Traveling to China - how have the entry rules changed?
In an effort to attract more foreign visitors, China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) introduced a simplified visa application process on September 20, 2023. This amendment primarily concerns the visa application form and entails two important changes. First, applicants must now provide their travel history for the last year, rather than the previous five years. Second, the education section has been simplified and now asks only for the highest level of education attained.
These changes, according to MFA spokesman Mao Ning, are intended to reduce the time applicants spend on visa processing and improve overall efficiency. The MFA reaffirmed its commitment to promoting people-to-people interaction between China and other countries, emphasizing China's commitment to high-quality development and global engagement.
On August 28, 2023, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin made an important announcement. From August 30, 2023, travelers to China will not have to undergo mandatory pre-departure COVID-19 nucleic acid or antigen tests.
In March 2023, China announced the reinstatement of all types of visas, providing official permission for foreign tourists and travelers to return to the country. This announcement followed the gradual lifting of travel restrictions due to COVID-19, which led to the removal of quarantine, vaccination and testing requirements, and travel regulations.
Since then, requirements for domestic and international travel have been significantly relaxed, and almost no additional COVID-19 measures are now required when traveling to China.
However, international travelers may still find it difficult to plan a trip to China, as the country is taking a progressive approach to lifting restrictions and the most up-to-date information is scattered across various listings. Below, we answer some common questions about traveling to China.
What types of Chinese visas are currently available?
In March 2023, China resumed issuing all types of visas. The same visa categories that were available before the pandemic are now available again. However, please note: if you receive a long-term visa, such as a work or student visa, you will need to convert it into a residence permit within a set period of time, usually 30 days.
Is it possible to use my 10-year Chinese visa?
All multiple-entry visas issued before March 28, 2020 that have not yet expired can be used to re-enter China. This applies to 10-year visitor visas issued to U.S. and non-U.S. citizens. It is important to note that this type of visa generally only allows you to stay in China for up to 60 days, and if you need to stay longer than 60 days, you will need to apply for a new long-term visa. If your visa expires after March 28, 2020, you will need to apply for a new visa before traveling to China.
How do I apply for a tourist visa to China in 2023?
In most cases, foreigners planning to travel to China need to apply for a visa. This should be done through your nearest Chinese visa center, not through a consulate or embassy. To do this, you need to be a citizen, have a residence permit or other right to stay (such as a visa) in the country where you are applying for a Chinese visa. The requirements for applying for a visa may vary depending on the type of visa and where you are applying. Therefore, it is important to check the website of your local visa application center to find out the requirements for applying. Please note that short-term visas, such as tourist or business visas, have a specific validity period.
What are the COVID-19 testing requirements for travel to China?
According to the latest information, beginning August 30, 2023, travelers traveling to China are no longer required to undergo COVID-19 nucleic acid or antigen testing prior to departure. The elimination of these testing requirements is a significant change in the entry process for individuals traveling to China. With the elimination of mandatory COVID-19 testing, travelers do not need to submit negative test results or undergo testing procedures before boarding a flight to China. This change is intended to simplify the travel process and remove a significant barrier that has hindered the fight against the spread of the virus.
Airlines no longer require you to submit to COVID-19 tests prior to boarding, and also do not require testing upon arrival in China. However, it is possible that you may be asked to provide other documents or observe additional security measures while traveling. It is recommended to contact the airline or check official sources for updated requirements before traveling to China.
Are there any restrictions on traveling within China?
China has lifted all restrictions on internal travel, which means that people are now free to cross provincial and regional borders without having to present negative COVID-19 or health tests. Please note: if you are entering China on one of the short-term transit entry permits, you are not allowed to leave a certain zone, which will depend on your point of entry. Read more on our page about visas to China.
Should I take any precautions against COVID-19 while traveling in China?
Currently, COVID-19 is still present in China, so it is recommended that you take reasonable precautions when traveling in the country. These measures include washing hands regularly or using hand sanitizer gel, wearing a mask in public places, and avoiding crowds as much as possible. The obligation to wear masks on public transport and in public places such as restaurants, bars, stores, shopping malls and parks has been removed, but the government still recommends wearing them at discretion. It is still compulsory to wear masks in nursing homes and health care facilities. It is also recommended that you wear a mask if you have signs of a cold or flu to protect others.
What happens if I test positive for COVID-19 while in China?
If you test positive for COVID-19, you no longer need to go to a quarantine facility. According to the current official advice in China, if you test positive for COVID-19, you should self-isolate at home if you have no symptoms or if you have mild symptoms. In case of moderate to severe symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention, and if your condition is serious, you may be hospitalized.
Before traveling to China, it is advisable to purchase health insurance, as the staff at government medical facilities only speak Chinese and private healthcare is quite expensive. It is also advisable to take along fever medication such as paracetamol and ibuprofen, as you will not be able to buy the same items you are used to taking.