Are Chinese Train Stations Ditching COVID Test Requirements?

By Alistair Baker-Brian, November 3, 2022

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In the last few days, stories have been doing the rounds suggesting that certain railway stations and airports in China will no longer check passengers' negative COVID-19 test reports before boarding. 

No more COVID tests to travel around China? Sounds great, right? 

Hold your horses. 

The reality is a negative nucleic acid test is still required to go pretty much anywhere in China. 

How Did All This Come About?

The WeChat Official Account by the name of 桂东铁路 (guidong tielu) – linked to the Nanning branch of China Railway – reported on November 1 that there were 41 stations under its remit which would no longer check COVID test results, except for passengers traveling to Beijing. 

The original article now appears to have been deleted. 

Another WeChat Official Account by the name of 南天一剑 (nantian yijian), published an article yesterday, November 3 making the same claim, with a bold headline proudly proclaiming, “From November 1, nucleic acid test results will no longer be checked when boarding the train, except for Beijing-bound passengers.” 

The article was deleted by the author. 

Just to Clarify Once Again…

You still need a COVID test to go pretty much anywhere in China, because even though some departing stations have removed the requirement, most of the stations you arrive at do need one.

Since the news of supposedly relaxing COVID testing rules broke, a number of railway authorities and airports have come out to clarify requirements, reports China News Week (中国新闻周刊). 

Here’s what some of them said: 

Nanning 12306

Other than passengers traveling to Beijing, those entering railway stations in Nanning will only have to show their health code and Travel Code (行程卡). However, passengers should pay attention to the anti-epidemic requirements of their destination. 

Guilin 12306 

Passengers departing by train from Guilin Railway Station will not need to show a negative nucleic acid test to enter the station, but those arriving at Guilin Railway Station will need to show a negative test result before exiting the station. Passengers should pay attention to the anti-epidemic requirements of their destination.

Zhanjiang 12306 

Passengers are “recommended” (whatever that means) to get a nucleic acid test result issued within 48 hours. A valid health code must be shown in order to board a train. Passengers should pay attention to the anti-epidemic requirements of their destination.

Hefei Xinqiao International Airport 

To enter the airport, passengers are required to show a valid health code and Travel Code, but not a negative nucleic acid test result. Passengers should pay attention to the anti-epidemic requirements of their destination.

So, there you have it. A negative nucleic acid test is no longer required to enter many railway stations and airports, but is almost always required if you plan on making it smoothly to your destination. 

Our suggestion? Always check the rules of your destination in advance, and be prepared to get tested. 

Search for the Chinese-language State Council (国务院客户端) mini-program on WeChat and follow the steps below to find out specific COVID rules for traveling around China.


Find the State Council mini-program on WeChat


Select 更多


Select 各地疫情防控政策措施


Input place of departure on the left and destination on the right to find out city-specific COVID rules

Normalized nucleic acid testing has become part of life under China’s ‘dynamic zero-COVID’ policy, which seeks to eliminate the spread of the virus rather than ‘live with it.’ Don’t expect that to change anytime soon, especially with regards to travel. 

[Cover image via Weibo/@新京报. In-text screengrabs via That's/Alistair Baker-Brian]

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