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Blog How To Travel To China In Summer 2021?

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How To Travel To China In Summer 2021?

by Angel Ho | 23 July 2021

how to travel to china in summer 2021

The appetite to travel to China hasn't lessened for many foreigners despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

However, it's clear that the appetite to open up the borders simply isn't there for China right now, so, if you're planning to travel to China, how can you and for what purposes is it even permitted right now (July 2021)?

Travel to China is still in limbo until 2022...

It's bad news for foreigners outside of China planning to visit any time soon. As recently as a mid-May meeting of the State Council it was decided that the stringent border controls will be maintained until Mid 2022 at the earliest

China will no doubt be looking on with interest at the global response to coronavirus which is, largely, different to their 'zero-covid' strategy and, unfortunately for would-be visitors, increasing cases are likely to harden China's resolve to keep borders quite impermeable.

So, does this mean that you can't travel to China until 2022? It's complicated.

 

Why are you planning to travel to China?

If you're travelling as a tourist, then you won't be granted a visa by the local Chinese embassy.

There are a few circumstances where you may still be able to get a Chinese visa and travel here:

  • Employment
  • Business 
  • Family reunion

You may think that the above options are fairly wide-ranging including most reasons aside from tourism, and that's right, but the issue is being granted the visa.

Employment

If you've been offered a job in China you should go through the normal visa process* or if you held a residence permit that had expired**, but you will also need to have either:

  • Proof of a full inoculation against Covid-19 with Chinese-produced vaccines.
  • An invitation letter (PU/TE) - these are issued by most major cities such as Shenzhen, Beijing, Shanghai, Xiamen, etc, but are currently very difficult to obtain due to the pandemic control. 

The mandatory 14-day quarantine in a government-selected facility (hotel) and testing will be undertaken before and upon arrival.

*It is possible that the foreign affairs office may request additional information from your employer to be double sure that there is a concrete need for the company to hire a foreign staff member and bring them to China, such as the company's export data, leasing information for the office, and proof that the staff member is required.

** If the residence permit had expired after March 28, 2020, the holder can re-apply by presenting the expired residence permits and required supporting material to the Chinese embassies or consulates without an invitation letter being required. However, since November 2020, enjoyment of this relaxation has been removed for applicants from the UK, France, Italy, Belgium, Russia, South Africa, and more due to the coronavirus situation in these countries. You should check in advance if your country is also affected.

Business

  • Proof of a full inoculation against Covid-19 with Chinese-produced vaccines.
  • An invitation letter (PU/TE) - these are issued by most major cities such as Shenzhen, Beijing, Shanghai, Xiamen, etc, but are currently very difficult to obtain due to the pandemic control. Expect the authorities to scrutinize your application and consider whether your business trip is strictly necessary before granting the letter. 
  • APEC cardholders who have also been inoculated with a Chinese-produced Covid-19 vaccine will be permitted to visit for business subject to a successful business visa application.

The mandatory 14-day quarantine in a government-selected facility (hotel) and testing will be undertaken before and upon arrival.

Family reunion

  • Foreign family members of Chinese citizens or permanent residents of China, including spouses, parents, children, and other close relatives, may submit visa applications for the purposes of visiting family members, looking after elderly relatives, attending funerals, or visiting critically ill relatives if they have been fully inoculated against Covid-19 with a China-produced vaccine. This would typically be an S or Q visa.

The mandatory 14-day quarantine in a government-selected facility (hotel) and testing will be undertaken before and upon arrival.

Note: foreign residents of Macao are able to apply for all visa classes if they have been inoculated using a Chinese-produced vaccine and have been in Macao for more than 28 days previously.

 

What if I haven't had a Chinese vaccine?

If you haven't had a Chinese vaccine you will be relying on being granted an invitation letter (PU/TE). For most Western readers it won't be possible to obtain a China-produced vaccine as they simply aren't licensed for use.

More than 60 countries have licensed Chinese vaccines, and these include much of Africa, South America, the Middle East, and Asia.

However, in North America only Mexico uses them and in Europe, Serbia, Belarus, Ukraine, Hungary, and Montenegro make them available.

If you haven't already been vaccinated it may be possible for you to visit one of the above countries and get a Chinese vaccine, but it is not certain and you should check with your local Chinese embassy and the Chinese embassy in the location you're thinking of travelling to and confirm that this will be accepted for visa-application purposes (in theory, it could be).

 

What is the invitation (PU/TE) letter required for visa applications during the coronavirus pandemic?

Applicants who have been vaccinated using a China-produced vaccine do not require such a letter in order to apply for visas for the travel purposes outlined earlier since March 2021. However, if that isn't you, you will probably need one of these letters.

Given the deteriorating coronavirus situation in many Western countries, your visa application will likely be classed as an emergency visa application and the Chinese authorities will want solid proof that your visit is necessary and 'an emergency' before granting you the invitation letter. For example, if you're a foreign spouse of a Chinese national, a good reason may be that you are seeking to visit a relative in China who is critically ill, not that you simply want to visit relatives.

The PU/TE letter has this format:

pu letter example

You'll notice that it can include the details for up to 5 people, so this would be used for a foreign worker and their family members, for example. Also note that this letter is applied for and granted before any visa can be applied for, and is then used as a part of your application, and it will also take around a month for the letter to be granted so give yourself time.

Typically you will need to provide a letter written in Chinese to the foreign affairs office of the area you're travelling to explaining why you're applying or a visa (this used to be normal procedure for Chinese visa applications a while ago and has been brought back in as pandemic control). Alternatively, the company inviting you (your employer probably) will write this letter and provide various information proving why you are required in China and should be granted a visa.

 

The China entry process step-by-step

Here are 3 scenarios and the process you'll need to go through to gain entry to China (this is subject to change, so be prepared to check the current regulations before travelling). You should check with the Chinese authorities which flights are acceptable as they may not accept connecting flights to China.

1. You are applying for a new work or business visa

  1. Obtain the PU/TE letter
  2. Apply for and be granted the visa from your local Chinese embassy or consulate
  3. Take Covid tests (PCR and IGM antibody tests) and provide double negative results fewer than 48 hours before the flight
  4. Upload test details and your local vaccination record (if applicable) to the consular website in order to be granted the green HDC code
  5. Before flying to China get the red customs entry/exit health code
  6. On arrival fill out the forms you are given with health and personal details
  7. Take 1st PCR test
  8. Go through immigration and customs
  9. Register at the airport district desk and wait for the bus which will take you directly to your government-organised quarantine hotel
  10. 14-day quarantine in your hotel + several covid tests at intervals
  11. 7-day community health observation

 

2. You are fully vaccinated with a Chinese vaccine and are applying for a new work or business visa, OR are applying for a visa for urgent humanitarian needs*

*Note, an example of this would be a foreign spouse of a Chinese national who is applying for a family visit visa in order to travel to China to visit a sick relative.

  1. Apply for and be granted the visa from your local Chinese embassy or consulate
  2. Take Covid tests (PCR and IGM antibody tests) and provide double negative results fewer than 48 hours before the flight
  3. Upload test details and your vaccination record to the consular website in order to be granted the green HDC code
  4. Before flying to China get the red customs entry/exit health code
  5. On arrival fill out the forms you are given with health and personal details
  6. Take 1st PCR test
  7. Go through immigration and customs
  8. Register at the airport district desk and wait for the bus which will take you directly to your government-organised quarantine hotel
  9. 14-day quarantine in your hotel + several covid tests at intervals
  10. 7-day community health observation

As you can see, the PU letter step of this process is not included.

 

3. Foreigners with a China green card or valid residence permit (for work or family)

  1. Take Covid tests (PCR and IGM antibody tests) and provide double negative results fewer than 48 hours before the flight
  2. Upload test details and your vaccination record (if applicable) to the consular website in order to be granted the green HDC code
  3. Before flying to China get the red customs entry/exit health code
  4. On arrival fill out the forms you are given with health and personal details
  5. Take 1st PCR test
  6. Go through immigration and customs
  7. Register at the airport district desk and wait for the bus which will take you directly to your government-organised quarantine hotel
  8. 14-day quarantine in your hotel + several covid tests at intervals
  9. 7-day community health observation

As you can see, the visa application element of this process is not included due to the traveller having permission to enter China already.

 

Conclusion

China's entry restrictions are strict. 

Travellers who have been vaccinated using a China-made vaccine will have the easiest time of applying for a visa for work or family reunion visits these days.

Getting a PU/TE invitation letter is hard for non-China vaccinated people, but we can offer guidance based on your situation, so do let us know.

 

China Work Visa Checklist

Topics: China Visa, Doing Business in China, COVID-19

Angel Ho

Angel Ho

Helping make China companies easy for foreign investors since 2007 as lead consult.

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