Exploring China: A Guide to Travel Restrictions and Advisories

China will open again on January 8, 2023, after being closed for three years. People can go to China without going through quarantine. 

You only need a negative PCR result within 48 hours of your flight. A health code is not something you have to apply for.

The Chinese mainland is becoming more open. Between Hong Kong and Macau, there is no quarantine for people going to the mainland. See Hong Kong/Macau Travel Restrictions for more information.

Tourists and people with 10-year visas may have to wait until the second quarter of this year for more doors to open.

What to Do When You Get the Entry Permission

 

From January 8th, 2023, for all travelers, whether you are vaccinated or not, you’re suggested to take one PCR test within 48 hours before departurea and only board the flight when your nucleic acid result is negtive. There is no need to apply for a health code anymore.

 

If you transfer through a third country to China, you can take one PCR test at the city of departure OR at your transfer airport/city. 

 

Here is a brief summary for getting to China:

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

2. Book a flight to China (taking direct flights or transfering to China is allowed).

3. Do one PCR test within 48 hours before departure and only board the flight when your nucleic acid result is negative.

4. Board the plane. Prepare your ID card or passport with permit/visa

FAQs about Traveling to China

 

1. Can tourists go to China for travel after January 8?

If you want to enter China on a tourist visa after January 8, it is still not available. Z-, M-, R-, X1, Q-, and S-visas are possible.

2. If I hold a (long-term) L or 10-year, can I enter China now?

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

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

Probably yes. From June 20, 2022, Chinese embassies begin to accept Q and S visas’ applications. You can check the latest and detailed information with the Chinese embassy of your country.

4. Can international students return to China yet?

Yes. International students can now return to China. 

5. I am from the USA/UK, and I have already been inoculated with a Chinese vaccine and hold a valid residence permit. I need to go back to the USA/UK and return to China. Is that ok?

Yes. But we strongly suggest double checking with the Chinese embassy of the country you are returning to. 

 

2. Hong Kong / Macau Travel Restrictions

Who can enter Hong Kong?

  • Hong Kong residents
  • Non-HKRs who now reside in the Chinese mainland or Macau
  • Non-HKRs from overseas 

Hong Kong Entry Requirement

Travelers from overseas, Chinese Mainland, Macau, and Taiwan will need a negative PCR test result before departure within 48 hours. Quarantine is not required.

Can foreign nationals in Hong Kong enter Chinese Mainland?

Yes, but you need to apply for a visa to enter Chinese Mainland. See below for application requirements.

You will need a negative PCR test result before departure within 48 hours when entering Chinese Mainland from Hong Kong.

Quarantine will not be required when you come to Chinese Mainland from Hong Kong after January 8th, 2023.

Who can enter Macau?

  • Macau residents
  • Residents of Chinese Mainland, Hong Kong, and Taiwan
  • Non-Macau-residents

Macau Entry Requirement

Travelers entering Macau from overseas will need to show a negtive PCR test or rapid antigen detection test result within 48 hours. Quarantine is not required.

Travelers entering Macau from Chinese Mainland, Hong Kong, or Taiwan don’t need any test results. Quarantine is also not required. Nucleic acid test results are also not required for travel to the mainland from Macau (If you haven’t been outside Macau and Chinese Mailand in 7 days).

Macau resumes international transfer services. Foreign nationals who enter Macau and leave for Chinese Mainland within 7 days after their entry are required to show a negative PCR test within 48 hours before departure.

Foreigners in Macau can enter Chinese Mainland by applying for a visa for business, work, travel, a family visit, etc. Quarantine is not required.

Any new visa may only be valid for a month or 3 months. Upon arrival, it may only have a 30-day validity, during which time you need to apply for a residence permit.

The information we list below is for reference only. Because visa application requirements may change quickly and vary. As a travel agent, we only operate sightseeing tours in China. As for detailed visa information and application service, please contact your consulate/embassy/VAC. 

You may apply for a new visa (your current visa will not be cancelled) at your nearest Chinese consulate/embassy/VAC (Visa Application Center) to enter China for the following purposes:

 

1. For Work (Z Visa)

Applying for a work visa is by far the most popular way to come to China (currently). Dependents (spouse and children under the age of 18) may come on the same visa.

To apply for a Z visa, you will need:

  • A “Foreigners Work Permit” (is handled by your company/organization in China) + a WHO-approved vaccination certificate

Some WHO-approved vaccines include:

  • Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine (2 doses)
  • Moderna (mRNA-1273) COVID-19 Vaccine (2 doses)
  • J&J COVID-19 vaccine (1 doses)
  • Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine (2 doses)
  • Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine (2 doses)
  • Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine (2 doses)

 

2. For Family Reunion (S or Q Visa)

This applies to family members of Chinese citizens and family members of foreign people who are going to work in China (or already working in China).

To apply for an S or Q visa, you will need:

  • Relationship certification + WHO-approved vaccination certificate

 

3. For Business

Method one: applying an M visa

To apply an M visa, you will need:

  • A company invitation letter (to be handled by your business partner) + WHO-approved vaccination certificate

Method two: by APEC cards

If you hold a valid APEC business travel card, you can enter China with the card directly without applying a new visa.

 

4. For Study (X1 Visa)

  • For 2022 school year student: JW201 or JW202 form + admission notice + vaccination certificate
  • For 2020-2021 school year student: JW201 or JW202 form + admission notice + return school certificate + vaccination certificate
  • For 2019 or before school year student: return school certificate + vaccination certificate
  • If you hold a valid student residence permit, you can enter China without applying a new visa.

We provide you with the phone numbers of frontier inspection stations in major Chinese cities. If you have some questions about entry visa, you can call for inquiry:

  • Beijing General Station of Border Inspection: 010-56095400
  • Shanghai General Station of Border Inspection: 021-51105100
  • Guangzhou General Station of Border Inspection: 020-32090088

 

4. China Quarantine Rules (Quaratine Free after January 8th, 2023)

From January 8th, 2023, passengers (whether vaccinated or not) are no longer required to quarantine upon arriving in China. 

What if the City I Enter Is Not My Final Destination?

Passengers are required to be quarantined in their entry city. Generally, you can head to your final destination after a centralized quarantine (if your quarantine test results are normal) at your first city of entry.

Usually, you wouldn’t need to do a centralized quarantine again when you arrive at your final destination, but a  home quarantine or health monitoring may be required.

Here is an example. If you land in Shanghai and your final destination is Chengdu, you will first do a 5-day centralized quarantine in Shanghai. After that, you can head to Chengdu.  When you arrive in Chengdu, you will usually do a 3-day home quarantine. 

Quarantine Tips:

  • The expenses during the quarantine period are normally about CN¥400–600 (for board and lodging) per day in the hotel, which you must pay.
  • Quarantine hotels are assigned by the government. In general, you can’t choose from among the designated quarantine hotels.
  • Normally, each person stays in a single room. Children under the age of 14 can be quarantined with a parent.

If you have other needs, you can ask the staff for help. The information we provide is for reference only. You can only know the specific requirements when you arrive at the hotel.

5. International Flights to China

China adjusted the restrictions on international flights to China. Passengers can take direct flights or transfer to China. Multiple-transit flights are allowed. There are no requirements for the transfer route. Passengers can make their own choices according to their own situation and flight situation.

 

Where Can I Fly to China?

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:

  • New York has flights to Beijing and Shanghai from October.
  • Los Angeles has flights to Beijing and Shenzhen from September and to Guangzhou from August.
  • San Francisco has flights to Shanghai from July.
  • Dallas has flights to Shanghai from June.
  • Seattle has flights to Shanghai  from June.
  • Detroit has flights to Shanghai from July.
  • London has flights to Shanghai from July.
  • Vancouver has flights to Shanghai, Beijing, Xiamen, and Chengdu from April, and to Guangzhou from May.
  • Toronto has flights to Xiamen and Chengdu from April, and to Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou from May.
  • Paris has flights to Shanghai from September.
  • Milan has flights to Tianjin from July.
  • Frankfurt has flights to Jinan in August and to Shanghai from September.
  • Sydney has flights to Shanghai from August and to Guangzhou from September.
  • Amsterdam has flights to Xiamen, Guangzhou, and  Shanghai from July.
  • Helsinki has flights to Shanghai from August.
  • Kuala Lumpur has flights to Guangzhou from June.
  • Singapore has flights to to Xiamen in April and May, to Guangzhou from June, and to Shanghai from September.

The above information is for reference only. Flights may change depending on updated policies of the various countries and airlines.

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

 

Transfers in a Third Country

Tranferring in one or more countries is allowed. 

For transfer passengers, you will only need to do one PRC test at  your departure city or at the transfer airport/city and apply for a  health code. (No health code will be needed after January 8th, 2023.)

For example, if you departure from New York and will transfer through Bangkok to China, you can choose to do a PCR test at New York and apply for a helath code within 48 hours before departure.

When you arrive at Bangkok airport, you don’t need to do another test. You can board with the health code you applied for in New York.  But you need to make sure your health code is valid.

Or you can choose to do the PCR test when you arrive in Bangkok and apply for a health code there. That way, you won’t need to do the test and get a health code in New York. 

Note: If you choose to do the PCR test at the transfer airport, please contact the airport in advance to confirm whether there are facilities for PCR testing.

If you have any concerns, you should get in touch with the embassy in your home country before you travel.

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