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Visa and Customs

Updated: 2019-09-11

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There are generally three types of visas: a group visa, individual tourist visa and individual business visa. If you are coming for travel, you should have a tourist visa that can be obtained at Chinese embassies and consulates worldwide, or through a Chinese travel agency to get a group visa. Tourist visas are valid for two months, but can be extended for an extra month at the Foreigner Section of the Public Security Bureau. If you want to continue traveling in China for more than three months, you have to leave the country and get a new visa before you can restart your travel in China. Taiwan compatriots can obtain visas from the Hong Kong office of the China Travel Service and the Hong Kong Consulate of Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Hong Kong and Macao residents should have Re-entry Cards of Hong Kong and Macao compatriots for travel or family visits to the mainland. To apply visas, you should have: your passport that is valid for at least six months before your travel to china; two passport-sized (2-inch) photos.

For U.S. citizens to travel to China, a Chinese visa needs to be obtained before embarking on the trip. A few different types of visas are issued to visitors, including the tourist visa (Type L) that allows the bearer one- to two entries to stay up to one month each time. Consult the Chinese Embassy or Consulate General on obtaining the right type of visa or apply through a travel.

Those who wish to work and stay in China for extended periods of time need to apply for employment visa (Type Z), which allows multiple entries into China and is valid for up to one year. The application process is long and bothersome and requirements many, including a complete physical check-up. Upon expiration, the Type Z visa can be renewed with reasonable amount of effort & paperwork.


Incoming travelers are allowed to bring with them for temporary admission one of each of the items: Camera, portable tape-recorder, portable cine-camera, portable video-camera, and portable computer.

Those personal items over above limit, gold, silver, and ornaments, foreign exchange, Renminbi, Chinese herbs and Chinese patent medicines for example, must be declared accurately to the Customs and fill out customs declaration forms which will be collected upon exit.

Prohibited imports include arms, ammunition and explosives; printed matter, film or tapes detrimental to China; dangerous or narcotic drugs; infected animals, plants or foodstuffs. It is also forbidden to take out any of these items, or endangered species of animals or plants and antiques without export permits.

Trade Shows & Exhibitions

Participants can come into China on tourist visas and travel in the country. Notebook computers, cameras, portable printers, VCRs can be brought into China as personal belongings. Business firms seeking to bring in exhibits and items for display should consult with Customs authorities for regulation on the procedures and to obtain copies of appropriate forms.