驻华使馆礼宾指南(英文版)
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PROTOCOL GUIDELINES FOR DIPLOMATIC MISSIONS IN CHINA

(December 2020)

Foreword

    The Government of the People’s Republic of China, pursuant to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relationsand the Regulations of the People’s Republic of China Concerning Diplomatic Privileges and Immunities, ensures that diplomatic missions in China and their staff members enjoy the diplomatic privileges and immunities stipulated in the aforementioned Convention and Regulations.

  To facilitate the effective performance of functions by diplomatic missions and for the convenience of daily life of their staff, we have compiled the current protocol regulations and practices of China into the Protocol Guidelines for Diplomatic Missions in China for the reference of diplomatic missions in handling protocol matters in China. The Protocol Guidelines also apply to offices of international organizations in China.

  Should there be any changes in these regulations and practices, notices, announcements or explanations will be duly made by the competent Chinese authorities.

The Protocol Department of

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of

The People’s Republic of China

December 2020

  Contents

  I.  Arrival and Departure of Ambassador

  (I) Arrival

  (II) Departure

  II. Application for Certificates

  (I) Identity certificates
  (II) Access card to the restricted areas of the Beijing Capital International Airport

  III. Diplomatic Functions
  (I) Receptions to mark national day or the establishment of diplomatic relations with China 

  (II) Paying condolences
  (III) Cultural events
  (IV) Setting up polling stations or organizing voter registration on diplomatic premises

  IV. Exemption of Customs Duties

  V. Diplomatic Bags

  VI. Quarantine of Animals and Plants

  VII. Refund of Value-Added Tax

  VIII. Motor Vehicles and Driving in China

  (I) Motor vehicles management
  (II) Applying for and renewing driver’s licenses
  (III) Traffic violations and penalty

  IX. Travel

  X. Telecommunications Services

  XI. Study

  XII. Spouse Employment

  XIII. Visits to China by State Guests and Foreign VIPs

  I.Arrival and Departure of Ambassador

  (I) Arrival

  1. Arrival in Beijing

  (1) The diplomatic mission is requested to inform the Office of Foreign Missions of the Protocol Department (OFM) in writing one week in advance of the arrival time, flight (or train) number and the number of people accompanying the ambassador.

  (2) The ambassador will be met by a representative of the OFM at the airport (or railway station). A VIP lounge will be provided and customs inspection will be exempted.

  (3) The diplomatic mission is expected to make arrangements for local transportation and residence.

  1. Presentation of the copy of credentials

  A leading official of the Protocol Department will accept the copy of credentials on the appointment of the new ambassador and the copy of credentials of the recall of the former ambassador and brief the ambassador on the procedures of presenting credentials and related matters. After presenting the copy of credentials, the ambassador may start performing his/her duty.

  2. Presentation of credentials

  (1) After presenting the copy of credentials, the OFM will arrange for an early presentation of credentials by the ambassador to the Chinese president according to the president’s schedule.

  (2) After the date and specific time of presenting credentials are set, the OFM will notify the diplomatic mission of relevant arrangements.

  (3) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) will provide a protocol car for the ambassador to present credentials. It is expected that accompanying diplomats will take cars of the diplomatic mission.

  Dress code: national dress, suit or formal attire

  (4) If the ambassador wishes to call on officials of other government departments in Beijing, the diplomatic mission may contact them directly.

  (II) Departure

  1. Date of departure

  The diplomatic mission is requested to inform the OFM in writing as early as possible of the ambassador’s departure date and time, flight (or train) number and the number of accompanying staff.

  2. Farewell dinner

  Vice Minister (or Assistant Minister) of Foreign Affairs will meet or hold a farewell dinner for the outgoing ambassador as appropriate.

  3. Farewell call

  If the ambassador wishes to pay farewell calls on officials of other government departments, the diplomatic mission may contact them directly. 

  4. Seeing-off upon departure from Beijing

  The ambassador will be seen off by a representative of the OFM at the airport (or railway station). A VIP lounge will be provided and customs inspection will be exempted. 

  II. Application for Certificates

  (I) Identity certificates

  A member of the diplomatic mission and his/her family members who have arrived at the post in China should submit their application for corresponding certificates of identity to the OFM as soon as possible, carry the certificates when leaving the mission and present them when armed police, checkpoints or relevant authorities require.

  1. Types of identity certificates

  “Diplomatic Identity Card” is issued to diplomatic agents of diplomatic missions and their spouses holding diplomatic passports;

  “Administrative and Technical Staff Card” is issued to administrative, technical and service staff members of diplomatic missions and their spouses holding service, official, special and other types of passports for public affairs;

  “International Organization Staff Card” is issued to permanent staff members of international organizations in China who enjoy privileges and immunities and their spouses;

  “Residence Card” is issued to accompanying children with their own passports (those who share passports with their parents do not need to apply for Residence Permit Card), parents and spouse’s parents of holders of any of the three identity certificates mentioned above.

  2. Application for identity certificates

  Please refer to the “Protocol ABC” column for detailed regulations, and log onto the foreign missions affairs management system to complete relevant procedures.

  (II) Access card to the restricted areas of the Beijing Capital International Airport (BCIA)

  1. Special access card

  (1) Special access card for ambassador (and spouse)

  To apply for a special access card for ambassador (and spouse), the diplomatic mission is requested to send a diplomatic note to the OFM 15 working days in advance.

  After receiving the reply note of approval, the diplomatic mission may apply for the card at the Civil Aviation Security Branch I of the BCIA Police Bureau with the reply note, a 2.5cm×3.5cm bareheaded and full-faced color ID photo of the ambassador (and spouse) and the special access card of the previous ambassador (and spouse), if there is.

  When the card expires, the diplomatic mission should apply to the Civil Aviation Security Branch I of the BCIA Police Bureau for renewal within two weeks before expiration and need not send a diplomatic note to the OFM.

  (2) Special access card for other diplomatic personnel or administrative and technical staff

  To apply for a special access card for other diplomatic personnel or administrative and technical staff, the diplomatic mission is requested to send a diplomatic note to the OFM 15 working days in advance.

  The diplomatic mission may apply for the card at the Civil Aviation Security Branch I of the BCIA Police Bureau with the OFM reply note of approval.

  Each diplomatic mission may apply for five such cards at most. The OFM will process the applications on the basis of reciprocity. When a member of the diplomatic mission holding the card no longer needs the card because of leaving his/her position or other reasons, the card should be returned to and revoked by the Civil Aviation Security Branch I of the BCIA Police Bureau. The BCIA Police Bureau will decide whether to renew or issue new cards according to the number of cards held and returned by the diplomatic mission.

  2. Loss of special access card

  If a special access card is lost, the diplomatic mission shall inform the Civil Aviation Security Branch I of the BCIA Police Bureau in writing within 24 hours and notify the OFM. If the card is valid when lost, it cannot be reapplied for or replaced.

  3. One-off pass

  Members of a diplomatic mission may apply for one-off passes to airport restricted areas as their duty requires. The one-off passes can be used only once on the date of application.

  Diplomatic missions should appoint a contact person for matters related to access passes to airport restricted areas, provide samples of the seal of the mission, the signature of the authorized person, and information on the contact person to the Civil Aviation Security Branch I of the BCIA Police Bureau for registration, and obtain from the BCIA Police Bureau the special introduction letters for applying for one-off passes.

  Relevant diplomatic personnel should apply for one-off passes at the relevant airport terminal with the special introduction letter, a diplomatic note issued by the embassy, and the diplomatic identity card.

  4. The above-mentioned procedures for cards and passes to airport restricted areas also apply to offices of international organizations in China.

  For more details, please contact the Civil Aviation Security Branch I of the BCIA Police Bureau (Tel: 64564129).

  III. Diplomatic Functions

  (I) Receptions to mark national day or the establishment of diplomatic relations with China

  1. Diplomatic missions are requested to inform the OFM in writing as soon as the date and time of the receptions to mark national day or the establishment of diplomatic relations with China are set.

  2. The Chinese side will arrange for the attendance of a representative of the Chinese government in accordance with protocol practices in China.

  (II) Paying condolences

  Diplomatic missions are requested to inform the OFM in advance through a diplomatic note of the time and place for paying condolences. The OFM will arrange for the attendance of a Chinese representative as appropriate.

  (III) Cultural events
  Diplomatic missions or their members are requested to contact the competent Chinese authorities in advance if they are going to organize cultural or film events outside diplomatic premises.
  1. Cultural events include but are not limited to: cultural activities not covered by bilateral cultural exchange programs sponsored or co-sponsored by diplomatic missions outside their premises, such as cultural activities of celebration or commemoration, book exhibitions, art performances, media exhibitions, writing contests and film festivals as well as seminars, lectures, donations, award-giving and order awarding, and other cultural activities organized by members of diplomatic missions or their families (spouses or minor children) in their own name or on behalf of overseas institutions and organizations.
  2. To organize the aforementioned events, diplomatic missions should inform the Bureau for International Exchange and Cooperation of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the People’s Republic of China in writing 20 working days in advance.
  3. To show films (including films shown as part of a cultural event), diplomatic missions should also inform the International Cooperation Department of the National Radio and Television Administration in writing.

  (IV) Setting up polling stations or organizing voter registration on diplomatic premises

  If diplomatic missions need to set up polling stations on their premises or organize voter registration for general elections in the sending States, they are requested to inform the OFM in advance through diplomatic note of the time and procedure of the voting activities. The Chinese side does not agree to organizing the aforementioned activities outside diplomatic premises.

  IV. Exemption of Customs Duties

  (I) Articles imported or exported by diplomatic missions or diplomatic agents

  For diplomatic missions or diplomatic agents to import or export articles for official or private use by consignment or postal service, the Customs of the People’s Republic of China Declaration Form of Articles for Official or Private Use Imported or Exported by Diplomatic Missions should be filled in, affixed with the official seal of the mission, the signature of the head of the mission or authorized diplomatic agent (which has been provided for record to the customs) and submitted with relevant documents to the Beijing Customs for clearance. Diplomatic missions and diplomatic agents do not need to fill out the declaration form when they import or export articles in small packages through postal service. The Beijing Customs will screen and approve the import or export of the packages upon receiving a diplomatic note from the diplomatic mission and presentation of the identity certificate issued by the MFA of China.

  Diplomatic agents should declare orally to the customs the articles for private use in their carry-on baggage or shipped by the same means of transport they use. The customs will clear them without inspection. (If the quantity of the articles exceeds the stipulated limit, they should be declared in writing.)

  Articles imported by diplomatic missions declared for official use and those imported by diplomatic agents declared for private use are exempt from customs duties if the customs has determined that the quantity of the articles is within the reasonable limit for direct use by the diplomatic missions or diplomatic agents.

  If the customs has serious ground to believe that the articles for private use carried or shipped into or out of China by a diplomatic agent contain articles not within the scope of duties exemption, or prohibited from import or export by the Chinese government, or subject to control under quarantine regulations, the customs has the right to inspect the baggage. The inspection should be conducted in the presence of the diplomatic agent concerned or his or her authorized representative.

  If an article is prohibited by the customs for import or export, diplomatic missions and their members should complete the repatriation formalities for the article within three months of the day the customs prohibits the articles’ import or export.
  (II) Articles imported or exported by administrative, technical or service staff of diplomatic missions
  The administrative, technical or service staff of diplomatic missions who are not Chinese citizens or permanent residents in China should make written declarations to the customs for articles for private use to be carried or shipped into China, including articles for household use which are imported within six months of taking the post. If customs review shows that the quantity of the aforementioned articles is within the reasonable limit for direct use (for example, one automobile per household), the articles will be cleared with duties exempt after review and inspection by the customs. Articles for private use to be carried or shipped out of China will be cleared after review and inspection by the customs.
  (III) Transfer of imported articles that are exempt from customs duties

  Imported articles that are exempt from customs duties are not transferable unless approved by the competent customs authorities. To transfer imported articles that are exempt from customs duties such as customs-regulated vehicles, formalities should be completed for transferring and paying customs duties in accordance with relevant regulations.

  (IV) Articles for official use and private use
  "Articles for official use” refer to articles used by diplomatic missions in performing official functions, including furniture, ornaments, office equipment, supplies for reception activities and motor vehicles. “Articles for private use” refer to articles for daily use by members of diplomatic missions, their spouses and minor children accompanying them during their stay in China, including furniture, household electrical appliances and motor vehicles.

  V. Diplomatic Bags

  Incoming and outgoing diplomatic bags must be affixed with a seal and only used for delivering diplomatic documents or articles for official use.

  Diplomatic couriers must hold proper papers issued by the competent authorities of the sending State. The captain of a commercial aircraft, entrusted by a diplomatic mission, may deliver diplomatic bags, but must hold official papers from the consigner State indicating the number of bags. To send diplomatic bags through consignment shipping or through the captain of a commercial aircraft, diplomatic missions should send their staff to complete the procedures for delivery or dispatch. Those responsible for escorting diplomatic bags (diplomatic couriers) and those for their collection and consignment shipping should respect the regulations of airports, railway stations and ports, and they and their vehicles should not enter the restricted areas of airport aprons, railway stations and ports.
  The weight and size of a diplomatic bag should be reasonable. Containers should not be used as diplomatic bags. The total weight of each batch of diplomatic bags must not exceed 1,000 kilograms and each bag must not exceed 100 kilograms. The dimensions of a diplomatic bag should not exceed 100cm×100cm×100cm. The part in excess must be declared for entry as articles for official use of diplomatic missions. The diplomatic bags of acceptable weight and size carried by a special plane or chartered plane or transported by railway, ships or other means, or consignment shipping should be placed in a customs-supervised warehouse after being unloaded and may be picked up only after relevant declaration procedures are completed by diplomatic missions.
  The weight and size of carry-on diplomatic bags should meet the requirements of air, railway or shipping authorities (companies). Diplomatic missions should provide five copies of the seal affixed to diplomatic bags and the sample of their courier identification papers to the competent customs authorities for record.
  VI. Quarantine of Animals and Plants

  To import or export animals, plants, related products or other items subject to quarantine inspection, diplomatic missions must declare them to the quarantine authorities for inspection at ports of entry or exit.

  Members of diplomatic missions who bring companion animals into China should comply with relevant Chinese regulations.
  Personal baggage of diplomats accredited to China is exempt from inspection in accordance with relevant Chinese regulations. However, when there are serious grounds to believe that a baggage contains items prohibited from entry or items that need quarantine clearance under relevant Chinese laws and regulations, the quarantine authorities have the right to inspect the baggage. The inspection must be conducted in the presence of the diplomat concerned or his or her authorized representative.
  The quarantine authorities may, in accordance with relevant Chinese laws and regulations, disinfect, return or destroy animals, plants, related products or other items subject to quarantine brought in by members of diplomatic missions which are prohibited from entry or have failed to pass quarantine inspection.
  VII. Refund of Value-Added Tax

  Please refer to the “Protocol ABC” column for detailed regulations, and log onto the foreign missions affairs management system to complete relevant procedures.

  VIII. Motor Vehicles and Driving in China

  (I) Motor vehicles management

  Please refer to the “Protocol ABC” column for detailed regulations, and log onto the foreign missions affairs management system to complete relevant procedures.

  (II) Applying for and renewing driver’s licenses

  Chinese driver’s licenses for motor vehicles are issued to members of diplomatic missions on the basis of reciprocity.

  To apply for driver’s licenses, please contact the Foreign Affairs Department of the Vehicle Management Office of the Beijing Traffic Management Bureau located at No.18, East Road of the South Fourth Ring, Chaoyang District, Beijing. (It is on the eastern side of the compound of the Vehicle Management Office to the southwest of the Shibalidian South Bridge intersection along the South Fourth Ring.) The telephone number of the department is 87625150.

  The website of the Beijing Traffic Management Bureau is http://jtgl.beijing.gov.cn/

  (III) Traffic violations and penalty

  1. Members of diplomatic missions are obliged to respect and comply with Chinese laws and regulations, including the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Road Traffic Safety. They should purchase traffic accident liability insurance for their motor vehicles and go through regular vehicle inspections as required by law. In case of traffic violations, members of diplomatic missions concerned should take penalties according to relevant Chinese regulations.

  2. In case of a traffic accident, please dial 122 immediately to report the accident to the traffic police, assist the traffic management authorities in keeping the scene of the accident intact, present relevant identity certificates, and help the police determine liability for the accident.

  3. In case of casualties, please dial 120 or 999 immediately for first aid.

  4. After a traffic accident, please promptly inform insurance companies concerned for compensation claim and keep in touch with the traffic management authorities. (The telephone number of the Division of Accident Handling of the Beijing Traffic Management Bureau is 68398203.)

  5. The ruling made in accordance with the law by the traffic management authorities, i.e. the competent authorities in China to determine accident liabilities, should be a valid ruling. If there are disputes between the parties involved over compensation or accident handling, please apply for mediation after the accident liability report is issued by the traffic management authorities. Mediation will be carried out by the traffic management authorities with the consent of both sides. Should there be any objection to the mediation result, the parties may seek solutions via judicial channels.

  IX. Travel

  (I) Travel outside Beijing

  When traveling outside Beijing, members of diplomatic missions (and their families) should bring with them valid identity certificates issued by the MFA, and present them to armed police, checkpoints or relevant authorities for examination when required. They should not enter prohibited or restricted access areas.

  If members of diplomatic missions wish to call on leading officials of a local government or hold discussions with departments of a local government, they should send a diplomatic note to the foreign affairs office of the relevant province, autonomous region or municipality directly under the central government at least 10 working days in advance, and send a copy of the diplomatic note to the Protocol Department of the MFA.

  Members of diplomatic missions and their families who intend to visit the Tibet Autonomous Region should apply to the Foreign Affairs Office of the Tibet Autonomous Region at least 15 working days in advance. After the application is approved, the Foreign Affairs Office of the Tibet Autonomous Region will make arrangements for the applicant’s activities in Tibet.

  (II) Means of transport

  When traveling outside Beijing, members of diplomatic missions and their families may not use their own motor vehicles except for traveling on the Beijing-Tianjin Highway and Beijing-Tianjin-Beidaihe Highway (during the summer season between 1 June and 30 September).

  X. Telecommunications Services

  (I) For Internet access or landline telephone installation, diplomatic missions may directly contact the telecommunications operators and do not need to get approval from the OFM.

  (II) For importing and using radio equipment, using radio channels, setting up radio communication network, applying for the installation of synchronous digital hierarchy (point-to-point connection), importing and installing maritime satellite, setting up VSAT antenna and equipment, and installing satellite television receiver and equipment, diplomatic missions should apply to the OFM. The OFM will approve the applications on the basis of reciprocity.

  XI. Study

  If members of diplomatic missions wish to take short-term Chinese language courses at institutes of higher learning, the diplomatic missions concerned should send diplomatic notes to the OFM and the relevant institutes, stating that these members of diplomatic missions will waive their diplomatic privileges and immunities and abide by school regulations during their studies. Applicants are not required to change the type of their passports and visas or their identity certificates.

  If the spouses of members of diplomatic missions wish to study at institutes of higher learning, they may apply directly to the institutes where they wish to study. Applicants may keep their diplomatic privileges and immunities and are not required to change the type of their passports and visas or their identity certificates.

  If the adult children of members of diplomatic missions wish to study at institutes of higher learning, the diplomatic missions concerned should send diplomatic notes of application to the OFM before enrollment, attached with the offer letter from the institutes concerned and the Visa Application Form for Study in China. The applicants should return their residence cards, have their passports changed into ordinary passports, and have their original visas canceled by the Department of Consular Affairs. They should apply for study visas (X type) to the local public security bureau and complete other relevant procedures.

  XII. Spouse Employment

  If the spouse of a member of a diplomatic mission wishes to apply for a job, the diplomatic mission should send a diplomatic note of application to the OFM in accordance with the Regulations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Spouse Employment for Members of Diplomatic Missions and Offices of UN Organizations in China. If the application is approved, the applicant should then complete relevant procedures.

  XIII. Visits to China by State Guests and Foreign VIPs

  Before the visits to China by state guests and foreign VIPs to be received by the MFA, diplomatic missions concerned should provide the following information in writing to the Protocol Department:

  (I) For state or official visit, the following information should be provided:

  The latest biographical notes and digital photos larger than 1MB of the visiting state guests for press release. (Biographical notes should be provided for accompanying spouses; and digital photos are also required for accompanying spouses of a King or Queen.)

  Music score of the country’s national anthem, folk music and personal favorite music works of the state guests; music score and MP3 file of the folk music that will be played during the welcoming banquet.

  (II) Composition of the delegation (including the rough size of the delegation and whether journalists and businessmen will join the delegation); list of members of the delegation (including the name, title and gender, with accurate spelling and in the order of precedence).

  (III) Time of arrival in and departure from China, travel route, means of transport and specific flight number or train number of the visiting state guests and foreign VIPs.

  (IV) Living habits, dietary and flower restrictions, and blood type of the state guests and foreign VIPs (and spouses).

  (V) Sample of the national flag or the flag of the head of state (with instructions on how to make and use them).

  (VI) Application for special aircraft clearance. Application for special aircraft clearance for state guests and foreign VIPs should be filed via diplomatic note no less than 10 working days before arrival in China. The application should include the following information: country of registration of the aircraft, purpose of flight, type of the aircraft, identification marks (including nationality and registration marks) of the aircraft, radiotelephony call sign, frequency range to be used by the radio station on the aircraft, flight route, date and time to and from China, flight route within the Chinese territory, and name, position and nationality of each crew member. The special aircraft is allowed to enter the Chinese territory only after approval by the competent Chinese authorities is granted and a reply and an approval number are given by the Protocol Department.

  The visiting country should be responsible for receiving the crew members of the special aircraft. All expenses of the special aircraft and its crew members in the Chinese territory should be borne by the visiting country (unless there is an agreement on mutual exemption).

  (VII) Application for firearms. Such applications should be filed via diplomatic note at least 10 working days before the arrival of the state guests and foreign VIPs. The application should include the following information: name and passport number of the bearer, type, serial number and caliber of the firearm, quantity of bullets and time of arrival and departure. (In principle, firearms should arrive and depart together with the state guests and foreign VIPs.)

  (VIII) Application for the use of walkie-talkies. Such application should be filed via diplomatic note at least 10 working days before the arrival of the state guests and foreign VIPs. The application should include the following information: name of equipment, trade mark, model, quantity, frequency range, operating frequencies, transmission power, type of transmission, mode of operation and modulation, type, specification and height of antenna, call sign, location of operation, purpose of operation (security, news coverage, or communication between places of accommodation), and duration and time of operation. The use of such equipment is subject to approval by the competent Chinese authorities.

  For further information, please contact the Division of Incoming Visits of the Protocol Department at

  Tel: 010-65963410/16/18
  Fax: 010-65964439

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