Bao'an was the historical name of Bao'an County (also known as Xin'an County) of the Qing dynasty, which included area of modern-day Shenzhen and Hong Kong. The area of today Bao'an District, was integrated into Shenzhen in 1979, which the Bao'an County was promoted as a city.
Bao'an was reverted into county status in 1981, as the administrative unit of the area that belongs to Shenzhen, but now belongs to Shenzhen Special Economic Zone. Border patrols were also established in the border of the Economic Zone. In 1991, Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport, located in Bao'an County, was opened.
Finally Bao'an district was established on January 1, 1993. Two New Districts (Chinese: 新区) were created as sub-districts of Bao'an district, namely Guangming and Longhua new districts, in 2007 and 2011 respectively.
In 2010, Shenzhen Special Economic Zone was enlarged to cover the whole Shenzhen city. Rapid development occurred in the Bao'an District. Longhua District was separated from Bao'an and became a district on 11 October 2016. In 2018, Guangming District was also separated from Bao'an District.