26 August 2019
For Beijing's eight million non-local residents, a hukou is coveted because it means access to the nation’s best social services. Photo: Bloomberg
For Beijing's eight million non-local residents, a hukou is coveted because it means access to the nation’s best social services. Photo: Bloomberg

Why Chinese are paying top dollar for a Beijing hukou

What price a Beijing hukou?

An average 37,500 yuan (US$6,084), going by what 80 college graduates paid for a resident permit in the city.

The company behind a scam was busted by police but not before raking in more than 3 million yuan, according to Beijing News.

But for the college graduates, who wanted to have their household (hukou) registered in Beijing, it may still be a good deal.

This is because Beijing hukou holders can enjoy the nation’s best social services such as healthcare and education resources in the capital city.

The number of non-local residents in Beijing has climbed to more than 8 million from 3 million in 2003.

However, during the past 10 years, only an average 180,000 people managed to get a Beijing hukou every year.

The supply-demand imbalance has boosted the price of a Beijing hukou in the underground market.

Theoretically, a hukou cannot be traded but the authorities allow two persons from different regions to exchange their hukou allocation on a voluntary basis. Some organizations are willing to sell their spare hukou allocation.

An unidentified editor told the Southern Weekly last week that she had her hukou moved from Chongqing to Beijing in 1999 by paying 20,000 yuan under the table. Taking inflation into account, that price works out to about 26,800 yuan today.

But when Tao Qian, who graduated from a science and technology university in Beijing eight years ago, inquired with an underground agent recently, he was quoted a price of 450,000 yuan based on his education background and working experience.

Hukou prices once reached 720,000 yuan, according to previous media reports.

A Beijing hukou carries some other advantages too. It can put its owner in a more favorable position in the marriage market.

A staff member of Chinese internet dating website said 40 percent of his clients from Beijing specify that they want a partner with a Beijing hukou, the Southern Weekly report said.

This is partly because Beijing has since 2010 been restricting car license plates and home purchases for non-local people.

“Several years ago, a hukou is not a necessary factor. At that time, it’s good to have one but fine if you don’t,” the staff said.

Amid the demand for the resident permits, requirements under legal channels have also been increasing.

For example, Beijing’s downtown districts like Chaoyang used to allow business owners or senior management of companies that contribute more than 800,000 yuan in tax revenue for at least three years to have Beijing hukou.

In 2012, the threshold was a fixed investment of more than 30 million yuan or sales revenue of more than 300 million yuan for two years in a row. 

Beijing is said to be preparing to launch a point system to standardize household applications.

But whether this will offer hope to the eight million non-local residents in the city is all up in the air.

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EJ Insight reporter

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