Should You Carry Your Passport With You in China? – You should carry your passport with you in China. Keep your passport (with at least six months validity remaining) safely tucked away with you all the time, wherever you go. And not only your passport, but also your visitor/entry visa (explained below).
Chinese police do conduct random ID checks, especially during times of heightened security and especially during major sporting, public events, and political events. If you don’t have your passport/visa with you and you’re stopped for a check, you could find yourself being fined or worse, detained and immediately deported. Note that a photocopy of your ID will not be considered a valid form of identification.
Does China Require You to Keep Your Passport on You?
Chinese authorities frequently do ID checks, so it’s important that you carry your passport with you wherever you go while in China. Your passport should have at least six months remaining until renewal. Visitors traveling to China need more than simply their passports to enter the country.
A visit to mainland China will also require you to apply for an entry visa before your trip. A visa is an authorization from a country you are visiting that will allow you into the country for a specific period of time. You should not only keep your passport on you, but you should also be ready to show your visitor visa if requested by any Chinese official.
Depending on which country you’re a citizen of, the local Chinese Embassy or Consulate General near you will need certain documents from you to be able to issue you an entry visa. The most expeditious way for you to understand what you’ll need is to check with the Chinese Embassy or Consulate located closest to you. You can also find ample visitor visa information online.
How Do I Get a Visa to Visit China?
Getting a visa to visit China isn’t a particularly difficult process, but note that you can only obtain your visitor visa through an in-person interview process. If you can’t go to a Chinese government office, you can get your visa through a travel and tourism agency that can help you get your visa for a fee.
As part of the visa application process, you will be asked to mail in or turn in your passport (your passport is required to be in the hands of Chinese officials for a time as part of the application process; they will attach your visa documentation, which is actually a large sticker, to your passport).
Keep your passport and visa safe, carry them with you wherever you go in China, and do not try to remove the sticker.
Tips for Entry, Exit, and Traveling Through China
1 – Make sure you apply for and receive a visa prior to your arrival in China, and also that your passport is valid for at least six more months before it needs to be renewed. You can be stopped and asked to show this documentation at any time. Should you be stopped for an ID/passport check and you don’t have both your passport and visitor visa on you, you could incur a fine, be detained, and immediately deported.
2 – You are required to register with the police within 24 hours of your arrival in the country or face fines and possible deportation. You can register with the staff at your hotel or at the local police station.
3 – If you plan to work while in China, ensure that you apply for and receive the appropriate visa. You are not allowed to work in China using tourist or student visas. Again, you could be detained, fined, incur criminal charges, and deported.
4 – You are required to have a valid visa in order to leave China and you must leave the country BEFORE the expiration of the documented duration of your stay. In other words, do not wait to leave until the final day of your visa’s duration.
BONUS TIP – If you plan on traveling to China, Hong Kong, or Macau (with returns to China) more than once in the upcoming months or years, you might consider applying for a ten-year multiple entry visa, which will come in handy and save you repeated application processes.
5 – How long you’ll be able to stay in a given region in China and how much you’ll be allowed to travel around varies by region.
6 – You are required to inform your airline upon check-in and also receive an official endorsement stamp at the immigration desk before you leave the airport.
7 – Traveling within China without a visa still requires that you carry a valid passport, a visa to visit your destination (if necessary), and a return ticket from the same location.
8 – You may check with the Chinese Embassy/Consulate General for a list of eligible airports and more detailed guidance regarding travel within China.
9 – Note that Chinese border officials throughout the country are authorized to deny any foreign travelers from entering China without any prior warning or explanation. The U.S. Embassy and Consulates cannot help you if you’re denied entry.
10 – Note that entry and exit requirements are strictly adhered to, along with restrictions on activities permitted by any specific type of visa (traveler, student, etc.).
11 – Police, administrators, transportation officials, and even the staff at your hotel can randomly verify that your visa has not expired. “Overstaying” your visa can result in being denied service by hotels, airports, and train stations, not to mention you could face fines, detention, and deportation.
12 – U.S. citizens should note that if they should run into problems while in Tibet, the U.S. government has only limited ability to intervene, as the Chinese government does not typically allow U.S. government personnel to travel there.
So, Should You Carry Your Passport With You in China?
You should most certainly carry your passport and whatever visa you have along with you wherever you may travel in China. You can be stopped at any time by authorities for a random ID check, and if you don’t have your passport and visa on hand, you could face possible fines, detention, and immediate deportation. It’s important to remember that the U.S. government has only limited ability to help its citizens who may run into any problems with the Chinese government.