complete the process within 15 days after the prospective adoptive parents arrive in China. The child's Chinese passport, exit permits, and U.S. immigrant visa process will take another 7-10 days after the adoption is finalized.

Caution: Prospective adoptive parents should be aware that not all children in orphanages or children’s homes are available for adoption. In many countries, birth parents place their child(ren) temporarily in an orphanage or children’s home due to financial or other hardship, intending that the child return home when possible. In such cases, the birth parent(s) have rarely relinquished their parental rights or consented to the adoption of their child(ren).

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How to Adopt

Because China is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adoptions from China must follow a specific process designed to meet the Convention’s requirements. A brief summary of the Convention adoption process is provided below. You must complete these steps in the following order to meet all necessary legal requirements. Adoptions completed out of order may result in the child not being eligible for an immigrant visa to the United States.

  1. Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider to Act as Your Primary Provider that has been authorized by China’s Central Authority to Operate in China
  2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Suitable and Eligible to Adopt (Form I-800A)
  3. Apply to China’s Authorities to Adopt and Be Matched with a Child
  4. Apply to USCIS for the Child to be Found Provisionally Eligible for Immigration to the United States as a Convention Adoptee (Form I-800) and Receive U.S. Agreement to Proceed with the Adoption (Art. 5/17 letter)
  5. Adopt the Child in China
  6. Apply for a U.S. Immigrant Visa for Your Child and Bring Your Child Home

1. Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider to Act as Your Primary Provider That Has Been Authorized by China’s Central Authority to Operate in China

The first step in adopting a child from China is to select an adoption service provider in the United States that has been accredited or approved to provide services to U.S. citizens in Convention cases and that has been authorized by the Government of China. A list of the accredited ASPs authorized to operate in China is located here. A primary provider must be identified in each Convention case and only accredited or approved adoption service providers may act as the primary provider in your case. Your primary provider is responsible for:

  • Ensuring that all six adoption services defined at 22 CFR 96.2 are provided consistent with applicable laws and regulations;
  • Supervising and being responsible for supervised providers where used (see 22 CFR 96.14); and
  • Developing and implementing a service plan in accordance with 22 CFR 96.44.

Learn more about Agency Accreditation.

2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Suitable and Eligible to Adopt

After you choose an accredited or approved adoption service provider, you must be found suitable and eligible to adopt by USCIS by submitting Form I-800A, Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country. You will need to submit a home study, fingerprints, and a background check as part of this application. Read more about Suitability and Eligibility Requirements.

3. Apply to China’s Authorities to Adopt and be Matched with a Child

Submit Your Dossier to the Central Authority
After USCIS determines that you are suitable and eligible to adopt and approves the Form I-800A application, your adoption service provider will provide your approval notice, home study, and any other required information to the adoption authority in China as part of your adoption application. China’s adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also suitable and eligible to adopt under China’s law.

Receive a Referral for a Child from the Central Authority
If both the United States and China determine that you are suitable and eligible to adopt, and China’s Central Authority for Convention adoptions has determined that a child is available for adoption and that intercountry adoption is in that child’s best interests, the Central Authority for Convention adoptions in China may provide you with a referral for a child. The referral is a proposed match between you and a specific child based on a review of your dossier and the needs of the child. The adoption authority in China will provide a background study and other information, if available, about the child to help you decide whether to accept the referral or not. We encourage families to consult with a medical professional and their adoption service provider to understand the needs of the specific child but family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of, and provide a permanent home for, a specific child and must conform to the recommendations in the home study submitted to USCIS for the number of children and capacity to deal with any disability-related needs of an adoptive child. Learn more about Health Considerations. If you accept the referral, the adoption service provider communicates that to the Central Authority in China. Learn more about this critical decision.

Prospective adoptive parents either accept or refuse a referral and send the document to their agency, which forwards it to CCCWA. CCCWA requires a response on a referral within three months of sending a referral to a family. If PAPs are considering refusing a referral they should work with their ASP to approach CCCWA for second referral. CCCWA will only accept requests for a second referral is the CCCWA considers the reason for rejecting the first referral to be justified. If the reason for the rejection is considered justifiable, such as a medical need that the prospective adoptive parents feel they cannot meet, the CCCWA may refer a second child to the prospective adoptive parents within a month's time. If CCCWA regards the rejection as unreasonable, the prospective adoptive parents will have difficulty obtaining a second referral and CCCWA may suggest that the prospective adoptive parents withdraw their application for adoption in China.

Requirements for Adopting Children with disabilities or older children: Once prospective adoptive parents decide to accept a referral of a child with disabilities or an older child, they have 72 hours to fill out the necessary forms to complete their pre-approval application. Prospective adoptive parents can review the case, including the medical and growth records and a photo of the child. The specific medical or other needs of the child is documented in the referral and the prospective adoptive parents can decide if they can meet the child's needs; for example, whether their insurance would cover the child's medical needs, and whether they themselves are able to provide any educational or rehabilitative support, etc. If the prospective adoptive parents decide they are able to meet this child's needs, they indicate such to the CCCWA and from that point onward they have 72 hours to fill out the necessary forms to complete the dossier. If the prospective adoptive parents have not completed the forms and submitted them within 72 hours, the child's name goes back on the list and other prospective adoptive parents can review that child's file. For detailed information, please consult your adoption service provider.

4. Apply to USCIS for the Child to be Found Provisionally Eligible for Immigration to the United States as a Convention Adoptee and Receive U.S. Agreement to Proceed with the Adoption

Submit a Petition for a Determination on the Child’s Immigration Eligibility
After you accept being matched with a particular child, you will apply to USCIS for provisional approval for the child to immigrate to the United States by filing the Form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative. USCIS will make a provisional determination as to whether the child appears to meet the definition of a Convention adoptee and will likely be eligible to enter and remain in the United States.

Submit an Immigrant Visa Application
After provisional approval of Form I-800 petition, you or your adoption service provider will submit a visa application to the consular section of the U.S. Consulate General in Guangzhou responsible for issuing immigrant visas to children from China.

You should receive a letter from the National Visa Center (NVC) confirming receipt of the provisionally approved Form I-800 petition and assigning a case number and an invoice ID number. Use this information to log into the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) to file the Electronic Immigrant Visa Application (DS-260) for your child. You should fill out these forms in your prospective adoptive child's name. Answer every item on the form. If information is not applicable, please write “N/A” in the block. Please review the DS-260 FAQs, our Online Immigrant Visa Forms page, or contact the NVC at NVCAdoptions@state.gov or +1-603-334-0700 if you have questions about completing the online DS-260 form. A consular officer will review the provisionally approved Form I-800 petition and the visa application and, if applicable, advises you of options for the waiver of any ineligibilities related to the visa application.

Warning: Do not attempt to adopt of a child in China before you receive provisional approval of your Form I-800 petition AND a U.S. consular officer issues the “Article 5/17 Letter” for your adoption case.

Remember: The consular officer will make a final decision about a child’s eligibility for an immigrant visa later in the adoption process.

5. Adopt the Child in China

Remember: Before you adopt or obtain legal custody of a child in China, you must have completed the above four steps. Only after completing these steps can you proceed to finalize the adoption or a grant of legal custody by China for the purposes of emigration and adoption. The process for finalizing the adoption [or obtaining legal custody] in China generally includes the following:

  • Role of Adoption Authority:
    • The CCCWA as the Chinese Central Authority:
      • Regulates and monitors intercountry adoptions, and implements the Hague Adoption Convention in China;
      • Provides information regarding children available for intercountry adoption;
      • Authorizes Adoption Service Providers; and
      • Issues “Letters of Seeking Confirmation” and "Notices of Coming to China for Adoption"
    • The Ministry of Civil Affairs
      • Administers the provincial Departments of Civil Affairs, which issue the final adoption certificate; and
      • Licenses Child Welfare Institutes (CWI) and SWIs which place children for intercountry adoption.
  • Role of Adoption Agencies: Accredited agencies and approved persons facilitate case specific communication with, and submit supporting documentation on behalf of PAPs to, CCCWA.
  • Time Frame: The time between when the adoption process commences and when a match is completed may vary based on the specific circumstances of the case and availability of necessary documents. In general, intercountry adoption of a healthy infant may take 9 or more years to be matched with a child. Intercountry adoptions involving a child with special needs generally may take between six months to two years.
  • Adoption Application: Adoption application letter (submitted with dossier through ASP). See full list of documents required below.
  • Adoption Fees:
    We encourage prospective adoptive parents to obtain detailed receipts for all fees and donations paid, either directly or through your U.S. adoption service provider, and to raise any concerns regarding any payment that you believe may be contrary to the Convention, U.S. law, or the law of China with your adoption service provider, or, when appropriate, through the Complaint Registry. For more information in this regard, please refer to information concerning the Complaint Registry. Improper payments may violate applicable law or create the appearance of child buying, and could put all future adoptions from China at risk. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, for instance, makes it unlawful to make payments to foreign government officials to assist in obtaining or retaining business. Further, the IAA makes certain actions relating to intercountry adoptions unlawful, and subject to civil and criminal penalties. These include offering, giving, soliciting, or accepting inducement by way of compensation intended to influence or affect the relinquishment of parental rights, parental consent relating to adoption of a child, a decision by an entity performing a central authority function or a decision by an accrediting entity with respect to accreditation of an agency or approval of a person.

    In the adoption services contract that you sign at the beginning of the adoption process, your agency will itemize the fees and estimated expenses related to your adoption process.

    Some of the fees specifically associated with adopting from China include:

    The authentication/legalization of documents by the Chinese Embassy or Consulate in the United States costs $10 per document, whether the document is one or multiple pages. The fee is for authentication of the seal.

    The initial CCCWA service fee is $1100, plus $350 for translation of the documents submitted in the dossier. For step-children who are being adopted by a step-parent, the service fee is $800, and there is no translation fee. The translations can be done in the United States or China, however, the CCCWA advises that the translations must be correct and that CCCWA will rectify, and charge for correcting any errors.

    Fees for issuance of certificates, and for notarization of those certificates, may vary based on province.

    Note: The certificate approving the adoption, birth certificate and abandonment certificate normally come together in a packet notarized by the provincial notary office. The U.S. Consulate General in Guangzhou no longer requests the notarized adoption certificate but still requires the birth certificate and abandonment certificate to be notarized. Many provincial notary offices still issue these three notaries as a package. Additional documents may be required (e.g., death certificates, if applicable) but the cost of issuance and notarization of such documents is not included in this fee.

    Chinese passports cost $25 for the normal 15-working-day issuance. Charges for expedited service differ by province.

    Individual Children's Welfare Institutes (if where the child lives before adoption) may charge 35,000 RMB (approximately $5,000 dollars in local currency) as a combined donation to the institution and a fee for caring for the child.

    U.S. adoptive parent(s) who believe that they were compelled at any point during the adoption process to pay exorbitant fees not in of keeping with the general information provided in this information sheet should notify the U.S. Consulate General in Guangzhou.
  • Documents Required:
    • Adoption application letter.
    • Birth certificate(s) of the prospective adoptive parent(s).
    • Marital status statement - Either a marriage certificate, divorce or death certificate (if applicable) or statement of single status is required.
    • Certificates of profession, income and property which may include; verification of employment and salary; bank statements; a copy of your property trust deeds, if applicable. All documents must be notarized or certified.
    • Health examination certificate(s) of the prospective adoptive parent(s).
    • Certificate(s) of criminal or no-criminal record - A certificate of good conduct for the adoptive parent(s) from a local police department notarized or bearing the police department seal and authenticated. An FBI report is acceptable in lieu of a local police record. This is separate from the FBI check conducted by USCIS as part of the petition process. You can request an FBI record check by sending two sets of fingerprints, an $18 money order, your full name, date and place of birth, social security number and letter of request explaining purpose for clearance to: FBI ID Division, Room 10104, Washington, DC 20537-9700. The FBI certificate should also be authenticated.
    • Home study report.
    • Certificate of child adoption approval by the competent department of the adopter's country of residence, also known as the Department of Homeland Security Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services I-797 Notice of Action on an I-800A application along with copies of the U.S. passport(s) of the prospective adoptive parent(s).
    • Each applicant parent should also submit two front-view photos and several other photos reflecting the family's life in the United States.
    • Power of attorney notarized and authenticated (if only one spouse will travel to China). In case of married couples, if only one adopting parent comes to China, Chinese law requires that the spouse traveling bring a power of attorney from his/her spouse, notarized and properly authenticated by Chinese Embassy or one of the Chinese consulates general in the United States.

    Note: Additional documents may be requested.
  • 6. Apply for a U.S. Immigrant Visa for Your Child and Bring Your Child Home

    Now that your adoption is complete there are a few more steps to take before your child can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for three documents before your child can travel to the United States:

    Birth Certificate
    If you have finalized the adoption in China, you will first need to apply for a birth certificate for your child so that you can later apply for a passport.

    Requirements vary from province to province. The SWIs and ASPs help adopting parents obtain birth certificates and Chinese passports. Birth certificates always have birth-parents’ names if known or otherwise state “unknown.” Authorities do not put in adopting parents’ names in the birth certificate.

    Chinese Passport
    Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from China. The Social Welfare Institute (SWI) will assist in obtaining a passport from the Public Security Bureau in the city of SWI for the prospective adoptee.

    U.S. Immigrant Visa

    After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to finalize your application for a U.S. visa for your child from the U.S.Consulate General in Guangzhou, China. After the adoption or custody for purposes of emigration and adoption is granted, visit the U.S. Consulate General for a final review of the case, and if applicable, the issuance of a U.S. Hague Adoption Certificate or Hague Custody Certificate, the final approval of the Form I-800 petition, and to obtain your child’s immigrant visa. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you and be admitted to the United States as your child. Please contact the U.S. Consulate General in Guangzhou by email at ACIVUappointment@state.gov to schedule your child’s immigrant visa appointment. As part of this process, you must provide the consular officer with the Panel Physician’s medical report on the child if you did not provide it during the provisional approval stage. Read more about the Medical Examination in China here.

    Before coming for your child’s immigrant visa interview, please be sure to complete an Electronic Immigrant Visa Application (DS-260) online at the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC). You should receive a letter from the National Visa Center (NVC) confirming receipt of the provisionally approved Form I-800 petition and assigning a case number and an invoice ID number. You will need this information to log into CEAC to file the DS-260 for your child. An adoptive parent should fill out these forms in your child's name. Answer every item on the form. If information is not applicable, please write “N/A” in the block. Print and bring the DS-260 form confirmation page to the visa interview. Please review the DS-260 FAQs, our Online Immigrant Visa Forms page, or contact the NVC at NVCAdoptions@state.gov or +1-603-334-0700 if you have questions about completing the online DS-260 form.

    Please visit the U.S. Consulate General Guangzhou’s website for the latest information on appointment scheduling and visa procedures.

    Child Citizenship Act
    For adoptions finalized abroad prior to the child’s entry into the United States: An adopted child residing in the United States in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent pursuant to a lawful admission for permanent residence generally will acquire U.S. citizenship automatically upon entry into the United States if the child otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, including the child is under the age of eighteen.

    For adoptions finalized after the child’s entry into the United States: You will need to complete an adoption following your child’s entry into the United States and before the child turns eighteen for the child (if he or she otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000) to automatically acquire U.S. citizenship.

    Read more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.
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Traveling Abroad

Applying for Your U.S. Passport
U.S. citizens are required by law to enter and depart the United States on a valid U.S. passport. Once your child has acquired U.S. citizenship, s/he will need a U.S. passport for any international travel. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify U.S. passports.

Getting or renewing a passport is easy. The Department of State’s Passport Application Wizard will help you determine which passport form you need, help you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the form for you to print—all in one place.

Obtaining a Visa to Travel to China
In addition to a U.S. passport, you may also need to obtain a visa to travel abroad. Where required, visas are affixed to a traveler’s passport and allow him or her to enter a foreign nation. To find information about obtaining a visa for China, see the Department of State’s Country Specific Information.

Staying Safe on Your Trip
Before you travel, it is always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country in the world about various issues, including health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.

Staying in Touch on Your Trip
When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to enroll with the Department of State through our Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country. Enrollment makes it possible for the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in China, to contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency. Whether there is a family emergency in the United States or a crisis in China, enrollment assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.

Enrollment is free and can be done online via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

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After Adoption

Post-Adoption/Post-Placement Reporting Requirements
We urge you to comply with China’s post-adoption/post-placement requirements in a timely manner. Your adoption service provider may be able to help you with this process. Your cooperation will contribute to China’s history of positive experiences with U.S. citizen adoptive parents.

Prospective adoptive parents must provide an adoption application letter that makes clear the willingness to allow post-placement follow-ups and provide post-placement reports as required. (Compliance with post-placement and post-adoption reports is extremely important for continued close cooperation on adoption between the United States and China.)

For cases issued a Notice of Coming to China for Adoption after January 1, 2015, CCCWA requires PAPs to submit post placement reports six months, one year, two years, three years, four years, and five years after the adoption registration.

The first three reports must be prepared by the social workers who prepared the home study. The last three reports may be written by the families themselves. Please consult your adoption service provider for further details.

Post-Adoption Resources
Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption. There are many public and private nonprofit post-adoption services available for children and their families. There are also numerous adoptive family support groups and adoptee organizations active in the United States that provide a network of options for adoptees who seek out other adoptees from the same country of origin. You may wish to take advantage of all the resources available to your family, whether it is another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services. Your primary provider can provide or point you to post- placement/post-adoption services to help your adopted child and your family transition smoothly and deal effectively with the many adjustments required in an intercountry adoption.

COMPLAINTS

If you have concerns about your adoption process, we ask that you share this information with the Consulate General in Guangzhou, particularly if it involves possible fraud or misconduct specific to your child’s case. The Department of State takes all allegations of fraud or misconduct seriously. Our Adoption Comment Page provides several points of contact for adoptive families to comment on their adoption service provider, their experience applying for their child’s visa, or about the Form I-800 petition process.

The Complaint Registry is an internet based registry for filing complaints about the compliance of U.S. accredited or approved adoption service providers with U.S. accreditation standards. If you think your provider's conduct may have been out of substantial compliance with accreditation standards, first submit your complaint in writing directly to your provider. If the complaint is not resolved through the provider's complaint process, you may file the complaint through the Complaint Registry.

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Contact Information

U.S. Embassy in China
U.S. Embassy Beijing
No. 55 An Jia Lou Road
Beijing, China 100600
Tel: (86-10) 8531-4000
Fax: (86-10) 8531-3300
Email: BeijingACS@state.gov

U.S. Consulate General of the United States in Guangzhou
Mailing Address: 43 Hua Jiu Road, Zhujiang New Town
Tianhe District
Guangzhou, China. 510623
Physical Address: Huaxia Road, Zhujiang New Town, (near Exit B1 of the Zhujiang New Town subway station, Line 3 and Line 5),
Tianhe District
Guangzhou, China
Tel: 011-86-20-3814 5000
Email: GuangzhouA@state.gov
Internet: https://china.usembassy-china.org.cn/u-s-citizen-services/child-family-matters/adoption/

China’s Adoption Authority
The China Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption
16 Wang Jia Yuan Lane
Dongcheng District
Beijing, China 100027
Tel: 010-655-48998
Email: cccwa@cccwa.cn
Internet: http://cccwaen.mca.gov.cn

Embassy of China
2201 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W. Suite 110
Washington, D.C. 20007Tel: 202-337-1956
Fax: 202-588-9760
Email: visa_us@mfa.gov.cn
Internet: http://www.china-embassy.org/eng/ywzn/lsyw/

China also has consulates in: Los Angeles, CA; San Francisco, CA; Chicago, IL; New York, NY; and Houston, TX.

Office of Children’s Issues
U.S. Department of State
CA/OCS/CI
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20522-1709
Tel: 1-888-407-4747
Email: Adoption@state.gov
Internet: adoption.state.gov

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about immigration procedures:
USCIS National Customer Service Center (NCSC)
Tel: 1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)
Internet: uscis.gov

For questions about filing a Form I-800A application or a Form I-800 petition:
USCIS National Benefits Center (NBC)
Tel: 1-877-424-8374 (toll free); 1-816-251-2770 (local)
Email: NBC.Hague@uscis.dhs.gov

Reciprocity Schedule

Select a visa category below to find the visa issuance fee, number of entries, and validity period for visas issued to applicants from this country*/area of authority.

Explanation of Terms

Visa Classification: The type of nonimmigrant visa you are applying for.

Fee: The reciprocity fee, also known as the visa issuance fee, you must pay. This fee is in addition to the nonimmigrant visa application fee (MRV fee).

Number of Entries: The number of times you may seek entry into the United States with that visa. "M" means multiple times. If there is a number, such as "One", you may apply for entry one time with that visa.

Validity Period: This generally means the visa is valid, or can be used, from the date it is issued until the date it expires, for travel with that visa. If your Validity Period is 60 months, your visa will be valid for 60 months from the date it is issued.

Visa Classifications
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
K
L
M
N
O
P
Q
R
S
T
U
V
 
Visa
Classification
Fee Number
of Entries
Validity
Period
A-1 None Multiple 60 Months
A-2 None Multiple 60 Months A
A-2 (TDY) None Two 6 Months
A-3 1 None Multiple 12 Months
B-1 None Multiple 120 Months C
B-2 None Multiple 120 Months C
B-1/B-2 None Multiple 120 Months C
C-1 None Multiple 60 Months
C-1/D None Multiple 60 Months
C-2 None Multiple 24 Months
C-3 None Multiple 24 Months A
C-3 (TDY) None Two 6 Months
CW-1 11 None Multiple 12 Months
CW-2 11 None Multiple 12 Months
D None Multiple 60 Months
E-1 2 No Treaty N/A N/A
E-2 2 No Treaty N/A N/A
E-2C 12 None Multiple 24 Months
F-1 None Multiple 60 Months
F-2 None Multiple 60 Months
G-1 None Multiple 36 Months
G-2 None Two 6 Months
G-3 None Multiple 36 Months
G-4 None Multiple 36 Months
G-5 1 None Multiple 6 Months
H-1B None Multiple 12 Months 3
H-1C None Multiple 12 Months 3
H-2A None N/A N/A3
H-2B None N/A N/A3
H-2R None Multiple 12 Months 3
H-3 None Multiple 12 Months 3
H-4 None Multiple 12 Months 3
I None One 3 Months
J-1 4 None Multiple 60 Months
J-2 4 None Multiple 60 Months
K-1 None One 6 Months
K-2 None One 6 Months
K-3 None Multiple 24 Months
K-4 None Multiple 24 Months
L-1 $120.00 B Multiple 24 Months
L-2 $120.00 B Multiple 24 Months
M-1 None Multiple 60 Months
M-2 None Multiple 60 Months
N-8 None Two 6 Months
N-9 None Two 6 Months
NATO 1-7 N/A N/A N/A
O-1 None One 3 Months 3
O-2 None One 3 Months 3
O-3 None One 3 Months 3
P-1 None One 3 Months 3
P-2 None One 3 Months 3
P-3 None One 3 Months 3
P-4 None One 3 Months 3
Q-1 6 None One 3 Months 3
R-1 None One 3 Months
R-2 None One 3 Months
S-5 7 None One 1 Month
S-6 7 None One 1 Month
S-7 7 None One 1 Month
T-1 9 N/A N/A N/A
T-2 None One 6 Months
T-3 None One 6 Months
T-4 None One 6 Months
T-5 None One 6 Months
T-6 None One 6 Months
TD 5 N/A N/A N/A
U-1 None Multiple 48 Months
U-2 None Multiple 48 Months
U-3 None Multiple 48 Months
U-4 None Multiple 48 Months
U-5 None Multiple 48 Months
V-1 None Multiple 120 Months
V-2 None Multiple 120 Months 8
V-3 None Multiple 120 Months 8
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Country Specific Footnotes
  1. Type Duration

    Assigned personnel receive full validity. Temporary duty personnel receive limited validity.

    Two entries/6 months
    Professional diplomatic couriers Multiple entries/36 months
  2. Type Fee Duration
    Single entry No fee 3 months
  3. All NIV adjudicating posts worldwide must annotate each 10-year, multiple-entry, B-1/B-2, B-1, or B-2 visa issued in a People's Republic of China passport. 

    Visa annotation must read:
    EVUS Enrollment required beginning November 29, 2016.
    Details at www.cbp.gov/EVUS

    Subsequent to the November 29, 2016 start date of the program, the annotation will be:
    EVUS enrollment required
    Details at www.cbp.gov/EVUS

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.

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Visa Category Footnotes
  1. The validity of A-3, G-5, and NATO 7 visas may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the person who is employing the applicant. The "employer" would have one of the following visa classifications:

    • A-1
    • A-2
    • G-1 through G-4
    • NATO 1 through NATO 6

  2. An E-1 and E-2 visa may be issued only to a principal alien who is a national of a country having a treaty, or its equivalent, with the United States. E-1 and E-2 visas may not be issued to a principal alien if he/she is a stateless resident. The spouse and children of an E-1 or E-2 principal alien are accorded derivative E-1 or E-2 status following the reciprocity schedule, including any reciprocity fees, of the principle alien’s country of nationality.  

    Example: John Doe is a national of the country of Z that has an E-1/E-2 treaty with the U.S. His wife and child are nationals of the country of Y which has no treaty with the U.S. The wife and child would, therefore, be entitled to derivative status and receive the same reciprocity as Mr. Doe, the principal visa holder.  

  3. The validity of H-1 through H-3, O-1 and O-2, P-1 through P-3, and Q visas may not exceed the period of validity of the approved petition or the number of months shown, whichever is less.

    Under 8 CFR §214.2, H-2A and H-2B petitions may generally only be approved for nationals of countries that the Secretary of Homeland Security has designated as participating countries. The current list of eligible countries is available on USCIS's website for both H-2A and H-2B visas. Nationals of countries not on this list may be the beneficiary of an approved H-2A or H2-B petition in limited circumstances at the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security if specifically named on the petition.  

    Derivative H-4, L-2, O-3, and P-4 visas, issued to accompanying or following-to-join spouses and children, may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the principal alien.

  4. There is no reciprocity fee for the issuance of a J visa if the alien is a United States Government grantee or a participant in an exchange program sponsored by the United States Government.

    Also, there is no reciprocity fee for visa issuance to an accompanying or following-to-join spouse or child (J-2) of an exchange visitor grantee or participant.

    In addition, an applicant is eligible for an exemption from the MRV fee if he or she is participating in a State Department, USAID, or other federally funded educational and cultural exchange program (program serial numbers G-1, G-2, G-3 and G-7).

    However, all other applicants with U.S. Government sponsorships, including other J-visa applicants, are subject to the MRV processing fee.

  5. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canadian and Mexican nationals coming to engage in certain types of professional employment in the United States may be admitted in a special nonimmigrant category known as the "trade NAFTA" or "TN" category. Their dependents (spouse and children) accompanying or following to join them may be admitted in the "trade dependent" or "TD" category whether or not they possess Canadian or Mexican nationality. Except as noted below, the number of entries, fees and validity for non-Canadian or non-Mexican family members of a TN status holder seeking TD visas should be based on the reciprocity schedule of the TN principal alien.

    Canadian Nationals

    Since Canadian nationals generally are exempt from visa requirement, a Canadian "TN' or "TD" alien does not require a visa to enter the United States. However, the non-Canadian national dependent of a Canadian "TN", unless otherwise exempt from the visa requirement, must obtain a "TD" visa before attempting to enter the United States. The standard reciprocity fee and validity period for all non-Canadian "TD"s is no fee, issued for multiple entries for a period of 36 months, or for the duration of the principal alien's visa and/or authorized period of stay, whichever is less. See 'NOTE' under Canadian reciprocity schedule regarding applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality.

    Mexican Nationals

    Mexican nationals are not visa-exempt. Therefore, all Mexican "TN"s and both Mexican and non-Mexican national "TD"s accompanying or following to join them who are not otherwise exempt from the visa requirement (e.g., the Canadian spouse of a Mexican national "TN") must obtain nonimmigrant visas.

    Applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality, who have a permanent resident or refugee status in Canada/Mexico, may not be accorded Canadian/Mexican reciprocity, even when applying in Canada/Mexico. The reciprocity fee and period for "TD" applicants from Libya is $10.00 for one entry over a period of 3 months. The Iranian and Iraqi "TD" is no fee with one entry over a period of 3 months.

  6. Q-2 (principal) and Q-3 (dependent) visa categories are in existence as a result of the 'Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training Program Act of 1998'. However, because the Department anticipates that virtually all applicants for this special program will be either Irish or U.K. nationals, the Q-2 and Q-3 categories have been placed only in the reciprocity schedules for those two countries. Q-2 and Q-3 visas are available only at the Embassy in Dublin and the Consulate General in Belfast.

  7. No S visa may be issued without first obtaining the Department's authorization.

  8. V-2 and V-3 status is limited to persons who have not yet attained their 21st birthday. Accordingly, the period of validity of a V-2 or V-3 visa must be limited to expire on or before the applicant's twenty-first birthday.

  9. Posts may not issue a T-1 visa. A T-1 applicant must be physically present in the United States, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands or a U.S. port of entry, where he/she will apply for an adjustment of status to that of a T-1. The following dependents of a T-1 visa holder, however, may be issued a T visa at a U.S. consular office abroad:

    • T-2 (spouse)
    • T-3 (child)
    • T-4 (parent)
  10. The validity of NATO-5 visas may not exceed the period of validity of the employment contract or 12 months, whichever is less.

  11. The validity of CW-1 and CW-2 visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (12 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

  12. The validity of E-2C visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (24 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

 

 

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General Documents

Most of the documents listed below can be obtained from one of China's Notarial Offices (Gong Zheng Chu). All Chinese documentation to be used abroad is processed through the notary offices and issued in the form of notarial certificates. Notarial offices are located in all major Chinese cities and in rural county seats. These offices are part of the Ministry of Justice structure, but are separate from the people's court system.

Notaries in China do not perform the same functions as their American counterparts. Chinese notaries affix their signatures and office seal to certificates that attest to the probity of claims made by the applicants. By regulation, notaries are empowered to issue certificates only after they conclude that the applicant's claims are true. Notarial certificates of birth, death, marriage, divorce, no criminal record and pre-1981 adoptions are, at best, secondary evidence of the events they purport to document. Although these certificates are secondary evidence, they are used because primary evidence is not standardized, is easily forged, and difficult to evaluate. Notarial certificates are easier to interpret than primary evidence and theoretically represent an expert judgment on the part of the notarial official as to the facts documented.

The certificates can be based upon primary evidence, secondary evidence, testimony of the applicant or other parties, or investigation by the notary. For most notarial certificates of birth or adoption, the primary underlying documentation is the household register (HHR) which appears to be extremely susceptible to fraud and manipulation, especially if the holder of the HHR lives outside of a major metropolitan area. Notarial certificates rarely cite the basis for their issuance.*

Thus a certificate in itself may not be adequate evidence of the facts claimed, and is best used in conjunction with primary and contemporaneous secondary evidence: old land deeds and old family registers; letters or money receipts; family records from countries that have reliable public documents; school and medical records. In relationship cases, especially where the petitioner left China years before, the best evidence of relationship, or lack of it, would be the Hong Kong Certificate of Registered Particulars (for petitioners who lived in Hong Kong), or the petitioner's immigration and/or naturalization file.

Local conditions often do not permit consular officers to conduct on-site inquiries. However, if there is a reason to doubt the claims in a certificate issued by a Chinese notary, the American consular post in the issuing office's area may verify the information through the notarial office, or, if possible, by field investigation. A copy of the document in question should be submitted to the post, as well as detailed reasons for the suspicion. For suspected relationship fraud, the first step should be a check of the information contained in the INS file or Joint Voluntary Agency (JVA) files for former refugees. Given sufficient reason, notaries do investigate, and in some cases, revoke certificates. Several months should be allowed for a reply.

Individuals residing outside of China may obtain notarial certificates from the notarial office with jurisdiction over the county of previous residence. Chinese relatives or friends may request issuance of certificates on behalf of someone now living abroad. Relatives and friends should have specific written authorization from the interested party before they request certificates. Alternatively, persons in need of notarial documents may contact the PRC Embassy or Consulate nearest to their residence abroad and ask that the request be forwarded to the appropriate notarial office. Obtaining a notarial certificate through a PRC Embassy or Consulate can require considerable time.

Birth, Death, Burial Certificates

Birth

Original medical certificates of birth (Chu Sheng Yi Xue Zheng Ming) are available starting from 1996. Also available are notarial birth certificates, which are secondary evidence. Due to the lack of a standardized format for birth certificates prior to 1996, original medical certificate of birth (when available) along with a notarial certificate of birth should be requested.  Notarial certificates of birth (Chu Sheng Gong Zheng Shu or Chu Sheng Zheng Ming Shu) for persons living in or recently departed from China are generally reliable, but are best used in conjunction with other evidence. They are most often based upon an HHR, (Household Record) which is easily susceptible to fraud, especially in villages. Notarial birth certificates for persons long departed from China are most likely based merely upon the testimony of interested parties.

While some notarial birth certificates will list stepparents or adoptive parents along with natural parents, this is not always the case. In some cases, the certificates will list only the natural parents, covering up an adoption.

Some applicants will present notarial certificates of relationship (Guan Xi Gong Zheng [or Zheng Ming] Shu) in lieu of notarial birth certificates. These certificates of relationship are unreliable and tend to be based solely upon the testimony of interested parties. Notarial birth certificates should be required. Care should be taken with any certificate that lists step relationships. These relationships are as of the date of issuance of the certificate only. Marriage certificates should also be required.

Death/Burial

Available in the form of notarial marriage certificates (Jie Hun Gong Zheng [or Zheng Wing] Shu) or death certificates which are generally reliable.

 

 

Marriage, Divorce Certificates

Marriage

Available in the form of notarial marriage certificates (Jie Hun Gong Zheng [or Zheng Ming] Shu) or death certificates which are generally reliable.

Same-sex marriage is not recognized in China.

Divorce

Available. Notarial offices will issue notarial divorce certificates based upon extant records to confirm either a court-decreed or uncontested divorce. In an uncontested divorce, a couple can obtain a divorce certificate from the marriage registration office in the neighborhood where they reside. In a contested divorce, both parties will receive a copy of the formal divorce decree from the court at the time the divorce is approved. If the original decree is lost, the same court will often issue a duplicate, but these various decrees or certificates should not be accepted in lieu of the notarial certificates.

 

Adoption Certificates

Certification is available in the form of a Notarial Adoption Certificate ("Shou Yang Gong Zheng" or "Zheng Ming Shu"); however, in accordance with the most recent revisions to China's adoptions law, a Notarial Adoption Certificateis no longer a requirement in adoption cases that were initiated after April 1, 1999, the effective date of the revisions. Notarial Adoptions Certificatesremain available should any party involved in the adoptions process wish to have one (Adoption Law of the PRC, Chapter II, Article 15).

Early Adoptions

Prior to January 1981, there were no standardized adoptions laws and regulations in China. Commonly, adoptions were orally agreed to by the adoptive parent(s) and natural parents and/or surviving family members. There may or may not be a written record dating from the time of the adoption in these older cases. Parties to pre-1981 adoptions, however, often secured Notarial Adoptions Certificates at a later point in time that listed the natural parents' names, adoptive parents' names, and the date of the adoption. These certificates were supposedly issued only after the notary ascertained that an adoption took place conforming to local practice and regulation. Although notarial offices issued certificates for pre-January 1981 adoptions, these are considered to have been extremely susceptible to fraud, such that contemporaneous evidence of the adoption and co-residence, especially in the form of school records, is required for verification purposes.

Following Enactment of the Adoption Law of China, Effective April 1, 1992

China codified its adoptions laws and regulations in the Current Adoption Law of China on December 29, 1991, which came into force on April 1, 1992. Under this law, a Notarial Adoption Certificate was required in all adoption cases, and the inability to obtain a Notarial Adoption Certificate was prima facie evidence no adoption ever took place. Therefore, adoptions taking place after January 1981 and before April 1, 1999 are considered valid only with the issuance of a Notarial Adoptions Certificate. Additionally, for adoptions cases initiated during this period, the date of issuance of the Notarial Adoptions Certification serves as the effective date of adoption.

Revisions to the Adoption Law of China, Effective April 1, 1999

On November 4, 1998, China amended its adoptions law, effective April 1, 1999. Under the revised law, Notarial Adoption Certificates are no longer required in the adoptions process, nor are they used to establish the effective date of adoption. Instead, a Certificate of Registration of Adoption is used, and the effective date of an adoption is the date of registration (Revised Measures for Registration of Adoption of Children by Foreigners, Article 11). These certificates are issued by the provincial-level Ministry of Civil Affairs, which is responsible for approving all adoptions of parentless or abandoned children who becomes the wards of the Chinese state.

International (Inter-country) Adoptions in China

Foreigners may, in accordance with the Adoption Law of China, adopt a child (male or female) in the PRC. As in a domestic adoption, the adoptive relationship shall be established as the date of registration in all adoptions concluded on or after April 1, 1999, the effective date of the revised law. For adoptions occurring prior to that date, failure to obtain a Notarial Certificate of Adoption remains prima facie evidence a legal adoption never took place. While a Notarized Adoptions Certificate is no longer required, one may be obtained should any party involved in the adoption relationship wish to have one. Moreover, it remains true that if a foreign parent or married couple adopts a Chinese orphan, at least one of the adoptive parents must travel to China to complete the adoption, at which time they will receive a Notarial Birth Certificate and a Notarial Abandonment Certificate (Revised Measures for Registration of Adoption of Children by Foreigners, Article 8). The Notarial Abandonment Certificate should detail under what circumstances the child was either orphaned or abandoned. Please consult the U.S. Consulate Guangzhou's Adoption Unit for more on the inter-country adoptions process.

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Identity Card

Unavailable.

Police, Court, Prison Records

Police Records

Generally available, reliable. Persons should apply for a certificate of no criminal record at the local Public Security Bureau (PSB) (or certain types of employers such as state owned enterprises), then make application to the notary office for a certificate based on the PSB document. Persons without a criminal record will be able to obtain a certificate to that effect. Certificates for individuals with one or more criminal convictions will list all convictions for which records still exist. The certificates purport to reflect all criminal convictions during residence in China. Police records are generally not available for the period prior to 1949. Certificates are available for those in the J-1, Z, and X categories. The GOC does not issue police records for temporary residents of China in L or F visa categories.

Police records also are not available for those who were in China in diplomatic status including those working for international organizations such as the United Nations. Notarial police certificates are based in part upon records from an individual's employer. If an employer refuses to release records, the notarial office is not able to issue a certificate. This is the case for persons sent abroad for education by the Chinese Government who fail to return to China.

According to a 1957 state council ruling that is still in force, the imposition of a re-education through labor (Lao Dong Jiao Yu) term does not result from a criminal conviction. Administrative organs, rather than courts, impose re-education through labor. It is important to distinguish re-education through labor from labor reform (Lao Dong Gai Zao), which is a sentence meted out for criminal offenses.

Court Records

Available in most cases. Normally, when someone is tried by a people's court or by an organ of the executive branch of government, some record remains of the case even for a political crime. In some instances, the entire formal court verdict (Pan Jue Shu) is available upon request by the former defendant. In other cases, the court can provide only a synopsis of the charges and the verdict. In all instances, it is necessary to have the applicant request court records. If an applicant is unable to secure court records, the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, or the posts in China with jurisdiction over the area where the record is located can contact the appropriate provincial foreign affairs office and request assistance in securing records. It is not advisable for other U.S. officials to contact courts directly. Most court records will also indicate the original sentence, the actual sentence served and any reduction or commutation of the original sentence. Court records are generally not available for the period prior to 1949.

Prison Records

See Court Record above.

Military Records

Generally not available.

Passports & Other Travel Documents

There are four types of Chinese passports:

  1. Diplomatic Passports: Bright Red. Used for diplomats, and certain other senior government officials, (e.g., provincial governors, ministers, etc.) and the heads of some large state corporations.
  2. Service Passports: Green. Used for other government-sponsored travelers who are at, or below, the vice-minister level. Service passports are issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  3. Public Affairs Passports: Dark brown. Used for other government-sponsored travelers who are at, or below, the vice-minister level. Public Affairs passports are issued by Provincial Foreign Affairs Offices.
    Note: Beijing has seen a variety of government sponsored travelers from trading company officials to Kung Fu experts, traveling on Public Affairs passports. The Provincial Foreign Affairs officers appear to have some latitude in deciding who can travel on a Public Affairs passport.
  4. Private Passport: Red. (The current red passports first appeared in 1992. Earlier versions, some of which are still in use, are brown.) Both types are used for Chinese traveling for unofficial purposes. The main difference between service and public affairs passports on the one hand and private passports on the other is that a Chinese traveling on a service or public affairs passport must be sponsored officially by the government, (though that does not mean the government is necessarily paying for the trip). Most applications for travel by holders of diplomatic service, and public affairs passports come to the U.S. under cover of a note from the sponsoring Chinese organization.


Travel Document
:  Blue.  A Travel Document is issued by Chinese diplomatic representative offices outside of China to Chinese citizens who, due to time constraints or other reasons, are unable to apply for a regular passport.  If the Travel Document is annotated as “Valid only for return travel to China” the document becomes invalid as soon as the holder enters China. A Travel Document may also be issued by Chinese diplomatic representative offices to residents of Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan who do not possess mainland travel permits and who need to travel to mainland China. A Travel Document will typically either be issued as single entry for mainland China with one year of validity, or as multiple entries/exits for mainland China with two years of validity. Travel Document validity cannot be extended. A Travel Document can also be used to apply for third country visas as well as used to travel to a third country.   

 

Other Records

Notarial Work Experience Certificates

Available. Notarial Work Experience Certificates (NWECS) briefly describe an applicant's work experience in the PRC. They should be required of all employment based preference immigrant applicants who claim work experience in China. Employer's letters or sworn statements from persons claiming person's knowledge should not be accepted in lieu of NWECS. The inability of an applicant to obtain a NWEC should be regarded as prima facie evidence the applicant does not possess the claimed experience.

Visa Issuing Posts

Beijing (Embassy) -- NIV except K

Mailing Address:
Unit 7300
DPO AP 96521-7300

Street Address:
No. 55 An Jia Lou Road
Beijing, China 100600

Tel: (86-10) 8531-4000 (ACS), 8531-3000 (NIV)

Fax: (86-10) 8531-3333 (NIV), 8531-3300 (ACS)

AmCitBeijing@state.gov

Chengdu (Consulate General)-- NIV except K

Mailing Address:

Unit 4080

DPO, AP 96521-4080

Street Address:
Number 4, Lingshiguan Road,
Chengdu, Sichuan, PRC 610041

Tel: (28) 8558-3992, 8558-9642

Fax: (28) 88-3520

Guangzhou (Consulate General) -- All categories

Mailing Address:
U.S. Consulate General
43 Hua Jiu Road, Zhujiang New Town
Tianhe District
Guangzhou, China
510623

Street Address:
Huaxia Road, Zhujiang New Town, (near Exit B1 of the Zhujiang New Town subway station, Line 3 and Line 5)
Tianhe District
Guangzhou, China

Phone: 020-3814-5000

Shanghai (Consulate General)-- NIV except K

Mailing Address:

Unit 4100

DPO, AP 96521-4100

Street Address:
1469 Huai Hai Zhong Lu
Shanghai, PRC 200031

Tel: (86-21) 6433-6880
(after hours) (86-21) 6433-3936

Fax: (86-21) 6471-1493, 6433-4122, 6471-1148

Shenyang (Consulate General) -- NIV except K

Mailing Address:

Unit 4110

DPO, AP 8531-4110

Street Address:
No. 52, 14 Wei Road
Heping District
Shenyang, Liaoning, PRC 110003

Tel: (86-24) 2322-1198, 2322-0368

Fax: (86-24) 2322-2374

Visa Services
IV
Guangzhou All IV applications for China (PRC).
All K NIV applications for China.
NIV
Beijing All of China except for areas serviced by Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Shenyang.
Chengdu Chongqing Municipality Sichuan Province, Tibet Autonomous Region, and Yunnan Province.
Guangzhou Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and the provinces of Fujian, Guangdong, and Hainan.
Shanghai Shanghai Municipality and the provinces of Anhui, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang.
Shenyang Provinces of Liaoning, Jilin, and Heilongjiang.

The embassy/consular districts include the following provinces/regions of China:

Embassy/Consular District Provinces/Regions
Beijing
  • Beijing
  • Tianjin
  • Shandong
  • Shanxi
  • Inner Mongolia
  • Ningxia
  • Shaanxi
  • Qinghai
  • Gansu
  • Xinjiang
  • Hebei
  • Henan
  • Hubei
  • Hunan
  • Jiangxi
Chengdu
  • Guizhou
  • Sichuan 
  • Xizang (Tibet)
  • Yunnan
  • Municipality of Chongqing
Guangzhou
  • Guangdong
  • Guangxi
  • Hainan
  • Fujian
Shanghai
  • Shanghai
  • Anhui
  • Jiangsu
  • Zhejiang
Shenyang
  • Liaoning
  • Heilongjian
  • Jilin

Foreign Consular Office Contact Information

Washington, DC (202) 495-2266 (202) 495-2138

Chicago, IL (312) 803-0095 (312) 803-0104

Houston, TX (713) 520-1462 (713) 521-3064

Los Angeles, CA (213) 807-8088 (213) 807-8091

New York, NY (212) 244-9392 (212) 244-9456

San Francisco, CA (415) 852-5924 during working hours, (415) 216-8525 outside working hours (415) 852-5920

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Beijing
No. 55 An Jia Lou Road
Chaoyang District, Beijing 100600
China
Telephone
+(86)(10) 8531-4000
Emergency
+(86)(10) 8531-4000
Fax
+(86)(10) 8531-3300
China Country Map

Learn about your destination
Additional Information for Reciprocity

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.