How to Rent a Car in China

March 2, 2018
Angelina Lee
Rent a Car

Whether it is an annual family holiday or an extended business trip, foreign travelers will rent a car as a popular way to travel around that offers both freedom and flexibility. 

In most countries, those who already hold an International Driver’s Permit license can rent a car with minimum fuss. In China, however, this is not the case. 

So here’s a guide to show you how to rent a car in China, so you can see China from the driver’s seat! 


Rent a Car


First of all, you must obtain a Chinese driver’s license in order to drive in China. 


Getting a Temporary Driver’s License


Tourists, who wish to drive in China for a short period of time, can get a temporary driver’s permit for a maximum of three months without needing to pass an exam. Normally, you can obtain this at the traffic police department in the city you are in. In Beijing and possibly in other large cities, it can be obtained directly at the airport.  


Rent a Car


Here are the necessary documents you will need to provide:

*National driver’s license (of your home country) and translated into Chinese and notarized. The latter is not obligatory if a translation is made by the licensed translation agency

*International Driving Permit.

*Completed application form.

*Passport, visa, and a hotel reservation

*Three one-inch color photos with a white background.

*Certificate of temporary registration of a foreigner (to be completed and sealed by a hotel clerk upon request of the hotel guest)


Since a certificate of temporary registration of a foreigner should be certified at the police station, you can’t get it directly at the airport. Foreigners driving in China have to check in first and then go to the nearest police station.

Tourists driving in China should go through the medical check. It takes about a quarter of an hour and includes visual examination, an eye test as well as testing distinguishability of colours (what if you are color-blind?)


Rent a Car










Getting a Chinese driver’s license (for foreigners with Chinese residency permit) if you already have one from your home country


In this case you can get a Chinese driver’s license (valid for 6 years) just by passing a written exam. The process and the exam take place in the traffic police department in the city you live in and you may need a prior appointment.

Written exams can be done in English or Chinese. However, in some small cities you may be forced to do them in Chinese (sometimes they may allow you to bring a translator). On the other hand, in some of the main cities of the country, you may even find exams in languages such as Spanish, French, German or Arabic, our suggestion is, choose English because other languages are first translated from Chinese to English then again to multi languages.


Rent a Car


The exam consists of answering 100 multiple choice questions, lasts 45 minutes, and you pass by getting more than 90% of answers right. 

There are several websites to help you prepare for the exam: 

If you don’t pass, you can repeat it at that time, and if you don’t pass the second time, you have to wait at least 20 days to take it again.


Necessary documents:


*Passport and residence permit or Chinese Visa with at least three months of validity (original and photocopy).

*Record of temporary residence registration obtained at the local police station (original and photocopy).

*Driver’s license from your home country (original and photocopy).

*Certified and notarized translation of the driver’s license from the home country to Chinese language (In many places, such as Beijing, you only need to provide a translation signed by a Chinese national and bring the copy of his/her ID card).

*Medical certificate (complete health check-up done at a city hospital)

*Three to five one-inch color photos with a white background.


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Once you obtain your Chinese driver’s license, you will be able to rent a car from most companies. 

In order to rent a car, you will need to present the following documents a few days before you actually need the car (or in the case of online booking, you will have to email them):

*Your passport (page with your personal information)

*Your residence permit page on your passport

*Your Chinese driver’s license


On the day you go to pick-up the car you need to have with you:

*Your passport

*Your Chinese driver’s license

*Credit Card or Debit Card with enough money to cover the rental price as well as an amount that can be “frozen” by the car company in case of car damage.



Picking a nationwide operating company increases the chances of it having collection points all around the country.
Keep in mind that a rented car may have a mileage limit, which you should try and keep, otherwise you may have to pay extra.

If you don’t want to spend too much money on renting a car, it is recommended that you choose a local car rental company, since international companies charge very high rates.

Local companies are reliable and affordable. Some of them require foreigners to have a local guarantee for them, but the bigger companies on the market don’t need that. Some even allow you to choose and book a car online or over the phone, and they offer an English-speaking service.

Prices vary based on the make and model of the vehicle. However, most prices range from 150 RMB to 350 RMB per day. 

You also will need to pay a deposit on the vehicle. The deposit prices range from about 5,000 RMB to 10,000 RMB. 

It’s also wise to buy a cheap insurance policy on the vehicle. Such policies only cost about 65 RMB per day.

There are many trusted car rental companies in China. It’s important to rent from reputable companies, in order to insure you are not ripped off. 


Some reputable car rental companies in China include: 

– Avis China (安飞士)

– eHi Car Service (一嗨租车)

– Zuche (神州租车)

– izuche (首汽租车) (Website in Chinese only)


Once you pay for the rental, get some insurance, and pay a deposit, you are ready to hit the open road. Simply drop the car off at another rental office when you are finished! 


Rent a Car








Here are extra information about Chinese driver’s license:


Getting a driver’s license for the first time


If you are over 18 years of age, you have a temporary or permanent residency permit and you don’t have a driver’s license from your home country, you can still get a driver’s license in China. To do this, you’ll have to pass four exams:

*Written exam on laws and traffic regulations and basic concepts on vehicles (100 questions).

*Parking and basic driving skills test on a track.

*Written exam on correct driving habits (50 questions).

*Road test.


Necessary documents:

*Passport and residency permit with at least 3 months of validity (original and photocopy).

*Record of temporary residency obtained at the local police station (original and photocopy).

*Medical certificate 

*Three to five one-inch color photos with a white background.


Renewing or Extending existing Chinese Driving License


In this case, you should apply for renewal of the license at the China Police Vehicle Administration within 90 days before its expiration. A license with a 10-year effective period will be given to those whose penalty points are less than 12 in each of the past six years.


The Renewal Condition:

*90 days before the driver’s license expired.

*Driver’s license has not been put in a suspended, canceled or revoked state.


Necessary documents:

*Residence Permit.

*A copy of the old and new passport main page.

*A copy of the valid Chinese visa.

*A copy of the latest entry stamp on your passport.

*Original Chinese driver’s license.

*A 1-inch Digital color photo with a white background.

*Medical Check-Up Report 

Notice: You don’t need to take another test for renewing your license.


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Tagged in:Expat Tips, Explore, General, Lifestyle

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