China Visas Back To Normal! 5 Things to Know

By Alistair Baker-Brian, March 14, 2023

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The last pillars of ‘dynamic-zero COVID’ continue to fall!

China has announced that ALL visa types for foreigners will be back to normal as of tomorrow, March 15, 2023. 

The announcement was made via the website of the Embassy of The People’s Republic of China in the United States and was later reported by major media outlets, including Reuters and CGTN. 

Here are five key things from the announcement you need to know: 

1. Valid Visas Issued Before March 28, 2020 Can Be Used to Enter China

Any visa which is still valid – regardless of whether it was issued before March 28, 2020 when China imposed restrictions due to COVID-19 – can be used to enter China. 

2. ALL Visa Types are Back to Normal

That includes L-type visas issued for the purpose of tourism. Be sure to check with your nearest Chinese embassy or consulate regarding the specific application requirements before making travel plans.

3. Port Visas are Back 

Expats residing in Hong Kong may be familiar with the visa-on-arrival issued at Luohu Port for the purpose of visiting Shenzhen. 

Prior to COVID-19, other locations in China which offered port visas (visas-on-arrival) included the following: 

  • Beijing

  • Chengdu

  • Chongqing

  • Dalian

  • Fuzhou

  • Guangzhou

  • Guilin

  • Haikou

  • Hangzhou

  • Heihe, Heilongjiang province (bordering Russia)

  • Jinan

  • Kunming

  • Nanjing

  • Qingdao

  • Sanya

  • Shanghai

  • Shenyang

  • Suifenhe, Heilongjiang province (bordering Russia)

  • Tianjin

  • Wuhan

  • Xiamen

  • Xi’an

  • Weihai

  • Yantai

  • Zhuhai

Port visas tend to be valid for stays of anywhere between 48 and 144 hours. Only certain nationalities may be eligible for a port visa. Be sure to check specific requirements before making any travel plans. 

4. Resumption of Visa-Free Travel 

Visa-free travel for the following types of arrivals will resume: 

  • Tourists visiting Hainan Island

  • Those entering Shanghai via cruise ship

  • Foreigners residing in Hong Kong or Macao Special Administrative Regions who travel to the Chinese mainland in a tour group

  • Those in ASEAN tour groups who visit Guilin, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region 

Again, be sure to check if you're elligible for visa-free travel and any specific requirements before making travel plans. 

5. About That 48-Hour Test…

A number of Chinese embassies announced that as of March 1, 2023, a 48-hour negative PCR test would no longer be required for those traveling to the Chinese mainland. 

READ MORE: 6 Countries Scrap PCR Test for China Returnees

The PCR test can be replaced with a rapid antigen test (RAT), which not only allows for self-testing, but won't even be checked by the airline at the point of departure.

Please do note, however, that anyone traveling to the mainland still needs to fill out China's Customs Declaration, which requires a negative RAT 48 hours before arriving.

We can only hope that more embassies will follow suit; now that visas are essentially back to normal, maybe testing rules for arrivals will be scrapped altogether... but we don’t want to speak to soon!

[Cover image via Unsplash]

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