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Alien Cards in China

Residency Cards in China should be applied for within ten days of arriving in China. The duration of validity with the card is the same as the time you have received a visa to reside in China. This and your passport must be carried at all times when travelling or working in China. ESL teachers will receive guidance from their school or institute soon after arrival to find out where they should apply and what is required for processing.
Your residency card many be required by the banks, cell phone providers, hospitals, etc and so should be treated and held with care. They also act as a reentry visa should you visit Hong Kong or Macau for easy reentry.
When you leave China, you will be required to surrender the card at the customs checkpoint. Make sure to pay attention to the dates of validity on your card, since extended stays beyond the dates covered can lead to hefty fines as well as delayed departure. If you need to extend your stay for whatever reason, you should approach same agency you got the card from for a visa extension which would also apply to your residency card. 

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