How to get a marriage residence permit in China

Getting a marriage visa in China is an easy process, once you have managed the hurdles of actually getting married to a Chinese citizen. I didn’t apply for a visa as I was already in China, but applied for a residence permit instead. If you apply outside of China, you would apply for a Q1 (long-term reunion visa) visa first and  then you would change that to a residence permit during your first 30 days in China.

Documents needed for applying the marriage residence permit in China:

  • Registration form of temporary residence for visitors: When you come to China with your visa, you need to register at the local police station in 24 hours. If you stay in a hotel, the staff will do this for your. If you are a student, then your university will help you with this. Every time you get a new visa or residence permit, you have to register and get a new form. You need this form when applying for a new residence permit.
  • Official photos with the official receipt: You can take photos at the Entry and Exit Administration Division, which is where you apply for the residence permit.
  • Chinese spouse’s hukou, ID card and copies of each of them: The original documents will be inspected also.
  • Your marriage certificate (aka the red booklet) and a copy of it: The original document will be inspected also.
  • Physical examination record: In order to get this you will need to do a full health check at appointed place in China where you live. In Guangzhou it’s at Guangdong International Travel Healthcare Center and the health check costs 593RMB. Bring official photos, can be taken at a photo shop next to the center, your passport and a copy of it.

With all of these documents you go to the Entry and Exit Administration Division which location you have to check according to the city you live in. In Guangzhou it’s located at Jiefang South Road 155 (解放南路155号), closest metro station is Haizu Square.

The following step by step information only applies to Guangzhou:

  1. If you need to, take photos first at the second floor. Most probably you still have photos left from the physical examination so you can use those, just remember to have the official receipt.
  2. Go to the fifth floor and apply through the online system with the computers provided. There is an officer to help out foreigners, but she is often very busy. Be patient as their system isn’t the friendliest to use. At the end you will be given a long number, write it down. No need for paper application.
  3. Take a waiting number on the fifth floor and wait to get your documents checked. The officer will ask for the number you wrote down first.
  4. After checking the officer will give you a pass to the sixth floor and a new waiting number. There your documents will be checked again and you will be given a receipt with which you can receive your passport with the new residence permit on in two weeks. The date will be written on the paper.
  5. When you come back to get your passport get a waiting number and pay the fee on the fifth floor with your Chinese bank card. The fee for 1 to 3 years residence permits is 800RMB.
  6. After paying you will be given your passport back and you can go home. But don’t forget to re-register at your local police station!

How long can you stay in China with a marriage/spousal residence permit?

When filling out the online form (step 2) the system will ask you how long residence permit are you applying for. I asked the officer helping out and told her “the longer the better” and she told me to apply for two years. And two years I got.

Online I have heard of marriage residence permits between one and two years depending on the city you apply. Always ask your local Entry and Exit Administration Division what are the requirements in your city.

What can you do with a marriage / spousal residence permit?

Working is not allowed with a marriage/spousal residence permit. If you want to work in China, you need a Z-visa and a work residence permit. Before writing a contract be clear that the company must give you all the documents and help you need in order to apply for a Z-visa before you come to China.

Because of work permit issues I’ve had to turn down offers to work for small companies that doesn’t have the right to employ foreigners.

But according to my knowledge you can study with marriage/spousal residence permit no matter if it’s short-term or for a whole degree. I have friends that don’t apply for student visas/residence permits, as they already have a different kind of visa/residence permit (Q1 or S1).

Have you applied for a marriage/spousal visa or residence permit? How did the process go in your city?