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Latest updates: The Health tab was updated - travel health information (Public Health Agency of Canada)
Avoid non-essential travel outside Canada due to the risk of the Omicron variant that causes COVID-19.
This advisory overrides all other advisories on this page, with the exception of those where we advise against all travel.
China - Exercise a high degree of caution
Exercise a high degree of caution in China due to the risk of arbitrary enforcement of local laws.
Safety and security
COVID-19 - Preventative measures and restrictions
In an attempt to limit the spread of COVID-19, most governments have implemented preventative measures and restrictions.
These could include:
- curfews, movement restrictions, or lockdowns
- the obligation to wear a face-covering, a surgical or respirator mask in some circumstances
- the obligation to present proof of vaccination or a COVID-19 test result to access public and private services and spaces, including transportation, restaurants and cultural sites
Foreign authorities might not recognize or accept proof of vaccination issued by Canadian provinces and territories. You may need to obtain a translation, a notarization, an authentication, or the legalization of the document.
Before travelling, verify if specific restrictions or requirements are in effect.
Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region
Local authorities have put in place invasive security measures in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Chinese authorities are increasingly detaining ethnic and Muslim minorities in the region without due process. There are reports of extrajudicial internment and forced labour camps. Family members of Canadian citizens with Chinese citizenship have been detained. You may be at risk of arbitrary detention if you have familial or ethnic ties to the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.
The situation in the region is tense and accurate information is hard to obtain. Authorities may impose curfews and restrictions on short notice.
- Avoid gatherings and demonstrations
- Always carry ID
- Expect a heightened security presence and frequent security checks
- Expect significant travel delays
- Follow the instructions of local authorities.
Petty crime, such as pickpocketing, purse snatching and theft of mobile phones and other electronic devices occurs, even during the day. Criminals target foreigners, especially in major cities and tourist areas.
- Be vigilant in all crowded locations
- Don’t carry large sums of money
- Ensure that your personal belongings, including your passport and other travel documents, are secure at all times
Petty crime and sexual harassment can 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 don’t leave the compartment unattended
- You should securely lock the doors
Serious crime against foreigners is relatively rare, but incidents do occur.
There is a risk of armed bandit attacks in remote parts of China.
Police presence may be poor around border areas.
Credit card and ATM fraud occurs. Be cautious when using debit or credit cards:
- pay careful attention when your cards are being handled by others
- use ATMs located in well-lit public areas or inside a bank or business
- avoid using card readers with an irregular or unusual feature
- cover the keypad with one hand when entering your PIN
- check for any unauthorized transactions on your account statements
Counterfeit currency is a significant problem in China. Counterfeit bills are widely distributed in local stores, restaurants and taxis. If you use cash, avoid moneychangers on the street and use small bills or exact change.
Exercise caution in popular tourist areas (particularly in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square and Shanghai’s the Bund, East Nanjing Road and People’s Square), where scammers target foreigners.
Scammers may invite you to a nearby establishment for a drink (usually tea or alcohol), a massage or other services. They will then ask you to pay an exorbitant bill (up to thousands of dollars), sometimes under threat of injury. In some cases, foreigners were harmed.
Be cautious of unsolicited requests from strangers to “practice English” or to accompany them to an art gallery, teahouse or an unknown location.
If you’ve been scammed:
- get to a safe location immediately
- take note, as soon as possible of the name and address of the facility where you were held; this information is required by police to identify the persons involved and issue a report
- notify the police and obtain a report
- call your credit card company to report the scam; they will likely request a copy of the police report to cancel the transaction
Foreigners have received calls from scammers claiming to be the police. The caller says that local authorities are investigating them for identity theft or money-laundering operation and requests a fund transfer to resolve the issue.
Don’t send any money in this type of situation.
Since most Chinese use their mobile device as payment method, digital and mobile phone scams are a common issue. You should be vigilant if you use your smartphone to scan, transfer funds or make payments.
More about overseas fraud
Spiked food and drinks
Never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers. Be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum or cigarettes from new acquaintances. These items may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery.
Internet censorship and cyber security
China blocks access to several websites, social media, search engines and online services within its territory.
You shouldn’t expect internet privacy. Your communications may be monitored at any time, and authorities may review the content stored or consulted on your electronic devices.
Cyber security while travelling.
Journalism and research
Foreign journalists and other media workers in China face considerable restrictions in the context of their work. The Chinese government may employ measures such as:
- movement controls
- physical and electronic surveillance
- public smear campaigns
- delaying or refusing renewals of press cards and visas
- intimidation and harassment.
There are cases of foreign journalist arrests on national security violations.
You should be particularly vigilant if researching or reporting on subjects critical of or sensitive to the government and in areas such as Tibet or Xinjiang.
Demonstrations are illegal without prior approval from the Chinese government.
If you participate in or are witness to a demonstration, you may be subject to scrutiny and severe legal action. Foreign journalists have also been intimidated and detained for reporting on demonstrations.
You should be particularly vigilant in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and the Tibet Autonomous Region.
- Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
- Don’t film or take pictures of demonstrations
- Follow the instructions of local authorities
- Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations
More about mass gatherings (large-scale events)
Road conditions and road safety can vary greatly throughout the country. Drivers often don’t respect the rules of the road, and traffic laws are not consistently enforced.
Be cautious when crossing streets, as drivers don’t always give pedestrians and cyclists the right of way.
China has an extensive passenger train system, including high-speed trains. You must present a passport to purchase a ticket and to board the train.
Taxis are available in major cities and are easier to obtain at hotels or taxi stands. Self-drive (rental), chauffeur-driven cars and ride-sharing services are also available in major cities.
Most taxi drivers don’t speak English nor French and will sometimes avoid picking up foreigners to avoid the inconvenience of clients who don’t speak Chinese. You should arrange for a person to write out your destination in Chinese characters before you go.
Taxi, motorcycle and pedicab drivers sometimes overcharge clients, especially at airports. They may also attempt to give you counterfeit currency.
To minimize the risk of being overcharged:
- use only reputable taxis
- avoid unlicensed “black taxis”
- do not agree to multiple passengers
- negotiate fares before entering the taxi, and/or request that the taxi driver use the meter
- request that the driver provides you with a receipt or “fapiao”
- request that the driver removes your luggage from the trunk before paying the fare
Ferry accidents have occurred in China.
- Exercise caution when using marine transportation
- Always use available safety equipment, such as life jackets and seatbelts
- Don’t board ferries that appear overloaded or unseaworthy.
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
General information about foreign domestic airlines
If you intend on engaging in trekking activities:
- never do so alone and always hire an experienced guide from a reputable company
- buy travel insurance that includes helicopter rescue and medical evacuation
- ensure that your physical condition is good enough to meet the challenges of your activity
- ensure that you are properly equipped and well informed about weather and other conditions that may pose a hazard
- inform a family member or friend of your itinerary, including when you expect to be back to camp
- know the symptoms of acute altitude sickness, which can be fatal
- obtain detailed information on trekking routes before setting out and do not venture off marked trails or slopes
Pirate attacks and armed robbery against ships occur in coastal waters, and in some cases, farther out at sea. Mariners should take appropriate precautions.
Live piracy report - International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre
Tensions on Korean Peninsula
Tensions on the neighbouring Korean Peninsula could escalate with little notice, and the security situation could deteriorate suddenly.
Tensions may increase before, during and after North Korean nuclear and missile tests, military exercises or as the result of incidents or military activities at or near the inter-Korean border.
Monitor developments, remain vigilant and follow the instructions of local authorities. We strongly recommend that you register with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service to receive the latest updates.
Registration of Canadians Abroad
COVID-19 - Entry, exit and transit restrictions and requirements
Most governments have implemented special entry and exit restrictions and requirements for their territory due to COVID-19.
Foreign authorities might not recognize or accept proof of vaccination issued by Canadian provinces and territories. You may need to obtain a translation, a notarization, an authentication, or the legalization of the document.
Before travelling, verify if the local authorities of both your current location and destinations have implemented any restrictions or requirements related to this situation.
Restrictions imposed could include:
- entry and exit bans, particularly for non-residents
- quarantines of 14 days or more upon arrival, some in designated facilities, at your own cost
- quarantines before your planned departure if you test positive for COVID-19, resulting in a delayed departure
- health screenings and certificates as well as proof of adequate travel health insurance
- border and airport closures
- flight suspensions to/from certain destinations, and in some cases, all destinations
- suspensions or reductions of other international transportation options
Additional restrictions can be imposed suddenly. Airlines can also suspend or reduce flights without notice. Your travel plans may be severely disrupted, making it difficult for you to return home. Consider even your transit points, as transit rules are in place in many destinations.
- Monitor the media for the latest information
- Contact your airline or tour operator to determine if the situation will disrupt your travel plans
- Contact the nearest foreign diplomatic office for information on destination-specific restrictions
You should not depend on the Government of Canada for assistance to change your travel plans.
Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Government of Canada cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.
We have obtained the information on this page from the Chinese authorities. It can, however, change at any time.
Verify this information with the Foreign Representatives in Canada.
Entry requirements vary depending on the type of passport you use for travel.
Before you travel, check with your transportation company about passport requirements. Its rules on passport validity may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.
Regular Canadian passport
Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months upon entry into China.
Passport for official travel
Different entry rules may apply.
Other travel documents
Different entry rules may apply when travelling with a temporary passport or an emergency travel document. Before you leave, check with the closest diplomatic mission for your destination.
Tourist visa: Required
Business visa: Required
Student visa: Required
Working visa: Required
Ensure that you apply for the proper type of visa for the specific purpose of your trip.
Thoroughly review all information available regarding the visa-issuance process.
Pay particular attention to the length of stay permitted after each entry on your Chinese visa. Overstaying can lead to fines and administrative detention.
Transit without visa and visa-free stays
While you may be eligible for a visa on arrival, there is no guarantee that it will be granted. You should obtain a visa before travelling to China.
You may be eligible for a visa on arrival if you are:
- transiting between two international destinations
- visiting certain areas for short periods
- visiting certain areas as part of an organized tour or travelling in a group
Contact the nearest Chinese diplomatic or consular office for more information on visa exemptions.
Visa application outside of Canada
If you apply for a visa outside of Canada, check with the Chinese embassy or consulate nearest you to make sure that it issues visas to Canadians.
If you are already travelling or living in China, contact the Foreigners Entry and Exit Administration Section of the local Public Security Bureau (PSB) for visa information.
Visiting Hong Kong and Macao
Obtain a visa allowing multiple entries if you plan to travel between Hong Kong, Macao and mainland China.
Applying for visas for mainland China in Hong Kong - Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China in Hong Kong
Proof of onward travel
Be prepared to show proof of onward travel, including all of the documents you need to enter your next destination.
Chinese immigration officials will take and retain the fingerprints of Canadians between 14 and 70 years old upon their entry into the country. Some exceptions may apply.
Screening of digital devices
Border officials may review the content stored or consulted on your electronic devices, particularly at border crossings between mainland China and Hong Kong.
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’re staying 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 themselves. Failure to do so can result in fines and or detention. Carry proof of your registration.
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.
Health entry requirements
Medical tests, including a test for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, might be required to register and renew residency permits for stays of more than 6 months. Local authorities may not approve your work/residence permit application if you obtain an HIV-positive test result. You may also be subject to termination of employment and deportation.
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
Chinese authorities may place an exit ban on specific individuals to prevent them from leaving the country. An exit ban can relate to investigations into an individual, their family or an employer, and in criminal and civil matters, including business disputes.
You may not be aware that authorities have placed an exit ban on you until you try to leave the country. It is difficult to obtain information on bans from Chinese authorities.
If you’re unable to leave the country because of an exit ban, consult a lawyer and contact the closest office of the Government of Canada.
Tibet and Tibetan autonomous prefectures
You must obtain a permit and be taking part in an organized tour to travel to Tibet. Contact a reputable travel agency, either within or outside of China, for more information on these requirements. 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 Tibet's security situation 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.
Children and travel
Learn about travel with children.
Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year officially begins on February 1, 2022. It is expected that the festival will draw large numbers of travellers and population movements within the country are expected to significantly increase. Large crowds in small areas can increase your risk of getting sick with COVID-19.
The government of Canada currently advises against non-essential travel internationally.
The COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing. Please read the travel health notice: Omicron- SARS-CoV-2 Variant of Concern.
For more information on Canada's COVID-19 travel restrictions, exemptions, and advice, please visit our website.
Be sure that your routine vaccines, as per your province or territory, are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Some of these vaccines include: measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health professional about which ones are right for you.
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious viral disease. It can spread from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.
It is recommended that all eligible travellers complete a COVID-19 vaccine series along with any additional recommended doses in Canada before travelling. Evidence shows that vaccines are very effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. While vaccination provides better protection against serious illness, you may still be at risk of infection from the virus that causes COVID-19. Anyone who has not completed a vaccine series is at increased risk of being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 and is at greater risk for severe disease when travelling internationally.
For destination entry and exit requirements, including for COVID-19 vaccination requirements, please check the Entry/exit requirements tab.
Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are adequately protected against COVID-19.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread through contaminated food and water or contact with an infected person. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Japanese encephalitis is a viral infection that can cause swelling of the brain. It is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Risk is low for most travellers. Vaccination should be considered for those who may be exposed to mosquito bites (e.g., spending a large amount of time outdoors) while travelling in regions with risk of Japanese encephalitis.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease. It can spread quickly from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.
Anyone who is not protected against measles is at risk of being infected with it when travelling internationally.
Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are fully protected against measles.
Polio *Proof of vaccination*
Polio is present in this country. Polio can be prevented by vaccination, which is part of the routine vaccines for children in Canada.
- Be sure that your vaccination against polio is up to date.
- One booster dose of the polio vaccine is recommended as an adult.
Proof of vaccination:
If you are staying more than 4 weeks in this country, you may need to show proof of polio vaccination when you leave the country.
Make sure that the polio vaccination is documented on the International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis. This is the only document accepted as proof of vaccination.In Canada, they are provided at Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres.
Carry the certificate as proof of vaccination.
Rabies is a deadly illness spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from an infected animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (e.g., are children, have an occupational risk, or in close contact with animals, including free roaming dogs in communities).
- Tick-borne encephalitis is present in some areas of this country.
- It is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord).
- It is spread to humans by the bite of infected ticks or when you consume unpasteurized milk products.
- Vaccination should be considered for those who may be exposed to ticks during outdoor activities.
- A vaccine against TBE does exist but is only available in countries where the disease is present.
- Learn more on what you can do to prevent tick-borne encephalitis (TBE)?
Yellow Fever - Country Entry Requirements
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
- There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
- Proof of vaccination is required if you are coming from or have transited through an airport of a country where yellow fever occurs.
- Vaccination is not recommended.
- Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care professional.
- Contact a designated Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre well in advance of your trip to arrange for vaccination.
About Yellow Fever
Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres in Canada
* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Food and Water-borne Diseases
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in East Asia, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in East Asia. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
Schistosomiasis can be spread to humans through freshwater sources contaminated by blood flukes (tiny worms). The eggs of the worms can cause stomach illnesses like diarrhea and cramps or urinary problems. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Avoid swimming in freshwater sources (lakes, rivers, ponds). There is no vaccine available for schistosomiasis.
- Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
- Risk of developing travellers' diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor standards of hygiene and sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
- The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among children, travellers going to rural areas, travellers visiting friends and relatives or those travelling for a long period of time.
Travellers visiting regions with a risk typhoid, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care professional about vaccination.
Insects and Illness
In some areas in Eastern Asia, certain insects carry and spread diseases like chikungunya, dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, Lyme disease, malaria, tick-borne encephalitis, and Zika virus.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
There is currently a risk of chikungunya in this country. Chikungunya is a virus spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. Chikungunya can cause a viral disease that typically causes fever and pain in the joints. In some cases, the joint pain can be severe and last for months or years.
Protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times. There is no vaccine available for chikungunya.
Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever
Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever is a viral disease that typically causes fever, bleeding under the skin, and pain. Risk is generally low for most travellers. It is spread to humans though contact with infected animal blood or bodily fluids, or from a tick bite. Protect yourself from tick bites and avoid animals. There is no vaccine available for Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever.
- In this country, dengue is a risk to travellers. It is a viral disease spread to humans by mosquito bites.
- Dengue can cause flu-like symptoms. In some cases, it can lead to severe dengue, which can be fatal.
- The level of risk of dengue changes seasonally, and varies from year to year. The level of risk also varies between regions in a country and can depend on the elevation in the region.
- Mosquitoes carrying dengue typically bite during the daytime, particularly around sunrise and sunset.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue.
- There is a risk of malaria in certain areas and/or during a certain time of year in this country.
- Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by mosquitoes. There is no vaccine against malaria.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in well-screened, air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider sleeping under an insecticide-treated bed net or pre-treating travel gear with insecticides.
- Antimalarial medication may be recommended depending on your itinerary and the time of year you are travelling. See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss your options.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Some infections found in some areas in Eastern Asia, like avian influenza and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
There have been human cases of avian influenza in this country.
Avian influenza is a viral infection that can spread quickly and easily among birds. In rare cases, it can infect people.
- avoid high risk areas such as poultry farms and live animal markets
- avoid areas where poultry may be slaughtered
- avoid contact with birds (alive or dead)
- avoid surfaces that may have bird droppings or secretions on them
- ensure all poultry dishes, including eggs, are well cooked
Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.
Hand, foot and mouth disease
Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a common viral illness that mainly affects infants and children. Travellers are at increased risk if visiting or living in overcrowded conditions. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against this disease.
Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.
For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.
Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care professional.
High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.
Medical services and facilities
COVID-19 - Testing facilities
Consult the following links to find out where you can get a COVID-19 test:
Local COVID-19 testing facilities - Government of China (in Mandarin only)
Medical care is widely available in urban areas but not in remote areas. Ask doctors and dentists to use sterilized equipment. Medical care in clinics offering international standard services to foreigners is much more expensive. Payment is expected at the time of service.
Medical evacuation can be very expensive and you may need it in case of serious illness or injury.
Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.
Travel health and safety
Tibet, Qinghai, western Sichuan and parts of Xinjiang are situated at altitudes exceeding 3,000 metres. Acute mountain sickness may occur at high altitudes.
Know the symptoms of acute altitude sickness, which can be fatal.
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws and culture
You must abide by local laws.
Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad.
If you are suspected of a crime, Chinese authorities can prevent you from leaving China (by withholding your passport or applying an exit ban) or may detain you for up to 37 days without charges.
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.
Consult our Arrest and detention page and our Overview of the criminal law system in China for more information.
Chinese authorities apply, sometimes arbitrarily, the death penalty for both violent and non-violent crimes, including for serious drug offences.
Penalties for possession, use, production or trafficking of illegal drugs, including cannabis, are severe. Convicted offenders can expect heavy fines, jail sentences or the death penalty. These laws are strictly enforced and apply to persons 14 years and older. Penalties can be assigned arbitrarily.
Local authorities conduct random drug tests (urine or hair). Police have raided nightclubs and bars and subjected patrons to on-the-spot drug testing.
Based on positive drug test results, authorities can prosecute drugs crimes regardless of where or when drugs were consumed. This applies to drugs consumed legally in a foreign country before entering China.
Police carry out random checks, and failure to produce proper identification could potentially lead to fines or detention.
- Carry adequate identification, such as a passport and valid visa or residence permit, at all times
- Keep a photocopy of your passport in case of its loss or seizure
If your passport is lost or stolen, visit the nearest police station or Public Security Bureau to report the incident and obtain information on the visa replacement process.
If you renew your passport while you are in China, you must register your new passport with the authorities promptly. If you fail to do so, you may be fined.
Endangering national security
Chinese authorities may define certain behaviours and activities as “endangering national security” that would not be considered as such in Canada. This could include activities that occurred outside of China. If you are suspected of endangering national security, you will be subject to questioning.
Chinese authorities may detain you for up to 6 months before you are formally arrested. Note that access to legal representation is frequently denied in the initial stages of a national security case, and trials often take place in closed court.
If you are detained, you should immediately request access to a lawyer and request notification of the nearest Canadian diplomatic mission. Canadian diplomatic missions can provide you or your family with a list of lawyers.
If you previously occupied a position that was in any way affiliated with the government of China and left your position without receiving authorization or without following formal procedures, you may be considered a defector by Chinese authorities.
This can be the case regardless of the seniority of the position you occupied, even if you left this position a long time ago and you did not handle sensitive or classified materials. Authorities may detain you even if you have previously travelled to or resided in China without issue.
Consult a Chinese criminal lawyer to understand how this may apply to you.
Bans and Sanctions
The Chinese government may ban or sanction entities or individuals for actions, including oral or written statements, and associations with entities that are critical of:
- the Chinese Communist Party
- the Chinese government
- Chinese leaders and policies
The Government of the People’s Republic of China does not publicize a list of banned or sanctioned entities or individuals, and the implementation of bans or sanctions remains vague. The effect on individuals associated with banned or sanctioned entities is unknown.
It could include:
- a ban on travel to Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau
- freezing of assets
- prohibition of business or association with Chinese citizens and organizations
If you believe you may be subject of a ban or sanctions, consult a lawyer and contact the closest office of the Government of Canada.
There are severe restrictions on political activities, including participating in public protests or sending private electronic messages critical of the government.
Participants may be detained, and future travel to China may be restricted by Chinese authorities.
Non-Governmental Organizations activities
Activities conducted by foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are strictly regulated and scrutinized in China.
If you plan to work or volunteer for an NGO in China, ensure the organization is properly registered and that you possess the right visa for the activities you plan to perform.
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.
Chinese law also prohibits overseas non-governmental organizations from engaging in or sponsoring religious activities.
The Falun Gong movement is banned in China. Participants in Falun Gong activities or Falun Gong-related demonstrations are subject to legal action that may include detention, arrest, imprisonment and deportation.
Facial recognition and use of video surveillance (CCTV)
Law enforcement agencies in China widely rely on facial recognition technology and video surveillance to police, monitor and control illegal or restricted activities, including participation in demonstrations.
Privacy rights may differ substantially from Canadian standards. You should assume that local authorities have access to your biometrics as soon as you enter the country.
Travel near military installations is restricted. Photography of military installations or government buildings is prohibited, and offenders may be detained, arrested and imprisoned.
Seek permission from local authorities before taking photographs.
Gambling and the promotion of gambling activities are illegal in mainland China.
Commercial surrogacy is illegal in China, and surrogacy arrangements are not legally recognized.
If you’re planning to visit China for the purpose of commissioning surrogacy arrangements, you should consider the potential challenges involved in pursuing international surrogacy and seek specialist legal advice on Chinese and Canadian laws prior to making any arrangements.
The Embassy of Canada to China can’t provide recommendations on surrogacy arrangements.
Prohibited or controlled items
There are absolute prohibitions against the importation of arms, drugs and plant or animal products that could carry disease or pests. There are also restrictions on the entry of printed material, film, photos, videotapes, and CDs considered detrimental to China's interests.
Importation and use of drones are subject to strict regulation. Contact the Civil Aviation Administration of China to consult the rules regarding registration and use of drones.
If you intend to reside in China, be advised that you can only import one pet (dog or cat) per person.
A Canadian animal health inspection certificate and vaccination certificate should be stamped by your local Animal Health 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 euthanized if the proper documentation is not provided.
Animal Health Office - Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Getting married in China
Marriages that are legally performed in China are usually valid in Canada. Chinese civil authorities don’t perform marriages between two foreigners. If you plan to get married in China, you should contact the nearest Chinese diplomatic representative in Canada to confirm the requirements.
Chinese law does not prohibit sexual acts between individuals of the same sex.
However, some prejudice still exists against LGBTQ2 communities, and authorities sometimes censor social media content on LGBTQ2-related topics.
General safety information and advice for LGBTQ2 travellers abroad
Canadian and international driving licences are not recognized in China. You must hold a foreigner residence permit and meet local requirements to obtain a Chinese driver’s licence.
Penalties for drinking and driving are severe. The legal blood alcohol limit is 0.02%. If a police officer suspects you of drinking and driving, they could confiscate your driver's licence on the spot. If you’re convicted, you can expect heavy fines and jail.
Foreign drivers involved in an accident face harsh penalties. If you’re suspected of being responsible for road accidents, police officers can detain you until their case is closed, which can take years.
Carefully consider the implications of driving in China.
Dual citizenship is not legally recognized in China.
If local authorities consider you a citizen of China, they may refuse to grant you access to Canadian consular services. This will prevent us from providing you with those services.
You should always travel using your valid Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times to minimize this risk. If you enter China on a Chinese passport or identity card, the Chinese government will usually not permit the Embassy of Canada to provide you with consular assistance.
If you’re a Canadian of Chinese origin travelling to China, you may be asked to provide your Chinese name by border authorities. Ensure that you are well informed about Chinese law and practices relating to the determination and loss of Chinese citizenship, including cancelling a household register (hukou) and applying to renounce Chinese citizenship. Contact the nearest Chinese diplomatic or consular office for more details.
Canadian children born to at least one parent who is a Chinese citizen may be deemed Chinese citizens under China’s Nationality Law. Chinese authorities may not recognize the child’s Canadian citizenship, and the family may be subject to family planning regulations.
General information for travellers with dual citizenship
Doing business in China
Canadian business travellers have been detained and had their passport 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, and you may be subject to a travel ban restricting you from leaving the country until the matter is resolved.
There have been incidents involving foreigners being held against their will at their workplace. These incidents, which can be accompanied by threats of violence, are often the result of other companies or disgruntled employees attempting to resolve business and employment disputes.
Doing business in China
There are many teaching opportunities 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 workdays 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 assist in obtaining Chinese employment visas and other permits required for foreigners to teach lawfully in China.
If you’re 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 before arriving in China.
It is illegal to work on a tourist (L) visa or a working (Z) visa linked to a company other than your employer. Canadian citizens have been detained and forced to leave the country for working illegally.
Learn about studying abroad if you plan to study or conduct research in China.
The currency is the renminbi (RMB). The basic unit of currency is the yuan.
Counterfeit renminbi are relatively common. It is illegal to use foreign currency. Exchange foreign currency at officially approved facilities only.
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 ATMs, especially in urban areas. Credit cards are not always accepted, and the availability of ATMs is limited outside major cities.
Upon entering or leaving China, you must make a declaration to customs if you travel with or more than USD 5 000, 20 000 RMB or the equivalent in other currencies. The sum can be in cash, cheques, money orders, traveller’s cheques or any other convertible assets.
A permit issued by a local bank may also be required to exit China with sums superior to USD 5 000. Make sure you comply with cash control regulations.
Natural disasters and climate
Typhoons and monsoons
The typhoon and monsoon (rainy) season extends from April to October. Typhoons usually occur along the southern and eastern coasts. During this period, even small storms can quickly develop into major typhoons.
Flooding is common in central, western and southern China, particularly areas bordering the Yangtze River. Seasonal flooding and landslides can hamper overland travel and reduce the provision of essential services. Roads may become impassable and bridges damaged.
If you decide to travel to China during the typhoon and monsoon season:
- know that you expose yourself to serious safety risks
- be prepared to change your travel plans on short notice, including cutting short or cancelling your trip
- stay informed of the latest regional weather forecasts
- carry emergency contact information for your airline or tour operator
- follow the advice and instructions of local authorities
- China Meteorological Administration
- Hurricanes, typhoons, cyclones and monsoons
- Large-scale emergencies abroad
Air pollution can be severe across much of China.
Some cities maintain air pollution alert systems. During periods of severe air pollution, expect school closures, outdoor event cancellations, car usage limitations and transportation disruptions.
Monitor air pollution levels, which change quickly.
During periods of high pollution:
- limit your activities outdoors
- monitor local media
- follow the instructions of local authorities.
Air pollution in China – World Air Quality Index
China is located in an active seismic zone and is prone to earthquakes.
Familiarize yourself with the security measures in place at your accommodations while in China. In the event of an earthquake, pay careful attention to all official warnings and follow evacuation orders issued by the Government of China. Aftershocks could occur.
What to do during an earthquake
Avalanches and landslides
In mountainous regions, avalanches and landslides present a risk and have resulted in fatalities.
The Karakoram and Khunjerab Pass routes in Xinjiang can be hazardous due to landslides.
Monitor local media and weather forecasts and follow the advice of local authorities.
In case of emergency, dial:
- police: 110
- medical assistance: 120
- firefighters: 119
- roadside assistance: 112
Beijing - Embassy of Canada
Chongqing - Consulate General of Canada
Guangzhou - Consulate General of Canada
Shanghai - Consulate General of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the nearest Canadian government office and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad. In the event of a large-scale emergency, every effort will be made to provide assistance. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
See Large-scale emergencies abroad for more information.
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