Chinese Borders Reopen to Foreign Tourists

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The Chinese government has announced that China’s borders have now reopened to foreign tourists for the first time in over 3 years.

The move follows the relaxation of Chinese COVID restrictions for business travelers and family visits in early January. The Chinese government also declared a “decisive victory” over the pandemic in February.

Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Wang Wenbin also announced that China resumed issuing all types of visa on March 15, 2023, including tourist visas.

Wenbin stressed that travel restrictions have been relaxed to “further facilitate the exchange of Chinese and foreign personnel”.

China is one of the last countries to re-open to tourists following the pandemic, and the move is expected to reignite the country’s tourism industry.

Chinese Borders Reopen to Foreign Tourists

Normal Chinese Visa Requirements and Visa-Free Entry Resume

Wenbin also confirmed that the China visa policy has largely returned to its pre-pandemic conditions, saying:

“Visas that were issued before COVID and are still valid will be reactivated, the review and issuance of tourist visas and other types of visas will be resumed, and the visa-free entry for several places will be resumed”.

This means that all visas for China issued before March 28, 2020 will now be reactivated if they remain valid. This removes the need for holders to re-apply for a new travel document.

Visa exemption to certain areas of China, including Guangdong province, has also been reinstated for foreign citizens arriving from Hong Kong or Macau. Visa-free access has also been granted to cruise passengers passing through the port of Shanghai.

Nevertheless, the majority of international travelers require a visa for China. This is regardless of their destination within the country, purpose of the visit, or the amount of time they intend to stay.

Some COVID Restrictions for China Remain in Place

It’s now possible to visit China with a tourist visa once more, However, tourists still need to meet some COVID entry requirements to gain entry to the county.

These include:

  • Complete an Entry/Exit Health Declaration Form and present a QR code
  • Present a printed negative COVID-19 test taken within the last 48 hours

Most passengers need to take either a NAAT, PCR, or RT-PCR test. However, passengers arriving on a direct flight from the following destinations can present a rapid antigen test (including from home testing kids) instead:

  • Cambodia
  • Egypt
  • Hungary
  • Indonesia
  • Kenya
  • Laos
  • Maldives
  • Malaysia
  • New Zealand
  • Philippines
  • Singapore
  • South Africa
  • Sri Lanka
  • Switzerland
  • Thailand
  • UAE

Airlines are not required to check the test result for these passengers. Some exemptions to the testing rule apply, including for passengers under the age of 3.

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