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China Travel Requirements

A valid passport and China travel visa are required to enter and exit China and must be obtained from Chinese Embassies and Consulates before traveling to China. You can do this yourself or request expedited China visa courier service through a company such as Travel Visa Pro.

Americans arriving without valid passports and the appropriate Chinese visa are not permitted to enter and will be subject to a fine and immediate deportation at the traveler's expense. Travelers should not rely on Chinese host organizations claiming to be able to arrange a visa upon arrival. Chinese authorities have recently tightened their visa issuance policy, in some cases requiring personal interviews of American citizens.

Americans traveling to China may apply for a multi-entry visa valid for up to 10  years. However, there are cases when the validity is shorter than was requested or expected. To avoid such situation, China visa applicants are advised to have at least a year's validity for U.S. passport. A multiple-entry visa is a requirement especially if you are planning to visit Macau and/or Hong Kong and return to China after.

All foreigners (including temporary residents) must register within 24 hours of their arrival. Checking in at hotel ensures automatic registration, but other visitors should register in person at the nearest police station. If you leave the country at any time, you must re-register upon re-entry.

Visas are not required of aliens who hold air tickets to the final destination, have booked seats on international airliners flying directly through China, and will stay in a transit city for less than 24 hours without leaving the airport. Persons transiting China on the way to and from Mongolia or North Korea or who plan to re-enter China from the Hong Kong or Macau Special Administrative Regions should be sure to obtain visas allowing more than one entry.

Permits are required to visit Tibet as well as many remote areas not normally open to foreigners. A travel permit for Tibet can be obtained through local travel agents. Permits cost approximately renminbi (RMB) 200, are single-entry and valid for at most three months. Most areas in Tibet are not open for foreigners except Lhasa City and part of Shan Nan. Foreigners can be fined, taken into custody, and deported for visiting restricted areas without appropriate permissions.

For information about entry requirements and restricted areas, travelers may consult the Visa Office of the Embassy of China (PRC) at Room 110, 2201 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, Washington DC 20007. For a list of services and frequently asked visa questions and answers, travelers can view the Chinese Embassy's web site.

In July 2007, the Chinese government tightened its regulations for altering or renewing visas for individuals already in China. Visitors can no longer change tourist (L) and exchange (F) -type visas to other types and many applications must now be completed in person. There have also been reports that entry and exit violations are being more strictly enforced, with recent reports of police, school administrators and hotel staff checking to ensure that individuals have not overstayed their visas.

Americans who overstay or otherwise violate the terms of their Chinese visas will be subject to a maximum fine of 5,000 RMB, departure delays and may be subject to detention. Travelers should note that international flights departing China are routinely overbooked, making reconfirmation of departure reservations and early airport check-in essential.

Americans are also required to have an exit visa to leave China. Americans who lose a passport must immediately report the incident to local Chinese authorities and take into consideration the time needed to get a new passport and a new visa. Visa issuances can take as long as 7 business days, depending on the locality where you lost it.

In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated new procedures at entry/ exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian if they are not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.

Dual national Americans, particularly those with dual Chinese and American nationality, should realize that entering China using their non-U.S. passport could mean that the Chinese Government may not afford them the consular protections to which they are entitled. While the U.S. Government will offer consular services to all U.S. citizens regardless of dual nationality, use of other than a U.S. passport to enter China can make it difficult for U.S. Consuls to assist dual national Americans who have been arrested or who have other concerns with the Chinese Government.

China does not recognize dual citizenship. U.S. Embassy and Consulate officials are often denied access to arrested or detained Americans who do not enter China using their U.S. passport. Lawful Permanent Residents of the United States who do not carry unexpired or otherwise clear evidence that they may re-enter the United States will encounter delays departing from China. Lawful Permanent Residents should renew and update U.S. residence documentation prior to their departure from the United States.

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IMPORTANT: The foreign entry requirements listed here were obtained from foreign embassies or consulates. This information is subject to change. Verify the data with the consular officials of the countries you plan to visit well in advance. For further information, see our embassy list.