There is no nationwide advisory in effect for China. However, you should exercise a high degree of caution due to the occurrence of isolated acts of violence, including bombings and protests.
Hong Kong and Macao are Special Administrative Regions of China. If you are contemplating travel to these regions, consult the Travel Advice for Hong Kong and Macao.
The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.
Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region
Violent clashes were reported in Yecheng on February 28, 2012. Clashes also occurred in Hotan, Kashgar and other cities in the southwest of the region in July 2011. In August 2010, a bomb exploded in a crowd of people in the city of Aksu, killing at least seven and injuring several more. In July and August 2009, at least 184 deaths and more than 1,000 injuries were reported due to ethnic violence in Urumqi. Further unrest and sporadic acts of violence cannot be ruled out. The presence of armed police is visible, and local authorities continue to monitor the situation very closely. Curfews and restrictions may be imposed on short notice. Avoid gatherings and demonstrations, and follow the instructions of local authorities.
Petty crime, such as pickpocketing, purse snatching, and theft of mobile phones and laptop computers, is prevalent, even during the day. Foreigners are targeted, especially in major cities and tourist areas. Be vigilant in all crowded locations, including tourist sites, trade fairs, restaurants, coffee shops, Internet cafés, markets and department stores. Do not carry large sums of money. Secure valuables, with the exception of passports, in hotel safe-deposit facilities. Violent crime is relatively rare, although foreigners have been attacked and robbed.
Petty crime and sexual harassment occur on buses and overnight trains. Ensure that the train compartment contains packages belonging only to you and other occupants. Store personal belongings in a safe place and do not leave the compartment unattended. Doors should be securely locked.
Cases of extortion by taxi, motorcycle and pedicab drivers have increased. Foreigners have also been approached by strangers and invited to a nearby establishment for a drink (usually tea or alcohol). They were then presented with an exorbitant bill (sometimes hundreds of dollars) and forced to pay under threat of injury. In some cases, the person was harmed. Be cautious of unsolicited requests from strangers to "practice English" or to accompany them to an “art gallery” or unknown location.
There is a risk of armed bandit attacks in remote parts of China. Police presence is poor in areas bordering Burma, Laos, Pakistan, Russia and Vietnam.
Demonstrations are illegal and should be avoided. Participants may be subject to severe legal action.
Poor driving standards and poor road conditions outside major cities make travelling hazardous. Travelling after dark outside major cities is not recommended.
China has an extensive system of passenger trains. Most trains are slow, although there are express trains on the well-travelled routes. Taxis are plentiful in major cities and can be obtained at hotels or taxi stands. Most taxi drivers do not speak English or French, so you should arrange for a Chinese-speaking person to write out your destination in detail on a card before you go. Rental cars are available only in the largest cities, generally with a driver.
Ferry accidents have occurred in China due to overcrowding. Exercise caution and common sense when using marine transportation and do not board ferries that are overloaded.
Pirate attacks occur in coastal waters and, in some cases, farther out at sea. Mariners should take appropriate precautions. For additional information, consult the Live Piracy Report published by the International Maritime Bureau.
If you intend to trek:
a) never trek alone; b) always hire an experienced guide and ensure that the trekking company is reputable; c) buy travel health insurance that includes helicopter rescue and medical evacuation; d) ensure that you are in top physical condition; e) advise a family member or friend of your itinerary; f) know the symptoms of acute altitude sickness, which can be fatal; g) register with a Canadian government office in China; and h) obtain detailed information on trekking routes before setting out.
It is the sole prerogative of each country or region to determine who is allowed to enter. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry requirements. The following information on entry and exit requirements has been obtained from the Chinese authorities. However, these requirements are subject to change at any time.It is your responsibility to check with the Embassy of the People's Republic of China or its consulates for up-to-date information.
Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.
Canadians must present a passport to visit China, which must be valid for at least six months beyond the date on which they applied for their visa. Before you leave, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country's entry rules.
Canadians must also be in possession of a visa, except in the cases listed below.
Tourist visa: Required (see exceptions) Business visa: Required Student visa: Required Working visa: Required
You do not need a tourist visa if you are:
a) on a continuing international flight;
b) hold tickets on connecting flights or if you remain at the airport for less than 24 hours; (If you wish to leave the airport while awaiting transit, you must request a stopover permit from the Chinese border authorities at the airport.)
c) visiting Beijing for up to 72 hours while in transit, between two pre-purchased international flights, via the Beijing Capital International Airport;
d) visiting Shanghai for up to 72 hours while in transit, between two pre-purchased international flights, via the Pudong or Hongqiao international airports;
e) visiting Hainan Province for up to 15 days with an organized tour group of five or more travellers led by an international travel agency approved by the State Administration of Tourism and registered in Hainan Province; or
f) visiting the Zhu Jiang Delta, also known as the Pearl River Delta, for up to six days with an organized tour group coming from Hong Kong or Macao and led by a travel agency registered in Hong Kong or Macao.
Contact the nearest Chinese diplomatic or consular office for more information.
If these exceptions do not apply to you, you must obtain a visa prior to arrival in China.
Visits to Hong Kong and Macao
If you plan to visit Hong Kong or Macao during a trip to mainland China, obtain a visa allowing multiple entries. For information about applying for visas for mainland China in Hong Kong, consult the website of China's Foreign Ministry in Hong Kong.
Visa issuance process
Thoroughly review all information available regarding the visa issuance process, consult the local visa issuing office and plan accordingly if you are travelling to or residing in China. Pay particular attention to the length of stay permitted after each entry on your Chinese visa. Overstaying can lead to fines and administrative detention for up to fifteen days.
Canadians born in Hong Kong, Macao or Taiwan
The Chinese government has modified requirements for the issuance of visas to Canadian citizens born in Hong Kong, Macao or Taiwan. Visas will no longer be issued to Canadian passport holders whose place of birth is inscribed as Hong Kong HKG, Macao MAC, or (city name) TWN. Canadian passports issued to Canadians born in Hong Kong, Macao or Taiwan are now issued only with the place of birth and not the three-letter country code.
All foreigners (tourists, visitors and long-term residents) must register their place of residence with the local Public Security Bureau within 24 hours of arrival. If you are in a hotel, registration is normally done as part of the check-in process; those staying with family or friends in a private home must register. Failure to do so can result in fines and/or detention. Canadians not staying in commercial accommodation are advised to carry proof of their registration in order to avoid problems.
Foreigners holding Z, X or J-1 visas must also apply for a Residence Permit within 30 days of entry, from the Exit and Entry Department of the local Public Security Bureau.
Tibet and Tibetan Autonomous Prefectures
Obtaining a permit and taking part in an organized tour are required to travel to Tibet. Contact a reputable travel agency, either within or outside of China, for more information. Chinese authorities occasionally suspend issuing permits to foreigners. Where possible, make full payment for travel conditional upon a travel permit being secured, while noting that changes in the security situation in Tibet can affect travel, and related government policies, at any time.
Chinese authorities occasionally deny tourist entry to Tibetan Autonomous Prefectures in Sichuan and Qinghai. Contact a reputable travel agency before travelling to these regions.
Dual citizenship is not legally recognized in China, which may limit the ability of Canadian officials to provide consular services. If you are a Canadian of Chinese origin travelling to China, ensure that you are well informed about Chinese law and practices relating to determination and loss of Chinese citizenship, including cancelling a household register (“hukou”), applying to renounce Chinese citizenship, etc. Contact the nearest Chinese diplomatic or consular office for more details. Travel using your Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times. Canadian citizens using non-Canadian travel documents to enter mainland China have been and will be denied access to Canadian consular services by Chinese authorities. Consult our publication entitled Dual Citizenship: What You Need to Know for more information.
Canadian children born in China to at least one parent who is a Chinese citizen are Chinese citizens under China’s Nationality Law. The child’s Canadian citizenship may not recognized by Chinese authorities, and the family may be subject to family planning regulations.
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. Please consult our Children page for more information.
Tibet, Qinghai, parts of Xinjiang and western Sichuan are situated at altitudes over 3,000 meters. Obtain information on altitude sickness before departure.
Hospitals that meet international standards and have English-speaking staff may be found in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and a few other major cities. Ask doctors and dentists to use sterilized equipment. To obtain a list of doctors and hospitals, contact a Canadian government office in China. Medical care in clinics offering Western-style care for foreigners is much more expensive and must be paid for on the spot.
Detention during the investigative period before charges are laid is common and can be lengthy.
Some defence lawyers may be reluctant to accept cases involving foreigners. Consult a Canadian government office in China if you experience such difficulty.
Penalties for possession, use, production or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict and include the death sentence.
Canadian business travellers have been detained and had their passports confiscated as a result of business disputes with their Chinese counterparts. Seek legal advice from professionals in China, as well as in Canada, before proceeding with business agreements or arrangements. Ensure that all documents are translated so that conditions, terms and limitations are understood. Disputes are often costly and prolonged. Consult the website of the Government of Canada for more information about Doing Business with China.
Canadian and international driving licences are not recognized in China. Foreigners must hold a foreigner residence permit and meet local requirements to obtain a Chinese driver's licence.
Travel near military installations is restricted.
Carefully consider the implications of driving in China. Foreigners driving in China face harsh penalties if they are involved in an accident. Police officers have the right to detain foreigners suspected of being responsible for road accidents until their case is closed, which can take years. It is not uncommon for foreigners to be blamed for accidents even though they are not at fault.
There are absolute prohibitions against arms, drugs, and plant or animal products considered infested with disease or pests. There are also restrictions on the entry of printed matter, film, photos, videotapes and CDs considered detrimental to the interests of China.
Canadians who intend to reside in China are advised that only one pet (dog or cat) per person can be imported. A Canadian animal health inspection certificate and vaccination certificate should be stamped by your local office of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Animals without the proper documentation will be held in quarantine at the port of arrival and could be destroyed if the proper documentation is not provided.
There are restrictions on certain religious activities, such as preaching, distributing literature and associating with unapproved religious groups, including some Christian, Buddhist and Muslim organizations. The Falun Gong movement has been banned in China. Participants in Falun Gong activities or Falun Gong-related demonstrations are subject to legal action that may include detention, deportation, arrest and imprisonment.
Photography of military installations or government buildings may result in a penalty. Seek permission from local authorities before taking photographs.
There are many opportunities for teaching English in China. However, make sure you are well informed before signing a contract. Ensure that the contract specifies the maximum number of classroom hours per day and per week, maximum work days per week, and vacation periods. Canadians teaching in China, particularly at newly established private secondary schools and private English training centres, have often found their employers unable or unwilling to honour contract terms or to assist in obtaining Chinese employment visas and other permits required for foreigners to teach lawfully in China. If you are travelling to China to work or study, you may be required to possess medical insurance (coverage of 400,000 renminbi). Verify this stipulation with the school or employer prior to arriving in China. It is illegal to work on a tourist (L) visa.
The currency is the renminbi (RMB). The basic unit of currency is the yuan. Counterfeit renminbi are relatively common, especially in southern China. It is illegal to use foreign currency. Exchange foreign currency at officially approved facilities only. Traveller's cheques can be exchanged at most hotels. Generally only international hotels and some larger shops accept international credit cards. Some Chinese banks will provide cash advances using credit card accounts, but they may charge for the service. It is possible to use bank cards to draw on your Canadian bank account at an increasing number of automated banking machines, especially in urban areas.
Disasters & Climate
China is located in an active seismic zone. On April 20, 2013, an earthquake measuring 6.6 on the Richter scale struck in central China, near the city of Ya’an in Sichuan Province, causing fatalities and injuries as well as damage to infrastructure. Transportation, health and telecommunications services may be affected. Landslides have blocked roads, therefore land travel, especially to remote areas, may be disrupted. Monitor local news reports, avoid disaster areas and follow the advice of local authorities.
The rainy (or monsoon) season extends from April to October. Severe rainstorms can cause flooding and landslides, resulting in significant loss of life and extensive damage to infrastructure, and hampering the provision of essential services. Flooding is common in central, western and southern China, particularly areas bordering the Yangtze River. The Karakoram and Khunjerab Pass routes can be hazardous due to landslides.
Typhoons are common along the southern and eastern coasts. Keep informed of regional weather forecasts, avoid disaster areas and follow the advice of local authorities. Consult our Typhoons and Monsoons page for more information.
Air pollution is severe, especially in heavily industrialized areas. Monitor air pollution levels as they change quickly. Take this health risk into account and consult your physician prior to travelling if you suffer from respiratory problems.
Register your travel plans
Beijing - Embassy of Canada
Consular Section, 19 Dongzhimenwai Dajie, Chao Yang District, Beijing 100600, China
86 (10) 5139-4000
86 (10) 5139-4448
Emailbeijing.email@example.comInternetchina.gc.caServicesPassport Services Available
Guangdong, Guangxi, Fujian, Jiangxi, Hunan and Hainan.
Hong Kong - Consulate General of Canada
13th Floor, One Exchange Square, 8 Connaught Place, Central Hong Kong SAR, China
P.O. Box 11142, Hong Kong SARChina
85 (2) 3719 4700
85 (2) 2847 7561
Emailhkongfirstname.lastname@example.orgInternethongkong.gc.caServicesPassport Services Available
Hong Kong and Macao Special Administrative Regions.
Jiangsu, Anhui, Zhejiang, Hubei and the city of Shanghai.
For emergency assistance after hours, call the nearest Canadian government office and follow the instructions. You may also make a collect call to the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at 613-996-8885.