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Taiwanese, Hong Kong, Macao, Xinjiang, and Overseas Chinese Entry Procedures for Tibet

How do Taiwanese compatriots enter Tibet?

Currently, Taiwanese nationals travelling to Tibet must follow different procedures depending on the documents they possess. These include the Taiwan Compatriot Permit, Taiwan Residence Permit, and Chinese Travel Permit. Regardless of the document, all individuals must obtain a Tibet Approval Letter, also known as a Tibet Entry Permit in Taiwan. Once the Tibet entry Permit is processed, the travel agency will mail it to the guest prior to their arrival in Tibet.

taiwan resident permit
Taiwan resident permit

Taiwanese go to Tibet with a Taiwan Resident Permit 

Taiwanese residents travelling to Tibet must possess a Taiwan Compatriot Permit. In addition, they need to apply for a Tibet Entry Letter issued by the Tibet Autonomous Region Office. The application process for a Tibet Entry Permit typically takes around 30 working days.

taiwan permit
Taiwan permit

Tourists must prepare their Taiwan compatriot certificate, passport, and ID card for document scanning, specify the number of people and date, choose a travel agency to arrange the itinerary and complete the entry procedures for Tibet. Please note that visits are restricted to scenic spots within Tibet’s development areas.

travel document
Travel document

Taiwanese go to Tibet with Taiwan Resident Residence Permit

This document is a new resident card issued on September 1, 2018, for Taiwan residents who have lived and worked in mainland China for over six months with stable accommodation and employment. It is similar to the mainland China resident ID card. To apply for Taiwanese citizenship, this document must be accompanied by a scanned copy of the Taiwan ID card and submitted to the travel agency.

taiwan resident certificate
Taiwan resident certificate

Taiwanese go to Tibet with Chinese travel permit

Currently, the Chinese Travel Permit is primarily issued to Chinese citizens who were born abroad and are under 18 years old. Taiwanese individuals who do not possess a Taiwan Permit can also obtain a Chinese Travel Permit, which allows them to directly travel to mainland China, including Tibet and other destinations. However, it is not valid for travel to restricted areas in Tibet, such as Mount Everest, Ngari, Medog, and other regions.

Chinese consulates abroad issue these documents, and you still need to apply for a Tibet Entry Permit when travelling to Tibet.

When Taiwanese apply for a China Travel Permit, they typically do so in mainland China or other regions outside Taiwan, including the United States, Japan, and other countries.

How do compatriots from Hong Kong and Macao enter Tibet?

Hong Kong and Macao residents can independently travel to Tibet using a Chinese SAR passport and a home-return permit for Hong Kong and Macao people (officially known as the “Mainland Travel Permit for Hong Kong and Macao Residents”), without requiring a Tibet entry permit.

home return permit new
Home return permit new

Upon arrival in Lhasa, the travel agency will arrange accommodation in a foreign-related or star-rated hotel. The necessary procedures will be completed at the hotel’s front desk and reported to the Public Security Bureau for documentation.

You also need to apply for a Tibet border permit, which cannot be obtained in Hong Kong. To obtain it, you must find a local travel agency in Tibet.

How do people from Xinjiang enter Tibet?

Entering Tibet from Xinjiang Province requires the following documents: an ID card, a Xinjiang All-in-One Card, a certificate from the Public Security Bureau (confirming no criminal record), and a letter of guarantee for entry into Tibet (usually obtained from a local travel agency in Lhasa). The process is as follows:

  1. Convenience contact card issued by the local public security bureau in Xinjiang
  2. Certificate of no criminal record issued by the local public security bureau of Xinjiang
  3. For a letter of guarantee issued by a local travel company in Tibet, you need to find the travel route booked by the local Tibet in advance to confirm the itinerary.
  4. After arriving at Lhasa Railway Station or Airport, change your personal ID card into a Xinjiang All-in-One Card

How do overseas Chinese enter Tibet?

Overseas Chinese typically refer to individuals of Chinese origin residing abroad. They may possess foreign residency permits or nationalities other than Chinese ID cards.

passport
Passport

We categorize overseas Chinese into four scenarios.

1. Overseas Chinese holding Chinese passports and ID cards

Foreigners can travel directly to Tibet without a permit. Upon arrival, they will be received by tour groups consisting of mainland Chinese tourists.

2. Overseas Chinese holding Chinese passports and foreign green cards

Tourists living abroad throughout the year no longer possess Chinese household registration or valid Chinese ID cards. Consequently, they are unable to obtain a border permit or visit scenic spots that necessitate border passes in Tibet. However, these tourists can access other tourist attractions by presenting their Chinese passports.

3. Tourists holding foreign passports

Foreigners entering Tibet must travel in groups, in accordance with regulations. The travel agency will arrange accommodation, transportation, tour guides, and ticket reservations, as well as issue entry letters for foreigners.

Chinese holding foreign passports entering Tibet cannot join individual tourists from mainland China, but they can travel in Tibet in separate small groups with tourists from mainland China.

4. Chinese holding foreign passports and Chinese identity cards

Before entering Tibet, it is advisable to travel directly with a Chinese ID card. Note that when booking international air tickets, a foreign passport is required to fly to a mainland Chinese city, while a Chinese ID card is needed to travel to Lhasa from a mainland city in transit. No Tibet entry permit is required for entry into Tibet.

Foreigners go to Tibet 

Foreign travellers to Tibet must be part of a group and possess a Tibet entry permit issued by a travel agency. It is mandatory for them to join a group tour and be accompanied by a tour guide and driver while in Lhasa.

travel permit
Travel permit

Summary of matters needing attention in the Tibet Entry Permit

1. Why do you need to apply for a Tibet entry Permit?

Due to Tibet’s unique national customs, cultural landmarks, and ecological conservation requirements, the government requires non-Chinese citizens, including foreign tourists, tourists from Taiwan, and overseas Chinese (holding foreign passports), to obtain the “Tibet Entry Letter” from the Tibet Autonomous Region Tourism Bureau before visiting Tibet.

The common name for nationality is Tibet Travel Permit. It also specifies that foreign journalists, diplomats, and government officials cannot enter Tibet as tourists. Foreigners and Taiwanese compatriots cannot travel to Tibet by train or plane without obtaining a Tibet entry permit, even with a purchased ticket.

2. Process for applying for Tibet Entry Letter:

The Tibet travel agency must apply to the Tourism Bureau of the Autonomous Region Public Security Department for the entry permit into Tibet. Individuals are not allowed to apply. The Tibet entry letter should include the entry and exit date, as well as the approximate route. Tourists who have obtained the Tibet entry letter and certificates will be received by the travel agency, and independent travel is not allowed.

  • 1. Consult the travel agency to inquire about your ability to enter Tibet in the near future or on your planned date.
  • 2. Plan your specific time in Lhasa and ensure that the entry and departure times are clearly stated on the Tibet Entry Letter. This letter must be strictly followed during your travels.
  • 3. Make a reservation for your entry and departure locations in Tibet, such as Chengdu to Lhasa or Lhasa to Beijing. It is important to board at the location indicated on the Tibet Entry Letter in order to reach Lhasa.
  • 4. Confirm your itinerary for visiting Lhasa with the travel agency, as the Tibet Entry Letter specifies the permitted places to visit. Foreigners are not allowed to visit places that are not listed in the letter.
  • 5. Apply for a Tibet entry permit at least 30 days in advance.
  • 6. If the travel agency needs to send the original entry letter to Tibet by express delivery, please allow sufficient time for the delivery. Tibet express delivery typically takes 2-3 working days. If you choose to enter Tibet by train, the original letter is not required. The travel agency will provide the applicant with a scanned copy for entry into Tibet.

3. Where can I go to apply for a Tibet entry permit?

Tourists only need a Tibet entry approval letter for Lhasa, Shigatse, and Namtso scenic spots. Nyingchi and Mount Everest scenic spots require a foreigner travel permit alongside a Tibet entry permit. The non-development areas of Bomi, Shannan, and Ali also need military region approval, which takes approximately half a month to process. Therefore, please confirm with the team at least 30 days in advance when planning to visit these areas.

In general, the L signature only requires an electronic copy of the foreigner’s passport homepage and visa page. For Q2 family visits or F business and other types of visas, additional supporting letters are necessary, but an electronic version is enough. Visa-free countries only require the passport homepage.

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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