COVID-19: travel health notice for all travellers
China travel advice
Latest updates: The Health section was updated - travel health information (Public Health Agency of Canada)
Last updated: ET
On this page
- Risk level
- Safety and security
- Entry and exit requirements
- Laws and culture
- Natural disasters and climate
- Need help?
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
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.
Tibet and Tibetan autonomous prefectures
You must obtain a permit and be taking part in an organized tour to travel to Tibet. Chinese authorities occasionally suspend issuing permits to foreigners and can arbitrarily deny tourist entry to certain districts and communes of the Tibetan autonomous prefectures in Sichuan and Qinghai, despite not having proactively published notification of these changes. If you enter a restricted area without the requisite permit, you could be fined, taken into custody, and deported for illegal entry. Local authorities may also impose curfews and travel restrictions on short notice, even if you have a permit.
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.
In these regions, expect:
- increased security measures and police presence
- surveillance measures
- that unauthorised gatherings may be dispersed by force
- that some places of worship or cultural sites of interest may be off-limits to foreigners
If you travel to these regions despite the risks:
- contact a reputable travel agency and the Chinese Embassy or a consulate before you leave to learn about entry requirements
- be aware of your surroundings
- exercise caution due to increased scrutiny on foreigners
- follow the instructions of security forces if you are stopped
- if you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the Canadian Embassy or the nearest consulate immediately
- don’t film or photograph unauthorised gatherings or outbreaks of violence
Our ability to provide consular support in the Tibet Autonomous Region is limited.
Check with the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China to know about the specific entry requirements for Tibet and other restricted areas.
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.
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.
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. Authorized and unauthorized demonstrations can take place with little or no notice. They can quickly spread to surrounding areas, including those frequented by tourists.
If you participate in or are witness to a demonstration, you may be subject to scrutiny and severe legal action. Foreign journalists have experienced intimidation and detention for reporting on demonstrations.
The security situation around large gatherings could change quickly. Be vigilant about your safety.
You should be particularly vigilant in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and the Tibet Autonomous Region.
- Don’t film or take pictures of demonstrations
- Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations
- Follow the instructions of local authorities
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.
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.
Authorized and unauthorized demonstrations can take place with little or no notice. They can quickly spread to surrounding areas, including those frequented by tourists.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.
Entry and exit requirements
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.
Passport with “X” gender identifier
While the Government of Canada issues passports with an “X” gender identifier, it cannot guarantee your entry or transit through other countries. You might face entry restrictions in countries that do not recognize the “X” gender identifier. Before you leave, check with the closest foreign representative for your destination.
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 foreign representative 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.
Children and travel
Learn more about travelling with children.
This section contains information on possible health risks and restrictions regularly found or ongoing in the destination. Follow this advice to lower your risk of becoming ill while travelling. Not all risks are listed below.
Consult a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic preferably 6 weeks before you travel to get personalized health advice and recommendations.
Some of these vaccinations include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.
Pre-travel vaccines and medications
You may be at risk for preventable diseases while travelling in this destination. Talk to a travel health professional about which medications or vaccines may be right for you, based on your destination and itinerary.
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.
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.
There is a risk of hepatitis A in this destination. It is a disease of the liver. People can get hepatitis A if they ingest contaminated food or water, eat foods prepared by an infectious person, or if they have close physical contact (such as oral-anal sex) with an infectious person, although casual contact among people does not spread the virus.
Practise safe food and water precautions and wash your hands often. Vaccination is recommended for all travellers to areas where hepatitis A is present.
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)
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.
Japanese encephalitis is a viral infection that can cause swelling of the brain. It is spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. Risk is very low for most travellers. Travellers at relatively higher risk may want to consider vaccination for JE prior to travelling.
Travellers are at higher risk if they will be:
- travelling long term (e.g. more than 30 days)
- making multiple trips to endemic areas
- staying for extended periods in rural areas
- visiting an area suffering a JE outbreak
- engaging in activities involving high contact with mosquitos (e.g., entomologists)
Hepatitis B is a risk in every destination. It is a viral liver disease that is easily transmitted from one person to another through exposure to blood and body fluids containing the hepatitis B virus. Travellers who may be exposed to blood or other bodily fluids (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) are at higher risk of getting hepatitis B.
Hepatitis B vaccination is recommended for all travellers. Prevent hepatitis B infection by practicing safe sex, only using new and sterile drug equipment, and only getting tattoos and piercings in settings that follow public health regulations and standards.
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.
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.
Before travelling, verify your destination’s COVID-19 vaccination entry/exit requirements. Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are adequately protected against COVID-19.
In this destination, rabies is carried by dogs and some wildlife, including bats. Rabies is a deadly disease that spreads to humans primarily through bites or scratches from an infected animal. While travelling, take precautions, including keeping your distance from animals (including free-roaming dogs), and closely supervising children.
If you are bitten or scratched by an animal while travelling, immediately wash the wound with soap and clean water and see a health care professional. Rabies treatment is often available in this destination.
Before travel, discuss rabies vaccination with a health care professional. It may be recommended for travellers who are at high risk of exposure (e.g., occupational risk such as veterinarians and wildlife workers, children, adventure travellers and spelunkers, and others in close contact with animals).
Safe food and water precautions
Many illnesses can be caused by eating food or drinking beverages contaminated by bacteria, parasites, toxins, or viruses, or by swimming or bathing in contaminated water.
- Learn more about food and water precautions to take to avoid getting sick by visiting our eat and drink safely abroad page. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
- Avoid getting water into your eyes, mouth or nose when swimming or participating in activities in freshwater (streams, canals, lakes), particularly after flooding or heavy rain. Water may look clean but could still be polluted or contaminated.
- Avoid inhaling or swallowing water while bathing, showering, or swimming in pools or hot tubs.
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 of typhoid, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation, should speak to a health care professional about vaccination.
Insect bite prevention
Many diseases are spread by the bites of infected insects such as mosquitoes, ticks, fleas or flies. When travelling to areas where infected insects may be present:
- Use insect repellent (bug spray) on exposed skin
- Cover up with light-coloured, loose clothes made of tightly woven materials such as nylon or polyester
- Minimize exposure to insects
- Use mosquito netting when sleeping outdoors or in buildings that are not fully enclosed
To learn more about how you can reduce your risk of infection and disease caused by bites, both at home and abroad, visit our insect bite prevention page.
Find out what types of insects are present where you’re travelling, when they’re most active, and the symptoms of the diseases they spread.
There is a risk of chikungunya in this country. The risk may vary between regions of a 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 can cause fever, pain and bleeding under the skin. In some cases, it can be fatal. It spreads to humans through contact with infected animal blood or tissues, or from the bite of an infected tick. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Protect yourself from tick bites and avoid animals, particularly livestock. 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.
Some infections, such as rabies and influenza, can be shared between humans and animals. Certain types of activities may increase your chance of contact with animals, such as travelling in rural or forested areas, camping, hiking, and visiting wet markets (places where live animals are slaughtered and sold) or caves.
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, livestock (pigs, cows), monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats, and to avoid eating undercooked wild game.
Closely supervise children, as they are more likely to come in contact with animals.
Human cases of avian influenza have been reported in this destination. Avian influenza is a viral infection that can spread quickly and easily among birds and in rare cases it can infect mammals, including people. The risk is low for most travellers.
Avoid contact with birds, including wild, farm, and backyard birds (alive or dead) and surfaces that may have bird droppings on them. Ensure all poultry dishes, including eggs and wild game, are properly cooked.
Travellers with a higher risk of exposure include those:
- visiting live bird/animal markets or poultry farms
- working with poultry (such as chickens, turkeys, domestic ducks)
- hunting, de-feathering, field dressing and butchering wild birds and wild mammals
- working with wild birds for activities such as research, conservation, or rehabilitation
- working with wild mammals, especially those that eat wild birds (e.g., foxes)
All eligible people are encouraged to get the seasonal influenza shot, which will protect them against human influenza viruses. While the seasonal influenza shot does not prevent infection with avian influenza, it can reduce the chance of getting sick with human and avian influenza viruses at the same time.
Stay home if you’re sick and practise proper cough and sneeze etiquette, which includes coughing or sneezing into a tissue or the bend of your arm, not your hand. Reduce your risk of colds, the flu and other illnesses by:
- washing your hands often
- avoiding or limiting the amount of time spent in closed spaces, crowded places, or at large-scale events (concerts, sporting events, rallies)
- avoiding close physical contact with people who may be showing symptoms of illness
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), HIV, and mpox are spread through blood and bodily fluids; use condoms, practise safe sex, and limit your number of sexual partners. Check with your local public health authority pre-travel to determine your eligibility for mpox vaccine.
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
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.
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.
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.
National security, social order, and public interest
Chinese authorities may define certain behaviours and activities as “endangering national security,” upsetting social order, or damaging the public interest, that would not be considered as such in Canada. This could include activities that occurred outside of China. National security, and "state secrets", are broadly defined and interpreted. "State secrets" could be interpreted to include documents, data, materials, or other items. If you are suspected of endangering national security, upsetting social order, or damaging the public interest 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.
Consult entry and exit requirements for information on exit bans
China has imposed severe restrictions on political activities, including advocating for causes, participating in public protests or sending private electronic messages critical of the government.
Chinese authorities may detain, you if you participate in political activities and restrict your future travel to China.
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.
Be cautious about visiting certain places of worship, which may have been, explicitly or not, declared off-limits to foreigners by local authorities. If you are not prompted to buy a ticket to visit the site, it could be an indication that the site is off-limits to foreigners.
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 2SLGBTQI+ communities, and authorities sometimes censor social media content on 2SLGBTQI+ related topics.
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.
International Child Abduction
The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is an international treaty. It can help parents with the return of children who have been removed to or retained in certain countries in violation of custody rights. It does not apply between Canada and China.
If your child was wrongfully taken to, or is being held in China by an abducting parent:
- act as quickly as you can
- consult a lawyer in Canada and in China to explore all the legal options for the return of your child
- report the situation to the nearest Canadian government office abroad or to the Vulnerable Children’s Consular Unit at Global Affairs Canada by calling the Emergency Watch and Response Centre.
If your child was removed from a country other than Canada, consult a lawyer to determine if The Hague Convention applies.
Be aware that Canadian consular officials cannot interfere in private legal matters or in another country’s judicial affairs.
- International Child Abduction: A Guidebook for Left-Behind Parents
- Travelling with children
- Canadian embassies and consulates by destination
- Emergency Watch and Response Centre
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.
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
- Tornadoes, cyclones, hurricanes, typhoons 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.
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
Beijing, Tianjin, Gansu, Liaoning, Jilin, Heilongjiang, Shandong, Shanxi, Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, Shaanxi, Qinghai, Xinjiang, Xizang (Tibet), Henan and Hebei.Appointment Book your appointment online
Chongqing - Consulate General of Canada
Chongqing, Sichuan, Yunnan and Guizhou.Appointment Book your appointment online
Guangzhou - Consulate General of Canada
Guangdong, Guangxi, Guangzhou, Fujian, Jiangxi, Hunan and Hainan.Appointment Book your appointment online
Shanghai - Consulate General of Canada
Jiangsu, Anhui, Zhejiang, Hubei and the city of Shanghai.Appointment Book your appointment online
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. We take the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provide credible and timely information in our Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad.
The content on this page is provided for information only. While we make every effort to give you correct information, it is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, expressed or implied. The Government of Canada does not assume responsibility and will not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided.
If you need consular assistance while abroad, we will make every effort to help you. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
Learn more about consular services.
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