A Guide to Chinese Citizenship

China's Citizenship Policy Explained

Chinese Citizenship

 Getty Images / Philippe Lopez

The ins and outs of Chinese citizenship are outlined in China’s Nationality Law, which was adopted by the National People’s Congress and becoming effective on September 10, 1980. The law includes 18 articles that broadly explain China’s citizenship policies.

Here is a quick breakdown of these articles.

General Facts

According to Article 2, China is a unitary multinational state. This means that all nationalities, or ethnic minorities, that exist within China have Chinese citizenship. 

China does not allow dual citizenship, as stated in Article 3.

Who Qualifies For Chinese Citizenship?

Article 4 states that a person born in China to at least one parent who is a Chinese national is considered a Chinese citizen. 

On a similar note, Article 5 says that a person born outside of China to at least one parent who is a Chinese national is a Chinese citizen—unless one of those parents has settled outside of China and has acquired foreign nationality status. 

According to Article 6, a person born in China to stateless parents or parents of uncertain nationality who have settled in China will have Chinese citizenship.

Renouncing Chinese Citizenship

A Chinese national who voluntarily becomes a foreign national in another country will lose Chinese citizenship, as mentioned in Article 9.

Additionally, Article 10 states that Chinese nationals can renounce their Chinese citizenship through an application process if they have settled abroad, have close relatives that are foreign nationals, or have other legitimate reasons. 

However, state officials and active military personnel cannot renounce their Chinese nationality according to Article 12.

Restoring Chinese Citizenship

Article 13 states that those who once held Chinese nationality but are currently foreign nationals can apply to restore Chinese citizenship and renounce their foreign citizenship if there are legitimate reasons. They cannot retain their foreign nationality when accepted.

Can Foreigners Become Chinese Citizens?

Article 7 of the Nationality Law states that foreigners who will abide by the Chinese Constitution and laws can apply to be naturalized as Chinese citizens if they meet one of the following conditions: they have close relatives who are Chinese nationals, they have settled in China, or if they have other legitimate reasons. Article 8 describes how a person can apply for naturalization as a Chinese national, but will lose their foreign nationality on the approval of the application.

In China, local Public Security Bureaus will accept applications for citizenship. If applicants are abroad, citizenship applications are handled at Chinese embassies and consular offices. After they are submitted, the Ministry of Public Security will examine and approve or dismiss applications. If approved, it will issue a certificate of citizenship. There are other more specific rules for the Hong Kong and Macao Special Administrative Regions.


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Chiu, Lisa. "A Guide to Chinese Citizenship." ThoughtCo, Nov. 20, 2020, thoughtco.com/chinese-citizenship-explained-688071. Chiu, Lisa. (2020, November 20). A Guide to Chinese Citizenship. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/chinese-citizenship-explained-688071 Chiu, Lisa. "A Guide to Chinese Citizenship." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/chinese-citizenship-explained-688071 (accessed June 8, 2023).