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China - Exercise a high degree of caution
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.
Safety and security
Safety and security
Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region
Sporadic violent clashes occur in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Attacks using explosive devices, firearms and knives have taken place, often resulting in deaths and injuries. Unrest and sporadic acts of violence are expected to continue. Armed police are visible, and local authorities continue to monitor the situation very closely. Curfews and restrictions may be imposed on short notice. Attacks do not specifically target tourists or foreigners, but the danger of being in the wrong place at the wrong time is always present. Avoid gatherings and demonstrations, and follow the instructions of local authorities.
There is a threat of terrorism in China. Since early 2014, a number of explosions and knife attacks have occurred in public places, including in busy railway stations, resulting in injuries and fatalities. Further attacks may occur. Targets could include government buildings, places of worship, schools, transportation hubs and public areas such as tourist attractions, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, shopping centres, markets, hotels and sites frequented by foreigners. Be aware of your surroundings at all times in public places.
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. While violent crime is relatively rare, foreigners have been attacked and robbed in the past and some have been killed.
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 do not leave the compartment unattended. Doors should be securely locked.
There is a risk of armed bandit attacks in remote parts of China. Police presence may be poor around border areas.
Cases of overcharging by taxi, motorcycle and pedicab drivers have been reported. 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. Use only reputable taxis and do not agree to multiple passengers. Negotiate fares prior to entering the taxi, and/or request that the taxi driver use the meter and provide you with a receipt (fapiao).
Foreigners have also been approached by strangers and invited to a nearby establishment for a drink (usually tea or alcohol), a massage or other services. 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, and telephone scams where the caller claims you are being investigated by local authorities. Should you find yourself the victim in such a scenario, get to a safe location immediately and take note as soon as possible, while your memory is still fresh, of the name and address of the facility where you were held, which is required for local police to identify the persons involved and/or issue a police report – the latter likely being obligatory by your credit card company in order to cancel the transaction. Exercise caution in the more popular tourist areas (particularly in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square and the Bund, East Nanjing Road and People’s Square in Shanghai) where scammers target foreigners.
See our Overseas fraud page for more information on scams abroad.
See our Cyber security while travelling page for more information on cyber security abroad.
Demonstrations are illegal and should be avoided. Participants may be subject to severe legal action.
Road conditions and road safety are poor throughout the country. Avoid driving outside major cities after dark.
China has an extensive passenger train system. Most trains are slow, although there are express trains on well-travelled routes. Taxis are available in major cities and are easier to obtain at hotels or taxi stands. Self-drive (rental) or chauffeur-driven cars are available for rent in major cities.
Dial 112 for roadside assistance.
Ferry accidents have occurred in China. Exercise caution and common sense when using marine transportation, always use available safety equipment, such as lifejackets and seatbelts, and do not board ferries that are overloaded.
The Government of Canada does not assess foreign domestic airlines’ compliance with international aviation safety standards. See Foreign domestic airlines for more information.
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:
- never trek alone;
- always hire an experienced guide and ensure that the trekking company is reputable;
- buy travel health insurance that includes helicopter rescue and medical evacuation;
- ensure that you are in top physical condition;
- advise a family member or friend of your itinerary;
- know the symptoms of acute altitude sickness, which can be fatal;
- register with a Canadian government office in China; and
- obtain detailed information on trekking routes before setting out.
General safety information
Ensure that your personal belongings and passports and other travel documents are secure at all times.
Carry adequate identification, such as a passport and your stay permit, at all times. Keep a photocopy of your passport in case of loss or seizure.
It is the sole prerogative of every country or territory to determine who is allowed to enter or exit. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry or exit requirements. The following information has been obtained from the Chinese authorities and is subject to change at any time. The country- or territory-specific entry/exit requirements are provided on this page for information purposes only. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, information contained here is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada assumes no responsibility, and shall not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided. 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 of expected departure from that country. Prior to travelling, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country's entry rules.
Temporary passport holders may be subject to different entry requirements. Check with diplomatic representatives for up-to-date information.
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) 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 any of the following cities for up to 72 hours while in transit and between two pre-purchased international flights, via their international airports:
- Beijing via the Beijing Capital International Airport;
- Chengdu via the Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport;
- Chongqing via the Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport;
- Dalian via the Dalian Zhoushuizi International Airport;
- Guangzhou via the Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport;
- Guilin via the Guilin Liangjiang International Airport;
- Hangzhou via the Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport;
- Kunming via the Kunming Changshui International Airport;
- Shanghai via the Pudong or Hongqiao international airports;
- Shenyang via the Shenyang Taoxian International Airport; and
- Xi’an via the Xi’an Xianyang International Airport.
d) staying in Shanghai municipality, Zhejiang Province or Jiangsu Province prior to moving on to a third country (on a ticket purchased prior to arrival) within 144 hours of arrival via Shanghai port; Zhejiang Province port or Jiangsu port;
e) visiting Hainan Province for up to 15 days with an organized tour group of five or more travellers that is 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.
Visiting 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, visit 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 15 days.
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 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.
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. 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.
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. See Children for more information.
See Health to obtain information on this country’s vaccination requirements.
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Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.
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 and is common in most parts of the world. Be sure your measles vaccination is up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
There is a risk of polio in this country.
- Be sure that your vaccination against polio is up to date. Polio is part of the routine vaccine schedule for children in Canada.
- One booster dose of the polio vaccine is recommended as an adult.
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 (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).
Tick-borne encephalitis is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system. It is spread to humans by the bite of an infected tick. Vaccination should be considered for those who may be exposed to ticks (e.g., those participating in outdoor activities in wooded areas) while travelling in regions with risk of tick-borne encephalitis.
Yellow Fever Vaccination
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.
|* 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.|
|Country Entry Requirement*|
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 pediatric travellers, travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives or travelling for a long period of time. Travellers at high risk visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care provider about vaccination.
Insects and Illness
In some areas in Eastern Asia, certain insects carry and spread diseases like chikungunya, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, leishmaniasis, Lyme disease, malaria, and tick-borne encephalitis.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
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.
- Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.
- The risk of dengue is higher during the daytime, particularly at sunrise and sunset.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue fever.
- 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 the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no vaccine against malaria.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in enclosed air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider pre-treating clothing and travel gear with insecticides and sleeping under an insecticide-treated bednet.
- 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
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 provider.
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
Medical care is widely available in urban areas, but not in remote areas. 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. Payment is expected at time of service. Medical evacuation may be necessary in the case of serious injury or illness.
Tibet, Qinghai, parts of Xinjiang and western Sichuan are situated at altitudes over 3,000 meters. Acute mountain sickness may occur at high altitudes. Be well informed about the potential health hazards at high altitudes.
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
Laws & culture
You are subject to local laws. See Arrest and detention for more information.
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. These laws are strictly enforced and apply to persons older than the age of 14.
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 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.
There are 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.
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.
Although the laws of China do not prohibit sexual acts between individuals of the same sex, homosexuality is not socially tolerated. LGBT travellers should carefully consider the risks of travelling to China. See Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender travel for more information.
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.
Carefully consider the implications of driving in China. Foreign drivers involved in an accident face harsh penalties. 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.
Dual citizenship is not legally recognized in China. If local authorities consider you a Chinese citizen, they may refuse to grant you access to Canadian consular services, thereby preventing Canadian consular officials 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. Citizenship is determined solely by national laws, and the decision to recognize dual citizenship rests completely with the country in which you are located when seeking consular assistance. See Travelling as a dual citizen for more information.
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) and applying to renounce Chinese citizenship. Contact the nearest Chinese diplomatic or consular office for more details.
Canadian children born in China to at least one parent who is a Chinese citizen may be deemed Chinese citizens under China’s Nationality Law. The child’s Canadian citizenship may not be recognized by Chinese authorities, and the family may be subject to family planning regulations.
Doing business in China
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, and you may be subject to a travel ban restricting you from leaving the country until the matter is resolved.
Incidents of foreigners being held against their will at their work place have increased. These incidents, which are often accompanied by threats of violence, are often the result of other companies or disgruntled employees attempting to resolve business and employment disputes.
Visit Doing Business with China for more information.
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 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 or on 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.
See our Studying abroad page 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, 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 (ABM), especially in urban areas. Credit cards are not always accepted and the availability of ABMs is limited outside major cities.
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters & climate
China is located in an active seismic zone.
The rainy (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. Consult our Typhoons and monsoons page for more information.
Air pollution is severe, especially in heavily industrialized areas. Monitor air pollution levels, which change quickly.
The municipalities of Beijing and Shanghai maintain a four-tier pollution alert system. The alert is raised to the highest level (red) when severe air pollution is expected. During a red alert, expect school closures, outdoor event cancellations and, in Beijing, car usage limitations and disruptions to transportation. If you are in Beijing or Shanghai during a red alert, limit your activities outdoors, monitor local media and follow the instructions of local authorities.
In case of emergency, dial:
- police: 110
- medical assistance: 120
- firefighters: 119
Beijing - Embassy of Canada
Chongqing - Consulate General of Canada
Guangzhou - Consulate General of Canada
Hong Kong - 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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