/r/shanghai - laowaikipedia Wiki

Within 24 hours of arriving in Shanghai, any tourist without a residence permit must register at a local police station to acquire a temporary residence permit. If you are staying at a hotel or hostel, they will do this for you when you check in, so you can skip the rest of this section.

Those of you staying with friends or family will have to make the trip to your local police station and register. There are hundreds of police stations in Shanghai and finding your nearest one is not difficult at all: look out for the distinguishing blue sign.

To register and get your temporary residence permit you will need to take the following to the police station with you:

  • Your passport
  • A photocopy of your passport ID page and your visa
  • A photocopy of the first and last pages of the lease contract of the person you're staying with

Hand these over the counter and 5 minutes later the police officer will present you with a form to sign and date, return your passport, then give you a copy of your temporary residence permit to keep. Congratulations, you're done!

It should be noted that the 'within 24 hours' time period is the general rule of thumb, but registering a few hours late is not going to land you in Chinese prison; late registration is possible but like so many bureaucratic procedures in China a lot will depend on the situation, the general mood or disposition of the police officer processing your registration, etc. Punishment for late registration can vary widely: a simple warning, levying a fine of a couple hundred RMB, making you wait in a back room and making you sign something that says you will not register late in the future... or absolutely no reaction at all and simply processing your application as normal. In general, is always best to err on the side of caution and register in due time.