Call before sending requests via exit-entry's WeChat account
A "guidance on urgent release of passport request during lockdown" is circulating among expats in Shanghai, instructing them to send their requests to exit-entry authorities via their WeChat accounts.
An official from the Shanghai Exit-Entry Administration Bureau said the document isn't an official release and not entirely accurate.
"We deal with only WeChat inbox messages sent by people who have called us and been given preliminary consent to get the requested service," the official said.
Since the exit-entry bureau is shorthanded right now, there isn't currently an administrator of its official WeChat account on duty, the official added.
Those who have called the 12367 hotline and received permission to proceed with their requests have been told to send their confirmation letters and plane tickets to the bureau via WeChat, she said.
The official also explained why it's difficult to get through to the bureau via 12367.
"Our hotline takes calls 24/7, but we're very understaffed and our officers often have to spend more than 30 minutes with one person," she said.
As such, many requests that weren't deemed urgent have been rejected.
"We as law enforcers must process all exit-entry service requests in accordance with Chinese law, and some cases are more demanding than others," the official said.
Currently, priority is given to those with urgent needs such as medical care, she said.
Normal passport mail services haven't yet resumed, and those claiming their passports must come to application centers in person or use available delivery services, she added.
The bureau previously announced that expats who have overstayed their visas due to the lockdown will not be penalized, and those who have left their passports with the bureau are advised to delay picking them up unless it's urgent.