On arrival in China, the first thing that your Chinese customs officer will ask you is for your passport. It’s important to have a Chinese Passport when traveling to China, and most importantly, you need to know what your Chinese visa status is before leaving for China. Getting a Chinese visa is no small task, and there are many steps to take to ensure that you have properly entered the country and can leave when you please. Having your passport ready and knowing your Chinese visa information is essential for a smooth experience.
For first-time travelers to China, it is important to note that there are multiple restrictions on traveling to China. There are strict rules regarding foreign nationals working or residing in China. All workers coming to work in China must be registered with the Chinese government. There are numerous labor controls and quotas for new foreign workers. In addition to the large number of controls on foreign labor, China limits travel of all types to within its borders.
If you are a foreign national who wishes to travel to China, you will be required to obtain a Chinese Working Entry Visa prior to travel. The Work Permit can be obtained at the same time, but you must have a scheduled interview with a local Chinese immigration official. Once you schedule your interview, you will be provided with paperwork to fill out. Approximately fourteen to twenty-four days prior to your departure date, you will have to return to the office for processing.
When traveling outside of China, you may be required to be detained and held overnight. If you are traveling to the special Chinese cities of Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, you will be held in detention while awaiting your decision at the detention center. Detaining foreigners in China’s detention centers and immigration checkpoint areas pose serious problems for travelers who do not know how to behave themselves appropriately. If you fall into the wrong group, you can be severely penalized.
Upon arrival, travelers must first undergo customs inspection. Chinese authorities strictly enforce visa restrictions. Therefore, if you have an expired visa, it is important that you acquire a new visa before leaving the country. Traveling outside of China to reach these countries can also cause you to lose your visa once you have traveled to them. It is therefore important that you obtain a visa before traveling to China to ensure that you will not be arbitrarily removed from a flight because of lack of a valid visa.
For flights originating in Canada, there are two methods of gaining temporary travel authorizations. You can apply for a “temporary resident visa” through the Immigration and Customs Union or you can apply for an “exit visa,” which is valid for six months to one year. An “exit visa,” unlike a “permanent resident visa,” cannot be renewed. If you have an expired exit visa, you can still travel to China if you hold a valid work permit. The “entry visa,” however, cannot be applied for online.
As for those traveling from North America or Europe to China, you may encounter a lack of access to certain goods or services that you would have otherwise found available to you. As Chinese citizens are required by law to adhere to extremely strict economic regulations, they cannot make purchases abroad unless approved by the State Administration of Foreign Assets Control or the General Administration of Revenue. The same is true for travel-related requirements, including licenses and approvals. These requirements are enforced strictly and violators can face severe penalties.
Visitors to China who do not comply with these rules may face fines or charges, or both. Those who are detained or returned to the country may face criminal charges. Travelers returning to China should always be alert for any restrictions and follow the necessary procedures to avoid unnecessary complications. Individuals facing charges should consult their consular officials for further information on their rights and options.