China entry requirements: What you should know before travelling

Brimming with ancient culture, beautifully diverse landscapes, and world-famous cuisine, it’s no wonder China is among the world’s most visited nations. Welcoming over 50 million people a year, the East Asian powerhouse is predicted to be the planet’s top travel destination by 2030. This is partly the result of huge investment in tourism infrastructure, and the array of business opportunities, as China moves ever closer to becoming an economic superpower.

Despite its popularity, the nation is notoriously difficult to enter, though that shouldn’t deter you from visiting, and with a bit of planning, you’ll almost certainly be able to navigate China’s travel requirements. Here is everything you need to know about gaining entry.

China visa requirements


UK citizens must have a valid visa to visit mainland China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau), though certain nationals can stay in China in transit for up to 114 hours visa-free. There are a number of different Chinese visas available, including;


Generally speaking, all applications must include:

  • An original passport, valid for a minimum of six months, with at least two blank visa pages, as well as a photocopy of the biodata page.
  • A completed visa application form with a 5x5cm passport-style photo taken against a white background.
  • If applying from a third country, you will also need to provide proof of legal stay or a residence permit.

UK applicants must also provide biometric fingerprints in person at the China Visa Application Service Centre in London.


Different visas have additional requirements:

Tourist visa

You need to provide flight booking confirmations and proof of accommodation reservations. Alternatively, you can disclose an invitation letter sent by a relevant entity or individual in China detailing the following information:

  • Your personal information, such as your full name, gender and date of birth.
  • Trip details like dates of arrival and departure, places of visit, the relationship between the applicant and the inviting entity or individual, and proof of sufficient funds.
  • Information on the inviting entity or individual, including their name, contact details, address, official stamp and signature.

Business visa

Documents issued by the relevant entity or individual explaining the applicant’s commercial activity, plus an invitation letter. This should include the same information as the tourist visa application.

Work visa

You must submit one of the following work permits obtained through your employers in China:

  • Foreigners Work Permit — issued by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security of the PRC.
  • Registration Certificate of Resident Representative Offices of Foreign Enterprises — issued by the State Administration for Market Regulation.
  • An approval document for commercial performances — issued by the Chinese Office for Cultural Affairs
  • Invitation Letter to Foreigners for Offshore Petroleum Operations — issued by National Offshore Oil Corporation.

Study visa

You need to submit an original and photocopy of your admission letter, which will have been issued by the relevant Chinese educational establishment. Applicants staying for longer than 180 days should also provide an original and photocopy of their JW201 or JW202 foreign student visa application form.


Here at GulfVisa, we know how time-consuming and taxing the Chinese visa applications process is, especially when you just want to be planning your trip, which is why you should rely on a dedicated visa agent. While you will still have to provide biometric data in person, our China visa services simplify the rest of the application process, ensuring that you are issued with the right documentation with minimal fuss.

Thanks to our expansive experience, you no longer need to worry about the complicated requirements and terminology involved in securing either a Chinese tourist or business visa. Simply provide us with the required documentation, and we will take care of every step of the application on your behalf. In fact, using a visa agent has many benefits you might not have considered, from increasing the chances of your application being approved to saving you money.

Other China travel requirements

As well as ensuring that you have the right visa, there are other requirements you should be aware of when travelling to China.


All visitors to China must register their place of residence with the local Public Security Bureau within 24 hours of arrival. Chinese authorities perform regular spot-checks on foreign documentation, so it’s imperative that you follow this requirement, or you could face a fine. Luckily, hotels will do this for you during the check-in process.


Those arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission will need a yellow fever certificate to be allowed into China under the International Health Regulations. Please consult the WHO’s list of countries with risk of yellow fever transmission to see if this applies to you.

China travel requirements in response to COVID-19

In light of the coronavirus crisis, the Chinese government has further tightened their entry rules. It’s important to note that the current situation is fluid, and these regulations are subject to change at any time.


It was announced in early November that non-Chinese nationals from the UK would be prevented from entering China due to rising coronavirus cases in Britain. However, those holding diplomatic, service, courtesy or C visas (crew visas) are exempt from this, as are individuals visiting for emergency purposes. In these circumstances, you will need to get a Health Declaration Form certified by your nearest Chinese Embassy or Consulate in the UK prior to your departure. You must also provide evidence of negative nucleic acid and IgM antibody tests for COVID-19 no more than 48 hours before you travel, which necessitates taking a private test. Please visit the Chinese Embassy website for more information.


All overseas visitors must undergo health checks on arrival to China, typically involving nucleic acid or swab tests. Anyone who fails these checks could be sent to a local hospital for treatment.


Following your health check, you must quarantine for 14 days, either in a centralised government hotel you yourself have paid for, or your home. Failure to comply can result in up to three years in prison. The UK Government website offers further details on China’s quarantine rules.


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