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How to Collect Train Tickets After Booking Online

Written by FabioUpdated Jan. 19, 2024

Paper tickets are no longer needed when taking a train in China. Instead, China-Railway-verified passengers can use their ID certificate used for booking the e-ticket, like the passport, to enter the railway station, board the train and get out from the arrival station. However, collecting paper tickets is still needed for the international train from China to Laos.

Collecting China Train Tickets is No Longer Necessary

Since the introduction of the e-ticket service in China, there is no longer a need to collect traditional paper train tickets. Instead, passengers can now use their ID certificate, such as their ID card, passport, or Mainland Travel Permit, which was used during the e-ticket booking process, to gain entry into the railway station, board the train, and disembark at the arrival station.

Please note:

1. Before boarding the train, please note or print your seat and coach number in advance, as you will not have a paper ticket to tell you where it is.

2. Passengers who hold passports need to go through the manual check channel.

"Paper Ticket" Available Upon Request

How to Pick Up Train Tickets in China

It is officially called a reimbursement voucher. Upon request, the railway staff can provide passengers with a reimbursement voucher, which resembles a ticket and contains all necessary train information. This is mainly used as an expense claim voucher.

Additionally, you can print out "trip information reminders" from ticket counters at any railway station. The "Trip Information Reminder" serves as a receipt that includes information such as the train number, boarding gate, carriage number, seat number, and departure and arrival stations. Even without a paper ticket, passengers are advised to remember important details such as the train number, boarding gate, carriage number, and seat number.

The reimbursement voucher and the trip information reminders can not be used for boarding trains. Only the passenger's identification document is required for boarding a train in China.

What you need to collect reimbursement voucher and trip information reminder:

1. The Right Collection Number(s)

After you book China train tickets online, you will be issued with collection numbers and information regarding your train number, departure/arrival time and stations, and seat class.

If you book with China Highlights, we will send you a confirmation letter including all the information mentioned below, and useful instructions in both English and Chinese to help you collect your ticket document(s) and board your train(s) along with travel tips and the timetable of your train(s).

Copy the collection numbers onto a piece of paper or take a screenshot of them with your device, and make sure they're readable. A collection number is composed of the letter "E" and nine numbers, e.g. E123456789; EA12345678.

2. The Right and Valid Passport(s)

Make sure that you have the passport(s) you used to book your ticket(s) when you collect it/them.

Original passport(s) are needed to collect the ticket documents. Copies of passports are not accepted.

When You Can Collect "Tickets"

xian north stationYou need to line up to collect tickets.

You can collect your reimbursement voucher and trip information reminder at your convenience after receiving the pickup number. The reimbursement voucher can be collected at the counter or the self-service ticket vending/retrieval machine at the station within 180 days before departure or within 180 days from the departure day.

Generally, a railway station operates 24/7, but there are only a few ticket windows available after 11 pm. The operational period of each station depends on the train schedules on a specific day and the size of the station.

  • Some small county stations may be closed late at night.
  • Even huge stations, such as Beijing South Railway Station and Hongqiao Railway Station, are only open from 5:30 am–10 pm as there are no more scheduled trains after that time.

Where to Collect "Tickets"

At a railway station's ticket window, you can obtain both your reimbursement voucher and a reminder containing your trip information. Chinese ID card holders additionally have the option to print their ticket documents using the self-service ticketing machines. It is important to note that, at present, the self-service machines are unable to recognize passports.

Railway Station Ticket Windows

ticket officeTicket office at train station

You can collect your reimbursement voucher and trip information reminder at any railway station in the Chinese mainland. That is to say, if you have booked train tickets departing from different railway stations, you can collect all the ticket documents at the same time from one railway station. There is no service fee when collecting ticket documents.

In some big cities, there are many train stations. China Highlights recommends that you collect these documents at the nearest station, or from one that is centrally located with easy access.

Don't Line Up at the Wrong Windows. In the ticketing hall, there are many ticket windows for different functions. Passengers can buy or collect train ticket documents for all routes, destinations, and train types at most of the ticket windows. There are, however, two or three exclusive ticket windows used for ticket refunds, cancellations, or endorsing.

You can collect the ticket documents at any ticket window except for the refund and cancellation windows (退票窗口).

ticket officeA ticket window at a train station

Don't expect the officials at these windows to provide an English service. They will cancel your ticket(s) if there is no conversation to show your intentions when you are at a cancellation window. The Chinese sentences below may be helpful:

  • Chinese: 请问在网上定的票要去哪个窗口排队取票?
  • English: I booked my ticket online; could you tell me which window I should queue at to collect my ticket documents?

Please note: High-speed train tickets to/from Hong Kong apply to different ticket collection policies. Find out more information at Instructions for purchasing Hong Kong high-speed train tickets.

Self-Service Ticketing Machines - Not for Foreigners

There are 24/7 self-service ticket machines in many train stations. Unfortunately, foreigners cannot use the self-service machines as the machines only recognize Chinese ID cards, not foreigners' passports.

Useful Instructions

Here are some useful sentences - you may save a photo/screenshot of them. When you don't know where to go, you can show the appropriate phrase (and your ticket), ideally to the railway station staff.

Chinese English
请问去哪儿取票? Could you tell me where to collect my ticket?
请问候车厅在哪里? Could you tell me where my waiting room is?
请问在哪里上车? Could you tell me where to get on board?
请问我的座位在哪里? Could you tell me where my seat is?

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