If you’re the parent of a Chinese-Foreign child, you may choose to renounce your child’s Chinese citizenship. This post will cover the steps involved in the renunciation process for foreign citizens with Chinese nationality. You might want to read “WWAM Kids – Will My Baby Be a Chinese Citizen?” for an intro to Chinese Nationality law first if you haven’t already.
By age 18, all children considered dual Chinese-foreign citizens are required by China to choose which citizenship to hold (as China does not allow dual citizenship). Some parents choose Chinese citizenship for their kids, some choose foreign citizenship, or wait till their child is older and let them decide for themself.
There’s no right answer here – every family’s situation is different so you should consider all relevant factors in making this decision for your child and your family. And on a side note, last I heard, children considered Chinese, whose father (or mother) holds a Shanghai hukou cannot renounce Chinese citizenship until age 18.
Why Choose to Renounce?
Kids of WWAM couples have an extra hurdle when travelling in and out of China since “dual” Chinese-foreign citizens need to do so using either an entry-exit permit or a travel document.
Personally for me, this was a bit of an annoyance and made me worry about if I ever needed to travel at the last minute, and having to wait a week for my kid’s entry-exit permit to be issued. I wanted the peace of mind to know that I could travel at the last minute and take her with me.
I was also worried that with all the different visas and travel permits needed between my husband on a Chinese passport, me on an Australian passport and my daughter’s entry-exit/travel document/Australian passport, that at some point we would forget something and get stuck somewhere.
One of my other main concerns was that if we stay in China for her schooling, we may have less choice for where to go. We are living outside of my husband’s hukou area, and until recently, many international schools in Beijing were not allowed to accept Chinese students, and in fact, could only accept foreign passport holders with an S (foreign dependant’s) visa. In Beijing, this is starting to change now.
I’ve heard informally that a child who has renounced Chinese citizenship may be entitled to a place at one of the best public schools in their district. But there’s no guarantee that they will definitely get a place, as these schools are obliged to first take all the students eligible by hukou – and many parents specially buy property near the best schools to ensure their child can get a place. So renouncing Chinese citizenship is no guarantee if you are planning to pursue an education in a public school in China.
There are various other reasons I’ve heard for people choosing to renounce a child’s Chinese citizenship, though sometimes based on hearsay such as trying to ensure guardianship of the child would be given to the foreign grandparents or other family members if something were to happen to both parents. Essentially, it’s always important to ensure you are making such a big decision based on sound legal advice and consulting any of the relevant bureaux you can talk to (such as the Education bureau for your province) before making your decision. (And in the case of guardianship, a document in Chinese and notarised in China is about as formal as a last will and testament really get here, so it’s not a big expense for some peace of mind).
The Renunciation Process
Essentially, you need to prepare all the documents and lodge the application in person with both parents and the child present. You’ll need to do this at the main PSB (Public Security Bureau) in the province of the Chinese parent’s hukou. If you are living outside China, you can try asking at your local Chinese embassy about whether they can accept your application to renounce.
I’m including the documents needed for Beijing below, but you’ll need to check with the PSB where you are applying to find their requirements and also ask approximately how long it will take. A few years ago in Beijing, it took 2 years’ waiting time for the renunciation to be processed. More recently it’s taking around 5 months.
Once you have successfully submitted your application (they generally won’t take it unless everything is ok), you’ll get a receipt and then you’ll need to wait for a call to let you know it’s been completed.
We actually missed the call and still managed to successfully apply for a new entry-exit permit in between, so I guess the renunciation doesn’t actually count until you pick up the certificate. Eventually, my husband called to check on the renunciation application and was told the certificate was ready to collect.
When our daughter’s renunciation certificate came through, my husband was a little sad, but as I reminded him, no matter what she is on paper, our kid will always be at least half Chinese.
Documents Needed for Renouncing Chinese Citizenship
- Completed application form (needs details and signatures from both parents)
- Explanation letter with the reason for renouncing (type up a simple letter to the relevant bureau you are applying through, include a bland reason for renouncing, such as wanting to follow the foreign mother’s citizenship, include the child’s details)
- Statement of joining foreign nationality (also just a simple letter stating that the child has joined [Country name] nationality)
- Resume (including birth location, whether the child has a hukou, Chinese documents such as ID etc, entry-exit permit, foreign passport issue date and location, travel history)
- Any Chinese ID card, hukouben, Chinese passport, all entry-exit documents, travel documents of the child
- Child’s foreign passport, and translation
- Foreign mother’s/relative’s passport and translation
- For children under 18 – you’ll need to hand in the child’s birth certificate, parents’ marriage certificate, Chinese parent’s ID card, passport and hukouben.
- 4 x 2-inch colour photo (passport size) – two are needed on the application form and two are handed in separately
The PSB will need to check all the original documents listed above, but will only keep a copy during processing.
All documents (or copies of the originals) need to be A4 size and bring 2 copies
Anything not in Chinese (including foreign passports, marriage certificate etc) needs to be translated and stamped by an accredited translation company
Processing fee: 50rmb (Beijing, 2019)
Certificate of renunciation: 200rmb (Beijing, 2019)
In Beijing, currently, you only need to pay when you pick up the renunciation certificate (even though the receipt you get after submitting the application says otherwise)
Once you collect the Chinese citizenship renunciation certificate, you’ll need to complete the next steps to get your child a Chinese visa if you’re in China. It’s straightforward but involves a few steps, so I’ll cover that process in a follow-up post.
Do you have any corrections, questions or personal experience to share? I’ll endeavour to keep this post updated with the latest information, so please share any information you have.