First published: 22 March, 2021
Last updated: 30 July, 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 July 2021, this ban has not yet been lifted.
– The last announcement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was made on 25 May, 2021, reminding Chinese citizens that they should not leave the country for any non-essential reason. (Source)
– An increasing number of countries around the world are now open to Chinese tourists. Many do not require any quarantine-on-arrival, and most (but not all) require a negative PCR test. As of 3 June, there are now 75 countries to which Chinese citizens can travel as tourists. (Source)
The countries are:
– 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 June 2021.
– In late July 2021, it was reported that a small tour group had left Hong Kong for a trip to Europe – the first organized tourism from Greater China since February, 2020. All of the travelers are fully vaccinated and will still be required to complete 14 days of quarantine when they return to Hong Kong. To protect the travelers’ privacy, details about their itinerary were not released. However, a source told South China Morning Post that the group would not be visiting the UK, as the England’s lifting of all COVID restrictions on 19 July made it too risky.
– 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)
– In good news for those receiving non-Chinese vaccines, as of of 20 April, China has begun to accept foreign vaccines as part of the application process to enter China. US vaccination records that show the traveler has received a full course of Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccines are currently being accepted by the Chinese Embassy in the US. Two types of negative coronavirus test results are still required. (Source)
As of 28 July, China has administered more than 1.6 billion vaccine doses, enough to fully vaccinate 57.3% of the population. During the last week, the country averaged more than 13.6 million vaccinations per day. This information is reported by the National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of China, and accessible in this helpful coronavirus tracker from Reuters. As of 26 May, 84% of Beijing residents had received at least one vaccine dose.
Infectious disease experts in China have stated that the population will be 80% vaccinated by the end of the year, allowing borders to reopen from early 2022.
(Source: Reuters, 30 July, 2021)
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.
– 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 May 2021, the rules have been relaxed so that flights with more than five but fewer than 10 positive COVID-19 cases on board will be required to operate at reduced capacity for two weeks, as opposed to being fully suspended. Flights with 10 or more positive cases will still be suspended for two weeks.