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New procedure for renewing residency permits in Shanghai

Expatriates in Shanghai no longer have to give up their passport for a week in order to renew their residency permits, after a new procedure was put in place.

In the past, those who renewed the documents online then had to drop their passports off at one of the offices of the Shanghai Exit-Entry Administration Bureau for seven days.

This inconvenient measure meant no travelling during the period and the inability to do other things, such as opening a bank account.

The new procedure takes about an hour and as long as the applicant arrives with all the necessary documentation, they will be able to leave with their passport the same day.

Li Feng, a spokesman for the administration, said: "We felt it was unnecessary for foreigners to have to leave their passports for so long at the bureau. This is mostly aimed at foreign executives who need to travel often in China or internationally to do business."

It takes approximately a week for the application to be processed and the expat must return to the offices to get their passport stamped, signifying the renewal.

Shanghai is one of the first cities in China to allow residency permits to be updated in this manner, although the Hubei province has been accepting online applications since 2012 and therefore may not be far off.

The local administration in Shanghai is making efforts to improve convenience for expats, as it competes with other destinations to attract top talent from abroad.

Late last year an expat registration office was set up in a residential community in Jing'an district to offer a friendlier option for those moving to the city than having to go to the police station.

It is expected that more of these offices will be opened up during the course of 2014, making registration for expats even easier.

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