Hukou is built upon a history of family registries that dates back to the Xia Dynasty (2100 BCE- 1600 BCE). The modern usage takes this and is applied similar to the internal passport system used in the former Soviet Union. This internal passport identifies a person by regional city or village and there work status as urban or agricultural. Initially the hukou status prevented mass immigration to urban areas, but the restrictions were eased some in the 80’s to provide cheap labor for the expansion of Chinese manufacturing. Hukou determines which types of government services you may be eligible to receive.
These family records include all marriages, divorces, and relocations made by the family. All records to be used abroad can be requested by the local Notarial Office (Gong Zheng Chu). Notarial birth certificates are considered secondary sources for identification but are used more than primary documentation. Primary documentation is not standardized and easily forged thus the notarial certificates are used instead. The notaries function to validate that there is evidence that a said person is who they claim to be.
Notarial birth certificates can be used in conjunction with other primary and secondary sources for the birth certificate requirement for visa applications. Some included sources are family land registries, school and medical records. If any documentation is in question the American consulate may conduct a field investigation or request validation through the regional Notarial Office. Currently all U.S. visas from China our processed through the embassy in Guangzhou.