The issuance of household registration/hukous; whether different people with different classifications can be registered on the same household registration and whether or not two separate hukous can be issued for the same address [CHN39172.E]

A 1998 paper entitled "The Hukou System and Rural-Urban Migration in China: Processes and Changes" co-written by a professor of Geography at the University of Washington provided the following information:

In mainland China, all PRC [People's Republic of China] nationals' personal hukou is classified by two related parts: one by residential location and one by socioeconomic eligibility (often confusingly called "agricultural"/"non-agricultural"). [...]
The first classification of one's hukou registration is the "hukou suozaidi" (the place of hukou registration). It is based on one's presumed permanent residence. Under hukou regulation each citizen is required to register in one and only one place of regular residence. The most common categories of the place of hukou registration are urban centers (cities or towns) or rural settlements (villages or state farms). The local regular hukou registration defines one's rights for social and economic activities in a specified locality. [...] Openings of many jobs, even today, are limited to local hukou holders.
The second classification is the "hukou leibie" (the "status" or type of hukou registration), essentially referred to the "agricultural" and "non-agricultural" hukou. This classification determines one's entitlement to get the state-subsidized grain and other privileges and is often more important than the hukou place of registration (4).

The paper goes on to note that, as "the two classifications are based on different criteria, urban areas contain both non-agricultural hukou population as well as agricultural hukou population. Similarly, non agricultural hukou may exist in urban areas or the countryside" (ibid., 5).

Information contained in a winter 2000 China Human Resources Update prepared by a recruiting firm for Asia described the hukou as a "small passport-size booklet showing the holder's name, names of family members, permanent address, date of birth, educational level and other details" (Pacific Bridge). The update further stated that only one book is allowed per family and that each family has one representative who holds the hukou (ibid.).

According to a background brief published by the East Asia Institute (EAI) at the National University of Singapore, the permanent location of a person's hukou cannot be changed without the approval of the "hukou authorities" for the particular local community (25 Oct. 2001).

As well, the designation of hukou place and status for a person is inherited from the mother and is essentially a "birth-subscribed" system (Chan, Kam Wing and Li Zhang 1998, 5).

A 2 July 2001 article detailed the experience of a rural woman who married a Beijing resident, stating that, despite their marriage, the woman could obtain only a temporary resident permit and could be forced to leave the city during police crackdowns against migrant workers (South China Morning Post). The article further noted that the woman's "daughter's education will require double the normal school fees, as city authorities consider her a peasant like her mother" (ibid.).

The following information, dated 26 August 2002, was provided to the Research Directorate in correspondence from a professor of international affairs at the Georgia Institute of Technology whose specializations include internal migration and China:

Under Chinese laws, there are two categories/types/classifications of permanent hukou: the agricultural or rural and the non-agricultural or urban hukou. Each household has a hukou booklet (hukou ben), as the legal copy of the hukou registration is filed at the hukou police. Each hukou booklet contains only the members of the same household (either a blood-family or a danwei or working unit like a firm) with the same hukou type and location. Each person of the household usually has one page in the booklet. People with different hukou types or different hukou locations can not be on the same hukou booklet.
One address can only be registered for one type and location of permanent hukou. A temporary local hukou can be issued to a tenant/visitor/employee (who is from out of town and may also have a different type of hukou) living in the same address as long as the household head at the address qualifies and agrees to be the sponsor. But the temporary hukou (usually valid for 6 months and may be renewable) holder can not be on the same permanent hukou booklet.

The professor further added that a hukou booklet cannot list different people with different classifications unless is it "altered or forged" (ibid.).

For further information on the hukou, please refer to the September 1998 Research Directorate Issue Paper "China: Internal Migration and the Floating Population," as well as CHN37380.E of 19 April 2002, CHN36607.E of 16 March 2001, CHN38166.E of 20 December 2001, CHN35869.E of 20 November 2000, CHN34162.E of 20 April 2000, and CHN32624.E of 8 September 1999.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Chan, Kam Wing and Li Zhang. 1998. "The Hukou System and Rural-Urban Migration in China: Processes and Changes." [Accessed 29 Aug. 2002]

East Asia Institute (EAI), National University of Singapore. 25 October 2001. EAI Background Brief No. 105. Fei-Ling Wang. "China's Hukou System in the Reform Era." [Accessed 29 Aug. 2002]

South China Morning Post. 2 July 2001. "China's 'Apartheid.'" (JCS Information Digest/CISNET)

Pacific Bridge. Winter 2000. China Human Resources Update. "Employee Mobility and Work Permits in China." [Accessed 30 Aug. 2002]

Professor of international relations, The Sam Nunn School of International Affairs, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta. 26 August 2002. Correspondence.

Additional Sources Consulted

IRB databases


Oral sources:

Unsuccessful attempts to contact one additional oral source

Internet sites including:

Asia Times


China Internet Information Centre


Human Rights in China

People's Daily

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