Tip: How to tell if my Hikvision camera is US, Chinese, or International

Over the years I’ve purchased many Hikvision cameras from all sources, Ebay, Aliexpress and Amazon. Ever in search of that good deal.

There are 3 type of cameras

  • Chinese
  • International
  • USA

Physically, the cameras have identical hardware. Firmware on the other hand is a different story. Hikvision was trying to stem the flow of Chinese region cameras from hitting other markets. I’m sure Hikvision USA was having a hard time selling the same hardware when you can go online and buy it for much less.

The Chinese version typically only had Chinese as the language option and came in brown boxes.

In 2014, I could buy the brown box Chinese version on Aliexpress, follow a few simple steps and get the language option back, set the dropdown to English and all set to go. As long as I didn’t upgrade the firmware, they are good to go. Most of my cameras are 5.2.0.

Around spring of 2015, we started seeing Hikvision getting aggressive with stopping the Chinese cameras from getting out. The standard Aliexpress resellers stopped selling them. And the firmware was different, 5.2.5 and 5.2.8. The same old hack no longer worked. And if you tried to downgrade, your camera was bricked.

Since then, people more cleaver than I have been trying to sort out the differences and it is likely the hardware is different also, meaning the firmware can now identify the camera as Chinese or otherwise.

So nowadays, you buy Chinese region cameras with the risk of having all Chinese menus and if you try to hack it to English, you might brick it. Many people still buy them, understanding this risk and using Google Chrome with it’s built in translator.

Along the way, the inventive Chinese sellers have been hip to the hacks, and have started to offer pre-hacked versions of the cameras that have English menus. But, don’t try to do any firmware changes, as your camera will be bricked.

The Box

hik1

The red & white box on the left is from a genuine USA region camera. The one on the right is a Chinese region camera. Both are for the DS-2CD2032-I camera.

It used to be the Chinese region cameras only came in brown boxes. But once word was out that the Chinese region cameras were not English friendly, people would only look to buy the cameras in the Red & White boxes. So then we started seeing Red & White boxes coming with the Chinese region cameras. The sellers knew that the Red & White boxes were selling better, so they went out and sourced them somehow. So now you can’t rely on the box to tell you what you are buying.

I’ve heard that grey boxes are now also shipping with Chinese region cameras.

The Manual

hik2

English language manuals like the one on the left come with International and USA region cameras.

The Camera

hik3.png

Genuine USA region cameras will come with a UL sicker on the camera body. This might be the only way to tell the difference from a USA and International region camera.

The Serial Number

hik4

Chinese region cameras have a CH in the serial number.

hik5

International and USA region cameras will have a WR in the serial number.  Perhaps WR means Western Region?

What does this all mean?

Which camera should you buy?

(CH) Chinese region camera?

If you are a hacker and don’t mind spending hours learning the ins and outs of updating firmware, and don’t mind risking bricking your camera, go ahead and get the CH version. They are easy to find and cheaper.

If you don’t mind working with Chinese menus (using Google Chrome translator) and are happy with not doing firmware updates, get the CH version. I isolate all my cameras from internet access, so I’m not worried about old firmware with security holes. And 5.2.0 does everything I need. And my DVR is my interface to the cameras, so I rarely log into the cameras once they are setup.

(WR) International Region?

If you must have English menus and you must have the latest firmware, you should get a WR camera.

USA Region?

These are identical to the international region, except they are UL listed. You would need this for a commercial installation, like a bank, where your insurance carrier requires all your security system to be UL listed gear.

Also, the benefit of buying USA Hikvision is the support you get, technical support and a 3 year warranty.

Hikvision USA only sells thru their dealer/installer network at full retail.

Alternatively, there are unbranded Hikvisions to be had, look for milkisbad or Nelly’s. Nelly’s provides a 3 year warranty.

Be careful buying from Aliexpress or Amazon. They will try to tell you or hint that they are WR cameras, but most likely they are CH, usually with hacked firmware. They will work fine, but don’t attempt to update the firmware.

Disclaimer: These notes and photos are from my personal experience and there may be differences with your experience. Online sellers get pretty creative in trying to trick the buyers. Buyer beware. Hopefully this helps.

19 thoughts on “Tip: How to tell if my Hikvision camera is US, Chinese, or International

  1. Hello, very useful information, thank you!

    Just I do not understand can we use CH cameras with WR NVR are they compatible with each other and I will see only english that way?

    If I understand you right, chinese language will be seen only first time when I setup them, right?

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  2. Any idea what the difference between the DS-2CD2132-I and the DS-2CD2132F-I cameras is?

    I have two DS-2CD2132-I units from a couple/few years ago (working *great* btw), but then I bought a new one (again from Amazon) that I thought was identical but it shows as model # DS-2CD2132F-I. I think I even re-ordered from the same exact SKU page on Amazon…

    Is the “F” model just an updated version?

    I just installed the new camera today and it seems to work just the same as the other two…

    P.S. They are all “WR” units. Not sure if they are US or International versions… (Amazon site now explicitly calls them out as International but I don’t think it did back when I first bought them).

    -Eric

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  3. Is it possible to update the firmware on a non ip cam, like DS-2CE16D1T-IR for example. I dont find any information for this. Thanks from Germany

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  4. Hi, How can I find the camera serial numbers, I have done a factory reset on my NVR 7608, and because of that, the cameras have diapered its showing as incorrect username or password really stuck here :/

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  5. I have several CH versions; FW 5.3.8. All are in English. I know there may be ways to get the latest 5.4.71 as of this writing and hex edit to get English back, but I’m not willing to risk that. My question is… I need to get an NVR to work with them. My first thought was Hikvision, but I am having second thoughts. All my cams are DS-2DE2103-DE3/W, the small wireless PTZ cams. I also have an AXIS server that I need to watch with that. Any suggestions on what brand/model to go with so that I don’t shoot myself in the foot with firmware and compatibility issues? Thanks, and nice writeup!

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  6. Great write up, turns out I have the Chinese version of the DS-2CD2432F-IW (which sucks because I paid full price on Amazon). Kept wondering why it bricked when trying to upgrade firmwares. Anyone know if or how I can upgrade to a newer English firmware? Currently running 5.2.5

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    1. there are some hacks where you hack the firmware…change the HTML – set the language. If you get really stuck…use Google Translate via Chrome to use the camera…

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Good Read, enjoyed the content of your article. I have been ordering HIkvision products from China and still am not entirely sure what they mean by stuff… Does “overseas English version” mean original English only devices? Also, you mentioned something about them converting them over there, but if in the description they emphasize firmware upgradable, does that mean you can trust that claim? I feel like they wouldnt be saying that if you really couldnt do it, plus from the same seller, they have other items that say firmware not upgradable. Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Basically they usually hack the firmware on the international versions to be English.

      Normally Hikivison International versions are hard-configured for the international language of the country they are sold in, like Chinese for China. So they take these units and hack the firmware so it reads English. The risk is, future upgrades of the firmware may revert it to non-English, or brick it altogether. So if you purchase one of these, you should avoid firmware updates.

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  8. Aliexpress sellers now claim to have UK upgadeable firmware on some Hikvision camera.
    Do you have any experience with these units?
    Thanks

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  9. This by far the best post I have found to date. VERY clear on what is what. I am a newbie to home security… I am a research whore when it comes to things. So as I am looking to buy a system and learning all I can about it. DAM!!! This subject is never ending. And once I hit the ” AVOID THE KIT ” side of this world.. Trying to understand certain things was like reading a (wait for it… All puns intended) Chinese menu… Hahahaha… Sorry so applicable… Anyway… This post answered a million questions. With very simple explanations of ” WHAT IS WHAT “… THANK YOU!!! I would see these cameras on ebay and or wherever… that said “NOT-UPGRADABLE” and these sellers would never reply to a question with why? Just some crap like “it’s good… you buy now”!!! So now I have the skinny. Again thank you… As I am not some DOS/LINEX/MS tech head… I am a GUI dork and need to be spoon feed my software with simple drag/click solutions. I don’t write code or can do commands. Being half dislexic I can’t read complex instructions and Re-type them. Stuff like click here and cmd there and type strings 1 thru 1 million over here.. And this that and your mother thing… Yes I said Mother…so I want a simple hook it up… Open the software… Set the settings and watch my neighbors and possible boogeyman on my surveillance system without all the tech hack crap. I’m just going to pay a TAD extra and get a nice 4k 16 channel NVR with 8 cams kit from either Lorex or Montavue with room to grow and then add ONVIF USA ONLY cams with killer features from eBay or CL or wherever they pop up. I was going to go the build it yourself route but the headaches aren’t worth it to me. Let the “Manufacturer” (yes I know Lorex or the like don’t make these) provide me with 5 years of service
    .. Yes extended warranty will be purchased cause I plan to hold these Mofos to the flames on quality and service. If at year 4 and 99% the cam goes out… They will REPLACE!!! Anyway.. Again thank you thank you for saving me the headache of making a bad choice for my personal comfort levels.

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