What are the Travel Restrictions for China 2021?

This is a research on the travel restrictions of Mainland China both domestically and internationally. The purpose of this report is to understand the rules and regulations impacting direct business that may have an effect on international businesses. 

What are the travel Advisory Guidelines for Mainland China?

  • Since March 29, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has implemented the so-called five-one policy to cap international flights and reduce the number of international flights on China bound routes. This was relaxed from June 4, when the CAAC started allowing more international flights into China.
  • Chinese media announced that starting September 3 2020, the country is resuming direct flights from eight countries, including Thailand, Cambodia, Pakistan, Greece, Denmark, Sweden, and Canada.
  • The United States of America recommends citizens to reconsider travel to the People’s Republic of China (PRC), including the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), due to arbitrary enforcement of local laws.
  • Exercise increased caution in the Hong Kong SAR due to COVID-19.

Domestic Strategies-Local Zoning Restriction

While the virus hasn’t fully disappeared, and sporadic outbreaks reported in individual cities – China is still adopting a strict isolate-and-tracking strategy in high-risk areas.

Authorities will require travelers from affected locations to quarantine for 14 days at designated hotels. As of Jan. 14, the requirement is in place for travelers who have visited the following locations:

  • Beijing: Dashanzi and Jiuxianqiao in Chaoyang District, and Nanfaxin, Gaoliying, Shengli Street, Nancai, Renhe, Beishicao, and Zhaoquanying in Shunyi District
  • Hebei Province: Shijiazhuang; Nangong City, Xingtai; and Gu’an County, Langfang
  • Heilongjiang Province: Aihui District, Heihe City; Angangxi District, Qiqihar City; Suihua City
  • Liaoning Province: Dalian and Shenyang

The government could adjust the list of affected locations at short notice.

China’s National Health Commission launched a WeChat mini program (see the below graphic) for citizens to check out the infection risk level of a special area, for epidemic personnel to check out the countries and cities visited (staying for more than four hours) by the traveler during the past 14 days.

Similar to the color scheme of the health code system, the outbreak risk level system grants “green” color to low-risk areas, “yellow” to medium-risk areas, and “red” to high-risk areas.

Risk levels are assessed based on the number of new cases.

  • Low-risk areas – are areas with no confirmed cases or no new confirmed cases for 14 consecutive days;
  • Medium-risk areas – are those with new confirmed cases within 14 days – but the total new cases are no more than 50, or with cumulatively more than 50 confirmed cases – but no cluster epidemic within 14 days; and
  • High-risk areas – are those where the cumulative number of confirmed cases have exceeded 50 cases, and a cluster epidemic was recorded within the last 14 days.

Health Guidelines

Overall, in a bid to boost business and consumption, China is relaxing travel restrictions within its borders. However, while most business operations are back to normal, many micro-control policies are still being implemented.

For example, some tourist and entertainment facilities have still suspended operation. Some office buildings, scenic spots, hotels, shopping malls, subways, public transports are still conducting measures to check body temperature and color code of passengers and require them to wear a mask. Cinemas are allowed to reopen but with strict control measures.

Requirements for International Business Travelers

Since March 28, the country’s borders have been closed to almost all foreigners. This looks to be slowly changing. On August 10, China announced that foreign nationals from 36 European countries who hold valid residence permits, including work permits or permits for family reunion and personal matters, can apply for visas for free and directly at any Chinese embassy or consulate to enter China. These countries are: Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, North Macedonia, Malta, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Greece, and the United Kingdom. In addition to these European countries, according to official sources, foreign nationals with valid residence permits (employment, personal affairs, and reunion) from a list of 13 Asian countries ( Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Brunei, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, or Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste) are also allowed to apply for visas at the local Chinese embassy or consulate.

What are the Quarantine Rules when traveling to China?

From April 1 2020 to now, the Customs authorities have said they would cooperate with local governments to carry out nucleic acid testing for all overseas passengers entering China by air, sea, or land (source: http://www.gov.cn/xinwen/gwylflkjz91/index.htm)

Beijing

In Beijing, all international flights are currently being redirected to one of 16 other cities – Chengdu, Changsha, Hefei, Lanzhou, Tianjin, Shijiazhuang, Taiyuan, Hohhot, Jinan, Qingdao, Nanjing, Shenyang, Dalian, Zhengzhou, and Xi’an, with Wuhan as back-up, which are officially called “the first entry point.”

Travelers will be subject to a 14-day mandatory quarantine in the first entry point city. After they complete the fortnight quarantines and test negative for the virus, if they proceed to Beijing on the same or following day, they will not need to undergo another 14-day quarantine in Beijing. Otherwise, they will be subject to another 14-day quarantine upon arrival in Beijing. If any passengers or cargo be tested positive for COVID-19, all other passengers on the same flight must directly undergo 14+7 days of centralized quarantine.

Shanghai

Those passengers bounding for other provinces but transit through Shanghai will need to undergo 14 days of centralized quarantine. Effective from July 27, travelers who have a permanent residence place in Shanghai and meet the relevant conditions may undergo the quarantine at their home and the designated place for 7 days each. Effective from September 12, travelers heading over to Jiangsu, Zhejiang, or Anhui province will need to undergo the centralized quarantine in Shanghai for 3 days and at their final destination for 11 days.

Xiamen

All passengers arriving in Xiamen are required to receive the medical tests and undergo the centralized quarantine for 14 days on their own expenses. Passengers entering Xiamen as their final destination are required to quarantine themselves for further 7 days at home after the centralized quarantine. After the centralized quarantine, the passengers need to receive medical tests again. They will be allowed to leave if their test results are passable.

Chengdu

All passengers, regardless of nationality and departure, are required to undergo a 14-day quarantine and afford the relevant expenses by themselves. After the 14-day centralized quarantine, the passengers will be quarantined for further 7 days at home. Passengers transiting in Chengdu must receive nucleic acid tests and undergo centralized quarantine for 14 days;They will only be allowed to bound for their destination after receiving passable test results.

Those older than 70, younger than 14, pregnant, with underlying medical conditions, or in other special situations – can apply for self-isolation at home. Others must pay for their own 14-day quarantine at designated hotels.

Domestic arrivals from other low-risk infection areas of China no longer need to undergo the 14-day home isolation after the city lowers its public health emergency response rating from level one to level two.

What are the Health Care and Essential Workers exemptions?

Health Care 

If the patients are pneumonia patients diagnosed with new coronavirus infection or suspected patients determined by the diagnosis and treatment plan of new coronavirus infection by the health department, the part of the personal payment is paid in advance by the government at all levels in proportion to the medical treatment. The premise is basic medical insurance, critical illness insurance, and medical assistance are paid according to regulations. This provision exempts individuals from the burden of medical treatment.

For pneumonia patients diagnosed with new coronavirus infection or suspected patients determined by the health department’s new coronavirus infection pneumonia diagnosis and treatment plan to seek medical treatment first, reimbursement will be implemented in accordance with the referral policy, and the reimbursement ratio will no longer be reduced. Medical insurance costs The medical security department of the place where the doctor seeks treatment is advanced, and the personal burden is subsidized by the finance.

The adjustment of the national medical insurance drug catalogue in 2020 has been completed. This adjustment attaches great importance to the protection of drugs related to the treatment of new coronary pneumonia. Ribavirin injection, Abidol granules and other drugs have been added to the catalog. The latest version of the national new coronary pneumonia diagnosis and treatment The drugs listed in the plan have all been included in the national medical insurance program.

Essential Workers exemptions 

Various countries’ embassies and chambers of commerce have been negotiating with the Chinese government to establish fast track channels. So far, China has signed fast track agreements with Germany, France, South Korea, UK, Japan, and Singapore.  In Shanghai, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and the Shanghai Municipality Government have issued two channels – a normal channel and a fast track channel – to facilitate the entry into China of employees essential for business operations. The fast track channel is only applied to employees of companies whose country of origin has signed a fast track agreement with China. Employees entering Shanghai following the fast track procedure will be allowed to start work within 48 hours after arrival, subject to negative COVID-19 test results. Those entering Shanghai following the normal procedure will be subject to a 14-day quarantine at a designated central facility. 

What are the rules for Airports and Public Transportation in China?

Airport

The July 20, 2020 announcement urges airlines to strictly examine passengers’ health declarations and health codes and refuse boarding to those who fail to satisfy any travel requirements. According to a CAAC announcement issued on June 4, 2020, the following penalties will be imposed on airlines that carry passengers with COVID-19:

If five to nine passengers on one flight test positive, the CAAC will bar the airline from services to China for a week.

If 10 or more passengers on one flight test positive, the airline’s services to China will be suspended for four weeks.

The new CAAC announcement also emphasizes that passengers providing false test results or information will face legal consequences. Chinese embassies are expected to formulate detailed implementation rules after “carefully assessing the testing capacity of host countries,” the announcement says.

(source:https://www.loc.gov/law/foreign-news/article/china-government-requires-all-passengers-to-present-negative-covid-19-test-to-board-flights-to-china/)

Bus

All public transport workers and passengers must wear masks and protective gloves. All passengers need to take their body temperature before entering the public transport passenger station. If their body temperature is higher than 37.3 ℃ or they have new symptoms, they need to contact the local health department immediately. Staff need to measure their body temperature every 4-6 hours.

The occupancy rate of long-distance vehicles crossing provinces and cities shall not exceed 50% of the normal situation at most, and the number of passengers gathered in passenger stations in high-risk areas shall not exceed 50% of the maximum capacity; In medium risk areas, the number of passengers gathering in the passenger station shall not exceed 70% of the maximum capacity. Except for low-risk areas, all smoking areas shall be closed, and emergency isolation areas shall be reserved in the back of public transport vehicles, and simple curtains (coverings) shall be used to cover them.

New spacing guidelines have been implemented on some buses to ensure safe distances between passengers. Every operational bus is also required to be disinfected at least twice a day (once before leaving the depot and once after returning) and more in higher risk key areas, such as routes starting from airports. Passengers’ temperatures are also checked before boarding.

Some municipal bus operators, like in Beijing and Shenzhen, are also encouraging people to use traceable payment methods like WeChat, Alipay or transit smart cards, instead of cash. These payment methods not only cut down on exposure risks, but also help local authorities trace possible contacts and quickly inform passengers and relevant communities if a passenger is diagnosed with COVID-19. Shanghai has put QR codes in its buses and is encouraging passengers to scan and register their contact information.

What are the Health Forms required to Travel to China?

To reflect the new dual Covid-19 test regulations and Customs requirements by the authorities, following steps are mandatory by the passenger to board a flight from/to China Mainland based on the citizenship and flight options (direct or transfer flight).

The government required two Covid-19 tests (PCR and IgM antibody test within 48 hours before departure) plus a Green HS Code (Chinese Citizens) or a Green HDC Code (Non-Chinese Citizens) are required to board the aircraft. In addition, a Red Chinese Customs Entry/Exit Health Code (at the day of departure) is required to board and deboard the aircraft.

In case of a cross-border feeder flight, the passenger must take the two Covid-19 tests and apply for the Green HS code or Green HDC code in BOTH countries (country of first departure and transit country).

Two Covid-19 tests

  1. Starting from 0:00 on December 23, 2020 Pacific Time, IgM serum antibody test must be performed by medical professionals through venous blood sampling, and the test report should include the following terms: Serum, IgM, Venous, etc. Finger-prick blood testing is no longer accepted. The report also needs to clearly state testing methods, including: (1) Colloidal gold; (2) Chemiluminescence; (3) Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay; (4) Others, please specify.
  2. Starting from 0:00 on December 23, 2020 Pacific Time, nucleic acid rt-PCR test report should include such terms as NAAT, RT-PCR, and specify sampling method, including: (1) Pharyngeal swab; (2) Nasopharyngeal swab; (3). Others, please specify.
Green HS Code

Chinese citizens should upload photos of their COVID-19 negative certificates to the WeChat mini program COVID-19 Prevention Health Code International Version within 24 hours after obtaining negative certificates. Those approved by the Chinese Embassy will obtain Green Health Codes with an “HS” mark for a three-day validity period. All passengers are required to travel within the validity period, and cooperate with airlines for health codes checking. 

During the current pandemic, returning Chinese citizens have been required by another CAAC announcement issued on April 7, 2020, to obtain a green health code by reporting data through the app every 24 hours for at least 14 consecutive days immediately prior to boarding flights to China.

Green HDC Code 

As from 0:00 on December 1, 2020 Pacific Time, the Chinese Embassy/Consulates General will issue QR code with “HDC ” mark for foreign passengers who are to fly from the U.S. to China. Foreign passengers can apply for the QR code with “HDC” mark by logging on the website of https://hrhk.cs.mfa.gov.cn/H5/ via computer or smart phone. The passengers can fill in their information, declare their health status and upload the test certificates, passports, itinerary and other documents as required online, which will then be examined and verified by the Chinese Embassy/Consulates in the U.S. Upon approval, they will receive the QR code with “HDC” mark. Foreign passengers must present the electronic or printed code, and follow the procedures for inspection by relevant airlines during boarding.

The Red Chinese Customs Entry/Exit Health Code 

Passengers are required to present one code to deboard the aircraft after landing in China Mainland. Red Customs Entry/Exit Health Code is valid for 24 hours and needs to be requested earliest 24 hours before arrival in China Mainland or departure from China Mainland. 

What are the Chinese Airlines Travelling Requirements?

Entering China (Latest Update : 15:00 TPE (GMT+8), 25 January 2021):

Beijing
  1. All foreign passengers are not allowed to transit or enter Mainland China. (Starting from 0:00 on September 28, 2020, the foreigners who hold valid residence permits for work, private affairs, or reunion are allowed to enter into Mainland China. There is no need to re-apply for a visa. Travelers holding the above three types of residence permits that have expired after 0:00 on March 28, 2020, may apply for a renewed visa via the Chinese embassy if their purposes of visiting remain unchanged.)
  2. The current visas or relevant documents they are holding are not valid for use.

3.Taiwan residents are allowed to enter Beijing by the valid Mainland Travel Permit for Taiwan Residents.

4.Taiwan residents holding the Taiwan ID card and the expired Mainland Travel Permit for Taiwan Residents can make the declaration to the immigration of Beijing via China Airlines to apply for the landing visa ( a Single Travel Permit for the Taiwan Resident) by 24 hours before the flight departure.

Exemptions :

  • This does not apply to passengers with a diplomatic, public service, courtesy or C visa.
  • This does not apply to passengers with a visa issued after 28 March 2020. 

Quarantine measures : 

  • All inbound passengers arriving in Beijing are required to receive nucleic acid tests and undergo 14 -day centralized quarantine by bearing the relevant fees themselves.
  • After the centralized quarantine, passengers are to quarantine themselves for further 7 days at home.
  • If there are any passengers or cargo tested positive of COVID-19, all other passengers on the same flight are required to undergo 14+7 days centralized quarantine directly.

Passengers taking Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan return flights between Mainland China are required to present the COVID-19 tested negative certification issued 72 hours prior to the scheduled flight departure for departure and arrival. Please be reminded not to use the test name other than 「COVID-19」 or 「Coronavirus」. Any other test name may result in denied boarding or deportation.

Shanghai
  1. All foreign passengers are not allowed to transit or enter Mainland China. (Starting from 0:00 on September 28, 2020, the foreigners who hold valid residence permits for work, private affairs, or reunion are allowed to enter into Mainland China. There is no need to re-apply for a visa. Travelers holding the above three types of residence permits that have expired after 0:00 on March 28, 2020, may apply for a renewed visa via the Chinese embassy if their purposes of visiting remain unchanged.)
  2. The current visas or relevant documents they are holding are not valid for use.
  3. Taiwan residents are allowed to enter Shanghai by the valid Mainland Travel Permit for Taiwan Residents or using the Taiwan ID card to apply for a landing visa ( a Single Travel Permit for Taiwan Resident).

Exemptions :

  • This does not apply to passengers with a diplomatic, public service, courtesy or C visa.
  • This does not apply to passengers with a visa issued after 28 March 2020. 

Quarantine measures :

  • Those passengers bounding for other provinces but transit through Shanghai will need to undergo 14 days centralized quarantine.
  • Effective from 27 July, those travelers who have a permanent place of residence in Shanghai and also meet the relevant conditions, may undergo the quarantine at their home and at the designated place for 7 days each.
  • Effective from 12 September, those travelers who are heading over to Jiangsu, Zhejiang, or Anhui province, will need to undergo the centralized quarantine in Shanghai for 3 days and at their final destination for 11 days.
Chengdu
  1. All foreign passengers are not allowed to transit or enter Mainland China.(Starting from 0:00 on September 28, 2020, the foreigners who hold valid residence permits for work, private affairs, or reunion are allowed to enter into Mainland China. There is no need to re-apply for a visa. Travelers holding the above three types of residence permits that have expired after 0:00 on March 28, 2020, may apply for a renew visa to via the Chinese embassy if their purposes of visiting remain unchanged.)
  2. The current visas or relevant documents they holding are not valid for use.
  3. Taiwan residents are allowed to enter Chengdu by the valid Mainland Travel Permit for Taiwan Residents.
  4. Taiwan residents holding the Taiwan ID card and the expired Mainland Travel Permit for Taiwan Residents can make the declaration to the immigration of Chengdu via China Airlines to apply for the landing visa ( a Single Travel Permit for the Taiwan Resident) by 24 hours before the flight departure.

Exemptions :

  • This does not apply to passengers with a diplomatic, public service, courtesy or C visa.
  • This does not apply to passengers with a visa issued after 28 March 2020. 

Quarantine measures :

  • All passengers regardless of nationality and the place of departure are required to undergo a 14-day quarantine and also afford the relevant expenses by themselves.
  • After the 14-day centralized quarantine, the passengers will be quarantined for further 7 days at home.
  • Passengers transiting in Chengdu must receive nucleic acid tests and undergo centralized quarantine for 14 days;They will only be allowed to bound for destination after receiving passable test results.

Remarks:

Online health declaration for Departure/Arrival(All passengers must complete it before boarding and the paper forms are not acceptable.)

Passengers taking Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan return flights between Mainland China are required to present the COVID-19 tested negative certification issued 72 hours prior to the scheduled flight departure for departure and arrival. Please be reminded not to use the test name other than 「COVID-19」 or 「Coronavirus」. Any other test name may result in denied boarding or deportation.

source: https://www.china-airlines.com/nz/en/discover/news/travel-advisory/Immigration-Information##UnitedStates

Entering the States:

Non-US citizens and residents who have visited/transited through the following regions in the past 14 days are not permitted to enter: 

Mainland China,Iran,Austria, Belgium, Brazil,Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland,France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia,Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands,Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden,Switzerland,United Kingdom and Ireland.

Exemptions: 

1.US citizens / lawful permanent residents including their spouse, parents, legal guardian, siblings (unmarried and under the age of 21 years).

2.Foreign government officials or an immediate family member of an official who originated in, transferred from, or transited through the aforementioned countries/regions in the past 14 days. (Visa Types : A-1, A-2, C-1,C1-D, C-2, C-3, CR-1, CR-2, D, E-1, G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, IR-1, IR-4, IH-4, NATO-1, NATO-2, NATO-3, NATO-4, or NATO-6)

3.U.S. Armed Forces and their spouses and children.

Quarantine requirements : 

  • Passengers are subject to the measures set by the state/territory of their final destination. More information can be found at the official websites (English).
  • Passengers entering New York must fill out the Online Traveler Health Form (English) before arrival.
  • Passengers entering Los Angeles must fill out the Online Traveler Form (English) before arrival. Failure to submit the form may result in a fine. Passengers should practice self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival.
  • Starting from 26 January 2021, all passengers aged 2 or older must present an English version of the COVID-19 negative test report before boarding for entering and transiting the United States. The report must contain the following information. (1) The name and date of birth of the passenger matching the travel document, (2) Type of test (NAAT or Viral Antigen test), (3) Test date, (4) Test result (negative or undetected). Those who have been infected with COVID-19 in the past three months before departure but have recovered must provide proof of recovery.
  • Pursuant to the US federal law and in order to reduce the waiting time for passengers to check in, please download and complete 1 copy of the attestation form before heading to the airport, and bring it to the airport for check and filing by China Airlines ground staff.

(source: https://www.china-airlines.com/nz/en/discover/news/travel-advisory/Immigration-Information##UnitedStates)

Flight schedule between the United States and China (example):

Air China:

  1. Flight adjustment plan
routedateflight numberFlight schedule
Beijing-Los Angeles (round trip)February 8-10CA983/984Once a day
Beijing – Los Angeles-San Francisco (round trip)February 11-March 28CA983/984Every 2/4/5/7
Beijing – New York Kennedy (round trip)February 8-10CA981/982Once a day
Beijing – New York Kennedy-Washington (round trip)February 12-March 28CA981/9821/3/6 every week

http://www.airchina.com.cn/cn/info_and_services/137679.shtml

What are the Global Expo’s China planning for – In Person or Virtual?

    The Global Expo 2021 would be held in person in Shanghai as scheduled. The Global Expo’s China this year is planned for beginning from 11/05/2021 and ending till 11/10/2021. This would be the forth Global Expo held in China. According to the plan, the corporate business exhibition will continue to set up six exhibition areas for food and agricultural products, automobiles, technical equipment, consumer goods, medical equipment and healthcare, and service trade. Until now there have been 278 exhibitors signed up for the exhibition.

source: https://www.ciie.org/zbh/cn/19news/notice/20201120/24705.html

https://www.ciie.org/zbh/en/

How has international travel affected specific sectors of China’s Tourism Industry?

 

  China’s domestic tourism revenue is expected to fall by 52% to 2.76 trillion yuan ($394 billion) in 2020. Before the cross-province travel ban was lifted in mid July, business was basically frozen for half a year, which caused the number of domestic tourists dropping 62% to 1.17 billion on year, and tourism revenue plummeted 77%, according to government data.  China’s lower tier cities had increasingly become a popular choice for local tourists, and that they have contributed a larger proportion to domestic tourism consumption. 

  Starting in early February 2020, 59 airline companies suspended or limited flights to mainland China, and several countries—including the United States, Russia, Australia, and Italy—have imposed government-issued travel restrictions. It is difficult to calculate exactly the level of traffic reduction imposed by these measures. The study analyzed two major scenarios in which international travel restrictions produce a 40% and 90% overall traffic reduction to and from mainland China. A relative reduction of transmissibility could be achieved through early detection and isolation of cases, as well as behavioral changes and awareness of the disease in the population. 

source: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-china-tourism/chinas-domestic-travel-revenue-likely-to-halve-to-394-billion-in-2020-report-idUSKBN2660Q2

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/368/6489/395

What are the Domestic Travel restrictions – Flights – Trains  between provinces?

 

 In general, there are no strict rules in travelling between provinces in China in 2021 because of few new Coronavirus cases, as long as tourists wear masks in public places, especially in places like public transportation,  and airports. Travellings are only banned to a place if there are broken out cases in certain provinces. 

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