China Travel Restrictions and Entry Policy for Foreigners (Updated January 18th, 2021)
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China Travel Restrictions and Entry Policy for Foreigners (Updated January 18th, 2021)

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By ChrisUpdate Jan.18.2021

Due to a recent rise in COVID-19 cases in China, travel restrictions in many cities in China have changed. Read on to find out the latest information.

Travel in China is gradually resuming. Cross-province tours are allowed in China.

Foreign nationals currently in China can travel in China as long as they have the required documents (including ID card, passport, green health code, etc.).

Effective from September 28th, 2020, foreign nationals holding valid Chinese residence permits for work, personal matters and reunion are allowed to enter China with no need for applying for new visas. More details see China’s Current Entry Policy.

On this page, you will learn about:

Where You Can Travel

Latest update (Jan. 18, 2021): Prevention and control measures have been strengthened in many cities due to the recent coronavirus outbreak in northern China.

Some cities will not allow visitors from medium and high-risk areas, such as Shanghai.

Other cities, such as Hangzhou, Huangshan and Xi’an, will require visitors from medium and high-risk areas to be quarantined for 14 days and undergo two nucleic acid tests.

If you come from a low-risk area, traveling is allowed with the required documents such as green codes, a 14- or 30-day travel itinerary record, and nucleic acid test results.

Some attractions are closed, such as White Horse Temple, Shaolin Temple, Zhongyue Temple, and Daxiangguo Temple in Henan Province.

Most cities are open and can be visited by travelers. Some of these destinations and attractions are listed in the table below. Southern areas such as Yunnan, Guilin, and Zhangjiajie are recommended.

Contact us to create a trip in China according to your requirements.

Some Popular Cities & Attractions that Are Open 
Yunnan Chengdu Zhangjiajie Xi'an
Huangshan Guilin Zhangye Dunhuang
Guizhou Luoyang Chongqing Shanghai
Beijing Guangzhou Hangzhou Suzhou
Xiamen Datong Sanya Inner Mongolia
Ningxia Nanjing Yungang Grottoes Longmen Grottoes
Li River Cruise The Ancient City
of Ping Yao
Daocheng(Yading) The Hanging Temple

Areas that remained Closed:

  • Tibet
  • Parts of Ganzi Autonomous Prefecture
  • Parts of Aba Autonomous Prefecture

The reopening dates for these locations are not yet known.

What You Need to Visit

Every city has different requirements. If you are planning a trip and want to know more specifically about what needs to be prepared, please feel free to contact us.

Necessary Items for All Cities:

  • Green health codes of your location and destination
  • Mask
  • Passport

Others Requirements:

Every city in China has slightly different requirements for foreign travelers, but our travel advisors will tell you the documents you need according to your specific destinations. Here are some items you may be required to provide:

  • 14-day record of travel itinerary
  • Health inquiry form provided by hotels
  • Passport and most recent China entry stamps
  • Nucleic acid test results
  • Entry and exit certificate
  • Accommodation registration form for foreign nationals
  • Certificate of employment

Here is a simple table for a quick look at what you need to visit some of China's top destinations (targeted at visitors in low-risk areas). This is for reference only. Feel free to contact us for more specific requirements.

Destination What do I need (besides passport and mask)
Green Health Code Nucleic Acid
Test Results
Record of Travel Itinerary 14-day Quarantine
Yunnan ×
Chengdu × ×
Xi’an × × ×
Huangshan × ×
Zhangjiajie × ×
Guilin ×
Gansu × ×
Hangzhou × ×
Suzhou × ×
Shanghai × × ×
Nanjing × × ×
Chongqing ×
Guangzhou × × ×
Xiamen × ×
Sanya × × ×
Inner Mongolia ×
Shanxi × ×
Henan × ×
Guizhou × ×
Ningxia × ×
Daocheng (Yading) ×
Xinjiang × ×

Areas with Medium and High Risks in China

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 to be quarantined or show negative nucleic acid test results upon arrival.

Areas with High Risk

  • Shijiazhuang (Gaocheng District, Xinle Prefecture)
  • Huiqi Town in Suihua City in Heilongjiang

Areas with Medium Risk

  • Hebei Province:
    1. Shijiazhuang City (Chang'an District, Gaoxin District, Xinhua District, Luquan District, Yuhua District, Qiaoxi District, Luancheng District, Xinle Prefecture, Xingtang County, Wuji County, Zhengding County, and Pingshan County)
    2. Xingtai City (Nangong Prefecture and Longyao County)
    3. Langfang City (Gu'an County)
  • Jilin Province:
    1. Gongzhuling City (Fanjiatun Town)
    2. Tonghua City (Dongchang District)
    3. Changchun City (Lvyuan District, and Erdao District)
  • Beijing:
    1. Shunyi District
  • Liaoning Province:
    1. Shenyang (Tiexi District and Huanggu District)
    2. Dalian City (Jinpu New District and Shahekou District)
  • Heilongjiang Province:
    1. Suihua City (Wangkui Prefecture)
    2. Qiqihar (Ang'angxi District)
    3. Heihe City (Aihui District)
    4. Harbin (Heping Road and Xiangfang District)

Other areas in China are low risk.

China’s Current Entry Policy and Measures

China’s Current Entry Policy

Effective from September 28th, 2020, foreign nationals holding valid Chinese residence permits for work, personal matters and reunion are allowed to enter China with no need for applying for new visas.

If the above three categories of residence permits held by foreign nationals expired after March 28, 2020, the holders may apply for relevant visas by presenting the expired residence permits and relevant materials to the Chinese embassies or consulates on the condition that the purpose of the holders' visit to China remains unchanged.

The above-mentioned personnel shall strictly abide by the Chinese regulations on epidemic prevention and control.

Entry Quarantine

You will be sent to a hotel assigned by the government for a 14-day quarantine at own cost (normally from CN¥400 per day with full board in the hotel) once you enter China.

During the quarantine, you will not be allowed to go outside and will go through temperature monitoring and some medical tests.

We suggest you prepare your luggage and pack well for the 14-day quarantine.

As long as you are qualified to finish the quarantine, you may take a flight or train to any other places of mainland China. No second quarantine.

How to get a nucleic acid test overseas that meets China's requirements

From July 20th, 2020, China's Civil Aviation Administration announced that all persons (including Chinese nationals) must have proof of a negative test result for COVID-19 issued no more than 5 days before departure. This proof must be a nucleic acid test performed by a provider that is recognized by the local Chinese embassy or consulate.

Chinese embassies in each country will announce specific implementation after evaluating the nucleic acid testing capability of their host country.

After you get your negative result, you should then apply for a statement of health condition from your Chinese embassy based on your nucleic acid test results. You need to show this statement when you board the plane.

The Chinese embassies in the UK, USA, Canada and Australia have announced the specific implementation. You can check the information on the website of your Chinese embassy or make a telephone inquiry.

Why You Need Us to Arrange a Tour

Although domestic travel in China is allowed, there are many regulations in place for expats in China.

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

Ensure a Smooth Check in

Because of COVID-19, some hotels are not allowed to receive foreign guests and others will have special requirements for foreign guests.

In order to avoid being unable to check in after arriving because of an information mix up between you and the hotel, we recommend booking with us to ensure clear communication.

We will handpick a hotel that meets your requirements and inform you exactly what documents you need for check-in to ensure that everything goes smoothly.

When booking by yourself, we suggest you inquire carefully about whether the hotel accepts foreigners and ask what documents are required for check-in.

Timely Handling of Emergencies

During these uncertain times, you are more likely to encounter some emergencies during your trip. Without professional guidance, it will be difficult to quickly change your travel plans in accordance to changing situations or regulations.

When booking with us, your private travel advisor will keep you up to date on all regulations and help you navigate what you need to do for each destination. He/she will also be online 24/7 to help you in case you encounter an emergency.

Book Tickets in Advance

To ensure safe tourism, most attractions have a daily limit on the number of people allowed to enter. Usually, capacity is capped at 30%-50% and all visitors are required to make an appointment or purchase tickets in advance. Your travel advisor will make preparations for you and will book your tickets for you whenever possible.

Some attractions require visitors to buy tickets on-site in person. Your travel advisor will tell you in advance which spots you need to buy tickets in person and your guide will be on hand to help you purchase the ticket when you arrive.

Private and Safe Transportation

We will provide a private vehicle that is disinfected daily and a local driver to ensure a safe, comfortable and convenient trip.

Tips for Your 2021 Trip in China

  • Some indoor attractions remain closed.
  • Some hotels have not yet opened or are not allowed to receive foreigners.
  • Many attractions have a requirement to make an appointment before your visit or purchase tickets in advance.
  • Most attractions also have a daily limit on the number of people permitted to enter (fewer people enable a better experience).
  • It is required that everyone wears a mask during their visit.
  • Some routes at outdoor attractions are only partially opened.
  • You may be required to scan QR code when going in and out of public places such as supermarkets and some attractions.
  • Hard-shell suitcases or waterproof bags are recommended as your check-in luggage may be sprayed with disinfectant in transit.
  • Always pay attention to the epidemic situation of your location and destination.
  • Choose services that can be changed or canceled at any time.
  • Be prepared to make changes to your itinerary and travel plans.

How Can I Get a Health QR Code?

The Health QR code system has been implemented throughout the country and shows your health condition. These codes are required to move around the city.

Getting green health QR codes of your location and destination is necessary for traveling in China.

Getting Health Codes

Different provinces or cities have launched their own health code programs. You can scan QR the codes below for different destinations with WeChat or Alipay to get a local health code.


Getting a Record of Travel Itinerary

Scan the QR code to access your record of travel itineraryScan the QR code to access your record of travel itinerary

Some cities and attractions will require you to provide your record of travel itinerary.

You can get this record by scanning the QR code on the right with Alipay or WeChat.

After that, input your phone number and tap '查询 (inquire)', and you will get your record of travel itinerary.

How to Renew Your American Passport in China

If you are an ex-pat in China, you may run into the problem of needing to renew your American passport while living here. Especially if you have been applying for month-long stay visas that take up an entire page, your passport pages may be dwindling before your eyes.

FYI: to get any Chinese visa you must have at least 3 blank pages left and your passport must be valid for more than 6 months. If your missing one of these requirements, you’ll need a new passport before your next visa. But don’t worry! For Americans, the process is pretty easy.

In this article, we will explain the process of renewing your American passport in China and also how to apply for an emergency passport. Emergency passports can be made at a U.S. consulate in around 2 hours while regular American passports will take around a month or more.

Regular American Passport vs Emergency Passport

When applying for your passport renewal, the first thing you need to know is if you need an emergency passport or a regular passport. An emergency passport can be issued by a U.S. consulate in 2 hours and is the best option for citizens who don't have time to wait one month or more for a full passport.

Emergency passports are just like a normal passport except they only have 10 pages and are valid for one year. Emergency passports work the same way that a normal passport would and don’t affect your ability to get a Chinese visa. The only difference between an emergency passport and a regular passport is that if you travel to Bali, you will need to apply for a visa on arrival. Otherwise, they are the same!

You can also apply for an emergency passport and regular passport at the same time for free! If you pick this option, you can leave with the emergency passport. Then once your full American passport is ready, you can just head back to the consulate to pick it up.

Step by Step Getting your New Passport

1. The first step to getting your new passport is to make an appointment at the nearest American consulate or embassy. They do require an appointment with American Citizen Services to apply for anything passport related. If you need an emergency passport fast and your consulate is booked up, give them a call and ask for an emergency appointment.

2. Next, you will need to put together all the required documents. To apply for your passport renewal you will need to fill out a DS82 form online. This form can be found on the consulate website. Once filled in, print it and sign it. You will also need a color copy of your current passport biodata page and one passport photo (bring two if you are applying for an emergency passport and full passport).

3. Go to the consulate or embassy for the appointment and turn in your forms, passport, and photos to the correct window. Then head to the cashier window to pay the fee. Passport renewal costs $110. You can pay in cash (USD or RMB) or with a Visa or Mastercard.

4. If you are applying for a regular passport, leave the consulate and wait for your new passport to be mailed to you (you can also choose to return to the consulate to pick it up yourself). If you are applying for an emergency passport, you'll need to wait inside the consulate for around 2 hours while your passport is being made.


1. Can I travel in China?

Yes, if you meet the following conditions:

  • Have entered China more than 3 months ago
  • Have the required documents as listed in the 'What You Need to Visit' section

2. Do hotels have some restrictions on foreigners?

Yes. Hotel requirements for foreigners vary from city to city.

Some hotels have not yet opened or are not allowed to receive foreign guests.

We suggest you inquire carefully about whether the hotel accepts foreigners and ask what documents are required before you make a reservation.

If you have trouble booking hotels, feel free to contact us.

3. Are foreigners allowed to see all the attractions?

Some indoor attractions remain closed. For those attractions that are open, you are allowed to visit only if have the required documents (ID card, passport, green health code, etc.)

For safe tourism, many attractions have a daily limit on the number of people allowed to enter. Usually, capacity is capped at 30%-50% and all visitors are required to make an appointment or purchase tickets in advance.

4. What is a green code?

A color-coded health system has been implemented throughout China and shows your health risk based on where you have been and who you have contacted. Having this code is required to move around.

A green code (or a green health QR code) can be obtained when your health information is submitted in the system is approved.

Getting a green health QR code is necessary for traveling. For more information on how to apply, please review on the 'How to Get a Health QR Code' section, also our travel advisors are here to help.

Different cities have their own green code which can be found in different mini-programs or apps. You are required to obtain the green codes of both your current location and your destination.

It is necessary to apply for the green code of your travel destination in advance because you are required to show it upon arrival.

5. Do I need to quarantine?

You don’t need to quarantine if you come from a low-risk area.

For visitors coming from medium- or high-risk areas, the requirements vary from city to city.

Some cities, such as Shanghai won’t allow visitors from medium and high-risk areas. Some cities, like Huangshan require visitors from medium- and high-risk areas to quarantine.

Other cities such as Lijiang require visitors from high-risk areas to quarantine, but visitors from medium-risk areas just need to show a negative nucleic acid test result upon arrival.

6. Can I make changes to the itinerary or cancel it after booking?

Yes. There will be no charges from us for making changes to the itinerary or rescheduling your trip after booking, however, alteration fees from tour suppliers may still apply.

Send your deposit to be eligible to get a full refund if you cancel your trip. (This offer only applies if you cancel at least 24 hours before your departure day)

7. What should I do if there is a local outbreak during my trip?

If you encounter an outbreak during your trip, please don’t panic. Your private travel advisor and local guide are there to help.

In this situation, your travel itinerary might be changed or canceled. If the situation is serious, you might need to leave as soon as possible. Your private travel advisor will be online for 24/7 and assist you.

8. How can I extend the validity of my Chinese visa?

During the outbreak, foreigners in China can automatically extend their stay for two months if their current visa has expired.

What if my extended visa is about to expire?

If you need to stay in China, you should apply for a visa or residence permit at the Entry & Exit Administration Office of Public Security in your residence city before the expiration of the extended date.

If you do not need to stay in China, you can leave the country normally.

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.

After staying at home for a time, you might want to break out of the city and escape to the places that you have never been to. We make it possible with our China tours for expats.

Recommended Tours on the Less-Traveled Roads

These are recommended for those who have been to the most popular destinations in China and would like to explore some “hidden treasures” that foreigners have found particularly enjoyable.

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