The Personal Ticketing system practiced in the vast majority of Chinese stations means you need valid ID to travel on trains. If you don’t have your ID document with you at ticketing or when boarding, please proceed to the ID Office (铁路公安制证口), provided to you by rail police. This counter will issue you with ID in case you do not have yours on you. It will only handle requests you make in person.
To obtain such a document, make sure you have a one-inch photo with you (“one-inch” here is by Chinese definitions; it is generally smaller than a regular passport photo). You will also need supporting evidence as follows:
- PRC mainland citizens: Evidence from the local police records
- PRC students: Evidence from your school
- PRC servicepersons: Evidence from the PLA or armed police authorities
- Passengers from abroad: Evidence from your embassy or consulate
- Others: Evidence from the authority that issued you your document
- Or: Any other supporting evidence proving your identity
For expats and visitors, you will either need proof from your embassy or consulate, or “any other supporting evidence proving your identity”. The rules are rather undefined here: common sense dictates that a national ID card or driving licence could work (social security cards are in rather uncertain territory).
For all supporting evidence, the document must bear your personal details, which must include the following:
3. Date of birth
5. Number of your ID document
You must have the document describing supporting evidence stamped by an authority. If you have lost your document of identity following the purchase of a ticket, report the same document of identity that you used when you bought the ticket.
The ID Office will issue you with Temporary Passenger ID; it will keep a copy for its records and hand you with your own personal copy. The Temporary Passenger ID contains personal information, such as passenger name, sex, and ID document. Please keep this carefully. You will need it at ticketing, for refunds, to register transfers on a transfer ticket, at Ticket and ID Check, and on trains. The railways will not take your copy away.
At times, stations might not be able to provide you with temporary traveller ID — due to technical reasons or otherwise — so it pays to have a copy of your passport, an original of another ID document, and possibly a written explanation or other evidence to back your case. (These could include a certificate of application from the Public Security Bureau, a passport loss document, or something from your embassy or consulate — ideally with your photograph on it.)
You may use the same Temporary Passenger IDs at different stations only if they are in the same city, and only if personal ticketing is practiced there as well.