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When I do the “accommodation registration at local police station” after entering China or changing location in China, what does "local" mean? Same district? Same municipality? Same province? Within a certain radius? Anywhere in China?


From the back of the departure card given by the Chinese immigration while entering China:

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    If you're staying in private accommodation (like with a friend instead of in a hotel), then ask your host. They will know where the nearest police station is, since they probably had to do the same accommodation registration. – Greg Hewgill Jan 7 at 1:50
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    Well you don't really get to choose the location of the police station, do you? Just go to the nearest one. – Greg Hewgill Jan 7 at 2:05
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    Ok, just do what you like. If you're doing it wrong, they will tell you where to go. This is way too specific to be able to give you an exact answer to a hypothetical question. – Greg Hewgill Jan 7 at 2:09
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    In my experience, it is impossible to know everything ahead of time when getting things done in China. You work it out as you go. Depending on the complexity of what you're trying to do, this can even mean multiple trips back and forth across a city. Foreigner accommodation registration is a relatively simple task, but the exact details vary from place to place, and it's not possible to give you accurate instructions without knowing the details. – Greg Hewgill Jan 7 at 2:13
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    If your goal is to determine which police station you need to visit to register, then you would have to state exactly where you will be staying. Then, if somebody else has done the same task (foreigner accommodation registration) in a similar place (same neighbourhood) in the recent past (no more than a few months ago), then they might be able to answer your question. Things change, and they can change in China surprisingly quickly. The only way to get an accurate answer to this kind of question is to find out where you need to go, after you get there, from somebody who lives there. – Greg Hewgill Jan 7 at 2:22
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Answer compiled from the comments on the question.

In China there are different rules in different parts of the country, so you will need local knowledge to get the answer.
Best ask your host, if they have had earlier visitors who needed to register they will know which station to use. In need, visit the nearest police station and expect to be send on to an other station, which may be farther away but in the right district or suburb.

Also prepare to be send back to the place you stay for an other bit of information or even a signature or stamp of your host.

Also expect long waiting times and repeated visits to the same or a near police station, as your time will not be valued as much as their 'traditions'.

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