First published: 22 March, 2021
Last updated: 13 April, 2021
To help keep the travel industry up to date and informed, we’re tracking all the latest developments and regulations regarding travel into and out of mainland China. This post will be regularly updated with any new or changing policies.
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– China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism required Chinese travel agents to stop the sale of outbound group and package travel (from a minimum of a flight + hotel package) from 27 January, 2020. As of March 2021, this ban has not yet been lifted.
– The last announcement by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism was made on 1 February, 2021, reminding Chinese citizens that they should not leave the country for any non-emergency reason. (Source)
International Travel Health Certificate
Available through a WeChat mini-program from 8 March, China’s digital International Travel Health Certificate stores information on PCR and antibody test results, as well as vaccination history. While this is widely seen as a positive development in terms of getting closer to the recovery of Chinese outbound tourism, agreements around accepting it for international travel will first need to be reached with foreign governments.
On 12 April, Hong Kong announced that starting from mid-May, mainland Chinese residents will be able to travel freely to Hong Kong without facing any quarantine. They will need to present negative coronavirus test results but will not need to be vaccinated. At the same time, vaccinated residents of Singapore, New Zealand, and Australia will be allowed entry into Hong Kong with a reduced quarantine time of 7 days instead of 14. (Source) No announcement has been made yet about if these travelers would need to quarantine on returning to the mainland.
Until Hong Kong opens in mid-May, Macau is the only destination outside of mainland China to which Chinese citizens can travel for leisure, with no quarantine on arrival or return. Adjustments to this policy are made regularly, based on if there are any outbreaks of COVID-19 in mainland China – if there are, then travelers who have recently been in those areas are required to quarantine when they arrive in Macau. Travelers to Macau are allowed in through the Individual Visitor Scheme, so group tourism from mainland China is not operating yet as of April 2021.
Since April 2020, South Korea and China have a fast-track channel that allows for certain business travel without quarantine.
Japan established a fast-track business travel channel with China on 30 November 2020, but this was suspended in January 2021 due to regional outbreaks.
Singapore unilaterally opened to tourists from mainland China in November 2020, but this is not a reciprocal arrangement, and any travelers from Singapore would be subject to quarantine when returning to China. There is a fast-track business travel corridor between the two countries that allows for limited, monitored travel.
On 26 March, the Thai embassy in China announced that starting on 1 April, foreign visitors to Thailand will need to present a negative PCR test taken within the last 72 hours. Then, they will need to do a 3-day in-room hotel quarantine, followed by 15 days where they are free to go anywhere in the hotel or hotel grounds. After those 18 days, they can travel at will in Thailand (Source). On returning to China, these travelers would still need to follow China’s normal quarantine rules.
From 1 April, Thailand is also planning to trial a quarantine-free model for fully vaccinated foreign visitors to Phuket, with seven-day hotel-area (not in-room) quarantine for fully vaccinated arrivals at six other destinations (source).
– Anyone arriving in mainland China from any overseas destination, with the exception of Macau, is required to undergo 14 days of hotel quarantine, followed by 7 days of at-home quarantine, followed by 7 days of health monitoring – the “14+7+7 model”, implemented in January 2021.
– Passengers to China must also present negative PCR and antibody tests.
– As of late February, travelers from a number of African and Middle Eastern countries designated as “high risk” are also required to complete 14 days of quarantine before traveling to China, followed by the 14+7+7 quarantine model once arriving in China. (Source)
– By 28 September 2020, all foreigners with a valid Chinese residence permits for work, personal matters, and reunion were allowed to return to China without the need to apply for a new visa. Later in the year and into 2021, certain nationalities were banned entirely, included foreign passport holders from Canada, Belgium, France, Russia, the Philippines, India, Italy, Bangladesh, the UK, Ukraine, and Ethiopia. (Source)
– From 15 March, the above bans have been lifted, and there are eased visa requirements for citizens of 80 countries, including no longer needing to present PCR or antibody test results. The caveat is that those travelers must be inoculated against COVID-19 with a Chinese vaccine manufactured in China. (Source + additional details)
– Introduced in March 2020, China’s “Five One” policy limited international air carriers to flying one route, once per week, with suspensions for carriers if any passengers tested positive for the coronavirus on arrival. This has been loosened for many airlines, with additional weekly flights added, but carriers are still being strictly reviewed. As of December 2020, any flight to China will be suspended for two weeks if there are five or more cases of positive COVID-19 tests on board.
– From 22 March 2021, both Air France and KLM have adopted a “single ticket rule” that means all passengers flying to China via Paris Charles de Gaulle or Schipol airports must have their whole travel itinerary as one single ticket or they will be refused boarding.