Does China’s One Child Policy Apply to Expats?

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Mom and two kids in a field_65529935A question that is on the mind of many expatriates heading to China, especially when going with a young family is definitely, “Does China’s one child policy apply to Expats”? The simplest answer is ‘No’, but there are some situations where conditions do apply.

Implementation of the one-child policy

China’s government in the 1950’s encouraged its citizens to have as many children as possible to increase the work force of China. But in about thirty years the government realized the population growth rate was sky rocketing and would only take 24 years before the population doubled!

The government took serious measures to implement the policy strictly starting officially from September, 1980. The policy gives exceptions to ethnic minorities, parents with handicapped first born children, and other issues, and have more recently relaxed the rules somewhat.

Interested in learning more about the One-Child Policy? Check out these books:

The Expat and the one child policy

Today, China is the third most popular Expat destination in the world, according to the recent Expat explorer survey by HSBC with around 300,000 expats; the main reason being the low living costs, higher paying jobs for foreigners compared to the European counterparts, the experience and adventure for some. Even though the lifestyle is not very easy to get used to, China is attracting workers from all over the world.

Many couples, considering the financial gain and the rich experience, are heading to China despite of the cultural and lifestyle differences are now taking up the challenge of having babies in China and raising a family. The foreign nationals moving to China can have as many children as they want as long as they do not opt for Chinese citizenship. This applies to the expat couple who is planning to deliver the baby in China as well; the policy does not apply to them, but they do have to go through the resident registration process, which is different for each province. It is also necessary to register and apply for the child’s passport with their native country’s embassy.


The one-child policy does apply to foreign nationals who marry a Chinese citizen, even though the foreign partner retains their original citizenship. If the Chinese national retains Chinese citizenship, you must abide by the policy. But in such a case, the rule slightly varies from province to province, so check with your local PSB for exact details. The Hukou system or, household registration record, is to be maintained only by Chinese nationals and has to show one child registered as a resident per one family, and is not applicable to Expats.

Jeremy & Jacquelyn Carman

Jeremy & Jacquelyn Carman

Founders of, Jeremy and Jacquelyn have four children. The first three were born in three different hospitals in China and the last was born at home in the US. Jeremy and Jacquelyn created in 2009 after they found little information for foreigners having babies in China. They love connecting with other foreigners having babies. Learn more about them on the about page.



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