Fapiao (�发票) are official invoices, registered at the local tax bureau, which are used as some kind of final proof-of-purchase of a good or service. They often come in a bilingual version (albeit with some signs of Chinglish).
The government introduced (possibly modelled after Taiwan) in 2002 a new series of fapiao, where prizes (cash value) can be won just by scratching the "prize area" on every fixed-quota fapiao. Machine-printed fapiao for restaurants, hotels and other entertainment areas also have the "prize area".
Every new fapiao has two scratch areas: the "prize area", and a lesser-scratched "password area". The "prize area" may be detachable; don't detach this area at any costs if you have just won a prize! It is best to keep this area undetached. The password area is more useful for determining if this is a real fapiao or not.
(There are some exceptions: fapiaos without a "prize area" get only one scratch area -- the password area.)
By early 2004, expressways joined the ranks of fapiaos with a password area.
July 2005 edition
The Beijing Local Tax Bureau introduced a new series of Fapiaos in July 2005. As there was no transition period from one series to the next, new Fapiaos began appearing as early as June 20, 2005.
The new Fapiaos introduced the 20-digit serial number that was the standard nationwide. To verify the authenticity of the Fapiao, Beijing added an additional Info Number. A bar code was added to accelerate cash payouts for prize awards.
Unfortunately, this made the Fapiaos even less user-friendly. To verify the authenticity of the Fapiao, one was obliged to skip the Invoice Code and key in, in this very order, the Fapiao's info number, the invoice code and the password.
Types of fapiao
The different type of fapiao availabe in Beijing can be easily confusing and nearly impossible to track down. Given that, here are some of the most seen ones:
Two scratch areas (one prize area, one password area)
- Fixed quota fapiao (CNY 01, 0.2, 0.5, 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100) Note: Fapiaos for amounts less than CNY 1 are very rare.
- Printed fapiao (portrait, landscape)
One scratch area (password area only)
- Parking ticket fapiao (CNY 0.5, 1, 2, 2.50, 3 (very rare!), 5, 10)
- Expressway passage fee fapiao (CNY 1 (rare), 2 (rare), 5, 10, 15, 20, 30, 50, or printed)
- Taxi fapiao
- Telephone bill if paid by bank proxies
No scratch areas at all
- Admission tickets to parks (which double, along with their serial numbers, fapiaos -- these often have a detachable "stub", which can be used for reimbursement purposes)
- Some older-variety department store and filling station (gas station) fapiaos.
All fapiaos with two scratch areas are eligible for prize awards. These include a first-time prize award and a second-time prize award.
First-time prize award
Carefully scratch the prize area. If it says 谢谢你 Thanks, you're not a penny richer. However, if it says ¥ 10 (plus the Chinese characters (large script) with the prize sum), you've won. Head to the next local (not national) tax bureau (although maybe not the ones in Chegongzhuang), and claim your prize. You may or may not need to show your ID (passport, or if you are a PRC citizen, your Chinese ID card).
Second-time prize award
Since 2004, all fapiaos with two scratch areas are enabled for an additional, second-time prize award. To take part in this (which less people do so), you need a Chinese mobile phone number (your international one with roaming might not do the trick).
Scratch the password area, and then compose a short message. Get your glasses out if you're inclined, because you're about to input a string of 26 numbers.
Input, without any spaces, the consecutive string of number that form the 18-digit fapiao number and the 8-digit password. Send that off to 012386 (12386 if you're using China Unicom). With the July 2005 fapiaos, you now key in, in this very order, the Fapiao's info number, the invoice code and the password.
The message you'll be getting back is completely in Chinese. If it reads this, you're eligible; keep your fapiaos:
(The actual message may vary.)
Prize draws occur on the 10th day of the quarter. The big prize is in the ten-thousands range of yuan. As of July 2005, top-prize winners are supposed to make poorer folks feel happy as well: the Robin Hood-ish tax authorities automatically deduct 20% from your prize money and donate that to charity.
Tackling the Chinglish
English on the fapiaos is nearly comprehendable by the average speaker of the English language; however, clarifications on some of the more confusing phrases of the fapiao would help. We've chosen to "translate" a few of these.
|What it says||What it means|
Scratching the covering area, you will get the award or the words for thanks.
Scratch the covered award area. You will either see the prize sum or "thanks".
Notice: Before encash the award, don't separate the award area from the invoice. Otherwise, you can't encash.
Note: Do not separate the award area from the invoice prior to redemption; failure to do so forfeits your right to receive the prize.
The invoice number printed by receiver should comply with the printing one, or the invoice is illegal. (Roll-printed invoices only.)
The numbers as seen in "Invoice No." and "Printing No." must be the same, or you have an illegitimate invoice.
Tackling the Chinese
Flip to the back of a fapiao, and you'll encounter what appears to be a million and one Chinese ideogrammes which appear to be pig latin. They are, however, very useful, and state your legal rights and obligations, fapiao in hand.
Fapiaos with two scratch areas
On the back of the prize award stub
Notes related to cashing in prizes
When cashing in, please present your invoice (with the prize stub (award area) intact and undetached). Claim your prize within 30 days of the date written on the invoice. Claims must be made at the taxation payment office of the local tax bureau or at the special invoice claims window. No prizes shall be paid out for claims after 30 days.
Consumers have the right to refuse any receipt which already has the award scratch area scratched (i.e. visible), or a receipt where the award scratch area does not reveal the prize amount (or the word "thanks").