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Unlocking Tibet FAQ: Your Ultimate Tibet Travel Permit Guide!

Here are some frequently asked questions about the Tibet Travel Permit (TTP), carefully selected for you to review. If you still have any questions or issues regarding the TTP, please feel free to contact us for a satisfactory response.

Who needs to apply for the Tibet Travel Permit?

If you want to visit Tibet, you need something called a Tibet Travel Permit. This is a special paper that allows people from other countries to go to Tibet. Even if you’re not from China, like Taiwan or other places, you still need this permit.

The Tibet Travel Permit is like a permission slip from the Chinese government. It lets you see all the amazing things in Tibet, like cool places, beautiful scenery, and ancient temples. Getting this permit is not too hard, but you need to plan ahead to make sure everything goes smoothly.

How to apply for Tibet Travel Permit?

  1. Think about where you will go in Tibet, from China or Nepal. If you are from Nepal, you needn’t have a China Visa.
  2. Obtain a Chinese L Visa from the Chinese Embassy in your home country with at least 6 month validity period.
  3. Choose the way to Tibet, by flight or by train; which regions you will visit, such as Lhasa, Mount Everest, and Mount Kailash.
  4. Find a reliable and local Tibet Travel Agency tell them your needs, and let them arrange your tour and your Tibet Travel Permit.

Because the Tibet Tourism Bureau does not accept individual applications for permits, visitors must entrust a Tibet local travel agency to apply for a TTB permit, Frontier Pass, and Military Permit. As a local travel agency, we can do it for you.

travel permit
Travel permit

Which kinds of Tibet Travel Permits do I need to travel in Tibet?

Four permits:

  1. Tibet Tourism Bureau Permit – “TTB permit,” “Tibet Entry Permit,” “Tibet Visa,” or “Lhasa Visa”; a must-have permission for foreign tourists entering Tibet from mainland China, Nepal, or other countries.
  2. Aliens’ Travel Permit – “PSB permit”; a must permit for foreign tourists visiting the “unopened areas” out of Lhasa, such as the Nyingchi region, and Ngari region. Your passport and TTB permit are required for applying.
  3. Military Permit – a permit for those who are planning to travel to military-sensitive areas in Tibet, such as the border with other countries. Travelling together with TTB permit and PSB permit.
  4. Frontier Pass – the official permit for all travellers from home and abroad who travel to the border between Tibet with other regions or countries.

Two visas:

  1. China Visa – “Chinese Visa” or “China Entry Visa”; an officially approved document for foreign tourists applying to enter, leave, or transit through mainland China.
  2. Group Visa – a “must” for tourists entering Tibet from Kathmandu, Nepal, no matter whether you already have a Chinese Visa or not. Travelling together with other Tibet Travel Permits.

How long does the Tibet Travel Permit application process take?

Normally, it is issued within 3 – 5 working days. However, if you plan to visit restricted or unopened areas such as Everest Base Camp or Mount Kailash, additional permits are required, resulting in a longer processing time. To avail of our services, kindly contact us at least 25 days before your Tibet tour begins.

How long does it take tourists to receive a Tibet Entry Permit?

To obtain the Tibet Entry Permit, provide us with your China address. We will send the original permit to you within China in 24-72 hours. If you have a short layover, we can deliver it to the airport. For those entering Tibet from Nepal, the tour guide will bring the permit to pick you up at Lhasa airport or the Gyirong border.

When you are taking the train to Tibet, we will send you a copy of the permit by email and you can print it out to board the train.

How much does the Tibet Travel Permit cost?

Foreign tourists are eligible for a free TTB Permit. However, an application service fee of $100 to $200 per person is required when going through a travel agency. Our company spends a lot of money and effort to handle these applications. This includes things like organizing travel details, making paper and digital documents, talking to different government offices, and giving the required papers to tourists.

  • Alien’s Travel Permit: 50 yuan per person
  • Military Permit: 200 yuan per person
  • Frontier Pass: 100 yuan per person
  • Group Visa: different prices for foreign tourists from different countries.

Can I travel independently in Tibet with a Tibet Travel Permit?

No, you cannot travel independently in Tibet or even in Lhasa. However, you can stay at a hotel and explore the streets on your own. To visit tourist sites, you must be accompanied by a Tibetan tour guide. If you venture outside of Lhasa, you must have a travel agency arrange an itinerary for you, along with a tour guide and private vehicle. Any rumours suggesting that foreign tourists can travel to Tibet on their own are false.

How to apply for a Tibet Permit without a Tour?

Apologies, it is currently not possible. Your Tibet Entry Permit will list all the regions you plan to visit in Tibet. If you do not require a tour, a local travel agency cannot assist you in obtaining the permit.

How to apply for a Tibet Visa for Hong Kong residents?

Residents of Hong Kong and Macau only require their Chinese SAR passports and Home Return Permits (or Mainland Travel Permits) to enter Tibet. Taiwanese citizens must apply for the Tibet Entry Permit. Chinese nationals residing abroad must also apply for a permit if they do not possess a Chinese ID card.

How to apply for a Tibet Visa for tourists with an Indian passport?

Ordinary Indian passport holders can obtain a Tibet Entry Permit when visiting most areas of Tibet, excluding Ngari prefecture. If Indian passport holders plan to visit Ngari prefecture in Tibet, they will be treated as pilgrims, no matter their reason for travel. Only two organizations, the Foreign Affairs Office of TAR (governmental) and the Pilgrim Centre (non-governmental) are allowed to arrange Indian pilgrimage tours in Tibet.

Local travel agencies are not permitted to operate, but they can assist in organizing, designing, and selling such tours.

How much does the China (Tibet) Group Visa cost?

CategoryNumber of Working Days to Obtain itCost for American Passport HoldersCost for other Nationalities
Normal5 days$140.00 (USD)$50.00 (USD)
Urgent3 days$155.00 (USD)$65.00 (USD)
Top Urgent1 day$175.00 (USD)$85.00 (USD)
Note: You can only apply for the Tibet Group Visa on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Also, the local Nepalese agencies have a service charge of $20-50 (USD) per person normally based on group size.

The above information is updated on April 20th, 2023

China (Tibet Group Visa Fee)

What travel documents shall I need to travel to Tibet?

To travel in Tibet, you need a valid passport and the necessary permits, which include a Chinese visa or a Tibet Group visa if you’re entering from Nepal. We’ll take care of obtaining all the required Tibet Travel Permits for you, including those from the Tibet Tourism Bureau and other government offices like the PSB (Public Security Bureau), Military Office, and Foreign Affairs Office.

What documents shall I need to send you to apply for all necessary Tibet travel permits and/or Visas?

After confirming your Tibet tour, please email us clear scanned or photocopies of the valid passport data page and China Visas for each group member. If your China Visa is not an “L” visa-tour visa, please also provide additional documents such as student certificates, work permits, residence permits, etc.

How can one obtain the Tibet Travel Permit?

To obtain Tibet Travel Permits, arrange your tour through a professional local Tibet travel agency and provide clear scanned copies of your passport and China visa. Boarding flights to Tibet is impossible without the Tibet Entry Permit. However, physical permit copies are not necessary to board the train to Lhasa. The permits themselves specify every travel destination you will visit during the scheduled itinerary and cannot be changed once in Tibet. Be sure to detail all possible destinations and the itinerary before confirming your trip.

What kind of trip requires a Military Permit, Foreign Affairs Permit, and Alien Travel Permit?

Tibet travel destinations need Military and Foreign Affairs Permits: Mt. Kailash trip, Sichuan or Yunnan-Tibet Overland Tour, Tibet-Kashgar Overland Tour, Chamdo and Pomi

Tibet travel destinations need PSB permit (Alien’s Travel Permit): Mt. Everest Base Camp, Samye Monastery (southern part of Tibet), Mt. Kailash & Lake Manasarovar, Guge Kingdom (West Tibet-Ngari), but these can be issued from the local PSB just before you enter the region.

How can we enter Tibet from Kathmandu, Nepal?

You can enter Tibet from Nepal by flight or overland drive. There is one direct flight operated by Air China between Kathmandu and Lhasa. However, the flight is usually only available on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. The overland drive from Kathmandu to Lhasa takes at least 2 days, covering 923 km. Driving to Tibet poses a higher risk of altitude sickness due to the significant increase in elevation, especially if your schedule is tight.

What documents are needed if we enter Tibet from Nepal?

A Tibet Group Visa is necessary for entry into Tibet from Nepal. This visa can only be obtained on specific days (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) at the Chinese Consulate in Kathmandu. However, you cannot apply for it on your own. Instead, you must have your Tibet Travel Agent’s legal representative in Kathmandu apply for the visa on your behalf.

The Tibet Group Visa is a stamped A4 sheet of paper that includes the name, sex, nationality, passport number, date of birth, and occupation of each group member. The dates of entry and exit are also recorded. The visa is usually valid for your trip but can be extended if staying in Lhasa. Two copies of the Tibet Group Visa are issued for entry and exit. If travelling from Nepal to Tibet, no need for an individual Chinese Visa as it will be cancelled when you get the Group Visa.

How can one apply for a China Visa?

It is recommended to apply for your Chinese Visa from the Chinese Consulate in your home country. It is possible that there is a Chinese consulate near your city. Please refer to the China Visa link for more information. Based on our experience, it is strongly advised not to mention Tibet on your visa application form. Tibet is a politically sensitive region, and mentioning Lhasa or Tibet as a travel destination on your application can complicate the process. Instead, you can provide your return flight tickets and hotel reservation details in other cities of China to obtain the visa.

What documents are required to apply for the Tibet Travel Permit (Tibet Entry Permit)?

The documents needed to apply for the Tibet Travel Permit may vary depending on your nationality and specific circumstances. Here are the general requirements for obtaining the Tibet Travel Permit:

For Foreign Tourists (Non-Chinese passport holders):

  • Provide a clear passport photo or photocopy of your valid passport.
  • Submit a clear photo or photocopy of your valid Chinese visa. If you hold a visa other than a tourist visa, you may need to provide relevant supporting documents. For travellers from visa-exempt countries like Singapore, a passport photo or photocopy is usually sufficient.

For Taiwanese Tourists:

  • Provide a clear photo or photocopy of your valid Taiwan Resident Permit for Mainland Travel.
  • Include any relevant supporting documents as required.

Please note: The requirements mentioned above are for general situations and may be subject to policy changes and regulations. When applying for the Tibet Travel Permit, it’s advisable to contact us for the most up-to-date information regarding the necessary documentation.

Can travel agencies assist in obtaining the Tibet Travel Permit?

If you want to get the Tibet Travel Permit, you usually can’t get it directly from a travel agency. You need to be part of a tour organized by a travel agency. These agencies set up everything for your trip, like transportation, guides, and places to stay. They also apply for the Tibet Travel Permit for you by telling the authorities your travel plans. This way, you have a smooth trip to Tibet and follow all the rules.

So, if you want to go to Tibet and need the Tibet Travel Permit, it’s a good idea to pick a trustworthy Tibetan travel agency. They’ll take care of everything, and you’ll have an amazing time in Tibet!

Do Hong Kong and Macau tourists need a Tibet Travel Permit to travel to Tibet? Traveling with a Home Return Permit is sufficient?

Hong Kong and Macau tourists with a Home Return Permit can visit Tibet without needing a Tibet Travel Permit. The Home Return Permit is a valid travel document for residents of Hong Kong and Macau when visiting mainland China, including Tibet. So, if you have a Home Return Permit, you can use it to travel to Tibet directly without requiring an extra Tibet Travel Permit. However, if you plan to visit places like Everest Base Camp or Ali in Tibet, you may still need to apply for a Frontier Pass in addition to your Home Return Permit.

Do foreigners with a Chinese Green Card (Permanent Residence Permit) need a Tibet Travel Permit?

Yes, all non-Chinese ID card holders do. Foreigners holding a Chinese Green Card who intend to travel to Tibet also need to obtain a Tibet Travel Permit. The Tibet Travel Permit is a necessary document for non-Chinese ID card holders travelling to Tibet, regardless of whether they possess a Chinese Green Card. Therefore, anyone without a Chinese ID card must follow the regulations and obtain a Tibet Travel Permit to enter Tibet.

Can the Tibet Travel Permit be used multiple times after obtaining it?

No, it is only valid during the specified travel period.

The Tibet Travel Permit is issued for a specific travel itinerary and is typically valid only for the duration of your planned trip. Its validity is usually determined based on your travel schedule. Once your trip concludes, the Tibet Travel Permit becomes invalid and cannot be used for subsequent trips.

In other words, if you intend to visit Tibet multiple times, you will need to apply for a new Tibet Travel Permit each time. Therefore, when planning your travel itinerary, make sure that the validity of the Tibet Travel Permit covers your entire travel period to avoid unnecessary hassles during your journey.

Do you need to obtain a Tibet Travel Permit if you have a Chinese visa?

Yes, both the visa and the Tibet Travel Permit are required.

When travelling to Tibet, having a valid Chinese visa alone cannot replace the Tibet Travel Permit. The visa and the Tibet Travel Permit are complementary documents, and both are necessary. Even if you possess a valid Chinese visa, if you plan to visit Tibet, you still need to obtain a Tibet Travel Permit. While a Chinese visa allows you to enter most parts of China, the Tibet Travel Permit is specifically required for entry into the unique and restricted Tibetan region.

Having a Tibet Travel Permit, can people be allowed to enter Tibet freely?

The Tibet Travel Permit typically lists your basic information, the specific itinerary, and the attractions you plan to visit, based on the information you provided when applying for the permit. Therefore, you are only allowed to visit the places mentioned on your Tibet Travel Permit.

To ensure a smooth Tibet travel experience and to avoid any issues, it’s essential to plan your itinerary and select the areas and attractions you want to visit before applying for the Tibet Travel Permit.

Can one change the Travel Itinerary and duration on the Tibet travel permit?

The Tibet Travel Permit contains information like your travel dates and planned places to visit. This info is based on what you tell them when you apply for the permit. Once they give you the permit, you can’t change this information temporarily. So, make sure your travel plans are clear before you apply. If you need to change anything later, talk to the travel agency that’s helping you with the permit to see what you should do.

Contact Us

To contact us, email info@tourtraveltibet.com and book our services. Please provide your detailed personal information and send the following documents: a copy of your passport, a copy of your China visa, and work/study certificates. After arriving in Tibet, you can apply for an Aliens’ Travel Permit from the Public Security Bureau. However, we recommend that you let us handle the application process for you, as it is much easier with our service.

To apply for a Group Visa, you must go to the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu, Nepal. You will need to obtain a TTB permit and an Invitation Letter from a local travel agency in Tibet, which will then entrust a local travel agency in Nepal to apply for the Group Visa.


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About the author

The Tibetan Travel website's creator, hailing from Lhasa, is a cultural enthusiast. They promote responsible tourism, connecting the world to Tibet's beauty and heritage. Awards recognize their contribution.

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