How do Get the China mobile phone numbers as Foreigners


As globalization deepens, an increasing number of foreigners are choosing to travel, work, study, live, start companies, and conduct business in China. In this process, having a local mobile phone number is crucial not only for daily communication but also for accessing various public services, online banking, and app registrations. For foreigners, mastering how to obtain a mobile phone number and complete the mobile authentication process in China is not just a basic need; it’s the first step towards integrating into life in China. This article aims to provide a detailed guide on how foreigners can get mobile phone numbers in Mainland China, addressing the potential communication challenges faced while living and working in a new environment.

Understanding What is China’s Mobile Phone Numbers Real-Name Authentication

Since June 1, 2017, China has implemented Article 24 of the “Cybersecurity Law“, which mandates that network operators must require users to provide real identity information. The law explicitly states, “If a user does not provide real identity information, the network operator shall not provide related services.” This legal provision is widely regarded as a symbol of China’s comprehensive implementation of a real-name system on the internet.

This policy was introduced primarily to enhance network security and improve the quality of internet services. By enforcing the real-name authentication system, the government aims to more effectively manage cyberspace, reducing the spread of cyber fraud, spam, and illegal content. For foreigners, understanding and complying with this policy is essential for smoothly using mobile telephony and internet services in China.

Foreigners to Get Mobile Phone Numbers in China – Basic Requirements 

According to Chinese telecommunications regulations, foreigners wishing to obtain a mobile number in China must physically enter the country first. This stipulation is due to the real-name registration policy, which requires individuals to personally present valid identification (such as a passport) and a valid Chinese visa at a telecom operator’s retail store to complete the process. This approach ensures each mobile number is accurately registered to the true identity of its user, enhancing communication security and personal information protection.

How to Identify a Chinese Mobile Number

Here are some examples to help you recognize mobile numbers from Mainland China, using our GWBMA Chinese mobile number as an example:

Example 1: A GWBMA China Mobile number without the international code 186XXXXXXX

(11-digit mobile number)

Example 2: A GWBMA Chinese mobile number with the international code +86186XXXXXXXX

(Country code + 11-digit mobile number)

foreigners get the Mobile phone numbers

The Benefits of Mobile Phone Numbers Authentication for Foreigners in China

In China, having a local mobile phone number is an indispensable part of daily life, not just for making calls and sending texts, but also for utilizing a variety of online services and applications such as online banking, shopping, public transportation, and even food delivery services. For foreigners newly arrived in China, figuring out how to obtain a mobile phone number and complete the relevant authentication process is one of the first tasks.

Mobile Phone Real-Name System

The mobile Phone real-name system requires users to provide proof of identity and register under their real names when subscribing to mobile services. This system has several benefits, especially for foreigners in China who must be cautious of scam calls and know how to handle them:

Reducing Spam and Tracking Fraud

First, registering under a real name can reduce the harassment of spam messages and facilitate the tracking of phone scam activities, better protecting the interests of users.

Preventing Malicious Card Replacement

Second, real-name authentication can prevent malicious SIM card replacements more effectively. If a phone is lost, users registered under their real names can quickly and conveniently obtain a replacement SIM at a service center by presenting their original ID.

Enhancing Financial Security

Lastly, mobile phone numbers authenticated under the real-name system provide a safer way to link bank accounts, credit cards, and various financial accounts like Alipay, ensuring the security of the user’s funds.

Foreigners Registering Companies and Authenticating Mobile Phone Numbers – GWBMA’s Case Study

When foreigners first set up personal bank accounts in China, they often find themselves at a loss when it comes to authenticating the mobile phone number of the legal representative after establishing the company. For instance, some foreign company owners from other countries arrive at GWBMA’s office to sign contracts, surprisingly carrying large amounts of RMB in cash to conduct their business. Therefore, it’s crucial for foreign business owners to complete mobile authentication after purchasing a SIM card. This not only avoids the need to carry large sums of cash but also because we must visit the bank to verify the authenticity of the cash.

Choosing the Right Mobile Carrier in China for Foreigners

China Mobile, China Telecom, and China Unicom offer the three most straightforward methods for real-name authentication of mobile numbers. The customer service numbers are 10086 for China Mobile, 10000 for China Telecom, and 10010 for China Unicom. By calling the respective customer service number and following the voice prompts, you can easily check whether your mobile number has been authenticated. Importantly, you have the option to choose English when calling customer service, making the process more accessible for non-Chinese speakers.

Required Documents and Steps for Obtaining a Mobile Phone Numbers for Foreigns in China

Getting a mobile number and completing the real-name authentication in China is a straightforward process, but it requires preparing some necessary documents. Here are the detailed steps and the list of required documents to help you smoothly complete the process:

Required Documents – China mobile phone numbers

  1. Valid Passport: Your passport is the key document to prove your identity and is required for any real-name verification process.
  2. Valid Chinese Visa: Whether it’s a tourist, work, or student visa, make sure your visa is valid and clearly visible in your passport.
  3. Residence Permit (if applicable): For foreigners living in China long-term, a residence permit may also be necessary.

Steps to Follow – China mobile phone numbers

  1. Choose a Carrier: First, select a suitable carrier based on your needs. China Mobile, China Telecom, and China Unicom are the three major carriers, each offering different plans and services.
  2. Visit the Carrier’s Retail Store: With your passport and visa in hand, go to the retail store of the carrier you’ve chosen. In some larger cities, you might find stores that offer services in English.
  3. Select a Plan and Services: Choose the most suitable plan based on your call and data usage needs. The staff will help you understand the different options.
  4. Submit Documents for Real-Name Authentication: Provide the retail store staff with your passport and visa for the real-name authentication process. They will photocopy your documents and associate them with your mobile number.
  5. Pay for the Service and Activate: Pay the fees for the chosen plan. After these steps, your mobile number will be activated, and you can start using the service.

Important Tips

  • Ensure that your passport and visa information is accurate and up-to-date.
  • Considering potential language barriers, you may want to inquire in advance if there are any stores offering services in English.
  • Familiarize yourself with the details of different carriers’ plans to choose the service that best meets your needs.


As globalization continues to advance, an increasing number of foreigners are choosing to travel, work, or live in China. In this information age, having a local Chinese mobile number has become incredibly important. It is not just a basic tool for communication but also a key to accessing many daily services and applications. Through this article, we hope to have provided you with a clear guide to understanding the necessary steps to obtain a mobile phone number and complete real-name authentication in China.

At GWBMA, our commitment goes beyond the ordinary, offering a comprehensive suite of services ranging from company formation, trademark registration, copyright, patent, to legal advisories and more. We stand as a beacon for foreign enterprises navigating the complexities of entering and thriving in the Chinese market. Whether you’re outside China looking to establish your presence, or in need of expert guidance on copyright applications, GWBMA is your trusted partner. Launch your new ventures with us, and let GWBMA empower your business journey in China with our unmatched professionalism and dedication. This is the essence of what GWBMA stands for – professionalism, strength, and unwavering support for our clients’ success.

Please visit this article to understand: The Differences Between China Landline Phone and Mobile Phone

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