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August 23, 2012

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Easier travel for non-locals in 6 cities

Non-local workers and college students in Shanghai will be able to apply for passports and travel passes without going back to their hometown from next month after the Ministry of Public Security eased restrictions in six major cities.

The ministry said people who worked or studied at higher education institutions in Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin, Chongqing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen can apply for passports and travel passes to Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan via local police departments with required certificates, even if they did not hold household registration.

The new policy will take effect on September 1, the ministry said on its website.

More than 1.8 million people who work or study in Shanghai will benefit from the policy, according to the Shanghai Exit-Entry Administration Bureau.

Apart from the household registration certificate, ID and temporary residence permit, an employed person will need a statement from the city's social security department confirming at least one year of payment to social security programs. A college student will need a statement from his college on his or her enrollment.

Once the pass is granted, police will issue it within 30 days of an application being made. If the application is turned down, the applicant is still able to apply for reconsideration in his household registration location, the statement said.

However, some people believed bringing the household registration certificate for the application was not practical for migrant workers as the household registration book, containing the whole family's residence information, was usually kept at home.

"Few people would bring the household registration book while going out of town. I think an ID card should be enough," commented a migrant worker identified as Hezhen on

Applicants might first need to go to the exit-and-entry headquarters in the Pudong New Area, said an official surnamed Cai with the Changning District Exit-and-Entry Office.

Cai said they welcomed the policy but admitted it "will be a big challenge" for the office's facilities and manpower as well.

The Changning office, in an area where many expats and joint ventures are located, is increasingly busy with visa applications.

Cai said the officers handle about 500 to 600 passports and visa applications each day.

Currently, every Chinese must apply for a passport or travel pass in the area where they are registered. That has caused problems for people who leave their hometown but do not transfer their household registration.

In the first half of this year, about 38 million Chinese traveled abroad, a year-on-year increase of 18 percent, according to the National Tourism Administration.


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