New rules require more from passport applicants

By Guan Xiaofeng (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-12-30 07:11

The Ministry of Public Security said on Friday that new rules concerning Chinese citizens' passport applications will take effect from the beginning of next year.

The Passport Law of the People's Republic of China, passed by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress on April 29, will take effect on January 1.

Under the law, in addition to submitting their identity cards, permanent residence booklets and photos, Chinese citizens applying for passports need to provide evidence that they must travel overseas.

The law gives a new definition of passports' validity period, which is five years for citizens under 16 years old and 10 years for those over 16.

According to the law, it is not possible to extend the validity of passports.

At present, passports are valid for five years and can be extended by a maximum of 10 years.

The law shortens the time limit for public security authorities to deal with passport applications.

People can receive their passports in 15 days after they hand in applications.

The present regulation gives 30 days for the public security authorities to issue passports after they receive applications.

It is the first passport law since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949.

Since the country adopted the opening and reform policy in 1978, the number of Chinese citizens going abroad has increased rapidly.

In the early 1980s, the public security authorities annually approved more than 100,000 overseas visits.

In 2006, this figure rose to 3.92 million, according to the ministry.

At present, more than 20 million Chinese citizens have passports.

In another development, from January 1, Chinese police officers will use a uniform identity card for the first time.

They are required to show their police cards while on duty, but do not have to show cards if they are in uniform.

A complete police card includes a special wallet and an identity card. The absence of either will nullify the cards.

The new police cards have been in use since June 1 in Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai and Chongqing municipalities, and Guangdong and Shannxi provinces.

Since 1949, Chinese police officers have used different identity cards in different areas.

(China Daily 12/30/2006 page2)

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