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China
Official Name:

People's Republic of China

Last Updated: August 2, 2017
Further Safety and Security Information

Travel Warnings: Issued when Protracted situations make a country dangerous or unstable. Defer or reconsider travel.

Travel Alerts: Issued when short-term conditions pose imminent threats. Defer or reconsider travel.

Embassy Messages: Issued when local security issues arise.

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Beijing

No. 55 An Jia Lou Road
Chaoyang District, Beijing 100600
China

The Embassy consular district includes the municipalities of Beijing and Tianjin and the provinces/autonomous regions of Gansu, Hebei, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Inner Mongolia, Jiangxi, Ningxia, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Shandong, Shanxi, and Xinjiang.

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Quick Facts
PASSPORT VALIDITY:

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Six months

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:

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Two pages

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:

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Yes

VACCINATIONS:

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None

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:

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Max RMB 20,000

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:

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Max RMB 20,000

Country Map

U.S. Embassy Beijing

No. 55 An Jia Lou Road
Chaoyang District, Beijing 100600
China

Telephone: +(86)(10) 8531-4000

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(86)(10) 8531-4000

Fax: +(86)(10) 8531-3300

The Embassy consular district includes the municipalities of Beijing and Tianjin and the provinces/autonomous regions of Gansu, Hebei, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Inner Mongolia, Jiangxi, Ningxia, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Shandong, Shanxi, and Xinjiang.

Consulates

U.S. Consulate General Chengdu
Number 4 Lingshiguan Road
Section 4, Renmin Nanlu
Chengdu 61004,China

Telephone: (86)(28) 8558-3992

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(86)(10) 8531-4000

Fax: +(86)(28) 8554 6229

Email: AmCitChengdu@state.gov

This consular district includes the provinces/autonomous region of Guizhou, Sichuan, Xizang (Tibet) and Yunnan, as well as the municipality of Chongqing.

U.S. Consulate General Guangzhou
43 Hua Jiu Road, Zhujiang New Town, Tianhe District
Guangzhou 510623
China

Telephone: (86)(20) 3814-5775

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(86)(10) 8531-4000

Fax: +(86)(20) 3814-5572

Email: GuangzhouACS@state.gov

This consular district includes the provinces/autonomous region of Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan, and Fujian.

U.S. Consulate General Shanghai
Westgate Mall, 8th Floor, 1038 Nanjing Xi Lu,
Shanghai 200031
China

Telephone: +(86)(21) 3217-4650

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: (86)(21) 3217-4650

Fax: +(86)(21) 6217-2071

Email: ShanghaiACS@state.gov

This consular district includes Shanghai municipality and the provinces of Anhui, Jiangsu and Zhejiang.

U.S. Consulate General Shenyang
No. 52, 14th Wei Road, Heping District,
Shenyang 110003
China

Telephone: +(86)(24) 2322-1198

Emergency After-Hours Telephone:+(86)(24) 2322-1198

Fax: +(86)(24) 2323-1465

Email: ShenyangACS@state.gov

This consular district includes: the provinces of Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Liaoning.

The U.S. Consulate General in Wuhan
New World International Trade Tower I,
No. 568, Jianshe Avenue
Hankou, Wuhan 430022
China

Telephone: +(86)(027) 8555-7791

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(86)(10) 8531-4000

Fax: 027-8555-776

Please note that Wuhan does not provide regularly scheduled consular services. Contact the Embassy in Beijing for consular assistance.

See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on China for information on U.S. - China relations. 

Entry & Exit:

  • Obtain a visa prior to arrival and have a passport with at least six months' validity remaining. The lack of either will result in a fine and immediate deportation.
  • Apply for a ten-year multiple entry visa, useful for repeated travel or trips to Hong Kong or Macau with returns to China.
  • You must have a valid visa to exit China and you must leave China before the expiration of the listed duration of stay. 

Lack of a visa, having an expired visa or overstaying your visa can result in detention and fines.

The Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), requires special permits for tourist travel, most often obtained through a Chinese travel agent.  If you do enter a restricted area without the requisite permit, you could be fined, taken into custody, and deported for illegal entry. To learn more about specific entry requirements for Tibet or other restricted areas, check with the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China.

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of China.

Transiting China:

  • When transiting certain international airports, you may stay in mainland China without a Chinese visa.
  • The duration of allowed stay and how broadly you may travel varies by region. 
  • Transiting without a visa requires a valid passport, a visa for your onward destination (if necessary), and an onward ticket from the same location.
  • You must inform your airline upon check-in, and get an endorsement stamp at the immigration desk before leaving the airport.
  • Consult the Chinese Embassy/consulate for a current list of eligible airports and more detailed guidance.

During Your Stay: 

  • Failure to register with the police within 24 hours of arrival in the country could result in fines and deportation.  You can register with hotel staff or the local police station. 
  • Carry your valid U.S. passport and Chinese visa or residence permit at all times.
  • Entry and exit requirements are strictly enforced, as are restrictions on activities allowed by any particular visa class. 
  • Police, school administrators, transportation officials, and hotel staff may check your visa to make sure you have not overstayed.  If you overstay your visa’s duration of stay, you may be denied service by hotels, airports and train stations, be charged a RMB 500 fine per day up to a maximum of RMB 10,000, and face possible detention.

If you encounter problems in Tibet, the U.S. government has limited ability to provide assistance, as the Chinese government does not usually authorize U.S. government personnel to travel there, even to provide consular assistance to U.S. citizens. 

Dual Nationality:  China does not recognize dual nationality. If you are a dual national of the United States and China, the Chinese government will usually not permit the U.S. Embassy to provide consular assistance to you unless you entered China on a U.S. passport with a valid Chinese visa. Regardless of your travel documents, if you are a dual national, or otherwise have ethnic or historical ties to China, it is possible that Chinese authorities will assert that you are a Chinese citizen and deny your access to U.S. consular representatives if you are detained.

If you are a naturalized U.S. citizen or have a possible claim to Chinese citizenship, and you are traveling to China, you should ensure that you are well informed about Chinese law and practices relating to determination and loss of Chinese citizenship, including the possible need to formally renounce Chinese citizenship, cancel a household register (“hukou”), etc. Chinese authorities generally consider a child born in China to at least one Chinese parent to be a Chinese citizen, even if the child was issued a U.S. passport at the time of birth. If you have or had a claim to Chinese citizenship and your child is born in China, prior to departing China with your child, you should contact the local Public Security Bureau and/or Entry-Exit Bureau for information on obtaining a travel document.

Information about dual nationality can be found on our website.  Contact the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China for specific information on China’s immigration and nationality laws.

For most visitors, China remains a very safe country. Petty street crime is the most common safety concern for U.S. citizens. The Chinese authorities are responsible for the safety and security of all residents in and travelers to China. Training, capability, and responsiveness of Chinese authorities varies. The U.S. Embassy and consulates general have no law enforcement authority. 

  • Take routine safety precautions.
  • Pay attention to surroundings.
  • Report any concerns to the local police.  
  • Call “110,” the local equivalent to the “911”; however, very few English speakers staff this hotline.

Violent crime is not common in China; however, remain vigilant.

  • Demonstrations may quickly turn violent without warning.
  • Domestic unrest and even terrorism do occur in China.
  • Business disputes between U.S. citizens and Chinese business partners can sometimes  result in physical confrontation or kidnapping. Go straight to the police if you feel threatened or relocate to a public place.
  • Be Alert to Criminal Schemes, such as:

o   “Tourist Tea” Scams: Young Chinese invite visitors out to tea and leave them with an exhorbitant bill.

o   Phone Scams: We have received reports that some individuals within China have received telephone calls where the callers pose as police officers and request a funds transfer to resolve an identity theft or money laundering investigation. In these cases, DO NOT WIRE any money. If you receive any suspicious calls or requests, contact the local Public Security Bureau (PSB) to verify the caller’s identity. 

o   “Black Cabs”: Be cautious when using taxi services, especially at airports. Avoid unlicensed “black cabs,” insist that the driver use the meter,  and get a receipt. Have the name of your destination written in Chinese characters and ask the driver to remove the bags from the trunk before you get out of the taxi and before you pay.

o   Counterfeit Currency: Counterfeit currency is a significant concern in China. Carrying small bills or using exact change, particularly in taxis, can help protect you. Use only ATMs at trusted financial institutions.

If you already have been victim of a scam, catalogue as many details as possible, including names, telephone and bank numbers, and email and IP addresses; file a police report, and inform the U.S. Embassy or a U.S. consulate. Please see the Department of State and the FBI pages for information on scams.

Victims of Crime:
If you are the victim of a crime, contact the local police and the U.S. Embassy or nearest consulate. We can:

  • help you find appropriate medical care
  • assist you in reporting a crime to the police
  • contact relatives or friends on your behalf
  • explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
  • provide a list of local attorneys
  • provide information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
  • provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
  • help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
  • replace a stolen or lost passport

Lost or Stolen Passports: If your passport is stolen, you must apply for both a new passport at the U.S. Embassy or consulate, and a new Chinese visa. File a police report at the nearest police station right away. You may also be directed to file a report at the local Exit/Entry Bureau.

Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy or consulate for assistance. Domestic violence in China is rarely recognized as a crime.

For further information:

 

Quality of Care: The standards of medical care in China are not equivalent to those in the United States. Hospitals in major Chinese cities often have VIP wards (gaogan bingfang), which are fairly modern and typically staffed with well-trained English speaking doctors and nurses. However, even in these VIP/foreigner wards, English-speaking patients frequently encounter difficulty due to cultural, language, and regulatory differences. Rural areas have rudimentary facilities and inadequate staffing. Additionally, Rh-negative blood may be difficult to obtain; the blood type of the general Asian populace is Rh positive.

Payment and Insurance: Chinese ambulances are often slow to arrive, and most do not have sophisticated medical equipment or trained responders. Cash payment for services is often required prior to treatment, including emergency cases. Travelers will be asked to post a deposit prior to admission to cover the expected cost of treatment. Hospitals in major cities may accept credit cards. The U.S. Embassy and consulates general in China maintain lists of local English-speaking doctors and hospitals.

We do not pay medical bills.
Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments.   See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage. We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.

Medication: Carry prescription medication in original packaging, along with the prescription. Many commonly-used U.S. drugs and medications are not available in China, and counterfeit, low-quality knockoffs are prevalent. If you try to have medications sent to you from outside China, you may have problems getting them released by Chinese Customs and/or you may have to pay high customs duties.

Air Quality: Air pollution is a significant problem in many locations. The U.S. Embassy in Beijing and the U.S. Consulates in Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Shenyang make air quality data available to the U.S. citizen community. The Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection provides its own air quality data for cities throughout China.

Most roads and towns in Tibet, Qinghai, parts of Xinjiang, and western Sichuan are situated at altitudes over 10,000 feet. Take appropriate precautions to prepare for and be alert to altitude sickness.

Disease: The following diseases are prevalent: influenza, typhoid, measles, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and tuberculosis.

Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For further health information, go to:

 

The Chinese legal system can be opaque and the interpretation and enforcement of local laws arbitrary. The judiciary does not enjoy independence from political influence. U.S. citizens traveling or residing in China should be aware of varying levels of scrutiny to which you will be subject from Chinese local law enforcement and state security. 

Criminal Penalties: You are subject to Chinese laws. If you violate Chinese laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Certain provisions of the PRC Criminal Law – such as “social order” crimes (Article 293) and crimes involving “endangering state security” and “state secrets” (Article 102 to 113) – are ill-defined and can be interpreted by the authorities arbitrarily and situationally. Information that may be common knowledge in other countries could be considered a “state secret” in China, and information can be designated a “state secret” retroactively.    

Be aware that some crimes are prosecutable in the United States, regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

  • Immigration violations can lead to arrest, detention, fines, and deportation.
  • Chinese law enforcement authorities have little tolerance for illegal drugs. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking illegal drugs in China are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences, heavy fines, or possibly the death penalty.
  • China also has strict laws against driving under the influence of alcohol that can lead to immediate detention on a criminal charge.

Arrest Notification:

  • If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy or the nearest consulate immediately. 
  • The Chinese must notify U.S. consular officer within four days; however this does not always occur in a timely manner.
  • A consular officer may be the only authorized visitor during your initial detention period. 
  • Bail is rarely granted.
  • Detention may last many months before a trial.
  • Travelers to China should enroll in the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) and you may wish to have someone contact the Embassy or nearest consulate if you are detained.
  • Please see the section on DUAL NATIONALITY for the limits on consular notification and access to dual nationals.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES:
Assisted Reproductive Technology:
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is widely and legally practiced in China. Surrogacy, however, is strictly forbidden under Chinese law and surrogacy contracts will not be considered valid in China. The use of reproductive technology for medical research and profit is strictly controlled in China.

Contracts and Commercial Disputes:  Before entering into a commercial or employment contract in China, have it reviewed by legal counsel both in the United States and in China. The U.S. Foreign Commercial Service can assist you in identifying and vetting business contacts and opportunities. Many U.S. citizens have reported difficulty getting their contracts enforced by Chinese courts or being forced out of profitable joint-ventures without opportunity to secure legal recourse in China.

Earthquakes: Earthquakes can occur throughout China. U.S. citizens in China should make contingency plans and leave emergency contact information with family members outside of China. Check here for information about earthquake preparedness.

English/Secondary School Teachers: English teachers in China frequently report employment disputes which can result in termination, lost wages, confiscation of passports, forced eviction from housing, and even threats of violence. Research your future workplace and make sure that you have the proper work visa to teach in China. Please see the Teaching in China Guide on the U.S. Embassy's website. If you have a serious dispute with your school, consult with a local attorney; and seek assistance from the police if your safety is threatened. 

Exit/Travel Bans: Business disputes, court orders to pay a settlement, or government investigations into both criminal and civil issues may result in an exit ban which will prohibit your departure from China until the issue is resolved.  Chinese authorities have confirmed that individuals and their family members who are not directly involved or even aware of these proceedings can be subject to an exit ban as well. Additionally, some local businesspeople who feel that they have been wronged by a foreign business partner may hire "debt collectors” to harass, intimidate, and sometimes physically detain foreign business partners or family members in hopes of collecting the debt. The U.S. Embassy or consulate can provide a list of local attorneys who serve U.S. clients, but otherwise are unable to intervene in civil cases. Local law enforcement authorities are generally unwilling to become involved in what they consider private business matters.

International Parental Child Abduction: Information on the prevention of international child abduction in China can be found on our website.

LGBTI Travelers: Homosexuality was decriminalized in China in 1997, but there are no civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination or harassment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Prejudices and discrimination still exist in many parts of the country. Same sex marriages are not legally recognized in China and local authorities will not provide marriage certificates to same-sex couples. There are growing LGBTI communities in some of China’s largest cities and violence against LGBTI individuals in China is relatively rare.

Non-Governmental Organizations:
In January 2017, China will implement a new law regulating the operations of foreign NGOs in China. NGOs and their employees should ensure they are complying with all relevant statutory requirements, particularly if working in sensitive areas or fields.

North Korea:
 Effective September 1, 2017, U.S. passports are not valid for travel to, in, or through North Korea unless they are specially validated by the Department of State.  The Department of State strongly warns U.S. citizens to avoid all travel to North Korea/the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) due to the serious risk to U.S. citizens of arrest and long-term detention.  The United States does not have diplomatic relations with the DPRK, and Sweden, the Protecting Power for the United States, can provide only limited consular services.

For U.S. citizens traveling in China near the North Korean border, please keep in mind that China shares a lengthy border with North Korea and if you cross into North Korea, even inadvertently, you will be subject to North Korean law. For further information, consult the North Korea Country Specific Information webpage, the Travel Warning for North Korea and the Travel Alert for North Korea.

Persons with Disabilities: U.S. citizens with mobility disabilities may face challenges while traveling in China. Sidewalks often do not have curb cuts and many streets can be crossed only via pedestrian bridges or underpasses accessible by staircase. Assistive technologies for blind people and those with other vision disabilities are unreliable, and access to elevators in public buildings can be restricted. In major cities, public restrooms in places visited by tourists usually have a least one accessible toilet.

Piracy: Do not buy counterfeit or pirated goods. The bootlegs are illegal in the United States and you may also be breaking local law by purchasing them.

Political and Religious Activity: Participating in unauthorized political or religious activities, including participating in public protests or sending private electronic messages critical of the government, may result in detention and Chinese government imposed restrictions on future travel to China. U.S. citizens have been detained and expelled for distributing religious literature, including Bibles.  If you bring religious literature with you, Chinese law dictates that it be a "reasonable amount” for your personal use. If you attempt to bring larger quantities, the literature will likely be confiscated and you may be fined, detained, or deported.

Social Insurance: China has a social insurance system to which foreigners who work in China must contribute. When you sign an employment contract, you must apply for a social insurance number, and it is important that your employer work with you to comply with the regulations. Please check the official website for updated information.

Special Scrutiny of Foreign Citizens: On occasion in recent years, citizens of the United States and other countries visiting or resident in China have been interrogated or detained for reasons said to be related to “state security.”  In such circumstances, you could face arrest, detention or an exit ban prohibiting your departure from China for a prolonged period. Dual U.S.-Chinese nationals and U.S. citizens of Chinese heritage may be at a higher risk of facing such special scrutiny. Information about dual nationality can be found on our website.  Foreigners working for NGOs in China have also recently faced additional scrutiny, and China will implement a new law regulating foreign NGO activity in January 2017. NGOs and their employees should ensure they are complying with all relevant statutory requirements, particularly if working in sensitive areas or fields.

Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

Surveillance and Monitoring: Security personnel carefully watch foreign visitors and may place you under surveillance. Hotel rooms (including meeting rooms), offices, cars, taxis, telephones, Internet usage, and fax machines may be monitored onsite or remotely, and personal possessions in hotel rooms, including computers, may be searched without your consent or knowledge.  Security personnel have been known to detain and deport U.S. citizens sending private electronic messages critical of the Chinese government.

Typhoons: The southeast coast of China is subject to strong typhoons and tropical storms, usually from July through September. For current information, please consult the Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Honolulu and the National Weather Service's Central Pacific Hurricane Center.

Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.

 

Road Conditions and Safety: Rules, regulations, and conditions vary greatly throughout China, but a general rule of thumb is that traffic safety is poor and driving in China can be dangerous.

Traffic can be chaotic and largely unregulated and the rate of accidents in China, including fatal accidents, is among the highest in the world. Motorcycle and bicycle accidents are frequent and often deadly. Pedestrians do not have the right of way, and you should show extreme caution when walking in traffic, even in marked crosswalks. Child safety seats are not widely available.

Traffic Laws:

  • You may not drive in China using a U.S. or international driver’s license. 
  • You can apply for a Chinese driver’s license if you have a resident permit.
  • If you are involved in a traffic accident, stay calm and call and wait for the police.
    • If there are no injuries and damage is minimal, the parties often come to agreement on the spot.
    • Unresolved disputes are handled by the courts.
    • In cases involving injuries, the driver determined at fault is responsible for the injured person’s medical costs. Sometimes, the police may hold your passport until the other parties are satisfied with the compensation they receive.    
  • Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information. Also, we suggest that you visit China’s national tourist office and national authority responsible for road safety.

Public Transportation: China has a rapidly growing public transportation sector-- including subways, trains, and buses -- with a generally positive safety record. Mass transit is widely available in major cities, and is generally safe, although individuals on crowded buses and subways are often targeted by pick-pockets.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of China’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of China’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.

 

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