China issues ‘five-star card’ for foreign permanent residents
New version features special layout, enhanced info protection, improved convenience
Published: Dec 01, 2023 02:13 PM
Photo: Li Hao/GT

A total of 50 foreigners from more than 20 countries including the US, the UK, Germany and Russia, received the first batch of "five-star cards" in various localities across China. Photo: Li Hao/GT

For many foreigners in China, getting a permanent residential permit is a moment in which their Chinese dream comes true. "Having this opportunity is such a great honor because it means I can finally travel around like a normal Chinese citizen," Warner John, senior interior design director of LI.AUTO from the UK, told the Global Times with a proud smile as he waited to get his "five-star card" at the reception hall of the Exit and Entry Administration Service Center in Beijing on Friday.

The new version of China's foreign permanent resident ID card, known as the "five-star card," as it incorporates the five stars of the national flag, is officially rolled out and put into use on Friday. A total of 50 foreigners from more than 20 countries including the US, the UK, Germany and Russia, received the first batch of cards in various localities across China.

The 50 foreign residents have made outstanding contributions to China's economic, educational, technological, cultural, and healthcare sectors among others. They include recipients of the Chinese Government Friendship Award, senior managerial and professional technical personnel working long-term in China, as well as professors and scholars engaged in long-term teaching and research at key universities and research institutions.

At entry and exit service windows in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangdong and other regions, many other foreign permanent residents also came to inquire about applying for the new "five-star card," the Global Times learned from public security authorities. 

The new version has optimized information storage, an enhanced layout design, and adopted more advanced anti-counterfeiting technology, so as to better protect personal information, the National Immigration Administration (NIA) revealed. 

The most noticeable change in the new version of foreign permanent resident ID card is the optimized layout, which features a pattern of the Great Wall and the five-star elements representing the national emblem. This better conveys the image and ideas of China to the world, Mao Xu, head of the foreigner management department of NIA, told the Global Times. 

Solonin Kirill, a Russian professor at Renmin University of China, said he has lived in China for 10 years and this is his first time receiving a permanent residential permit. 

"Applying for permanent residence in China is getting easier and easier every year. Ten years ago, foreigners in China were asked to fill out a lot of documents and forms to apply for visas, residence permits and other certificates. But now, getting a 'five-star card' was quite convenient and smooth. And now I can just take this card to enter and exit China any time I want very easily," Kirill said. 

The Global Times has learned that holders of the "five-star card" will now only need the card for identity checks in China on most occasions without needing their foreign passports.

Specifically, they can take trains, planes, ships and other means of transport in China by using just the card, as well as check in to hotels, handle financial services such as banking, insurance, securities, and futures, and other social affairs such as communication, taxation, property registration, and litigation.

When exiting and entering China, holders of the "five-star card" will only have to take their passport and the card, and no longer need to apply for a Chinese visa or other types of residential permits.

A number of upgrades have been made to the new card. For one thing, the identification number has been adjusted from 15 digits to 18 digits so as to improve the efficiency of identity recognition.

Kong Yazhuo, who is from the UK and is now a professor at the Institute of Psychology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told the Global Times that he is replacing his old permanent residential permit with the new one. "It was not very convenient in situations that require online identity authentication. Now the 'five-star card' has adjusted the identification number from 15 to 18 digits, consistent with the number of digits in the Chinese resident identity card. I believe this will bring greater convenience for future work and travel," he said.

The chip storage technology of the new card has also been adjusted to optimize information storage, making it more compatible with widely used identification reading devices for quick and accurate recognition. 

"By providing more convenience for foreign talents to work, study and live in China, this initiative serves as another effective measure to attract expats and ensure the country's high-level openness and development," said Mao.

After the launch of the new card, the previous version is still valid until the expiration date. Holders can apply for a new card according to individual needs.