Beijing starts to issue green license plates for new-energy vehicles (NEVs) in 2017, after a number of cities introduced green license plates for NEVs from November 20. The green plates are attractive in cities like Beijing where license plate quotas are used to curb congestion and smog. There are more than 1 million NEVs in China, with 825,000 being pure electric vehicles, according to the nation's traffic authority. (Photo: VCG)
An increasing number of people in Beijing are faking marriages in order to get a local license plate, just as what many home buyers have been doing to avoid high mortgage rates and taxes in an "unspoken rule" of the real estate market in cities that have property purchasing restrictions.
It is the only way for a wannabe car-buyer to get ownership of the plate if one tries to avoid the indefinite years of waiting through a monthly lottery system the city introduced in 2011 to allocate car plates.
Beijing reduced the number of yearly new license plates available to registered drivers from 150,000 to 100,000 in 2018. This year, 38,000 among the 100,000 plates are for gasoline cars and 54,000 are for new energy vehicles (NEV).
In April, the average chance to get a license plate for gasoline cars through the lottery system is 1 in 2,462. Meanwhile, 430,656 applicants are waiting for a NEV plate, which means that newcomers have to wait at least eight years.
An agency told the Global Times reporter who pretended to be a buyer that prices for a fake marriage depend on buyer and plate owner's gender, hukou (household registration) and current residence.
For example, it costs 180,000 yuan ($26,193) for a man who does not have Beijing hukou to marry a Beijing woman and get ownership of the latter's license plate through a legal transfer.
The process can be done in 10 to 15 days, the agency said. The time depends on how soon authorities approve the transfer, which is usually 15 days.
The fake couple can get a divorce as soon as the buyer gets ownership of the car plate, the agency said, promising that they would ask the two sides to sign a contract to protect their interests, including their property and debt claims, as well as to avoid the situation where one side refuses to divorce.
However, Xu Hao, a lawyer at the Beijing-based Jingsh Law Firm warned that this kind of contract might be considered void by authorities as their purpose is illegal.
Xu told the Global Times on Wednesday that "A fake marriage is very risky as one might be sexually assaulted by his or her spouse, who he or she does not know at all."
China still does not have a law against marital rapes, according to Xu.
No matter how crazy it sounds just to get a license plate, marriage is becoming the main method for people living in Beijing eager for a car.
People can also rent or become a shareholder of a Beijing company to get a plate. But a fake marriage is the most cost-effective way and is chosen by more than 90 percent of clients, media reported.
The Global Times reporter learned that it costs about 10,000 yuan to rent a plate a year.