FAQs

Q: I’ve lost my passport. What do I do?

A: To obtain a replacement passport and exit visa, you must:

  • First, report the passport and visa lost/stolen to the local Entry and Exit Administration of the Public Security Bureau (EEB). You will receive a bilingual police report.
  • Next, bring the police report and apply for a replacement passport at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
  • Update your registration, including your passport number, with the local police station.  If you are staying at a hotel or hostel, they will often do this for you.
  • Finally, take the new passport back to the Exit-Entry Bureau for the new visa.

For more information please visit our website on lost passports here.

Q: How long will it take to get my new passport?

A: Passports are printed in the United States and usually take two weeks.  We do not provide expedited service.  After picking up your new passport, you will need to apply for a new Chinese visa from the Exit-Entry Bureau (EEB) to depart or stay in China (see sections below regarding Chinese visas and passport renewals) within 10 days of picking up your passport.

Note:  In life and death emergency situations, the U.S. Embassy can issue an emergency passport with a validity of up to one year.  You will still need to have a new Chinese visa placed in the emergency passport before you can leave China.  Documentation about the emergency (such as a lost/stolen passport report from the local police) and copies of your airplane tickets are necessary for this service.

Q: How do I renew my U.S. passport?  Where can I find the application?

A: Our website has downloadable forms and passport renewal requirements here.

Q: Can I renew my passport before it expires?

A: Yes.  Do not wait for your passport to expire before applying for a renewal passport.  Your passport may be renewed at any time convenient for you.

Travelers to China and most other countries in Asia must present a passport valid for at least six months to be permitted to enter.  You will be required to apply for a new Chinese visa within 10 days after receiving your new passport.  Allow ample time to renew your Chinese visa which must be done within 10 days or you could face a fine of RMB 500 per day.

Note:  If you plan to depart China within ten days, you do not need to obtain a new Chinese visa.  Show Chinese immigration officials your valid visa in your expired U.S. passport, as well as your new U.S. passport when you exit.  You will not be permitted to reenter China, however, without obtaining a new visa in the new passport.

Q: How do I renew my child’s passport?

A: Both parents and the child must appear in person at the U.S. Embassy to renew the passport of a child under the age of 16.  For a list of documents to prepare and more information, including what to do if either parent is unable to appear in person, please see the information here. .   Please make sure that growth photos are included in passport applications for minors.  Note that electronic devices are not allowed in the embassy, so please bring hard copies of photos of the minor.

Q: Why do I need to bring my child’s birth certificate to renew his/her passport?

A: Although your child’s passport is proof of his or her citizenship, renewing a child’s passport requires the consent of both parents.  The easiest way to illustrate the identity of the two parents is with a birth certificate or adoption record.

Q: I’m divorced but I have custody of my child.  Why do I need my ex’s consent to renew my child’s passport?

A: U.S. law requires both parents to consent to issue a passport to a child under age 16 unless you have full custody of the child as determined by a competent court of law.  Countries have different standards of custody, so the legal document granting sole custody must state that the parent applying for the passport has the legal ability to make decisions for the child.

Q: Will you hold my current passport during the processing time?

A: No, we will return your passport to you after your interview.  When you pick up your new passport, we will cancel your old passport and return it to you.  This allows you to travel while you wait for your new passport if necessary.

Q: I cannot pick up my passport right away.  Will this be a problem?

A: We will hold your new passport for 90 days.  After 90 days, unclaimed passports will be destroyed.

Q: Can someone pick up my passport for me?  What document will they need to provide?

A: If you would like to have a family member or trusted friend pick up your new passport, please give them a signed letter authorizing them to perform this service for you.  They must bring the original authorization letter with them when picking up your passport.

Q: I live far away.  Can I have my new passport mailed to me?

A: Yes, in limited circumstances.  Please email our ACS office for more information.

Q: Can I use a passport card to travel around China?

A: No.  The passport card can only be used for land travel between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.

Q: Can I add pages to my passport?

A: No.  As of December 31, 2015, we no longer add pages to passports. 

Q: I have Chinese visa questions.  Who can I contact?

A: You may contact the local Chinese Entry and Exit Administration of Public Security Bureau (EEB).

Q: What will happen to my Chinese visa?

A: Your old passport will be canceled when you pick up your new one.  You will be required to apply for a new visa to be placed into your new passport within 10 days.  Please be sure to keep the envelope which contains your new passport with the date that you picked up your passport stamped on it as you may need it to renew your Chinese visa.

Q: How do I make an appointment?

A: To make an appointment, please click here.

Q: The system will not allow me to cancel my appointment and to reschedule a new one.  What do I do?

A: If you are unable to cancel or reschedule your appointment, please email your full name, date and time of your appointment to­ the ACS office with which you previously made your appointment.  Their email addresses are listed below:

U.S. Embassy Beijing: BeijingACS@state.gov
U.S. Consulate General Chengdu: AmcitChengdu@state.gov
U.S. Consulate General Guangzhou: GuangzhouACS@state.gov
U.S. Consulate General Shanghai: ShanghaiACS@state.gov
U.S. Consulate General Shenyang: ShenyangACS@state.gov

Q: I need to have an urgent notarial or passport service request performed and there are no appointments available.  What should I do?

A: For urgent or emergency services only, if you cannot otherwise get an appointment in time, please send us an email with your full name, passport number, contact phone number, and an explanation of the service you need.

Q: What if I need to do more than one thing?  Can I do it all on the same day?

A: Each person requires their own appointment. For example, if a family needs to apply for passport renewals, then each person should have an appointment.

If you require more than one service during one appointment, please make an appointment for the more time-consuming process. Applications for Consular Reports of Birth Abroad are the most time consuming, and notaries are less time consuming.  However, if you require more than one notary for yourself, you only have to make one notary appointment.

Q: I’m trying to make an appointment, but I don’t see it listed on the online appointment system.  What should I do?

A: The online appointment system has three (3) currently available categories of appointments:

  1. Passport services.
  2. Report the birth abroad of a child of a U.S. citizen and/or apply for the child’s first passport, Report of Birth and Social Security Number.
  3. Notarial and other services not listed above.

If the type of appointment you want to make does not fit into the first three appointment types listed above, then please select “notarial and other services not listed above.”

Q: Why do I need to remember my password and print out and bring my confirmation sheet with me on the day of my appointment?

A: The confirmation sheet allows you to enter the Embassy or Consulate on the day of your appointment.  The password allows you to access your appointment record to make any necessary changes prior to your appointment.  Be sure to bring your passport and your confirmation.  You may be required to provide this information should you need to schedule another appointment.

Q: What are the fees for common American citizen services?

A: You can visit the State Department’s travel website for a more detailed list of fees.

Q: What methods can I use to pay these fees?

A: You can pay the fees in U.S. dollars cash, equivalent RMB cash or by credit card.  We accept VISA, MasterCard, Discover, Diners Club and American Express cards.  If you pay with credit card, we charge U.S. dollars only.

Q: What types of notarial services are available?

A: We offer four types of notarial services:

  • Oath (Affidavit): An oath is a written statement or declaration sworn to, or affirmed before, a consular officer.
  • Acknowledgement:  An acknowledgement is the consular officer’s declaration that the named individual appeared before him/her and has acknowledged that the signature of a document is his/her own signature, that s/he understands the document, and has signed of his/her own free will.
  • Authentication:  An authentication is the certification of the genuineness of a signature of a notary or government official.  Documents that may require an authentication include legal instruments notarized by foreign notaries.
  • Marriageability affidavit: A document which an affiant swears or affirms before a consular officer that he/she is legally free to get married in China.

Visit our website here for more information.

Q: Why was my notary refused?

A: Consular officers can refuse to perform a notarial service if they have reason to believe that the document will be used for purposed patently unlawful or not in the best interests of the United States.  In addition, consular officers can postpone a notarial if the customer cannot demonstrate that he or she understands the nature and language of the document and comprehends the significance of the act, or in cases where the signatory is acting under duress.

Q: What happens if my document requires a witness?

A: The consular officer and local staff are not permitted to act as witnesses.  If you did not bring witnesses with you, you may ask some of the other patrons in the waiting room if they are willing to witness your document.  The individual who will sign the document must appear in person for this service.

Q: How do I get a document authenticated?

A: Authentication is required when you wish to certify Chinese documents intended for use in the United States.  To permit authentication, a Chinese notary public office at city or county level must first notarize the documents.  Then, the Legalization Division of the Consular Department of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) or the foreign affairs office of the provincial government, which has jurisdiction over the city where the documents were notarized, should authenticate the documents.  Once that has been done, the consular officer can authenticate the specimens of the MFA officials or the provincial foreign affairs officials.  We can only authenticate the specimens of the Chinese provincial-level foreign affairs officials within our consular district.

Q: I’m not an American citizen but need a notarial service for use in the United States.  Can I go to the Embassy or Consulate for this service?

A: Yes, we perform notarial services for non-American citizens, but only if the notarial is for use in the United States.

Q: I require fingerprinting for criminal record checks.  Where do I go?

A: U.S. Embassy and consulates do not generally provide fingerprinting services.  If you are looking for fingerprinting services that are not related to adoption, you may contact local Chinese fingerprinting service providers. (149 KB)

Note:  Neither the U.S. Embassy/Consulate General nor the State Department endorse or promote specific providers.  The information above is submitted as an information resource only and is not meant to be comprehensive or imply endorsement.

Q: I need a criminal record check for the time I spent in the United States.  What do I do?

A: Visit the website for information regarding obtaining a criminal record check at this website.

Q: I lost my original birth certificate, Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA), marriage certificate, Consular Report of Death Abroad (CRODA) or other U.S. record and need to obtain another one.  What do I do?

A: Visit our website here for information on ordering a certified copy of official U.S. documents.

Q: I have renounced my U.S. citizenship.  How do I obtain certified copies of my Certificate of Loss of Nationality (CLN) documents?

A: A former U.S. citizen must make a notarized request for the CLN documentation which includes as much information as possible: full name, date and place of birth, date and location of renunciation, previous passport information, and a photocopy of a valid picture ID.  The form for this process is called a Request for Passport Records (PDF 98 KB).

American Citizen Services office can notarize the Request for Passport Records if the original Certificate of Loss of Nationality is misplaced or stolen.  The former citizen must provide a certified check or money order for $50 payable to the Department of State.

Send such requests to:

U.S. Department of State
Passport Services
Office of Legal Affairs
Law Enforcement Liaison Division
1111 19th Street, N.W.
Room 500
Washington, D.C. 20036

The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) allows you to record information about your current address or upcoming trip abroad, so that the Department of State can assist you in case of an emergency.  Please enroll at this website.

Q: I’m leaving China.  How do I remove myself from registration/enrollment?

A: If you enrolled online, visit this website to cancel your enrollment.

Q: Can I apply for a Social Security Number (SSN) at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate General?

A: No. The American Citizen Services (ACS) Unit of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate General is no longer assisting American citizens with their applications of social security card. All requests for the application of social security card should be referred to the regional Social Security Office in Manila, the Philippines. You may call (63-2) 301 2000 ext. 9 from 8:00 AM to 11:00 AM on Tuesday and Thursday, except on Philippines and U.S. holidays or send email to FBU.manila@ssa.gov.

Q: Is there any way for me to know my SSN sooner?

A: Yes.  Since the Social Security card will be mailed directly from the SSA office in Baltimore to the mailing address that you left on your SSN application, we recommend that you leave a U.S. mailing address on your SSN application. This will help you to avoid an extra 2-4 weeks for international mails.

You could contact SSA office in Manila to release your number first. You may be able to know the SSN through this method in 2-3 months after you submit your SSN application to ACS.

Q: I’ve received my child’s Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CBRA) and passport but have not yet received his/her Social Security card.  What should I do?

A: A new Social Security card may take up to six months to arrive.  The regional Social Security Office is in Manila, the Philippines.  You may call (63-2) 301 2000 ext. 9 from 8:00 AM to 11:00 AM on Tuesday and Thursday, except on Philippines and U.S. holidays or send email to FBU.manila@ssa.gov. Please have a U.S. address ready for the social security card application.

Q: I am ready to retire.  Can I arrange to have my Social Security and or Veteran’s benefit check mailed to me in China?

A: Direct deposit into a U.S. bank is preferable.  You can find more information at this website.

If you choose to have your checks mailed to you in China, the checks will be mailed to the U.S. Embassy and Beijing ACS will forward them to you.

Q: I have not heard from my son/daughter/father/mother in the last few months. Can ACS help me locate him/her?

A: Please provide more information about your son/daughter/father/mother – full name, date of birth, place of birth, e-mail address, home address, cell phone number, etc. to help us locate him/her.  Please note the following:

1) Privacy laws* prevent us from sharing any information about another individual without their permission

2) It is helpful to have as much information as possible about the person we are seeking-i.e. their e-mail address, last known address, etc.

*The Privacy Act (PL-93-579), passed by Congress in 1974, prohibits Consular Officers from releasing any information regarding an individual without written consent from that individual.

Q: I need to consult a doctor but I don’t know where to go.

A: American Citizen Services has compiled a list of medical facilities, some with English-speaking staff who may be able to help you.  This list and other general medical information are available on our website here.

Note:  Neither the U.S. Embassy nor the State Department endorses or promotes specific providers. The information above is submitted as an information resource only and is not meant to be comprehensive or to imply endorsement.

Q: Can you recommend a summer camp/language program/study abroad program for me/my friend/my colleague?

A: American Citizen Services cannot comment on specific institutions and programs.  The U.S. Embassy does not endorse any summer camps, language programs, or study abroad programs.

Q: I think I’m a victim of an international financial scam.  What do I do?

A: If you feel you have been a victim of financial scam, click here to view detailed information on international financial scams posted on travel.state.gov.

Q: I am going to/currently working in China.  Is it there a legal requirement for either the Chinese employer or the American employee to pay my visa fees?

A: There is no provision of law or regulation on the payment of the visa fees between employers and employees.  It is a matter based on the negotiation between the two parties.

When a foreigner intends to work for an employer, he/she should negotiate with the employer about all the conditions first, including the salary, the working and living conditions, travel expenses, visa matters (including the procedures and the cost of the visa application, etc.) as well as all the things they can think of.  After they reach an agreement, the employer will provide the foreigner with all the documentation required for the z visa application.  The foreigner goes to the Chinese Embassy to obtain the Z visa and comes to China with the Z visa.  Within 30 days after the foreigner arrives, the employer must apply for the residence permit for the foreigner/employee, as regulated by the law.  Of course, the cost of the residence permit should be included in the previous negotiation.  This is the official regular procedure for an employment involving a foreigner.

Everything, including the procedure and the costs to procure a visa, should be based on the negotiation between the two parties and the agreement between them.

Q: I’m having difficulties with my business.  Can the U.S. Embassy or the Consulates act as my legal representative regarding my dispute?

A: No, by law the U.S. Embassy is not able to act as a legal representative or give legal advice.  All legal disputes must be resolved through the Chinese legal system.  We have compiled a list of attorneys who are willing to work with foreigners in China.  Neither the U.S. Embassy nor the State Department endorse nor promote specific providers or services.

Q: Can I bring my pets to China and what is this process?

A: We suggest you visit the Independent Pet and Animal Transportation administration (IPATA) website at http://www.ipata.org, which has information regarding transport of your pets.

Q: Can I bring my medications to China and what is this process?

A: You may bring limited amounts of medications to China.  We suggest you bring in limited amounts and have a prescription or medical certificate when bringing any prescription medication, controlled medication, stimulants, etc. to China.  Please note that some medicines are difficult to obtain in China and it would be prudent to carry an adequate supply for your entire stay.

You can also visit the State Food and Drug Administration for China’s website for additional information regarding food and drug laws and regulations in China: http://eng.sfda.gov.cn/WS03/CL0755/.

Q: I live in China and have an IRS-related issue that I need to resolve.  Is there an IRS office at the Embassy?  Whom should I contact?

A: As of November 14, 2014, the IRS tax office in Beijing has closed.  For assistance, please consult the IRS webpage at www.irs.gov or call the IRS international Hotline (Monday to Friday from 6AM to 11PM EST) at +1-267-941-1000.

Q: Can I mail my medications to China?

A: It has been the experience of many expat citizens that mailing prescription medication can be tricky, even with the proper documentation.  The Chinese government has a strict, extensive list of laws and regulations regarding the import of drugs.  Certain procedures must be followed in order for drugs to be sent to China.  A list must be made of each medication, ideally with the name of the drug in Chinese as well.  If any prescription drug is omitted or improperly documented, the medication will be confiscated.  Unfortunately, even if the proper procedure has been followed, sometimes customs will still refuse to release these medications with no clear reason.  We understand that this is very frustrating, but unfortunately the Embassy cannot intervene in customs-related matters.

American Citizen Services has compiled a list of medical facilities, some with English-speaking staff who may be able to help you.  This list and other general medical information are available on our website here.

Note:  Neither the U.S. Embassy nor the State Department endorses or promotes specific providers. The information above is submitted as an information resource only and is not meant to be comprehensive or to imply endorsement.

Q: I am a U.S. citizen and would like to get married in China.  Where can I get a Marriageability Affidavit?

A: Visit our website at https://china.usembassy-china.org.cn/u-s-citizen-services/local-resources-of-u-s-citizens/ for information regarding getting married in China.  Make a notarial appointment on our website to apply for the marriageability affidavit.

Q. My U.S. driver’s license has expired, or is lost or stolen.  What should I do?

A:  You must contact the Department of Motor Vehicle Office in the state where your driver’s license was issued for instructions.

Q: How do I obtain a Chinese driver’s license?

A: The Beijing Traffic Management Bureau issues driver’s licenses.  Refer to their English website for detailed information on the application process:  http://www.bjjtgl.gov.cn/publish/portal1/tab183/.

Q: I have a question regarding my U.S. Legal Permanent Resident Card, also known as the “Green Card.”  Whom do I contact?

A: You may contact the Department of Homeland Security office at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. The phone number is (010) 8531-3111, the email address is DHSBeijing.CIS@uscis.dhs.gov.

Q: I’m interested in employment opportunities at the U.S. Embassy.  Who do I contact?

A: The U.S. Embassy in Beijing posts all job openings on the following web site: https://china.usembassy-china.org.cn/embassy-consulates/jobs/.  You can also learn more about a career with the Department of State and information on taking the Foreign Service Exam at http://www.careers.state.gov/.

Q: I will have a long layover in China and would like to leave the airport and see the city.  Do I need a visa for a short stay?

A: Yes, you can get a 72-hour transit visa exemption at a number of ports of entry in China.  There are three requirements to obtain this:

  1. Citizens from the 45 countries under the 72-hour Transit Visa Exemption Program;
  2. Foreign nationals with valid international travelling documents and air ticket for a connecting flight with confirmed date of flight and seat for a third country or region travelling within 72 hours;
  3. Passengers transiting through eligible Chinese airports for a third country or region.

If you meet these requirements, you may submit a request to the airline company that carries you to the eligible Chinese airport.  The airline company will then submit an application to the border control authorities who will then grant you a 72-hour transit visa exemption upon verification.

Q: Where should I go to get a No Criminal Record Certificate?

A: Please note that the U.S. Embassy of Beijing does not authenticate U.S.-issued documents such as state or local police records or FBI records.

To get a U.S. No Criminal Records Certificate:  Please see our website here for information regarding obtaining criminal record check(s) in the U.S.  If the U.S. criminal record check is for use abroad (in China, for example), the No Criminal Record document or certificate should then be authenticated (verification of signatures and seals) by the Department of State in Washington D.C. and then by the Chinese Embassy or Chinese consulates in the U.S.

To get a Beijing No Criminal Record Certificate:  Please contact Shuang Xiong Foreign Service Co. at (010) 6402-7616 or (010) 6402-7613 with your passport and temporary resident certificate to acquire a no criminal record certificate in Beijing.  ACS can authenticate the seals and signatures of the Legalization Division, Consular Department of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but only if the document being authenticated is for use in the United States.  Please refer to Chinese Foreign Ministry website for hours and fee schedules at http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/eng/.

Please note that documents from Chinese localities(provinces/cities) for use in other countries or foreign courts, including United States  must be presented first to local Chinese notary offices, then to the Legalization Division, Consular Department of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and finally to the Beijing American Citizen Services office.

Q: What documents do I need?

A: Upon receipt of an application to register a marriage, the civil affairs office must ascertain that both parties are eligible to marry. The American partner to a marriage in China will generally be asked to submit a current passport, Chinese residence permit, and a notarized Marriageability Affidavit, obtainable a the U.S. Embassy or a Consulate in China. If the American citizen has previous marriage, documents showing that married was ended will also be required. The Chinese partner must submit their Family Registration Book (Hu Kou Ben) or residence permit, and Chinese National ID card (Shen Fen Zheng).

Q: How do I get the Certificate of Marriageability?

A: The U.S. Embassy has the authority to issue an Affidavit of Eligibility to Marry for Americans who wish to marry in China.  To apply for an Affidavit of Eligibility to Marry, you are required to appear in person at the U.S. Embassy.  You will need to make an appointment and you must bring your U.S. passport and your fiancé/fiancée’s ID.   Please use our online appointment system to make a notary appointment for this service.

Q: What is a CRBA?

A Consular Report of Birth Abroad (Form FS-240) is an official record of your child’s acquisition of U.S. citizenship at birth. It can be used as a birth certificate for school, work, or other purposes.

Q: When should I apply?

A: The CRBA is primary evidence of citizenship and the basis for issuance of a U.S. passport – it is one of the most important documents you can obtain for your child. A U.S. Consular Officer may issue a CRBA to an eligible child upon receipt of an application made by the child’s parent(s) or legal guardian(s) any time before the child’s 18th birthday. However, since the Chinese government requires you to obtain a dependent visa within thirty days of your child’s birth, it is best to apply as soon as possible after the birth of your child.

Q: Is my child a citizen?

  • A child born outside of the U.S. to two American citizen parents acquires U.S. citizenship as long as one of the parents has resided in the U.S. prior to the child’s birth (Immigration and Nationality Act Sec.301(c)).
    • A child born abroad, in wedlock, with only one American citizen parent, acquires citizenship only when the citizen parent was physically present in the U.S. for 5 years or more prior to the child’s birth, at least two of the five years occurring after the parent had passed the age of 14 (Immigration and Nationality Act Sec.301(g)).
    • A child born out of wedlock to a U.S. citizen father and alien mother acquires citizenship only when the father was physically present in the U.S. for five years prior to the child’s birth, two of which after the age of 14, AND father acknowledges paternity and agrees in writing to support the child until 18 years of age (Immigration and Nationalityb Act Sec.301(g), 309(a) as amended).
    • A child born out of wedlock to a U.S. citizen mother and alien father acquires citizenship only when the mother was physically present in the U.S. for a continuous period of one year sometime before the child’s birth (Immigration and Nationality Act Sec 309 (c)).

Q: How can I prove my residency?

A: A combination of the following documents can be used to prove you meet the residency requirements to transmit citizenship to your child: current and old passports with entry/departure stamps, U.S. school transcripts showing periods of attendance, W-2 forms, pay stubs, utility bills, U.S. employment references, old letters, etc.

Q: What if I lose the CRBA or the CRBA contains incorrect information?

A: Only one original of the Report of Birth is issued to the parent(s) or legal guardian(s). Additional copies are not available at the Consulate. You must contact the U.S. Department of State in Washington D.C. for a replacement. The Department of State’s Vital Records Section handles lost CRBAs.  More information is available on replacing or amending is available on the State Department’s travel website.