Virginia, US

May 22 2018

Biometric Registration Requirement for Foreign Nationals


At a Glance

Immigration authorities in China now require foreign nationals between 14 and 70 years old, inclusive, to register their biometric information upon arrival. This rule is being enforced gradually nationwide, starting with a pilot program that launched in Shenzhen in February 2017, and will be followed by implementation in other cities such as Shanghai and Guangzhou.

The situation

Foreign nationals’ biometric information, including ten fingerprints and facial images, are being collected upon arrival at ports of entry in China.

A closer look

  • What to expect. Foreign visitors will need to submit fingerprints and facial scans at self-help kiosks at the port of entry. They will then be issued receipts which they need to show to border inspectors for verification before they can enter.

  • Exemptions. The following persons may be exempt from this requirement:
    • Holders of diplomatic passports;
    • Nationals of countries that have reciprocal arrangements with China;
    • Travelers in transit who do not leave the airport;
    • Those who previously registered their fingerprints, facial images or other biometric information in China, or who have previously recorded personal information on fingerprint scanning kiosks in China.



This rule is intended to improve the tracking of foreign nationals, streamline immigration clearance and protect the country’s border. This is also an indication of the government’s intention to audit former Chinese nationals who failed to renounce their Chinese nationality after obtaining foreign passports.

This practice started with a pilot program in Shenzhen in February 2017 and is now being gradually enforced in other cities nationwide such as Shanghai and Guangzhou.

Looking ahead

More cities in China are expected to begin to enforce this requirement. Fragomen will monitor the situation and provide updates as needed.

Fragomen in China is Fragomen (Shanghai) Co. Ltd., operating exclusively as an immigration consultancy and not as a law firm in China. This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen or send an email to [email protected].