October 25th: Updates for high and medium risk areas
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.
- China's Current Entry Policy
- When Will China Open Its Borders?
- What Are the Restrictions?
- China Quarantine Rules
- China Visa Restrictions
Who Can Go to China — China's Current Entry Policy
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.
Hong Kong Travel Restrictions
Hong Kong residents and non-Hong Kong residents who have only stayed in medium and low risks areas, such as New Zealand, Mainland China, and Macau 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.
If you want to enter Mainland China from Hong Kong, you still need apply a visa.
Non-Hong Kong residents from high-risk areas including Bangladesh, Brazil, Cambodia, France, Greece, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Malaysia, Nepal, the Netherlands, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States of America are not allowed to enter Hong Kong.
Those holding an HKSAR passport can enter Mainland China from Hong Kong as normal, subject to quarantine.
Since September 15, non-Hong Kong residents, including mainland people and expatriates who live and work in the mainland, will be able to come to Hong Kong without undergoing compulsory quarantine.
There will be a daily quota of 2,000 for the scheme, with 1,000 each for the Shenzhen Bay Port and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge Hong Kong Port.
But if you return to the Mainland still need a quarantine.
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.
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.
China Quarantine Rules
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.
China Visa Restrictions
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.
In this pandemic period, visa application requirements may change according to the COVID-19 situation and vary according to the requirements of different countries and regions.
The information we list below is for reference only. 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.
1. For Work (Z Visa)
Applying for a work visa is by far the most popular way to come to China. Dependents (spouse and children under the age of 18) are available.
If you meet one of the following application requirements, you can apply for a Z visa:
- An "Invitation Letter (PU/TE)" + a "Foreigners Work Permit" (both to be handled by your company/organization in China) + WHO-approved vaccination certificate
- 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 Family Reunion (S Visa)
This applies to foreigner (who is working in shanghai)'s family members.
To apply a S visa, you will need:
- An "Invitation Letter (PU/TE)" (your family member's) + relationship certificate + WHO-approved vaccination certificate
This policy has just been opened, the difficulty of application still needs time to see.
WHO-approved vaccines include:
- Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine
- Moderna (mRNA-1273) COVID-19 Vaccine
- J&J COVID-19 vaccine
- Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine
- Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine
- Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine
3. 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)+ WHO-approved vaccination certificate
- 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.
Dependents are not available.
4. For a Family Visit (Q Visa)
This applies applies to foreigners who are Chinese's family members.
If you meet one of the following application requirements, you can apply for a Q visa:
- For emergency humanitarian needs including death in the family (inside China) or family member in critical hospital/palliative care.
- Or Chinese vaccine certificate + relationship certificate
Consular Contact Information
International Flights to China
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 Xiamen, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Beijing from October.
- New York has flights to Shanghai from March 2022 and to Beijing from June 2022.
- London has flights to Shanghai from October, to Beijing and Guangzhou from April 2022.
- Vancouver has flights to Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Chengdu from September, and to Xiamen from November.
- Toronto has flights to Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Chengdu from October.
- Paris has flights to Shanghai and Beijing from January, and to Guangzhou from April 2022.
- Frankfurt has flights to Shanghai and Hangzhou from January 2022 and to Beijing from April 2022.
- Sydney has flights to Shanghai, Hangzhou, Guangzhou, and Xiamen from July.
- Amsterdam has flights to Xiamen from October, to Shanghai from December, and to Guangzhou from April 2022.
- Helsinki has flights to Shanghai from October.
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 your country has direct flights to China, you are required to take the direct flight, otherwise you will not be successful to apply the HDC for boarding.
If there is no direct flights from your country to China, then you can consider a connecting flights. You can consider these cities for transit: Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Helsinki, and Paris.
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 a new 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. You should check the transfer rules and facilities of the airport you will transfer at.
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.
- 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.
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.
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 (October 25th)
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.
- High risk areas: Alxa, Beijing
- Medium risk areas: Lanzhou, Zhangye, Erenhot, Alxa, Zunyi, Yinchuan
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
- 3-Day Jiuzhaigou and Huanglong Highlights Tour
- 8-Day Kunming, Dali, Lijiang, and Shangri-La Tour
- 5-Day Zhangjiajie Hiking and Biking Tour
- 8-Day Qinghai Lake, Zhangye, and Dunhuang Tour
- 6-Day Gannan Pure Land Tour
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 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.
Recommended Tours for First-Time Travelers
- The Golden Triangle (8 days): Beijing, Xi'an, and Shanghai
— the most popular destinations for a first trip
- Classic Wonders (11 days): Beijing, Xi'an, Guilin, and Shanghai
— classic architecture, culture, and scenery
- See our China Tours for 2021/2022 for more tour inspiration.
Recommended China Tours for Expats
- 8-Day Kunming, Dali, Lijiang, and Shangri-La Tour — Meet the Amazing Beauty of Yunnan
- 11-Day Tour from Xi'an to Kashgar — Along the Great Silk Road
- See our China Tours for Expats for more inspiration.