Chinese Entry-Exit document

Intro to the Chinese “Entry-Exit Document”

Posted by
Update 2023-05-28
We’re getting more first-hand reports that the Entry-Exit Permit is now only being issued for travel to the holder’s foreign passport country, whereas previously, the travel destination was not monitored. Keep this in mind as you make travel plans, and consult your local Entry-Exit Bureau early in the process to find out the latest requirements.

In my previous post about Chinese citizenship for children of WWAM couples, I discussed the citizenship options available for kids who automatically receive Chinese citizenship at birth whilst also eligible for foreign citizenship.

It can be a bit of a challenge if you decide to apply for foreign citizenship for your child, as the Chinese government does not recognise dual citizenship. If your child is born in China and receives a foreign passport – they then cannot get a Chinese visa in their foreign passport if the Chinese government considers them Chinese (see the Chinese Nationality Laws in my previous post).

So in this situation, the child could hold a foreign passport without a Chinese visa and reside in China legally, because they are Chinese while they’re in China. The challenge comes when the child needs to go out of Mainland China.

They can’t exit on their foreign passport, and they can’t apply for a Chinese passport since this would violate Chinese Nationality laws.

The good news is you can apply for an “Entry-Exit document” (出入境通行证) for your child to leave and re-enter China.

It’s a relatively straightforward process – here are the details based on applications made in Beijing (it should be similar in other cities, but you’ll need to check with your local Entry-Exit bureau).

Documents needed

  • One completed form (you can download the Beijing form from
  • One passport-style photo (2 inches diagonally)
  • In Beijing, the child currently needs to also be present at the Entry-Exit Bureau to take a photo when applying
  • Child’s passport
  • Child’s birth certificate
  • Both parents’ passports
  • Chinese parent’s ID and hukouben
  • Juzhuzheng – residence registration for non-local Chinese residents
  • Marriage certificate (bring a translation with the stamp from the translation company if you weren’t married in China)
  • Any previous entry-exit or travel documents the child holds

Take all these documents (and a photocopy of each) to your local Entry-Exit Bureau to apply.

Processing time

It takes 7 working days after the submission date to be ready for collection


15rmb (in Beijing in 2019)
Finally a way to use up all those 1 mao coins you’ve collected!!

Document Validity

Valid for 3 months from date of issue
Valid for 1 exit and 1 entry only
Used for any exit out of the Mainland
* In Shenzhen it seems applicants can get a one-year, multiple entry entry-exit document (probably special status due to its proximity to Hong Kong and to allow easier passage back and forth)

How to Use

You’ll need to use the child’s foreign passport to book the international flight/s out of China. The entry-exit document is simply shown to the Chinese customs officer when exiting China, and then shown upon check-in for your flight back to China and again, shown to the customs officer when entering China. You should also be able to use only the entry-exit document if travelling to Hong Kong or Macao, in which case you’d need to book your travel using this document number.

After one exit and entry or within three months of the date of issue, the document will expire. But remember to hold on to it anyway, since you’ll need to show it when applying for the same in the future.

Any other issues

  • In some cities, or the first time you apply, you may be forced to use a Chinese name only on the document, regardless if your child’s name is only written in English on their birth certificate. It seems weird, since in this case, there’s probably no legal document with this newly created Chinese name on it and the name will not match what is on your child’s passport. But from all reports, it should be fine for returning to China. If you are concerned, you could consider getting a notarised letter in China stating that “English name” and “Chinese name” are the same person. Such notary service offices are often located nearby the Entry-Exit bureau (at least they are in Beijing).
  • This document is designed to be used for people without a Chinese passport, so you probably will not be able to apply for it if your child already has a Chinese passport.
  • It’s expected that your child would not be listed on the family hukou (Chinese household registration booklet) since this is also considered as pursuing dual citizenship.
  • If you’ll be out of China for more than 3 months from the date of issue, or need to regularly travel in and out of China, you’ll need to apply for a “Travel document” (旅行证) outside of Mainland China. I’ll detail that document in a future post.
  • Since it does take some time to apply for the document each time (meaning last minute or emergency travel is difficult), you may want to consider applying for a travel document (2-year, multiple entry validity) or renouncing Chinese citizenship for your child. I’ll cover both these topics in upcoming posts.

If you have personal experience of applying for an Entry-Exit document or any questions not covered above, please comment below. We’ll do our best to keep this post updated in case of changes to the process.

Susie Hart


  1. Hi. I wasn’t sure how to contact the person who made this post, but I really wanted to be able to communicate with Ms. Hart to ask her some questions about the topic of this post. My family is a mixed nationality family. I am American and my wife is Chinese. Our daughter was born in Beijing in 2019 and we have an English name on her Chinese birth certificate. When she was born, we applied for American citizenship but never applied for her hukou. Soon after it was the COVID pandemic and all the shutdowns. With the recent opening up we wanted to take a trip, thinking we can apply for the Entry-Exit document. When we went to the 出入境 we were informed that the Entry-Exit document is ONLY for going back to the country of conflicting citizenship. This put all of our plans in disarray as we were told that we can’t apply for hukou and passport now that we have foreign citizenship. Essentially bureaucratic limbo. So my question is given that it seems you’ve applied and used an Exit-Entry document before for your children, can you only travel to the country of conflicting citizenship or is it just something they say when applying but border control really doesn’t check or care. Thanks so much in advance if you reply.

    1. Hi Jason,

      The Entry-Exit document is literally a document that Chinese citizens can use to exit and enter China. For example, if a Chinese citizen lost their passport whilst overseas, I believe they would get this document as a temporary replacement.

      I have never heard of any specific restriction on where you can actually travel to with it. In practice, when leaving China as a citizen who has foreign citizenship but no Chinese visa in the foreign passport, you simply show the Entry-Exit permit at customs and they do not want to see the foreign passport. And same for entry back into China.

      Once you exit Mainland China, you then need to use your foreign passport while you are travelling abroad.

      It’s important to note that the entry-exit document usually only lasts 3 months and is only valid for one exit and one entry. It’s definitely worth considering applying for the travel permit while you are abroad as it’s usually valid for 2 years and for multiple entries and exits for China.

      The problem overall may just be that different cities may have a different understanding of the document and the laws. At least in Beijing, they have always been fine about issuing the entry-exit document to kids with a foreign passport and no hukou but default Chinese citizenship. And at the Chinese border, they are definitely very familiar with this document.

      I hope this clarifies things for you, but if your experience varies, please let us know!

  2. Thank you so much for your reply. This was very helpful. From my own research, this was also what was said on the government websites. I was really surprised that the worker at the 出入境 turned us down because we said we weren’t going back to the US but going to some other place.

    I just wanted to ask a follow up question: Is it possible that the laws have changed recently? I am just really scared of the following scenarios:

    1. Customs denies my daughter reentry back in China because we aren’t traveling from the US.
    2. When we apply for another 出入境通行证 they give us trouble.

    1. Jason,
      In case it is helpful to you, here’s some research I recently did (I am in a similar situation as you with similar questions you had!). I also looked at the official websites, but then I also looked at the Chinese app xiaohongshu and searched for 出入境通行证 and many posts of parents sharing their experience (in Chinese) came up. You might want to take a look there too. But here are some points I gleaned — again, it’s just for reference and I cannot comment on the validity or reliability of the posts I read:
      (1) It seems some cities are stricter than others about where your child can go with the 出入境通行证. One parent shared that in Shanghai the office there didn’t care and they didn’t ask about the planned destination. Other cities were more strict, saying the 出入境通行证 could only be used by the child to travel to the country with the nationality conflict 国籍冲突国家. Some even required the applicants to show a plane ticket reservation to the nationality conflict country.
      (2) I recall there was a public post on 小红书 by a parent who shared how she recently applied for, and got, a 出入境通行证 for her son (who has one US and one Chinese parent), and they traveled to Macau on a vacation and her son used the 出入境通行证. It didn’t seem they had problems because she shared a photo of the exit stamp leaving the mainland for Macau, and the entry stamp back into the mainland one day later. But I don’t know in what city she applied for a 出入境通行证, maybe her city was more lenient in implementation of the regulations (like Shanghai seems to be more lenient).
      (3) Before the pandemic, the 出入境通行证 was much more flexible. I know in Guangdong province for example, they regularly issued 出入境通行证 with multiple exit and entry, and for 1 year validity. So the child could use that to enter and exit the mainland without limit for 1 year. And you just reapplied after a year. But then came the pandemic, and it appears after the pandemic many places have tightened up the rules – 3 months only validity, and only single exit and single entry, and some cities even saying you can only go back to the nationality conflict country. Some online bloggers suggested that the policies may loosen up back to pre-pandemic as time passes. So it is entirely plausible that as travel resumes etc, the pre-pandemic 出入境通行证 looser policies may come back. So that would be a “wait and see” approach.
      (4) There are therefore unfortunately as you pointed out many uncertainties and resulting fears, including the very legitimate concerns/fears you raised. It seems the only way to truly avoid any uncertainty is to do one of the following:
      – travel back to the nationality conflict country and apply for a 旅行证 from the local PRC consulate or embassy. The 旅行证 cannot be applied for in mainland China; it can only be applied for in a PRC embassy or consulate abroad. Apparently the Commissioner’s Office of the PRC Foreign Ministry in Hong Kong can also now process 旅行证 applications, but from online posts from parents who applied, that option appears only available for parents *renewing* their child’s 旅行证, not applying for the first time. For first time 旅行证 applications you still, it appears, have to travel back to the nationality conflict country. This of course is a major hassle and could entail a stay of 1-2 months abroad, since some parents shared that one of the application requirements is a video interview with a consular officer and it may take 1 month or so to get an appointment. However, if one successfully applies for a 旅行证, those are valid for 2 years and can allow the child to enter and exit mainland China without any restrictions.
      – resolve the “conflict of nationality” 国籍冲突, by either formally applying for PRC citizenship (and passport) for the child, or renouncing the PRC citizenship.
      – just “wait and see”, perhaps as time passes, the 出入境通行证 restrictions will be loosened

      Hope the above helps. If you read Chinese, you might want to read those posts on 小红书.

      1. Thanks so much for sharing your experience! It seems like we really need to rely most on talking to people who have been through a similar situation recently to really understand the current implementation. It’s challenging!

      2. Hi this was very very helpful. My wife also saw a lot of what you were saying on 小红书 as well. Given what Susie said here and others experience on Reddit we went and applied for the 出入境通行证 and got it. We said we were heading to the US on the application and didn’t get any push back. No requirement for plane ticket. This was in Beijing. Thank you everyone for all the support. The entire process is just so opaque.

  3. I haven’t heard of any law change, but I know that the 出入境 in some places were reluctant to issue any type of travel documents to any citizens during covid, so it may be worth trying again now if it was during that time. The thing is, at customs/border control for China, they won’t want to look at the foreign passport, so they wouldn’t know the foreign citizenship really. So I couldn’t see how that could be a problem.

    When we decided to go through the renunciation process for our kid in Beijing, they actually tried to encourage us to wait till she was older and continue to travel with an entry-exit document.

  4. My son have a Chinese and a Belgian passport , is only 1 year half , registered in Chinese wife hukou in Yibin. (Sichuan province)
    We live in Shanghai , can i apply for the exit entry pass in Shanghai or have to go to Yibin.
    As my son have the 2 passports and register in the hukou , would that cause any problem? The intro in this article mention that he exit entry is for people wihtout the Chinese passport and not registered in hte Hukou.
    He have a Chinese family name from my wife , and for the Belgium passport we changed his name to my family name .

    1. It’s a difficult question. As far I’d heard previously, for a Chinese citizen on the hukou and with a passport already (like your son), normally an entry-exit document would not be issued. I’ve heard that people in that situation usually leave China on the Chinese passport, transfer via a country where Chinese citizens don’t need a visa, or can get visa on arrival, or get a visa in their Chinese passport for that country, then finally travel on to the foreign passport country using the foreign passport.

      Having said all that, as far as I’ve read on Chinese nationality law, it is not legal for a Chinese citizen to hold dual citizenship. It’s a lot simpler generally to hold on one passport, as far as China is concerned.

      1. Dear Susie , thank you , in total I went 3 times to the exit entry in Shanghai , one as to see how and what was needed , a second time my application was refused because the name on foreign pasport not same as on the birth certificate , I got then a certificate from the Consulate about the name change and the third time all was ok and last week we recieved the permit by express. I think in first time it is best both parents and child are there as they took a picture of the 3 of us with their webcam. But in general it is quiet easy and I dont suggest to try the alternative as going by second country , that seems too complicated and getting the permit is not that difficult if you have prepared all the documents and copies in advance.

        1. Thanks for sharing your experience. It certainly seems the requirements are changing, and first-hand experience is really helpful.

  5. What line does a child get in when exiting China with the exit-entry permit? The citizen’s line or the foreigner’s line? Can the mixed couple form together or do they split up at customs?

    1. In Beijing, it’s just one queue for everyone exiting China. If there are two different queues, personally, I would assess which was shorter and just confidently go for that one 😀

      We actually tried that coming back into China recently where there were two separate queues and the Chinese one was shorter. One person tried to turn us away with one Chinese passport and 2 foreign passports but then another let us go through. It was definitely a bit faster!

  6. Where do you obtain entry exit document in Shanghai for infant born to Canadian and Chinese parents? Can you apply through the Canadian/Chinese consulate office?

    1. If you are inside China, you should normally apply at the local Entry-Exit bureau in your city – generally the same place where foreigners go to get their visa renewed and Chinese people go to get their passports issued.

      If you’re outside China, you’ll need to go to the nearest Chinese embassy or consulate and apply for the travel document – the exit-entry document is only issued inside China.

      1. In Shanghai it is Minsheng Road 1500 , it is on the first floor, there are two counters on the left side beginning with C where you can apply for the permit.

  7. Hey, Susie. Thanks for all of this detailed info. It’s been really helpful in navigating ways to return home.

    Referring to the April post about holding both hukou and foreign passport, in this situation besides (1) trying the third country method or (2) trying to apply for the permit anyway, are there any other solutions you’ve encountered? Does “un-registering” a hukou even work, or is that longer renunciation process you mentioned elsewhere the only other legal solution? We’ve planned on being in Beijing for the most part until our kids turn 18, so we registered their hukous. During the pandemic, though, we filed for their US passports out of anxiety. Now, we’re trying to fly home in 6 weeks time but only just discovered this barrier to the entry-exit permit, so I’m weighing what options there are if we try to apply and are rejected.

    1. I have no idea about un-registering a person from a hukou, but I guess it must be possible. It’s worth asking around. It’s such a tricky situation, but it certainly seems in Beijing that there are many families going through similar situations, so best to try and find someone with first-hand experience.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.