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How to Get a Chinese Visa for Your Tibet Tour: the Ultimate Guide

August,21 2023 BY Master Kungga Dundruk 0 COMMENTS

Planning a magical Tibet tour? Securing a Chinese Visa is a vital step for your journey. Don't worry; our ultimate guide is here to make it easy. We'll walk you through the process, step by step, ensuring a smooth experience. From visa types to necessary documents, we've got you covered. Let's dive in and make your dream trip a reality!

Do I Need a Chinese Visa for Tibet?

Many foreign travelers reckon that Tibet Travel Permit is the only document they need to prepare when planning a tour to Tibet. Actually, it’s a big misunderstanding. If a foreigner wants to visit the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), a province of China, he or she should get a Chinese Visa first, and then apply for the Tibet Travel Permit.

A Chinese Visa is a permit issued by the Chinese Visa authorities to a foreigner for entry into, exit from or transit through China. The Chinese Visa authorities issue a Diplomatic, Courtesy, Official or Regular Visa to a foreigner according to his/her status, purpose of visit or passport type. The overseas Chinese Visa authorities are Chinese embassies, consulates and other offices authorized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China.

Chinese VisaA sample of Chinese Visa

Visa-free Entry for Travelers

Starting from July 26th, China has reinstated the visa-free policy for short-term stays for citizens of Singapore and Brunei. So, no visa is required for ordinary passport holders from Singapore and Brunei to visit China for up to 15 days for business, sightseeing, visiting relatives and friends or transit. As of now, Japan has not had its visa-free policy reinstated.

Besides, with the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Travel Card, foreigners can enter China without the need for a visa application. Holding a valid APEC business travel card allows individuals to enjoy a stay in China for a duration of up to 60 days.

Furthermore, for those who hold foreigners' permanent residence certificates issued by the People's Republic of China Public Security Bureau (PSB), there is no requirement to apply for a Chinese Visa. However, foreigners who come to China for study, employment, or as resident correspondents must complete the application for foreigners' Residence Permits within one month of their arrival in the country.

Visa free for Singapore passport holdersOrdinary passport holders from Singapore can visit China without a visa.

Visa-free Transit for Travelers

For foreigners who are transiting through China on their way to a third country or region, they can stay in a transit city for less than 24 hours without leaving the airport. Instead of applying for a Chinese Visa, they only need to apply for a temporary entry permit directly at the airport.

This policy applies to almost all foreigners and covers most major cities in China with international airports, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing, Hangzhou, Nanjing, and Tianjin.

Which Type of Chinese Visa Do I Need?

When determining the type of Chinese Visa you need, consider the following options:

Chinese Tourist Visa (L): issued to a foreigner who comes to China for sightseeing, family visiting or other private purposes. If you plan to visit Tibet, one province of China, for tourism or leisure purposes, this visa is appropriate.

Chinese Tourist VisaA sample of Chinese Tourist Visa (L Visa)

Work Visa (Z): issued to a foreigner who comes to China for a post or employment, and his or her accompanying family members. If you intend to work in China, you’ll need a Work Visa (Z).

Student Visa (X): issued to a foreigner who plans to stay in China for more than 6 months for the purpose of studying, pursuing advanced studies, or engaging in internships.

Business Visa (F): issued to a foreigner who is invited to China for a visit, an investigation, a lecture, to do business, scientific-technological and culture exchange, short-term advanced studies or internship for no more than 6 months.

Other Types of Chinese Visa: depending on your specific circumstances, there might be other types of visas available, like Crew Visa (C) issued to crew members, Q Visa issued to relatives of Chinese citizens, etc. Make sure to check with the Chinese embassy or consulate for the most suitable visa category for your situation.

What Documents to Prepare for Applying for Chinese Visa?

To apply for a Chinese Visa, you will need to prepare essential documents, including a valid passport, a completed visa application form, and a recent passport-type photo.

Your passport should have a minimum 6-month validity upon entry to China. The visa application form can be downloaded from the Chinese embassy website and can be completed digitally, printed, and signed, or completed online in certain countries like the UK. The photo should adhere to specific requirements like a white background and dimensions of approximately 48mmx33mm.

Valid PassportA valid passport is required for applying for Chinese Visa.

Additionally, the supporting documents needed vary depending on the visa type; for example, a tourist L visa application would require round-trip tickets, hotel bookings, or an invitation letter from your China travel agency.

How to Apply for Chinese Visa for Tibet Travel?

Generally speaking, a Chinese Visa should be applied through a Chinese Embassy in your home country or in a third country. Alternatively, you can also apply to a Chinese consulate or a China Application Service Center.

If you enter Tibet from Mainland China, DO NOT list Tibet as the travel destination when filling the application form. Otherwise, you might be rejected. It is wise to list cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu as your travel destination.

If you enter Tibet from Nepal, it is not necessary to apply for the Chinese Visa in your home country, because you need to apply for the Group Tourist Visa through the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu. Whether you've already got a Chinese Visa or not, you must get a new one in Kathmandu. Once you get the Chinese Group Visa in Nepal, your visa obtained before becomes invalid automatically.

China Group VisaA sample of China Group Visa for entering Tibet from Nepal

Besides, for expats working in China, you usually have already obtained a work visa (also called Z visa) or a residence permit. On this occasion, you only need to apply for the Tibet Travel Permit for your Tibet tour.

How Much does a Chinese Visa Cost?

The cost of a Chinese Visa varies greatly based on your nationality and how many times you plan to enter China. For Americans, it's usually USD 185, and for UK citizens, it's around EUR 151. For citizens of other countries, the fee can be anywhere from $30 to $180.

You typically pay the visa fee when you collect your visa, but in some places, you might need to pay when you apply. If you choose to apply through the Chinese Visa Application Service Center, there will be additional service fees and taxes.

How Long does It Take to Get a Chinese Visa?

The processing time for a Chinese Visa is typically four working days, but there might be additional non-working days due to Chinese public holidays. In case of an emergency, you can expedite your application by paying an additional fee for faster processing.

Get Chinese VisaYou can pay an additional fee to get your Chinese Visa earlier.

For the best results, it is recommended to apply for a China Visa one or two months before your planned departure date. Usually, the visa is valid for 90/180 days from the date of issue, which means you can apply as early as three months before your departure.

Do I Need a Multiple Entry Visa for My China Tour including Tibet?

Some foreign tourists would wonder, “If I enter Tibet from Mainland China and return to Mainland China after travel, should I get a multiple entry visa before entering China?” No. There is no need, because Tibetan Autonomous Region is a part of China. Tourists never leave the territory of China when traveling in Tibet.

How about the Tibet Travel Permit after Getting the Chinese Visa?

Obtaining a Chinese Visa marks the initial step in your journey. However, for visiting Tibet, an additional requirement is the Tibet Travel Permit. Unlike the Chinese Visa, the Tibet Travel Permit cannot be obtained individually. To secure this permit, you must contact an authorized Tibetan travel agency. The necessary documents for application include your Chinese Visa and passport. Only once you have the permit can you travel to Tibet by train or flight.

Tibet Travel PermitTibet Travel Permit

As a leading tour operator with years of experience, we can help ensure a smooth process in obtaining your Tibet Travel Permit. Just send us the necessary documents in advance, and we'll handle the application for you.


Obtaining a Chinese Visa for your Tibet tour is essential and demands a thorough preparation. You need to carefully consider the visa type and ensure all necessary documents are ready. Also, remember to obtain the Tibet Travel Permit after obtaining the Chinese Visa. If you still have any questions regarding the Chinese Visa for Tibet, please don't hesitate to contact us for inquiries.

Master Kungga Dundruk

About the Author - Master Kungga Dundruk

Kungga Dundruk, often respectfully referred to as “Manager Kunga”, is the most revered and legendary Tibetan guide in our team.

Currently working as a customer service manager in Lhasa, Kunga used to study business overseas and got his Bachelor of Business in Nepal and India before moving back to his homeland. With pure passion for life and unlimited love for Tibet, Kunga started his guide career as early as 1997.

As a legendary Tibetan guide with 22 years of guide experience, Kunga was awarded the Gold Medalist of China’s Best Tour Guide in 2019, marking the pinnacle of his career. Today, Kunga loves sharing his wealth of Tibetan knowledge through travel articles and stands ready to offer prompt support whenever our guests need help in Lhasa.

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