Implementing Travel to China – An Update in Stamps Taxes in China
Travel to China is normally subject to visa inspection. You need to have a visa to travel to China. Chinese visa application centres opened in autumn 2021. On 4 October the Chinese Embassy in Britain announced the temporary suspension of entry into China by non-iens from the UK holding Chinese visa or residence permits. This move was taken as the Chinese government was conducting a massive inspection of all people entering the country.
There were reports of many cases of tourists who were detained in various cities in China, including several in Britain. Some were banned from travelling to China for up to three months while the others were only banned for three days prior to departure. Some others were even asked to leave the country for up to a month. This last couple of weeks, as well as the days prior, saw the largest number of incidents of passport misuse reported from China in over twenty years.
This sudden clampdown was obviously due to the large numbers of foreign nationals, both citizens of European Union citizens, travelling to China for business purposes. Most of the travelers did not acquire the requisite written permission or visa for their stay in China prior to travelling. Now that the situation has changed, there is no longer any excuse for such tourists to bypass the necessary formalities. For anyone intending to travel to China for business purposes and who is planning to leave for Hong Kong or other destinations in the future, visa requirements now make it impossible.
The Chinese Government made these restriction announcements on the basis of information released by the National Tourism Administration on 3 July. According to this announcement, the authorities had “forbited” foreigners who do not hold Chinese nationality or who have not acquired the required written permission for their entry into China. According to the Notification, foreign nationals who are liable for entry are required to present their nationality registration cards and documentary evidences of nationality or residence. In addition, they may also be required to submit letters of invitation from relatives or employers to the relevant consulate.
There are some tourists who have been denied entry to China despite having the correct documentation. The reasons for their visa approvals being refused could include holding a nationality other than that of China, being a direct visitor, or holding a non-immigrant visa, such as the H-visa. These travelers may appeal against their decision within thirty days of being notified, and the appeal will be heard by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. If the Ministry of Foreign Affairs considers the appeal acceptable, the travelers’ visa restrictions will be lifted. If the appeal is found to be improper, the travelers’ visa may be revoked immediately.
One of the reasons why the Chinese government announced these restrictions was to prevent illegal and illicit entry by foreign nationals. In June, as many as twenty travel advisory directives were released describing measures that would be taken against unauthorised entering of China. One of the restrictions included a ban on the purchasing of Chinese telecommunications equipment. In addition, several other travel advisories were issued, advising Chinese citizens travelling overseas to avoid certain activities, including the taking of photographs, by Chinese citizens.
Ineffective fax machine services, lack of currency exchanges at land-based casinos, and lack of ATM networks in China have caused problems for tourists over time. Some businessmen have reported that the new stamp duty regulations, which came into force in August, have caused a decline in the number of visits to China’s mainland China within the previous twelve months. Ineffective currency exchange rates and problems with local transport have also plagued the tourism industry in recent years. Many tourists expressed frustration that the new stamp duty regulations, which only applied to imported goods, and not to goods that had been purchased within the Chinese territory, meant that Chinese citizens could buy items that cost more in their home country but were exempt from the new tax regime. The lack of clarity surrounding the stamp duty policies has caused confusion among the people of mainland China within a four month period.
There have been a number of reports that the new stamp duty regime affecting Chinese citizens was implemented in an unfair manner, causing difficulties for tourists planning to travel to China, particularly for business trips. Some hotels have been forced to cancel all non-essential hotel stays in China, while others have resorted to imposing travel restrictions on visiting Chinese citizens. This is despite the fact that the vast majority of Chinese citizens are law abiding citizens. Many mainlanders travelling abroad are unable to pay the required amounts of money to acquire Chinese nationality documents due to the currency devaluation. In response to this issue, the central government introduced another type of tax, which is a “Shanghai Revenue”, that was designed to encourage citizens to pay their own taxes and contribute to the development of the economy. There have been no changes to the basic stamp duty and customs fees that apply to all visitors to mainland China, nor any reports of significant changes to the existing stamp duty and custom fee structures of citizens of China visiting other countries.