RV’ing in China as Foreigner/Tourist. What is needed for Chinese Driving license

RV'ing in China as Foreigner/Tourist.

March 21, 2021

Information regarding Chinese 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. Here is some information about Chinese driving licenses.

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

RV'ing in China as Foreigner/Tourist. Example Chinese driving license
For example, a Chinese driving license

·  Temporary Chinese 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.

19 March 2024, some additional information from China Briefing

In January 2007, it became possible for foreigners in China to apply for temporary driving licenses (临时驾驶执照) with the approval of a new clause by the Ministry of Public Security. The application process for temporary driving licenses is less complicated and removes the requirement for examinations, health checks, and other procedures.

However, holders of temporary driving licenses are subject to several limitations. Firstly, not all Chinese visa holders are eligible for this “express” application method. Only those foreigners who have been granted a visa with a duration of stay of at least 180 days are eligible. Secondly, the holders of the temporary license will only be allowed to drive in China for a period of 90 days at maximum after the issue of the certification. Thirdly, this period cannot be extended, and multiple applications are not allowed under the same visa.

This link is for Shanghai but can give you information for other cities Expat Services SH

Travel China cheaper has some good information on obtaining a Chinese driving license.

Some changes in China are ongoing, including the recognition of other countries’ driving licenses, such as France’s mutual recognition of Chinese and French driving licenses.

I got some exciting information about the exchange of driving licenses.

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.

IMPORTANT

Note that the temporary permit only allows you to drive your vehicle or a rental vehicle from a legally licensed car rental company in your name. The permit, however, can be used nationwide in China.

19 March 2024, some additional information from China Briefing

In January 2007, it became possible for foreigners in China to apply for temporary driving licenses (临时驾驶执照) with the approval of a new clause by the Ministry of Public Security. The application process for temporary driving licenses is less complicated and removes the requirement for examinations, health checks, and other procedures.

However, holders of temporary driving licenses are subject to several limitations. Firstly, not all Chinese visa holders are eligible for this “express” application method. Only those foreigners who have been granted a visa with a duration of stay of at least 180 days are eligible. Secondly, the holders of the temporary license will only be allowed to drive in China for a period of 90 days at maximum after the issue of the certification. Thirdly, this period cannot be extended, and multiple applications are not allowed under the same visa.

New regulations for caravans! from April 2022!

Regulations on the Application and Use of Motor Vehicle Driver’s Licenses
will be implemented starting April 1, 2022.  It is necessary to add a C6 and 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 renting or travelling. Surely, you must have a valid Chinese Driving license C1 class, and the license’s validity must be at least two months. But you must still register with PSB by visiting the police station or letting the camping site do it.

Many websites describe how to obtain a China Provisional Driving Permit, 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.

There are some great mobile phone apps, and I used the one below to practice for my C6 driving license. chinesedrivingtest.com

Theory Q&A in English

Chinese-2019Drivingtest

When renting an RV, the payment options are somewhat limited. The largest rentals with sedans might accept foreign credit cards, but the RV rentals are mainly for domestic users; therefore, international cards might be an issue.

RV'ing in China as Foreigner/Tourist. Chinese Master Card
Chinese UnionPay Master Card

Payment options: Cash, WeChat, Alipay, Chinese credit card, or cash. An 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 an average 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. Digitization 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: 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:

How do you register when camping or staying in a recreational vehicle?

Unclear. According to rules that have been repealed, the foreign national lodging in “movable living facilities” and the person who provides the site where the foreign national is staying must register.

This means the camping site must do the registration.

Order of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China

Below are Google-translated paragraphs concerning travelling 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. This means 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 nonexistent in China. I assume there might be some struggle registering campgrounds, but it should be OK.


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