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Everything you need to know before travelling to China

For the past three years, China essentially shut its borders and kept its people home. However, starting January 8, China will drop its strict quarantine requirements for international travellers.

The loosening of guidelines has unleashed massive pent-up demand. Immediately, bookings for flights to Beijing and Shanghai surged as people planned long-delayed business trips and family reunions. In addition, Singapore Airlines declared that it would reinstate its Singapore-to-Beijing operations for the first time since 2020. If a trip to China is in the pipeline, here’s everything you need to know.

China travel guidelines: Everything to know

Nucleic Acid test requirement

Passengers on inbound flights to China will need to provide a negative PCR test taken 48 hours before departure. Previously, those travelling to China had to take two PCR tests. The change would reverse its long-standing policy of mandating incoming travellers to quarantine for five days at the hotel, followed by three days at home.

Health code

Before departure, China-bound passengers will no longer need to acquire a health code from the Chinese Embassy or Consulates General.

Health declaration to China customs

Passengers headed to China must declare the negative test result to China Customs by filling out the Health Declaration Form. The health declaration form is available on the Wechat mini program of China Customs, the Chinaport web page, and the China Customs APP.

china quarantine
Image: Courtesy of Nuno Alberto/Unsplash

What should you do if you test positive?

Passengers exhibiting symptoms such as fever detected by China Customs must take an antigen test. Those who test positive must self-quarantine at their respective hotels and homes. Earlier this month, the Chinese authorities announced that COVID positive patients with mild or no symptoms can now isolate at home rather than at state facilities.

Can you take the public transport and visit public places in China?

Along with the travel guidelines, China eased the RT-PCR rules early in December. As a result, you will no longer need an RT-PCR test to enter any public place.  Many businesses have fully reopened in Beijing. As a result, the government announced that commuters would no longer need to show a negative test result to use public transport. If you are travelling to Shanghai, you will be allowed to enter outdoor venues such as parks and tourist attractions without testing requirements.

China travel guidelines
Image Credit: Marcin Konsek / Wikimedia Commons

Lifting quarantine rules only end some obstacles to travel to China. Many details still need to be clarified. For example, the government has yet to say if it will start reissuing tourist visas. However, officials said they would optimise the ability of foreigners to apply for business and study visas. 

Sure, citizens met China’s partial reopening with an outpouring of joy and relief. But it is worth noting that China’s abrupt policy U-turn dropped nearly all its domestic COVID curbs. The move has left hospitals scrambling to cope.

(Hero and feature image credits: publicdomainpictures.net, Wikimedia Commons)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Question: What should you do if you test positive in China?

Answer: Passengers exhibiting symptoms such as fever detected by China Customs must take an antigen test. Those who test positive must self-quarantine at their respective hotels and homes. Earlier this month, the Chinese authorities announced that COVID positive patients with mild or no symptoms can now isolate at home rather than at state facilities.

Question: What are the latest rules for travelling to China?

Answer: Passengers on inbound flights to China will need to provide a negative PCR test taken 48 hours before departure. Previously, those travelling to China had to take two PCR tests. The change would reverse its long-standing policy of mandating incoming travellers to quarantine for five days at the hotel, followed by three days at home.

Question: What is the COVID-19 situation in China?

Answer: Sure, citizens met China's partial reopening with an outpouring of joy and relief from citizens. But it is worth noting that China's abrupt policy U-turn dropped nearly all its domestic COVID curbs. The move has left hospitals scrambling to cope.

Everything you need to know before travelling to China

Tania Tarafdar

Tania and yoga are in an eternal relationship. You can see her breaking into yoga asanas in the snow-capped Alps and the Mediterranean Sea coastline. Her friends swear by her food and travel recommendations.


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