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China's First Passport Law Comes into Effect
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The Ministry of Public Security revealed on Friday that new rules governing Chinese citizens' passport applications and tightening application grounds will take effect from 2007.

The Passport Law of the People's Republic of China, passed by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress on April 29, will take effect on January 1.

Under the law, in addition to submitting their identity cards, permanent residence booklets and photos, Chinese citizens applying for passports will also need to provide explanation as to why they must travel overseas.

The law gives a new definition of passports' validity period, which is five years for citizens under 16 years old and 10 years for those over 16.

It will now no longer be possible to extend passports while previously, the old passports valid for five years could be extended for a further 10.

The law shortens the time limit for public security authorities to deal with passport applications.

People can receive their passports in 15 days after they hand in applications, faster than the current 30-day delay.

It is the first passport law since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949.

Since the country adopted its opening-up and reform policy in 1978, the number of Chinese citizens going abroad has increased rapidly.

In the early 1980s, the public security authorities annually approved more than 100,000 overseas visits.

In 2006, this figure rose to 3.92 million, according to the ministry.

At present, more than 20 million Chinese citizens have passports.

In another development, from January 1, Chinese police officers will use a uniform identity card for the first time.

They will be required to show their police cards while on duty, but the cards need not be on display if they are in uniform.

A complete police card includes a special wallet and an identity card. The absence of either will nullify the cards.

The new police cards have been in use since June 1 in Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai and Chongqing municipalities, and Guangdong and Shaanxi provinces.
Since 1949, Chinese police officers have used different identity cards in different areas.

(China Daily December 30, 2006)

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