China Travel Restrictions & Travel Advisory (Updated August 2, 2021)

China Travel Restrictions & Travel Advisory (Updated August 2, 2021)

By Chris QuanUpdated Aug. 5, 2021

What's New Today (August 2):

More and more cities have been upgraded to medium-risk areas due to the outbreak in Nanjing. See What's the COVID Situation in China Now?

Recent updates (July 26): Updates on FAQs about Traveling to China (See No.7-8) 

China travel restrictions and bans will be lifted or increased as the domestic and foreign pandemic situation changes. Foreign nationals may enter China for work or emergency humanitarian needs.

With vaccinations and a decline in COVID-19 cases worldwide, China’s efforts to control the pandemic may relax, and the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics is upcoming… Optimistically, China may open its borders in early 2022.

If you want to plan a trip to China, feel free to contact us for free consultation or join our Facebook group to get our latest information.

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Who Can Go to China — China's Current Entry Policy

Travel to China

In March 2020, China suspended entry into the country for all foreigners. For necessary or emergency entry into China, foreigners need to apply for a new visa at the Chinese Embassy.

Travelers with visas obtained after March 28th 2020 will be allowed to enter China. 

In September 2020, restrictions were eased for foreign nationals holding valid Chinese residence permits for work, personal matters, and reunion. They are allowed to enter China with no need to apply for new visas.

Starting from March 15th 2021, China provides facilitation for reunion, work, and business visa applicants who have been inoculated with COVID-19 vaccines produced in China and obtained a vaccination certificate. 

So, now there are three ways to go to China:

  • Holding valid Chinese residence permits for work, personal matters, and reunion
  • Holding a diplomatic, service, courtesy, or C visa
  • Applying for a new China visa (the previous visa will not be cancelled) only for work or emergency humanitarian needs, such as visiting a seriously ill family member

FAQs about Traveling to China

1. If I hold a L, 10-year, Q, or X visa, can I go to China now?

No. Those holding certain visas (L, 10-year, Q, or X visas) issued before March 28th, 2020 cannot enter China (even if vaccinated).

2. My family members (wife/husband, fiancée/fiancé...) are Chinese citizens and now in China, can I enter China to visit them?

Probably not. Family visits to China are still impracticable if you don’t have a residence permit for reunion. However, now, if you have been fully inoculated with a Chinese vaccine, there is a new avenue to apply for a reunion visa to go to China.

3. Can international students return to China yet?

No. International students cannot return to China yet. There is no official news yet on when China will open its borders for international students.

4. How to apply a new visa to China?

Please see the section "China Visa Restrictions". We suggest purchasing your ticket to China after you confirm that your visa application was successful.

5. Do I need to be quarantined when entering China? Is there any way to shorten or avoid quarantine time?

Yes. Anyone entering China needs to be quarantined, whether you are vaccinated or not. There is no way to shorten or avoid your quarantine time. More to see "China Quarantine Rules".

6. Can I transit into Mainland China through Hong Kong?

No. Hong Kong / Macau / Taiwan cannot be used to transit into Mainland China.

7. I am from USA/South Africa, and I have already inoculated with Chinese vaccine and hold a valid residence permit. I need to go back to USA/South Africa and return to China. Is that ok? (Update July 26)

Yes. If you go back to USA/South Africa, your residence permit is still valid. You can come back China with your current valid residence permit without applying a new visa.

But you need to contact the Chinese Consulate in USA/South Africa to get approval first before you buy the ticket. In the case of Los Angeles, you need to submit your information here.

You are required to  be quarantined when return to China.

8. I am from UK, and I have already inoculated with Chinese vaccine and hold a valid residence permit. I need to go back to UK and return to China. Is that ok? (Update July 26)

Yes. You can go back to UK and return to China with the same valid residence permit. You need to be quarantined when you return to China.

Other countries that apply this policy include Canada, Belgium, Italy, and France. 

Policy changes quickly. Please double check with the Chinese consulate/China visa center to ensure your trip.

Hong Kong Travel Restrictions

Hong Kong residents and non-Hong Kong residents who have only stayed in Mainland China, Macau, Australia, or New Zealand during the relevant period (the day of boarding for/arrival at Hong Kong or during the 14 days before that day) can enter Hong Kong.

Those holding an HKSAR passport can enter Mainland China from Hong Kong as normal, subject to quarantine.

Foreign people in Mainland China entering Hong Kong need to do a 7–14-day quarantine and if they return to the Mainland need to do another 14-day quarantine.

From July 1st 2021, Hong Kong has banned all passenger flights from the United Kingdom to curb the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19.

Macau Travel Restrictions

The following persons can enter Macau:

  • Macau residents
  • Residents of Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan
  • Foreigners who have been in Mainland China for all of the 21 days prior to their entry into Macau for the purpose of family reunification, work, study, important business events, or academic or professional activities.

Foreigners in Macau can apply for travel visas to Mainland China. Applicants must have been in Macau for at least 28 days prior to departure or have been inoculated with COVID-19 vaccines produced in China. 

Taiwan Travel Restrictions

All non-Taiwanese residents are prohibited from entering Taiwan except for persons holding an "Alien Residence Certificate" (ARC), or persons authorized to travel for emergency or humanitarian reasons.

Non-Taiwanese residents who, within 14 days of their intended departure, have visited or transited through India are prohibited from entering Taiwan.

Anyone with a Mainland Travel Permit for Taiwan Residents (commonly known as Taiwan Compatriot Permit) can enter Mainland China as normal subject to quarantine.

When Will China Open Its Borders?

China may open its borders to visitors in early 2022 according to current trends:

  • The use of COVID-19 vaccines around the world is improving the situation. According to the World Health Organization, at least 180 countries and regions have started vaccinating.
  • China aims to vaccinate up to 80% of its population, or over a billion people, by the end of 2021 or mid-2022.
  • Preparations for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games (Feb. 4–20) are still proceeding. If you are planning a Beijing Winter Olympics trip, contact us.

We will continue to monitor China's entry policy and update you as soon as the latest official news is issued.

Get some inspiration for your China trip from our recommended China travel itineraries for 2022/2023.

What Are the Restrictions?

All travelers must present:

  • Valid passport and valid visa or residence permit
  • Hardcopies of COVID-19 nucleic acid and IgM serum antibody negative test results (no more than 2 days before departure).
  • Hardcopy of a certified Health Declaration Form (HDF) or a Health Declaration Code (HDC) — electronic or hardcopy

You must quarantine on arrival. Some regions demand 14 days, others 21. This might take place at a government-designated place (usually a hotel) or at your home.

How to Get an HDC or HDF

  • Take the required tests within 2 days before departure (whether or not you have the COVID-19 vaccine): COVID-19 nucleic acid and IgM serum antibody tests in designated labs or institutions.
  • Submit the negative test certificates issued by the testing organization and other information on the China Health Declaration Certificate website.
  • If confirmed, you will get a certified HDF/HDC from the website.

When boarding the flight, the test certificates and the HDF/HDC needs to e presented to the airline staff.

China Travel Advisory for the US Citizens

This current [July 2021] summary of China travel restrictions for US citizens below is based on Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles information.

Documents Needed

  • If you have a valid alien permanent residence identity card, you can book a China flight.
  • If you have obtained a visa after March 28, 2020, you can book a flight to China.
  • If you have a valid Chinese residence permit for work, personal matters, or reunion, you should submit your information on this website first. After verification and confirmation by the Consulate General, then you can book a flight.

Visa Applications

To apply for a Chinese Mainland visa, it must be for emergency, humanitarian, or resumption of work reasons, and you are required to make an online request to apply for a China Visa.

The China Consulate/Embassy will review the submitted information and send back a ‘permission to apply’ email if it is approved. Only then may applicants  apply.

4 Steps to Enter China from the United States:

1. Make sure you have permission to enter China (valid permit, visa, or ID card).

2. Book a direct flight to China. Because direct flights from the US to China are currently available, the Chinese Embassy in the United States will no longer issue health codes for people traveling from the US to China via a third country.

3. Do the required medical tests (within 2 days before departure) and upload the results to get a health code for boarding. Under normal circumstances, the consulate will complete test report verification and issue a health code within 12 hours.

4. Board the plane. Prepare your ID card or passport with permit/visa, health code, hard copies of negative nucleic acid test results, and certificate of vaccination if you are vaccinated. (While it's not mandatory to get vaccinated, it may make the process easier.)

Children under 3 years old do not need to take the tests or have a health code if accompanied by a parent who meets the requirements.

Here are some experiences shared on Facebook about the whole process from visa application in the US to quarantine in China.

China Quarantine Rules

hotelYou will be required to be quarantined in a designated hotel.

Passengers (whether or not you have the COVID-19 vaccine) are required to be quarantined for 14 days at an assembly site.

Upon arrival, you will fill out a Declaration of Health, have your body temperature measured, and have a nucleic acid test at the airport.

You will be sent to a hotel assigned by the government directly from the airport.

The expenses during the quarantine period are normally about CN¥400–600 (for board and lodging) per day in the hotel and at your own cost.

Can I Choose the Hotel for Quarantine?

The quarantined hotels are assigned by the government. In general, you can't choose among the designated quarantined hotels.

If you're traveling with family or a partner, you could ask the staff to help arrange your quarantine in the same hotel.

Can Couples Stay in One Room?

It depends on each hotel’s requirements. Some hotels allow couples or families to live in one room, while some require each person to stay in a single room. (In general, children under the age of 14 can be quarantined with a parent.)

You can only know the specific requirements when you arrive at the hotel.

What if the City I Enter is not My Final Destination?

Passengers are required to be quarantined in their entry city.

For example, if you enter China at Guangzhou from Sydney on your way to Xi'an, you should quarantine in Guangzhou for 14 days. After your 14-day quarantine in Guangzhou (if your quarantine test results are normal), you could then head to Xi'an.

When you arrive in Xi'an, usually you wouldn’t need to carry out a 14-day quarantine again, but 7-day home quarantine or 7-day health monitoring may be required. Every city has slightly different requiremets.

  • Home quarantine means staying at home and not being able to go out.
  • Community health monitoring means you can go out to work, but not to join in parties and other group activities.

Can I Travel Around When the 14-Day Quarantine Ends?

When the quarantine is over and all test results are normal, you will receive a negative nucleic acid test result and a certificate of release from centralized quarantine.

Then you could go on to your residence or another hotel. You would need to report to the community/hotel and follow their quarantine requirements (normally home quarantine or health monitoring) for a further 7 days.

Inter-area/province travel may require extra quarantining, depending on local infection rates.

After finishing all quarantine requirements and being based in a certain area, you may live, work, and travel normally.

How Many Days for Quarantine?

Quarantine policies differ from area to area. Below are the detailed quarantine rules for each area of China. These measures will change from time to time, depending on the local epidemic situation.

  • Home quarantine means staying at home and not being able to go out.
  • Community health monitoring means you can go out to work, but not to join in parties and other group activities.
Entry city/province Local quarantine policy
Beijing  "14+7+7" (14 days centralized + 7 days centralized/home + 7 days community health monitoring)
Those who enter from other cities can enter Beijing after 21-day quarantine in the entry city and need to make up 7 days community health monitoring.
Shanghai "14+7" (14 days centralized + 7 days home)
Those who haven't a residence in Shanghai need 21-day centralized quarantine.
"3+11" for those who enter from Shanghai but final destination is in Jiangsu, Zhengjiang, or Anhui: (3 days centralized in Shanghai and then closed-loop transfer to your final destination for 11-day centralized quarantine.
Guangzhou "14+7" (14 days centralized + 7 days community health monitoring)
Those whose final destination is Guangzhou but haven't a residence need 21-day centralized quarantine.
Those whose final destination is not Guangzhou can leave Guangzhou after 14-day centralized quarantine.
Jiangsu "14+14" (14 days centralized + 14 days community health monitoring)
Zhejiang "14+7" (14 days centralized + 7 days community health monitoring)
Sichuan "14+7" (14 days centralized + 7 days community health monitoring)
Those whose final destinations are other provinces can leave Sichuan after 14 days centralized quarantine.
Tianjin "14+7" (14 days centralized + 7 days home)
Shandong "14+7" (14 days centralized + 7 days community health monitoring)
Anhui "14+7+7" (14 days centralized + 7 days home + 7 days community health monitoring)
Chongqing "14+7+7" (14 days centralized + 7 days home +7 days community health monitoring)
Fujian "14+7" (14 days centralized + 7 days home)
Guangxi "14+7" (14 days centralized + 7 days home)
Guizhou "14+14" (14 days centralized + 14 days home)
Hainan "14+7+7" (14 days centralized + 7 days home +7 days community health monitoring)
Hunan "14+7+7" (14 days centralized + 7 days home +7 days community health monitoring)
Hubei "14+14" (14 days centralized + 14 days home)
Shaanxi "14+7+7" (14 days centralized + 7 days home +7 days community health monitoring)
Liaoning "14+7+7" (14 days centralized + 7 days home +7 days community health monitoring)

China Visa Restrictions

visa

You can apply for a new visa (your current visa will not be canceled) at your nearest Chinese consulate/embassy/VAC (Visa Application Center) to enter China for the following three purposes (documents listed are for reference only).

The new visa may only be valid for three months. Upon arrival, it may change to a 30-day visa during which time you need to apply for another residence permit.

1. For Work (Z Visa)

If you meet one of the following application requirements, you can apply for a Z visa:

  • An "Invitation Letter (PU/TE)" and a "Foreigners Work Permit"  (both to be handled by your company/organization in China)
  • Or  having been inoculated with COVID-19 vaccines produced in China (either having received two doses of Chinese-made vaccines with the stipulated gap in between or having received a single-dose Chinese-made vaccine at least 14 days prior to the application) and obtained the vaccination certificate and a "Foreigners Work Permit"

A PU letter is an invitation letter issued by the China Foreign Affairs Office to successful companies who contact the district foreign affairs officer, submit the application materials, and wait for the approval.

2. For Business (M Visa)

If you meet one of the following application requirements, you can apply for an M visa:

  • An "Invitation Letter (PU/TE)" (to be handled by your business partner)
  • Or having been inoculated with COVID-19 vaccines produced in China (either having received two doses of Chinese-made vaccines with the stipulated gap in between or having received a single-dose Chinese-made vaccine at least 14 days prior to the application) and obtained the vaccination certificate and a valid APEC business travel card.

3. For a Family Visit (Q Visa)

This is mainly for emergency humanitarian needs including death in the family (inside China) or family member in critical hospital/palliative care. 

You will need:

  • Proof of kinship: birth certificate, marriage certificate, notarial certificate of kinship, household register or other materials proving the kinship of the applicant and the invitee in China.
  • Hospital diagnosis documents: notice of critical illness of relatives in China recently issued by the hospital, or diagnosis certificate indicating the severity of illness with the official seal of the hospital.
  • Other supporting documents which support your emergent or humanitarian reasons.
  • A letter of invitation provided by your family member (should include invitee’s name, gender, birth date, purpose for visiting China, residence status, arrival/departure dates, relationship with visitor, and inviter’s name, phone number, address, and signature)

Contacting Consular/Visa Services to Confirm

In this pandemic period, visa application requirements may change according to the COVID-19 situation. We suggest you check with your consulate/embassy/VAC, who will advise whether you can apply for a visa according to your situation,  what kind of visa you can apply for, and the specific procedures. The following are examples of consular contact information.

What's the COVID Situation in China Now?

Things in China have already gone back to normal, mostly. Occasionally, there are some regional cases, like in Nanjing and Zhangjiajie now [August 2021]. Timely measures have been taken to control the spread of the outbreaks.    

Areas with Medium and High Risks in China (August 2)

If you are traveling from areas with medium or high risk, you are not allowed to visit other cities. If you are allowed to enter other cities or provinces, you will need a negative nucleic acid test result and to be quarantined.

Updated July 21: Nine local cases were reported at Nanjing Lukou Airport. For passengers leaving Nanjing a within-2-day negative nucleic acid COVID test is needed. Many flights departing from the airport may be affected. Please check with your airline.

  • High risk areas: Zhengzhou (Erqi District), Nanjing (Jiangning District), Yunnan (Ruili)
  • Medium risk areas: Xiamen, Hunan (Changsha, Zhangjiajie, Yiyang, Jishou, Xiangtan, Zhuzhou), Hubei (Huanggang), Henan (Zhengzhou and Shangqiu), Jiangsu (Nanjing, Huai'an, Yangzhou, Suqian), Sichuan (Chengdu, Mianyang, Yibin), Liaoning (Dalian, Shenyang), Yunnan (Ruili, Dehong)

Other areas in China are low risk. Tourists from low-risk areas do not need to be quarantined if travel to low-risk areas.  

Foreign People Already in China Can Enjoy Travel in China

Most cities are open and can be visited. Areas with medium and high risks are advised against.

What Is Needed for Travel in China?

Every city has slightly different requirements.

Travelers usually need to prepare a green health code, passports, masks, and negative nucleic acid test results in some cases.

Contact us if you want to plan a trip in China.

Recommended summer trips in China

A Professional Travel Agency Can Help a Lot

With the frequent changing of regulations as different regions react to the pandemic situation, having a professional local tour company, like us, in charge of your itinerary and transportation can be a safeguard for your trip. We will:

  • Guide you in preparing documents needed for your trip
  • Ensure a smooth check in
  • Handle emergencies with our 24-hour hotline
  • Help book tickets in advance
  • Provide private and safe transportation

Are There International Flights to China?

flight

Yes, flights are available to China from Los Angeles, New York, London, Vancouver, Paris, Frankfurt, Sydney, and over 20 other cities, but they are very limited, for example:

  • Los Angeles has flights to Guangzhou and Xiamen from August and to Beijing and Shenzhen from September.
  • New York has flights to Beijing and Shanghai from January 2022.
  • London has flights to Shanghai from September, to Beijing from November, and to Guangzhou from January 2022.
  • Vancouver has flights to Beijing, Guangzhou, Xiamen, Shanghai, and Chengdu from August.
  • Toronto has flights to Shanghai and Guangzhou from July.
  • Paris has flights to Shanghai from August, to Guangzhou from September, and to Beijing from October.
  • Frankfurt has flights to Shanghai from September, to Xi'an from October, and to Beijing from December.
  • Sydney has flights to Shanghai, Hangzhou, Guangzhou, and Xiamen from July.

The above information is for reference only. Flights may change depending on updated policies in countries.

You could find more information about the flights to China and book tickets on the websites of China Southern Airlines, China Eastern Airlines,  Air China, United Airlines, British Airlines, Virgin Atlantic Airways, Air France, or other airlines.

In order to relieve the pressure of Beijing's airports, some international flights to Beijing will stop/transfer at Tianjin, Xi'an, Wuhan and other cities. In this case, you just need to cooperate with the airport's medical testing, after that, you can continue to fly to Beijing.

We Recommend a Direct Flight to China

If there are direct flights from your nearest city to China, we suggest you choose one of those flights in preference. It is the best and safest way, COVID-wise.

If your country has direct flights that are not from your nearest city, you are recommended to fly (travel) to that city and take a flight from there, rather than taking an international transfer.

For example, if you are heading to Beijing from Boston, you could fly to Los Angeles first and take the required tests and get a certified HDF/HDC (explained above) there, then take a flight to Beijing.

Transfers in a Third Country

Some airports still don’t allow international transfers even though travel agencies still sell tickets for them. So, you should check with the airline. 

Some airports allow international transfers. Passengers need to have the COVID-19 nucleic acid and IgM serum antibody tests at the transit airport and so must leave enough transit time to get the results (at least 10 hours) before going on to China.

After getting the results, submit them online and you will get an HDC or HDF (explained in the “What Documents to Prepare” section above). Then you can board the plane.

An example of an airport that has been processing international transfers to China is Paris Charles de Gaulle International Airport. You could check out specific transfer requirements for and book a test at Paris Charles de Gaulle International Airport here.

However, many airports don’t have facilities for nucleic acid testing. You will not be able to transfer via such airports to China. Thus, we don’t recommend transferring via a third country. If you have to, you should check the transfer rules and facilities of the airport you will transfer at.

Are There Any Other Asian Countries Open for Travel?

From 1st July, Thailand is planning to reopen the Island of Phuket to fully vaccinated international travelers without any quarantine requirements. Contact us to book a trip. Join our Facebook group to get our latest information about Asia travel.

Asian countries that have reopened to international travelers include Sri Lanka and the Maldives. For more reopening information on Asian countries, see Travel to Asia 2021: Restrictions & Travel Tips.

Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Myanmar are still partially restricted or entry prohibited.

Tour China with Us

We have been in the China travel industry for over 20 years, and we have lots of experience with handling situations such as viral outbreaks and natural disasters. It is important to us that you feel comfortable and safe during your visit and we will respect any requests or decisions you make regarding your travels.

All our tours can be customized. We can create an ideal China trip for you based on your group size, time, budget, interests, preferences, and other requirements. Contact us.

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