March 21, 2021
Information regarding driving licenses and local law for RV’ing in China as Foreigner/Tourist passport holders
After one user asked questions about how to travel by motor home in China, we took it as a challenge to find out as much as possible. These are just some baselines of the rules and regulations.
This is purely according to my understanding of Chinese law.
We cannot take any responsibility as we only share tips and ideas about RV’ing in China.
As a tourist, these would be the steps. In most cases, you must have a local driving license
· Chinese temporary driving license C1 grade, minimum validity of two months. This should be OK after we consult CTRIP . This is a Chinese multinational online travel company that provides services.
This link is for Shanghai but can give you information for other cities Expat Services SH
Example of C1 license in China. Travel China cheaper has some good information on how to obtain the license.
Some changes in China are ongoing, and one of them is the recognition of other countries’ driving licenses, for example, France, Mutual recognition of Chinese and French driving licenses.
Some interesting information I got about the exchange of driving license.
1st batch of driving licenses to Serbian citizens issued in CN
South China Morning Post has some information that is understood that some countries have already achieved mutual recognition and renewal of driving licenses with the UAE and Belgium and signed mutual recognition and renewal agreements with Serbia.
Note that the temporary permit only allows you to drive your vehicle or a rental vehicle which is rented from a legally licensed car rental company in your name. The permit, however, can be used nationwide in China.
New regulations for caravans! from April 2022!
Regulations on the Application and Use of Motor Vehicle Driver’s Licenses
will be implemented from April 1, 2022. It is necessary to add a C6, that is, a driver’s license for a light towing trailer model, to pull a caravan. More information in Chinese
A person with a residence permit/valid visa should not have any issues with renting or traveling. Surely you must have a valid C1 class driving license, and the license’s validity must be at least 2 months. But you still need to register with PSB by visiting the police station or letting the camping site do it.
China Provisional Driving Permit, many websites describe how to obtain it, and below are just some links where you can get more detailed information.
Chinese driving license theory test model
Below is the year 2019 questions and answers to prepare for the theory test for a Chinese driving license.
When renting an RV, the payment options are somewhat limited. The big rentals with sedans will accept foreign cards, but the RV rentals are mainly for domestic users therefore, international cards might be an issue
Payment options: Cash, WeChat, Alipay, Chinese credit card, or cash. International Visa or Master Card would not work. It must be the local version
Chinese Master Card. When renting an RV or caravan, International cards are not accepted. Renting a normal passenger car from some of the biggest companies’ International cards should not be a problem.
Careful planning the trip
On arrival, Hotel accommodation or rental flat, where the hotel/landlord registers you in the PSB systems. The digitation is coming very fast, and some cities have an online system, and you can do it on your mobile phone.
Some apps are available for your travel planning. Unfortunately, they are only in Chinese, as I have not seen any English versions.
Including reputable campsites that can do the registration to PSB. We don’t have the list, so that needs to be done in advance when you plan the trip. Meaning calling, checking, and planning ahead of the route. Almost all the sites we have paid a visit to have been able to do the registration.
Strictly following the law, you cannot overnight at places where the registration cannot be done. For example, the service station parking lot.
Registration is supposed to be as simple as showing up at the police station and saying I’m going to be here; however, there are no specific regulations to point to when it doesn’t turn out that simple. Therefore, you should assume that it’s not officially legal for you to stay anywhere. However, as is often the case in China, it’s not a problem unless it’s already a problem.
Registration is mandatory in the Public Security Bureau (PSB) for foreign passport holders/tourists who enter China through the local police station and apply for the China Provisional Driving Permit.
Just some rhetorical question myself, what if you travel by only staying 20 hours at each destination?
Below is some information regarding the registration process for PSB
Be prepared for some local variations in procedures. For example:
- Normally all registrations are done by the hotel or landlord.
- Here is a good LINK for the registration process
- Example of Temporary Residence Registration Form for Foreigners
- In Beijing, you may be required to present a letter from your neighborhood or from your apartment complex’s management company (物业).
- If you’re staying at the hospital in Beijing, you’ll need the hospital’s residence registration certificate issued to you.
- Weihai and Shenzhen allow registration online.
- You may be asked to present your previous Registration Form of Temporary Residence (临时住宿登记表).
- Some places will allow a third party to register on your behalf, for example, hotels or camping sites.
- If you’re in an area generally close to a restricted area, you may need to show a travel certificate (旅行证) authorizing your presence.
- You may be required to submit 1 or 2 photos.
- Example of online registration for Shanghai: Self-Help Declaration System For Overseas Personnel’s Accommodation Registration
- Also, some additional informative pages regarding the registration
- Foreigners in Shanghai can now complete temporary residence registration online
- Foreign Nationals Must Register Their Residence with Local Police within 24 Hours
How do you register when camping or staying in a recreational vehicle?
Unclear. According to rules which have been repealed, both the foreign national lodging in “movable living facilities” and the person who provides the site where the foreign national is staying must register.
Meaning the camping site must do the registration
Below are Google translated paragraphs concerning traveling by motor home. The web version is in Chinese, and there might be minor mistakes in the translation below.
Article 30 Foreigners in the home of a Chinese resident in urban areas, shall, within 24 hours of arrival, the lodger people or himself lodger’s passport and certificate of the live human booklet to the local public security authorities to declare, fill in temporarily Accommodation registration form; in rural areas, it must be reported to the local police station or household registration office within 72 hours
Article 33 Aliens who accommodate in mobile lodgings shall submit a report within 24 hours of the local public security organs. Institutions or individuals that provide venues for foreigners’ mobile accommodation tools should report to the local public security agency 24 hours in advance.
Article 34 Foreigners traveling are not open to foreign cities, counties travel, subject to prior to the city or county public security bureau to apply for a travel permit before they go after approved. To apply for a travel permit, you must complete the following procedures:
(1) Submit your passport or residence certificate for inspection;
(2) Provide proof related to the travel reason;
(3) Fill out the travel application form.
According to Article 33, it should be possible to travel by motor home in China. Meaning you should register within 24 hours at the local police station, and if you are staying at a camping ground, they should be able to register you. Travel by foreign passport holders in RVs is almost none in China, I assume there might be some struggle registering campgrounds, but it should be OK.