Nationality law of the People's Republic of China

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The Nationality Law of the People's Republic of China (simplified Chinese: 中华人民共和国国籍法; traditional Chinese: 中華人民共和國國籍法; pinyin: Zhōnghuá Rénmín Gònghéguó guójí fǎ) regulates nationality of the People's Republic of China. Chinese nationality is usually obtained either by birth when at least one parent is of Chinese nationality or by naturalization.

The constitution of People's Republic of China states that all persons holding nationality of the People's Republic of China are citizens of the People's Republic of China.[1] Although in practice, the de facto citizenship of Mainland China is the hukou, while the two SARs, Hong Kong and Macau, each has their own rules on the rights of abode in these territories.

The Nationality Law is applicable to Chinese nationals residing in all three constituents of the People's Republic of China, namely Mainland China, Hong Kong SAR, and Macau SAR. Due to the complex history of Hong Kong and Macau SARs, however, special "explanations" of the Nationality Law were made in place by the National People's Congress before the Handover of Hong Kong[2] and Macau.[3] These interpretations, applicable only to permanent residents of Hong Kong or Macau, have created a separate class of Chinese nationality unique to those two SARs, which differs vastly, especially with the acquisition and loss of nationality, from the Chinese nationality of Mainland Chinese residents with hukou.

The law was adopted at the Third Session of the Fifth National People's Congress and promulgated by Order No. 8 of the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress and effective as of September 10, 1980.


Prior to the Communist government's establishment in 1949, the Republic of China's nationality law, enacted in 1929, served as the basis for Chinese nationality for Chinese residing in China Mainland. ROC's 1929 nationality law was in force only in Taiwan after 1949 when the Kuomintang government lost the civil war, until it was revised in 2000 (see Nationality law of the Republic of China for more details).

From the establishment of the Communist regime on 1 October 1949 to 9 September 1980, the PRC has no statutory nationality law except for the Sino-Indonesian Dual Nationality Treaty adopted in 1955, which was a bilateral treaty between the PRC and Indonesia's Sukarno government instead of a statutory law. From the period between 1949 to 1955, the PRC recognized dual nationality as do the ROC, therefore the Treaty was the first regulation in Chinese history to ban dual nationality between China and other countries.[4]

On 10 September 1980, PRC's current and only statutory nationality law went into effect. The law itself, however, has been criticized for being outdated as many countries have amended their nationality laws to allow dual nationality since 1990s, and the opinions on whether China should fully permit dual nationality has constantly resulted in heated debates.[4] It is worth-noting that dual nationality is still possible under the current nationality law (see "Dual nationality" below).

Nationality by birth[edit]

Chinese nationality law operates mainly on the basis of jus sanguinis ("right of blood"), although a different type of jus soli ("right of the soil", or birthright nationality) applies to any person of Chinese descent who were born in Hong Kong and Macau. On 1 October 1949, most nationals of the Republic of China remaining in China Mainland were recognized as nationals of the People's Republic.[5] As the PRC had yet to adapt a statutory nationality law at that time, these people were not de jure naturalized.

Birth within Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau[edit]

According to the Nationality Law, a person can acquire a Chinese nationality by birth in China if he or she meets one of the following requirements:

  • At least one of his or her parents has Chinese nationality (Article 4).
  • Both parents are "settled" in China, who are either stateless, or their nationalities cannot be determined (Article 6).

The term "settled" is not further defined, and it's unclear whether this term in this particular concept has the same meaning with the same term in other concepts.

Children born of Chinese-foreign marriages on territories controlled by People's Republic of China are considered to be Chinese nationals by the government of the People's Republic of China, as per Article 4 of the Chinese nationality law. This can create problems when the Chinese-national parent gives birth to, or fathers, a child with a non-Chinese-national parent in Mainland China without the prior approval from the National Population and Family Planning Commission. In this case, the child is not eligible for Chinese Hukou, and subsequently cannot qualify for a Chinese passport. Furthermore, the child's foreign citizenship acquired through jus sanguinis is not recognized by Chinese authorities as per Article 3 of Chinese nationality law, so he cannot use the non-Chinese passport to exit the country. As a result, the child's parents must secure an Exit-Entry Permit from the Chinese government in order for the child to exit and re-enter Mainland China.[6] However, this restriction does not apply when the Chinese parent is a permanent resident of Hong Kong or Macau (see "Hong Kong and Macau" below).

Birth in Hong Kong or Macau to parents of Chinese descent[edit]

An alternate form of jus soli applies to any persons of Chinese descent who were born in Hong Kong or Macau. The Explanations of Some Questions by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress Concerning the Implementation of the Nationality Law of the People’s Republic of China in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, a supplement nationality law document applicable only to Hong Kong residents, states that any Hong Kong resident who "is of Chinese descent and was born in the Chinese territories (including Hong Kong)", before or after the Handover, is a Chinese national with right of abode in Hong Kong.[2] Same provision with exact same wordings also exists in the Explanations of Some Questions by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress Concerning the Implementation of the Nationality Law of the People’s Republic of China in the Macau Special Administrative Region, its equivalent of Macau.[3] In practice, many overseas Chinese, who are of "Chinese descent", are not Chinese nationals, so this provision effectively bestowed Chinese nationality on any child who is of Chinese descent and was born in Hong Kong or Macau regardless of the nationalities of his parents, in addition to the Right of Abode (ROA) in Hong Kong or Macau.

In 2014, a Hong Kong permanent resident who was born in Hong Kong to a ethnic Chinese father and a mother with Belgian citizenship before the handover lost his Belgian citizenship he acquired through jus sanguinis, because of a clause in the Belgian nationality law which requires Belgians born outside Belgium with multiple citizenship to declare the intention to retain their Belgian citizenship. The Belgian Consulate-General used the clause from the "Explanations" to state that the person does hold Chinese nationality after the handover through his birth to a Chinese-descent father in Hong Kong, and thus he held Chinese nationality in addition to his Belgian citizenship before it was lost. The person has never held a HKSAR passport, a BN(O) passport, or a Home Return Permit.[7]

Birth abroad to Chinese nationals[edit]

Chinese nationality law states that a person born abroad is a Chinese national if:

  • The person is born outside China with at least one parent who has Chinese nationality, and the parent (or parents) with Chinese nationality has not yet settled in a foreign country (Article 4), or
  • The person is not eligible for the nationality or citizenship of the birth country, regardless of the parents' immigration status in that country (e.g. Japan).

The term "settled" is usually taken to mean that the Chinese national parent has permanent residency in another country.

Article 4 also states that a person born outside China to parent(s) with Chinese nationality, does not have Chinese nationality if a foreign nationality is acquired at birth and one of the Chinese national parents (or both) has gained that country's permanent residency.

An example involving nationality by birth in jus soli countries, including the US, would be that if a child was born in the United States by two Chinese-national parents, and one of them has already acquired US permanent residency, but the other one has only temporary status in the US (e.g.: F-1 or H-1B), then the child is not a Chinese national at birth since one of his parents has settled abroad and he acquired a foreign country's citizenship at birth (in this case, the child is a natural-born US citizen). However, if the parent with permanent residency had completed the naturalization process as a US citizen prior to the child's birth, then the child acquires Chinese nationality at birth, since his or her other parent has not settled abroad and is a Chinese national (although the parent with US citizenship has already lost his or her Chinese nationality). However, a child who was born in US to two Chinese parents is ineligible for US citizenship if one parent was a Chinese diplomat, as the US does not grant birthright citizenship to any person with a parent that are "employed in diplomatic or official capacity" of a foreign state, even when the other parent is a Green Card holder. Therefore, the child is solely a Chinese national in this particular case, although it is possible for him/her to become a US permanent resident by obtaining a Green Card.[8]


A person can apply for naturalization as a Chinese national if he or she meets one of the following criteria:

  • Is a near relative of Chinese nationals;
  • Has "settled" in China (no amount of time is specified to be considered as "settled"); or
  • Has other "legitimate reasons". (The term "legitimate reasons" is not further defined in the Nationality Law.)

Similar to Japan's nationality laws, Chinese nationality law does not require non-Chinese nationals to become Chinese permanent residents before naturalization, and in addition, those who naturalize in China, including Hong Kong and Macau, must renounce their foreign nationalities (Article 8).[9]

Naturalizing as a Chinese national is rare. During the Fifth National Population Census of the People's Republic of China (2000), only 941 naturalized citizens not belonging to any of China's recognized 56 indigenous ethnic groups (which includes Koreans, Vietnamese, and Russians)[10] were counted in China's mainland.[11] More foreigners have applied for naturalisation to Chinese nationality since Hong Kong has reverted to Chinese sovereignty in 1997. Among Hong Kong residents from 1997 to 2012, 3,411 Pakistanis, 3,399 Indonesians, 2,487 Indians, 1,115 Vietnamese, and 387 Filipinos have been naturalised.[12]

Loss, termination and renunciation of nationality[edit]

Loss and termination of Chinese nationality[edit]

Chinese nationality is automatically lost (or terminated) when a person has settled abroad and pursues one of the following acts (Article 9):

  • naturalizes as a citizen of another country (regardless of whether the naturalization is involuntary), or
  • voluntarily acquires the nationality (through naturalization or registration) of another country.

The term "settled" has the same definition as above.[9]

For example, a Chinese national with hukou who possesses Canadian permanent resident status and who naturalizes as a Canadian citizen loses his Chinese nationality upon the completion of his naturalization because he has voluntarily acquired Canadian citizenship while settled abroad (holding Canadian permanent residency), and any minor children under the age of 18 he might have also loses Chinese citizenship if the children have naturalized as Canadians along with their parent, regardless of whether the children's acquisition of Canadian citizenship is against their will.

However, Article 9 is not applicable to Chinese nationals who are permanent residents of Hong Kong and Macau, as each of the SARs has authorizations from National People's Congress to the "Explanations" of the nationality law, so their Chinese nationality cannot be forfeited automatically. Although they can request the termination of their Chinese nationality by reporting the acquisition of new nationalities to their respective governments and demanding the recognition of their foreign nationalities (officially known as the "declaration of change of nationality") and the termination of their Chinese nationality.

If a person declares a "change of nationality" while residing in Hong Kong or Macau, the termination on his Chinese nationality has no effect on his permanent resident status in Hong Kong or Macau (since his permanent resident status alone grants him immunity from deportation), although the person will lose the right to hold a SAR passport and apply for a Home Return Permit, and hence lose the right to stay and work in Mainland China without additional documentations. He is also going to be subject to visa restrictions when entering Mainland China. Also, if the person chooses to leave Hong Kong or Macau for a period of more than 36 months, then his permanent resident status in the SARs will be downgraded to a non-permanent resident status known as "right to land", which grants him to stay in the SAR indefinitely and take employment, but not the immunity from deportation (although the PR status is restored automatically if he lives in Hong Kong continuously for seven years).

Chinese nationality law is unclear on whether the involuntary acquisition of another country's nationality can cause the loss of Chinese nationality. An example would be a Chinese woman marries a man from a country observing jus matrimonii (e.g. Iran), in which case she automatically becomes an Iranian national upon marriage. Also, Article 9 explicitly states that only Chinese nationals residing abroad who voluntarily acquires another country's citizenship shall be deemed as forfeiture of Chinese nationality, so it's also unknown whether a Chinese national residing in China (i.e., no permanent residencies in any foreign countries) who obtains economic citizenship in another country loses Chinese nationality.

Renunciation of Chinese nationality[edit]

Most Chinese nationals can renounce their Chinese nationality upon approval (Article 10), except for state functionaries and active military personnel (Article 12). The renunciation requirements are:[9]

  • Having foreign-national relatives;
  • Settled abroad; or
  • Other legitimate reasons. (The term "legitimate reasons" is not further defined.)

Similar to US nationality law, Chinese nationality law does not require Chinese nationals to acquire another country's citizenship in order for renunciation. Therefore, it's possible for a Chinese national to become stateless after the renunciation of his Chinese nationality. China Mainland is also not a signatory to the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, although Hong Kong (then under British control) is a party to both conventions.

An application for renunciation can be filed either domestically with a city or county public security bureau's exit-entry administration, with a PRC embassy or Consulate abroad, or with governments of Hong Kong or Macau SARs. The time period for processing an application is not specified by rules, and it can take up to one year.[13]

Restoration of nationality[edit]

A person who has lost or renounced his Chinese nationality can request to restore his Chinese nationality, according to Article 13 of the nationality law, if they have "legitimate reasons".[9] The term "legitimate reasons" is also not further defined. Foreign nationality must be renounced for approval.

Visa requirements[edit]

Visa-free travel for PRC nationals with ordinary passports
Visa requirements for PRC nationals with HKSAR passports
Visa requirements for PRC nationals with MSAR passports

Visa requirements for Chinese nationals vary greatly in regards of their residential status. In 2015, Chinese nationals with hukou of Mainland China have visa-free or visa on arrival access to 45 countries and territories, ranking the Mainland Chinese passport 90th in the world according to the Visa Restrictions Index. Chinese nationals with Hong Kong permanent resident status, however, have visa-free or visa on arrival access to 152 countries and territories, while Chinese nationals with permanent status in Macau have access to 120 countries and territories. The HKSAR and MSAR passports are ranked at 20th and 36th place, respectively, by the Visa Restrictions Index. The high ranking of both passports can be attributed to the economic successes of both SARs, as well as the independent immigration policies from Mainland China under the One China, Two Systems policy.

Chinese nationals with hukou also need special permits and visa-like authorizations (locally known as Two-way permits and exit endorsements) in order to visit Hong Kong and Macau, with a limit on the length of stay (normally 7 days) per trip; whilst Hong Kong and Macau residents need the Home Return Permit to visit Mainland China, although they are not subject to any limitations on the length of stay. Deportations between these territories are possible due to completely separate immigration regulations. These inner-country visa requirements make China unique as one of the few countries with different immigration controls within one country.

Dual nationality[edit]

The People's Republic of China does not recognize dual nationality with any other country (Article 3).[9] In reality, however, the actual loss of Chinese nationality for Mainland residents is difficult to enforce due to technical difficulties.[14] It is worth noting that unlike Indian nationality law, Chinese nationality law does not have any provisions restricting Chinese nationals from holding foreign passports, although naturalizing in a foreign country while settling abroad will cause the de jure loss of Chinese nationality (see "Loss and termination of Chinese nationality" above).

Because the automatic loss of Chinese nationality is not applicable to permanent residents of Hong Kong and Macau, Article 9 is not applicable to them unless they declare the change of nationality to the authorities of the respective territories. The declaration is not enforced, so Chinese nationality is usually retained for these people even after the naturalization in a foreign country. However, they would still be treated as Chinese nationals owing to Article 3. In this case, their non-Chinese nationality or citizenship is simply ignored by the Chinese authorities.

Although it is generally difficult to have de facto dual nationality of China and another country for residents of Mainland China, due to the provisions for loss of Chinese nationality in Article 9 (see "Loss of nationality" above), and the stipulation that a foreigner who naturalizes in China cannot retain their foreign nationality (see "Naturalization" above), the number of dual nationals have, nevertheless, increased in recent years. This is mainly because birth tourism has become popular among Chinese nationals residing in Mainland China, who travel to countries observing jus soli to ensure their offspring acquires the birth country's nationality.

If a person concurrently holds de jure Chinese nationality and foreign nationality or citizenship, he or she will be treated solely as a Chinese national when the person is physically present on PRC soil (including Hong Kong and Macao), as per Article 3 and the Master Nationality Rule.[9] The basis of the loss and renunciation of Chinese nationality for dual citizenship holders is the same with sole Chinese citizenship holders per Article 9 and Article 10.[9]

Cases involving dual nationality is covered, although not explicitly stated, under the Nationality Law, which ensures the possibility for a person to have dual nationality of China and another country at birth in some circumstances.

Dual nationality by birth in a jus soil country[edit]

A person who was born outside Mainland China, Hong Kong or Macau to one or two Chinese-national parents who have not settled abroad is a Chinese national at birth (Article 5). He may acquire additional nationality (nationalities) at birth through jus soli, if born in a jus soli country; or from his other parent (if only one parent was a Chinese national) through jus sanguinis; or both. Article 5 is applicable to children holding Chinese Travel Documents, mostly children of birth tourists, and serves as the legal basis of these children's Chinese nationality.

Dual nationality through jus sanguinis by a non-Chinese parent[edit]

A person who was born in Mainland China, Hong Kong or Macau to one Chinese-national parent is a Chinese national at birth (Article 4). If his other parent is a non-Chinese national, he might acquire additional nationalities at birth through jus sanguinis from the non-Chinese parent.

However, one does not have Chinese nationality if their parents (with Chinese nationality) themselves settle permanently outside China (see "Nationality by birth" above) and he acquired that country's nationality at birth. This means in general, most second generation overseas Chinese ("ABC", "BBC" or "CBC") and many South East Asian nationals of Chinese ethnicity are not Chinese nationals (although some may qualify for nationality of Taiwan).

Dual nationals in Hong Kong and Macau[edit]

British National (Overseas), a status currently holding by many Hong Kong residents, is considered a type of British nationality by other countries than China, and nearly 3.4 million Hong Kong residents were registered as BN(O)s before the handover of Hong Kong. Most of those people also have Chinese nationality, making them one of the largest group of dual nationals in the world. Most of Macau residents born in Macau before 1981 and their decedents are also citizens of Portugal.

In general, Hong Kong and Macau residents with Chinese ethnicity are Chinese nationals, regardless if they have dual nationality or not (see below).

Hong Kong and Macau[edit]

The People's Republic of China considers both Hong Kong and Macau to have always been Chinese territories, and people born in either territory before or after their transfer of sovereignty to China are regarded as "born in China". Those who are of ethnic Chinese origin are Chinese nationals before and after the handovers. Having said that, people born in Hong Kong or Macao in the years before handover, were usually given British nationality (mostly British Dependent Territories Citizenship) and full Portuguese citizenship, based on British and Portuguese laws.

Hong Kong[edit]

For more details on this topic, see British nationality law and Hong Kong.

For Hong Kong residents, the "Explanations" of the Nationality Law was adopted at the Nineteenth Session of the Standing Committee of the Eighth National People's Congress on May 15, 1996,[2] a year prior to the Hong Kong handover and came into effect on July 1, 1997. The "Explanations" provide details concerning the implementation of Chinese Nationality Law on Hong Kong residents, and the main idea of the Interpretation is that all Hong Kong residents of Chinese descent are considered Chinese nationals, whether or not they have acquired the "right of abode" in foreign countries. In effect, this means foreign nationalities under the respective foreign laws. The reason for referring to the foreign "right of abode" instead of foreign nationality is to avoid making an exception to, or breaching, the basic principle of Chinese Nationality Law on non-recognition of dual nationality, and also because China regards foreign control of Hong Kong as illegitimate, thus refuses to recognize the British nationality bestowed on ethical-Chinese people who were born or naturalized in Hong Kong.

In practice, Hong Kong residents with Chinese nationality do not lose their Chinese nationality automatically upon acquiring foreign one(s), because the Explanations on the Nationality Law give them rights to use their foreign passports while "settling in a foreign country", and such passports are usually obtained after they become citizens or nationals of a foreign country through naturalization or registration. Hong Kong itself is not recognized as a foreign territory whether before or after 1 July 1997. Such Chinese nationals who acquire foreign nationality under the definition under Article 9 may declare such change of nationality at Hong Kong's Immigration Department. Once the declaration is made, such persons would be released from their Chinese nationality. Persons with BN(O) or British Citizenship acquired through British Nationality Selection Scheme cannot make such declarations because their acquisition of BN(O) or British Citizenship does not involve "settling in a foreign country", thus does not meet the requirements on the grounds of the loss of Chinese nationality provided in Article 9.

As under the Interpretation, the relevant forms of British nationality are not recognized as acquired after settling in a foreign country: the British Nationals (Overseas) status held by people of Chinese descent born in China (including Hong Kong), and the British Citizen status held by Chinese Hong Kong residents under the British Nationality Selection Scheme (British Nationality (Hong Kong) Act 1990). Furthermore, Hong Kong Chinese nationals who hold such passport or have a right of abode in countries outside the People's Republic of China are not entitled to British (or any other nation's) consular protection inside the People's Republic of China (including Hong Kong, Macau and mainland China), owing to Article 3 of the Nationality Law and the Master Nationality Rule. However, such persons would be eligible to consular protection if they are released from their Chinese nationality mentioned above.

Based on the clauses outlined in the "Explanations", it is possible for a Hong Kong permanent resident to be a Chinese national without the person's acknowledgement, even the person has never held a HKSAR passport or a Home Return Permit.[7]

Collected statistics on naturalisation in Hong Kong
Years ↓ Applications Notes
Acceptances ↓
July 1997 to
April 2005
4,372 3,786 [15]
2006 1,840 [16]
2007 1,541 [16]
2008 1,295 71% [16][17]
2009 [16][17]
2010 729 [17]

The Immigration Department is authorised to naturalise foreign or stateless people as Chinese nationals in Hong Kong. In the first year after the handover, there were only 152 applications for naturalisation; the majority of applicants were Chinese Indonesians.[18] Some residents of South Asian descent, faced with the prospect of their children being stateless, have been naturalised as well. However, in the early years after the handover South Asians claimed that the Hong Kong government discouraged them from naturalisation. It took until December 2002 to see the first case of successful naturalisation application by an ethnic minority resident with no Chinese relatives, a Sindhi girl, soon followed by a Pakistani man. The Immigration Department denied that there had been any change in policy, but South Asian organisations believed there had been a definite change of attitude inside the government towards naturalisation.[19][20] From the handover to April 2005, a total of 4,372 people applied for naturalisation. Of the 3,999 applications processed by that date, 3,786 (95%) were successful. Most applicants were Indonesians (1,735), Pakistanis (833), Indians (552), or Vietnamese (547). (These numbers refer to former nationality; the government did not collect statistics on their ethnic background.)[15] From 2008 to 2010, another 4,099 applications for naturalisation were received, of which 71% were approved; eight-tenths of the applicants were nationals of South Asian countries.[17]


Similar implementation for Macau was adopted at the Sixth Session of the Standing Committee of the Ninth National People's Congress on December 29, 1998.[3] Unlike the UK, Portugal did not have an overseas nationality, which means that residents of Macau had the same type of Portuguese nationality as those in Portugal. Unique provisions includes clarification for individuals of both Chinese and Portuguese descent, who may choose either Chinese or Portuguese nationality without losing right to abode. Negotiations between China and Portugal over Macau were considerably smoother than those between the United Kingdom and China over Hong Kong, and in the former a pragmatic practical agreement was understood making double nationality possible "de facto" for Chinese and Portuguese nationals with a previous or ongoing relation to Macau. In practice, Portuguese nationality is still being held by Macau residents who were born in Macau before 1981 and those who were naturalized in Macau, as well as their descendants regardless of their places of birth.


For more details on this topic, see Nationality law of the Republic of China.

Cases involving nationalities of the ROC, commonly known as Taiwan, and the PRC, are complicated as both governments have, especially during the Kuomintang's rule after the lifting of martial law, embraced the "One-China" policy through numerous legislation, and neither the PRC nor the ROC considers nationals from respective territories to be foreign. In PRC, nationals of ROC are commonly known as "Taiwanese compatriots" in news articles and for legislation purposes, and in ROC, nationals of PRC are legally known as either "people of Mainland area"[21] or "residents of Hong Kong or Macau"[22] in respective of their regions of residence.

Status of ROC nationals in the PRC[edit]

Before July 2015, ROC nationals had no automatic rights of residence in China Mainland and must use their Mainland Travel Permit for Taiwan Residents accompanied with a visa-like entry endorsement to enter Mainland, and the duration of stay is generally limited to three months per each entry, and longer stays usually involves visa-like applications. Since July 2015, however, the PRC has amended the legislation to remove entry restrictions placed on ROC nationals, which includes the removal of the requirement to obtain entry endorsements as well as the 90-day stay limit per trip (the Travel Permit mentioned above is the only required document for travelling to Mainland China). This can be seen as the de facto recognition of the right of abode in Mainland China for ROC nationals. Currently ROC nationals can take up residence in the Mainland without additional documentations and enjoy higher level of flexibility for employments than foreign-country nationals, similar to rights offered to PRC nationals who are permanent residents of Hong Kong and Macau. Furthermore, starting in November 2015, ROC nationals residing in Shanghai can enjoy the city's discounted medical care, education discounts, health care reimbursements and pensions, among many other social services offered only to PRC nationals with hukou in Shanghai. These new rules have generated controversies due to the fact that most of these social services are not even accessible to PRC nationals with hukou outside Shanghai.[23]

Status of PRC nationals in the ROC[edit]

On the other hand, nationals of PRC, including those who possesses permanent resident status of Hong Kong or Macau, are subject to a stricter level of immigration control when entering ROC-controlled territories, comparing to citizens of other countries like Canada, UK or the USA. They have to obtain an Entry Permit (much like a visitor's visa, but printed on a separate piece of paper) in order to enter ROC, and the Entry Permit can be obtained either online (or on arrival, only for Hong Kong and Macau permanent residents), through a travel agency or through one of the ROC foreign posts abroad. Starting from 2015, however, the ROC government has relaxed its entry requirements for PRC nationals visiting Kinmen, Penghu and Matsu Islands near the province of Fujian (Kinmen and Matsu also belongs to Fukien province of the ROC), as they can obtain a 15-day Entry Permit when arriving to the islands via sea when travelling directly from Fujian (traveling to Taiwan still requires a pre-approved Entry Permit). PRC-national students studying in ROC are also not covered by the universal healthcare system of Taiwan, which renders their statuses similar to foreign-national students in Taiwan. Out of mutual understandings, the PRC authorities also post exit restrictions to its own nationals residing in Mainland by only allowing nationals with hukou from a certain number of cities to travel to Taiwan for individual tours (those eligible individual PRC travelers are also subject to a daily quota when arriving from PRC territories), while nationals not having hukou in those cities are required to be in a supervised tourist group when visiting Taiwan. PRC nationals with long-term or permanent resident statuses in foreign countries are not subject to the above-mentioned hukou restrictions as long as they arrive from a third country.

Acquisition of PRC nationality by ROC nationals[edit]

In accordance with the Act Governing Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area of the ROC, any ROC national with Household Registration (ROC nationals with full citizenship rights in Taiwan) who obtains a passport issued to Mainland residents of the PRC or hukou of Mainland China, automatically loses his Household Registration in Taiwan, which in turn causes the loss of the person's citizenship rights in the ROC (since he or she has already obtained the de facto citizenship of Mainland China). However, the person does not cease to be a ROC national and instead becomes a "person of the Mainland area" with ROC nationality, in addition to PRC nationality he acquires.[21] It is worth-noting that there are no similar legal restrictions for ROC nationals to obtain the permanent resident status of Hong Kong or Macau, and some of the permannet residents of Hong Kong or Macau with PRC nationality also possess ROC nationality because they have obtained the Overseas Chinese Identity Certificate prior to the handover of the sovereignty of Hong Kong and Macau, so therefore they have dual nationality of the ROC and the PRC in addition of their permanent resident status they already have in Hong Kong or Macau. However, they do not have full citizenship rights in Taiwan due to the lacking of Household Registration.[24] A ROC-born national who has obtained permanent resident status of Hong Kong or Macau can also apply for a HKSAR passport or MSAR passport based on his place of permanent residence, because his ROC nationality is recognized as "Chinese nationality" in both SARs (applying for a SAR passport only requires the applicant being a permanent resident of the SAR and a "Chinese national"), hence receiving the SAR passport would also make the person a dual national of the ROC or PRC, although in this case he does not lose his citizenship rights in Taiwan.

Chinese nationality and hukou[edit]

For more details on this topic, see Heihaizi.

The National Household Registration System, also known as hukou, serves as the de facto citizenship for Chinese nationals residing in Mainland China. Despite Article 33 of the Constitution declared all nationals to be citizens of the PRC, there are still a number of Chinese nationals without hukou, rendering them nationals without citizenship.

Under the Nationality Law, any person born to a Chinese national parent in China (including Hong Kong and Macao) is a Chinese national at birth as per Article 4. However, due to the strict enforcement of the controversial One-Child Policy in Mainland China, some children, whose births were in violations of the local birth-planning policies (e.g. born as the second or third child to the parents), did not have their births registered despite Article 7 of the Household Registration Ordinance requires the birth of a child to be registered within one month from the date of birth.[25] As their births were not registered, they are not eligible for hukou. The reason for not registering is either because their parents chose to avoid the unaffordable fines (two to six times of the parents' combined annual income) imposed by the National Population and Family Planning Commission in the region, or because officials in the local NPFPC had refused the child's registration because of the officials' fear of possible disciplinary actions taken against them for not enforcing the birth control rigorously in the region. As a direct result from the lack of hukou, these children are denied basic rights to citizens, including social welfare, education, and treatments in hospitals. They also cannot obtain Chinese ID cards, which are critical for travelling inside Mainland China, opening bank accounts, applying for jobs, and getting Chinese passports. The number of people without hukou was estimated at 13 million in 2011, or one percent of the total population at that time.[26]

A similar status, National without household registration, also exists in Republic of China. The main differences are that NWOHRs exist in the legal concepts of the ROC, are usually residents of other countries than Taiwan, and have official identification documents issued by Government of Republic of China (usually Taiwanese passports); while Chinese nationals without hukou are not mentioned in any legal documents in China, all reside in Mainland China, and are not eligible for any official identification documents. However, Chinese nationals without hukou are not subject to any immigration controls nor legal restrictions on employments (as they are not mentioned in any legal documents and cannot obtain passports), unlike NWOHRs, who can only remain in Taiwan for a limited period of time with special visas and cannot take up employments without the consent from the ROC Government.[27]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Constitution of the People's Republic of China[1], Article 33.
  2. ^ a b c "Explanations of some questions by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress concerning the implementation of the Nationality Law of the People's Republic of China in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region". Immigration Department, The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. 
  3. ^ a b c "全國人民代表大會常務委員會關於《中華人民共和國國籍法》在澳門特別行政區實施的幾個問題的解釋". Gabinete do Chefe do Executivo. Retrieved 2015-05-24. 
  4. ^ a b "该不该给"双重国籍"松绑". Retrieved 6 August 2015. 
  5. ^ [2]
  6. ^ "China’s Middle Class Chafes Against Maze of Red Tape". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-05-24. 
  7. ^ a b "Belgian man stateless in Hong Kong after losing citizenship when renewing passport". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 2015-05-24. 
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