Residents of Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan who have lived on the Chinese mainland for longer than six months can apply for a new mainland residence permit as of Sept 1, giving them easier access to public services.
Electronic terminal devices can read the permit card automatically at places such as railway stations, airports and banks.
The card aims to provide more convenience for those living, working and studying on the mainland, Vice-Minister of Public Security Shi Jun said on Aug 16.
Applicants with stable jobs and accommodations or who are studying on the mainland can carry mainland travel permit cards and related materials, including their address and employment documents, to local public security bureaus starting Sept 1.
They should receive a mainland residence permit in about 20 working days, according to the ministry. The application is voluntary.
Mainland travel permit cards issued by the ministry are for Hong Kong and Macao residents with Chinese nationality and for Taiwan residents to use when entering or leaving the mainland.
Those given the mainland residence card will receive almost the same treatment as mainlanders in multiple fields, including in employment, social insurance, medical care, education, legal aid, vehicle license applications, travel ticket booking and hotel accommodation, Shi said at a news conference.
They will also have better services in banking and financial affairs as well as in buying tickets for mainland parks and sports and cultural venues. Many places such as banks, telecom offices, railways, airports and hotels have terminal devices to read the card.
Long Mingbiao, deputy director of the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office, said at the news conference that applicants for the new card will not need to have mainland hukou-household registration-or give up their residency and welfare entitlements in Taiwan.
"The benefits of the new card show our willingness to make the study, employment and life of Taiwan residents on the mainland easier," he added.
Cheng Po-yu, 32, a Taiwan resident and now CEO of the Cross-Straits Youth Communication Association in Beijing, welcomed the new policy. "The residence card is good news for me, having lived on the mainland for a long time," he said.
Cheng said the current travel permit is proof of identity for Taiwan residents on the mainland, "but it can't be used at electronic terminal devices, as it doesn't have a magnetic strip".
"And the travel permit card, which hasn't got an 18-digit number as the mainland ID card does, doesn't work in many cases when we want to book hotels or do financial transactions online," he said.
Chan Sing, an entrepreneur from Hong Kong who has worked in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, for four years, said some banks have automatic machines for financial services that require the scanning of mainland-issued identity cards.
But as a Hong Kong resident, Chan does not have such an ID card and cannot obtain convenient service, but has to wait in line for counter service.
"There are many cases like this, and I feel as if we didn't fully belong (to the motherland)," he said.
"If the new card can change the situation, the sense of belonging for Hong Kong people working on the mainland will greatly increase, and I believe more will be willing to come to the mainland."
Bao Chengke, deputy director of the Cross-Straits Communication and Regional Development Institute at East China Normal University in Shanghai, said at present the residence card can guarantee some basic needs.
"I believe ... the card will carry more functions, such as records of housing funds and social and medical insurance."