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Getting a New Canadian Passport in Beijing

by Mike Dou   - Jan 30, 2014


I faced a dilemma. My work permit in Beijing was going to expire and I had to renew it one month before it became invalid. However, the new work permit would have the duration of one year, which went beyond the validity date of my passport. If I got a new passport I’d have to jump through all the hoops for another work permit again. As I’m sure any foreigner with experience of living in China knows, securing a longer term visa in China isn’t much fun – and it’s much harder than applying for a new passport with your home country. So, I decided to just pull the trigger and apply for a new Canadian passport early, before renewing my work permit. This is how I went about doing it:

Work Permit

Old Canadian passport

My first step was to locate the website of The Embassy of Canada in China

I learned from the website that if I apply more than one year before the passport expires, I need to write an explanation. Therefore, I decided to wait until it was just under a year before applying. You have two options for the length of the validation: 5 or 10 years. Except for the duration, the only other difference is the cost: $190 for 5 years, and $260 for 10 years.

I downloaded the application form from the website ( and it proved quite straightforward to fill out. After filling out the form, I printed one copy and signed it.

I checked the requirement for the photographs and found a nearby photo studio. The lady in the shop told me they didn’t know how to sign or stamp the back of the photo which is a requirement for the Canadian passport photo. I walked randomly around the streets trying to locate a photo studio which knew how to take a Canadian passport photo. After checking with three or four different studios, one owner told me he could do it, but would charge 60 RMB for two instant photos. I agreed and had the photos taken.

Photo requirements for your passport application at the Canadian embassy.

On the cold morning of December 30, I arrived at the Embassy to apply for the new passport with everything prepared. Or so I thought. I registered with the reception, received a number, and went through the security check. I came to the consulate room on the 3rd floor and waited to be called. After 10 minutes, I heard my name.

The reception is at Gate 2 (left), but you enter the embassy at Gate 3. This photo is a screenshot from Baidu Map.

The reception of the embassy where the security guard told me not to take a photo.

The board showing the business hours. Note the restricted times of opening.

The wall TV inside the consulate room.

The officer checked my form – everything seemed fine. Suddenly, the lady told me she could not accept my photos. I asked why. She said the glasses I was wearing reflected the light too much and handed me a piece of paper with a list of photo studios close by. There and then I learnt my lesson never to wear glasses for passport photos again!

Disappointed, I had no choice but to hurry to a nearby studio to have the photos taken before the embassy closed at 11:00.

Leaving the embassy, I walked north along Xindong Rd (新东路) for about 10 minutes, before noticing a studio on my left. From the paper the officer gave me, I thought it should be “佳美图文快印制作中心”, but without the business name “佳美”. Hesitantly, I opened the door asking if I could have a Canadian passport photo taken here. Hallelujah! I got a positive answer.

The photo studio with the giant CITIC headquarters in the background.

Front view of the photo studio.

So, about 10 minutes later, I finally had my stamped photos (30 RMB).

The stamp on the back of the photo.

As long it is legible and contains the necessary information, handwriting is acceptable also.

Hurrying back to the embassy, I handed the new photos together with the forms.

I used my Canadian credit card to pay for the application fee ($260 for a basic 10 year passport), and, as I expected, they charged a 3% service fee. If you’re lucky enough to have your home credit card accepted anywhere in China, the likelihood is you will be charged an extra 3% fee (although most businesses will not accept an international credit card).

The officer asked if I would prefer to pick up the new passport in person or if they would send it to me in the mail. I chose to pick it up in person since my place of work is only 4 bus stops away from the embassy. She gave me a slip (see below) telling me to collect it on Jan 28, which was about a full month later. If you have any plans to travel in the immediate future, you can pay an additional fee which permits you to retain your old passport while they process your new one. Unfortunately the option for express processing is only available in Canada.

The receipt for picking up the passport.

It was a long, long month without any traveling ID – I confined myself to my home and the office - but finally I set out to the embassy to pick up the new passport. Again, I first registered with the reception outside showing them the collection slip. When I came to Gate 3 where you enter the embassy, the security staff asked me for a photo ID. This surprised me because the consulate officer never mentioned this. Luckily enough, I had my Alien Employment Permit with me.

About 10 minutes after I arrived in the consulate room, I was called to pick up the new passport. The officer kindly reminded me of registering with the PSB within 10 days, and to bring both new and old passports with me. With thanks, I said goodbye and set off for the PSB right away.



The gleaming new passport.

The old passport was stamped CANCELLED and its corners cut.

The branch of the PSB closest to me is Hujialou (呼家楼), and the full Chinese name of it is北京市公安局朝阳分局呼家楼派出所. It’s located at 16 Hujialou Beijie (呼家楼北街16号).

Look for this sign on the PSB counter when you go inside.

Guessing what I was there for, the officer immediately asked me for my contract (or rental certificate) from the rental office (or landlord). I argued with her, and she eventually agreed to issue me a Registration Form of Temporary Residence but insisted I had to bring the rental certificate after I get the new work permit. It’s a requirement to register with the PSB whenever your status changes: such as moving house; getting a new visa; replacing a new passport; changing employment; getting married etc..

Registration Form of Temporary Residence

Hopefully now that I have the new passport and the Registration Form of Temporary Residence, I’ll be able to extend my Alien Employment Permit and Work Permit for one more year without any hassles!





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