Exercise normal safety precautions in China. Exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia. Monitor the media and other sources for changes to local travelling conditions.
Exercise a high degree of caution in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (Xinjiang) due to the volatile security situation and heightened ethnic tensions.
Exercise a high degree of caution in Tibet Autonomous Region (Tibet). Do not attempt to travel to Tibet without permission from the Chinese authorities. See Local travel.
- Foreigners have been targets of a number of scams when travelling in China. These often involve a stranger approaching you, offering a massage or to have a drink. See Safety and security.
- If you are involved in a criminal matter or investigation, or a civil or commercial dispute, you may not be allowed to leave China until the matter is resolved. See
- Penalties for serious drug offences in China are severe and include the death penalty. Foreigners have been executed for drug offences in China. The use or possession of even small quantities of 'soft' drugs is illegal and laws are strictly enforced. See
- Terrorist attacks are possible in China. Attacks could be targeted or indiscriminate, including in places visited by expatriates and foreign travellers. See
Safety and security.
- Transit visas (issued on arrival) are available for some short visits. If you require a full visa, you must obtain it prior to travel. See
Entry and exit.
- Doing business in China has some risks, including legal risks. See
- The Chinese government does not recognise dual nationality. If you are an Australian/Chinese dual national, travel on your Australian passport, obtain a visa for China and present yourself as Australian at all times. See
Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.
Entry and exit
You may require a full visa for travel to China. Transit visas (issued on arrival) are available for some short visits. If you require a full visa, you must obtain this visa prior to travel.
The website of the
Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Australia has detailed information on the eligibility of Australians for various available visa types. For foreigners already travelling or residing in China, all visa queries should be directed to the Foreigners Entry and Exit Administration Section of the local Public Security Bureau.
New arrangements will be implemented throughout 2017 to scan the fingerprints of foreign nationals (aged between 14 to 70 years) on arrival at all ports of entry.
Chinese authorities strictly enforce penalties for entry and exit visa violations. Travellers should ensure they depart China before their visa expiry date. Penalties include a 500RMB fine (not to exceed 10,000RMB) for each day overstayed, and/or detention. The period of detention can range from 5 to 30 days depending on the severity of the violation.
All foreigners including long-term residents are required to register their place of residence with the local Public Security Bureau (PSB) within 24 hours of arrival. If you are staying in commercial accommodation, such as a hotel, registration is part of the check-in process. See
Laws for more details.
Australians who become involved in a criminal matter or investigation, or directly or indirectly involved in a civil or commercial dispute, may be prevented from departing China until the matter is resolved.
As visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice, contact the nearest
Embassy or consulate of China for the most up to date information.
Travel to Hong Kong and Macau
Hong Kong and Macau are Special Administrative Regions (SAR) and have separate visa and entry administration. Travellers who exit mainland China to visit Hong Kong or Macau may require a new Chinese visa to re-enter mainland China. Some travel permits, issued in Hong Kong or at Hong Kong-Macau-Chinese mainland border crossings, are valid for limited travel to designated areas only such as Shenzhen, Zhuhai or other areas in Guangdong Province. It is illegal to use these permits to travel to other parts of China. Carefully check your visa limitations and requirements.
Arrangements exist for Australian passport holders to transit designated international airports or ports in mainland China without a visa. Strict conditions apply, including the need to remain within the specified area of your arrival location and to provide evidence of onward travel to a third destination within the time limit applying to your arrival location. The designated airports/ports and requirements are subject to change. Transit periods vary by location and the designated airports, ports and other requirements can change. Check with the nearest
Embassy or Consulate of China for latest information. If you are transiting an airport in China for less than 24 hours and do not leave the airport, you will not need a visa.
All foreigners including long-term residents are required to register their place of residence with the local Public Security Bureau (PSB) within 24 hours of arrival. If you are staying in commercial accommodation, such as a hotel, registration is part of the check-in process. See
Laws for more details.
If you are a parent of newborn baby born in China, you must register the child with the local Public Security Bureau within 30 days of the child's birth. The child's birth certificate, parents' passports and child's passport are required to complete the registration process. You should also apply for a Chinese visa in the child's passport as the child will not be able to depart China without a valid visa. For citizenship issues, see Dual nationals section under
To enter China, your passport must be valid for at least six months from the date you intend to leave China.
If your passport is lost or stolen while in China, you will need to get a new passport and Chinese visa to allow you to leave China. This process takes several days. Do not expect the Chinese visa renewal or replacement process to be expedited to meet your travel or flight schedule.
To replace a passport and visa:
- obtain an official loss report from the local police (this report can be used when checking in to a hotel and is needed for obtaining a new passport and Chinese visa).
- get a replacement passport from the nearest Australian Embassy or Consulate
- apply at the Foreigners Entry and Exit Administration Section of the local Public Security Bureau for a replacement Chinese visa in your new passport. Issue of a visa by the Chinese authorities can take up to five working days, and can be delayed significantly during Chinese holiday periods.
Keep a copy of your passport and Chinese visa in a safe place when in China.
Your passport is a valuable document and attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. Always keep it in a safe place.
By law, you must, as soon as possible:
Chinese law limits the amount of foreign currency you can carry into and out of China.
- If you are carrying over $US5,000 (or equivalent in foreign currencies) in cash, you must declare it upon arrival in China. Keep the declaration safely; you will need to show it to customs officials upon departure.
- If you plan to leave China carrying over $US5,000 (or equivalent in foreign currencies), you need to first obtain permission from a Chinese bank.
- You cannot leave China carrying over $US10,000 (or equivalent in foreign currencies).
ATMs that accept Visa, Mastercard, Cirrus, Maestro, American Express and JCB are widely available in large Chinese cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.
Credit cards are widely accepted in major cities, particularly in international hotels and restaurants. In smaller cities, using international cards may be more difficult.
Safety and security
Petty crime directed at foreigners occurs, particularly pickpocketing, purse snatching and theft of laptops, passports and mobile phones. Resisting can lead to violence or injury. Travellers have been targeted on overnight long distance trains and buses and on public transport. Foreigners have been assaulted and robbed, particularly in areas popular with expatriates, including the bar and shopping precincts of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and in other major cities.
Foreigners have been targets of a number of scams when travelling in China. Often tourists are approached and invited for a massage, teahouse service, or to a cafe or bar nearby for various reasons including 'to practice English'. Afterwards the tourist is presented with a vastly inflated bill and is not permitted to leave until they pay the bill by credit card. Physical violence, including serious assault, and credit card skimming or duplication has occurred.
In Shanghai, male foreigners can be targeted on the Bund and around East Nanjing Road and People's Square and occasionally Hongqiao by people offering 'massages'. The foreigner is guided to a building and after the massage is provided, threatened and sometimes assaulted by a group of men connected with the establishment. Foreigners have been forced to pay large sums of money.
Travellers have been asked to carry goods concealing narcotics out of China. Never carry parcels or luggage for others. Always pack your own bags.
There have been reports of foreign travellers being drugged and robbed in China after accepting offers of food, drink or transportation from strangers.
There have been incidents of ATM scams including the use of fake ATMs that take the user's card. To reduce risks, use ATMs when accompanied, inside a secure place such as a bank, and during daylight hours.
If you are the victim of petty crime or a scam, report it immediately to the nearest police station. They may not be able to get your money or goods back but they can issue you with an official loss report for insurance purposes.
There is a risk of armed bandit attacks in remote areas bordering Pakistan, Burma, Laos, Vietnam and Russia. Be vigilant if travelling in these areas.
Civil unrest and political tension
Demonstrations without prior approval from the Chinese government are prohibited and protestors can be arrested.
- Do not photograph, film or participate in protests or other acts which could be seen as provocative by Chinese authorities.
- Avoid any protests, demonstrations or large gatherings.
Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (Xinjiang)
Exercise a high degree of caution if travelling to Xinjiang. The security situation in this region is volatile due to heightened ethnic tensions.
In 2014 and 2015, violent incidents resulted in deaths and injuries in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang and the city of Kashgar. In 2014, incidents were reported in a number of cities and towns across Xinjiang, including in Urumqi and Kashgar. The government may impose restrictions on movement and communications in Kashgar and other parts of southern Xinjiang with little warning.
Tibet Autonomous Region (Tibet)
Exercise a high degree of caution if travelling to Tibet. In the past, protests have turned violent resulting in deaths and injuries. Demonstrations and violence could occur with little warning.
Do not attempt to travel to Tibet without permission from the Chinese authorities. Foreigners wishing to travel to Tibet must apply for a Tibet Entry Permit issued by the Tibet Tourism Bureau in Lhasa.
Terrorist is a threat throughout the world and attacks in China are possible. Attacks could be targeted or indiscriminate, including in places visited by expatriates and foreign travellers. In recent years, violent attacks, including acts of terrorism, have resulted in injuries and deaths in public places in China, including in railway stations and markets. Australians could inadvertently become victims of violence directed at others.
Terrorist threat worldwide
There are restrictions on travel by foreigners in China.
- If you plan to travel outside of major tourist areas, first check that the area is 'open to foreigners'. Example: restrictions apply near military installations and some border areas.
- Foreigners wishing to travel to Tibet must apply for a Tibet Entry Permit issued by the Tibet Tourism Bureau. Applications for Tibet Entry Permits can only be lodged through specialised travel agents in China and travel can only be undertaken through organised tours.
Tibet, Qinghai, parts of Xinjiang, and western Sichuan are situated at altitudes over 3,000 metres. Travellers in these areas may suffer from altitude sickness.
Travel and living conditions vary greatly between city areas and less developed rural areas. You may have trouble finding services such as banking, internet access and telephones, including mobile phone reception, in rural areas.
Poorly maintained roads and aggressive driving can make travel by road in China dangerous. You are 3.5 times more likely to be killed in a motor vehicle accident in China than in Australia.
All drivers must hold a valid Chinese driver's license. Foreign driver's licenses and International Driving Permits (IDPs) are not valid in mainland China. Long-term residents may apply for a Chinese driver's license at the Vehicle Management Office in their city of residence. Foreigners entering China on a visa with less than 90 days validity may be able to obtain a provisional driver's license, with a validity period up to the length of their visa.
Travellers considering hiring a car in China should clarify arrangements for driver's license requirements with car-hire companies directly. Age and health restrictions apply and vary depending on the class of driver's license.
A valid Chinese motorcycle license is required to drive a motorcycle. Foreign motorcycle licenses and International Driving Permits (IDPs) issued for motorcycles are not valid in mainland China Procedures and requirements to apply for a motorbike license are similar to those of applying for a license to drive a car outlined above, including provisional motorcycle license. You should contact a local Vehicle Management Office for further information.
You do not require a license to ride an electric bike. Check your insurance covers you for riding all types of motorised bikes.
Most taxis in China do not have seatbelts. A common scam when paying a taxi fare with a RMB 100 note occurs when the taxi driver swaps the note for a fake note, and returns the fake note to the passenger, refusing to accept it for payment as it is counterfeit.
Ride sharing apps such as Didi, Shouqi and Shenzhou are widely used in major Chinese cities.
Tour operators, public buses and ferries might not meet the safety standards you would expect in Australia, particularly in rural areas of the country. Sufficient safety equipment may not be provided and recommended maintenance standards and safety precautions may not be observed.
- Always use available safety equipment, such as lifejackets or seatbelts, even if the locals don't.
- If appropriate safety equipment is not available, try to use another provider.
The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See instead the
Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in China.
Contact your airline or travel agent for up-to-date information on flights and transport options, for both domestic and international travel.
You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.
If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our
Consular services charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail. And the Australian Government cannot intervene or interfere in the Chinese judicial process.
In China, a person aged 14 years and above is treated as an adult under the law. If detained, a person of this age will be held with adults and be subject to the same conditions and legal processes as adults.
If you are an Australian-Chinese dual national and travel on your Chinese passport, the Australian Government will not be able to provide consular assistance.
Drug offences and other serious crimes can attract the death penalty. Under Chinese law, there is very limited scope to appeal for clemency for any Australians sentenced to death.
Death penalty (Amnesty International)
Penalties for all types of drug offences, including use, possession, manufacturing, selling or trafficking, are severe, and can include life imprisonment or the death penalty. These laws are strictly enforced, even for small quantities of 'soft' drugs and apply to persons aged 14 years and above. Foreigners have been executed for drug offences.
Legal proceedings and investigations
If you are involved in a criminal matter or investigation, or a civil or commercial dispute, you may not be allowed to leave China until the matter is resolved. See
The following activities are also illegal in China:
- demonstrations without prior approval from the government
- participating in certain religious activities including preaching, distributing literature and associating with unapproved religious groups
- participating in any Falun Gong activities
- gambling and the promotion of gambling activities
- photography of military or government buildings: seek permission from local authorities before taking photographs.
If you breach these laws, you could be arrested, imprisoned, fined and/or deported.
Under Chinese law, you must:
- register your place of residence with the local Public Security Bureau (PSB) within 24 hours of arrival in China, and at each change of residential location. If you are staying at a hotel, this is done as part of the normal check-in process. If you are staying elsewhere (such as with family or friends), visit the nearest police station and present your passport and valid Chinese visa to register.
- carry evidence of your identity at all times and present it upon demand of police authorities. Your passport or a Chinese residence card is an acceptable form of identity.
If you fail to register your place of residence or to carry identification, you could be fined or detained.
Homosexual acts are not illegal in China, but be aware of local sensitivities. More information:
Some Australian criminal laws apply overseas. If you commit these offences, you may be prosecuted in Australia. Laws include those relating to:
- bribery of foreign public officials
- child pornography
- child sex tourism
- female genital mutilation
- forced marriage
- money laundering
More information: Staying within the law
Doing business in China
Increased Australian business activity in China has resulted in higher numbers of commercial disputes in recent years. Investigate the market, get professional advice and conduct thorough due diligence before establishing business relationships. Get professional legal advice before entering into any contract in China, including residential leases and business contracts.
If you or your business become directly or indirectly involved in a business or civil dispute, or a criminal proceeding, you may be prevented from leaving the country until the matter is resolved. Some Australians have been restricted from leaving China for extended periods of time, sometimes many years, because of this.
Business issues that may be classified as civil or commercial disputes in Australia, may be classified as criminal matters in China, particularly if state enterprises or state assets are involved. Penalties for commercial and economic crimes can be severe.
There has been an increase in the number of incidents in which Australians and other foreigners have been held against their will at their work place. These incidents involved other companies or disgruntled employees attempting to resolve business and employment disputes through protests and, often, threats of violence.
The Australian Trade Commission (Austrade) provides specific advice on
doing business in China.
Employment in China
Disputes over alleged misrepresentation of working and living conditions for Australians working in China, particularly those teaching English, occur frequently. If you are considering travelling to China for work, verify the true nature of the work being offered and make sure you have the correct visa before arrival. Seek professional legal advice before signing any contract, whether in Australia or after arrival in China.
Points to check carefully include:
- Local laws governing business or other activities you wish to undertake in China.
- Employment contract terms: contracts may contain unacceptable conditions. Example: conditions for early termination may state that the employee surrenders the right to a return air ticket, and pay may be withheld.
- Passport: reputable businesses will not request you to surrender your passport for "safe-keeping". Do not surrender your passport to your employer.
Failure to maintain a valid visa could result in a fine of 500 RMB per day and detention.
The Chinese government does not recognise dual nationality and will not allow consular access by the Australian Embassy or Consulate to Australians detained by Chinese authorities if they have entered China on a Chinese passport, a Hong Kong or Macau identity card, an identity card issued by Taiwan or any non-Australian foreign passport.
- If you are an Australian/Chinese dual national, travel on your Australian passport, obtain a visa for China and present yourself as Australian at all times.
If you are a former Chinese citizen, Chinese authorities may continue to treat you as a Chinese citizen and not allow you access to Australian consular services, even if you entered China on an Australian or other foreign passport, if you:
- have not renounced your citizenship according to Chinese law
- have not formally advised the Chinese authorities of your Australian citizenship, or
- continue to maintain a Chinese passport or household registration.
Certain categories of Chinese citizens, such as state functionaries, may not be permitted to renounce their Chinese nationality under Chinese law. Seek professional legal advice if you are uncertain about your citizenship status under Chinese law.
Parents intending to seek Australian citizenship by descent for children born in China should contact the
Department of Immigration and Border Protection for advice.
Where one parent is from mainland China, a child born in China will be considered a Chinese national under Chinese Law. Local authorities may not recognise the child's Australian citizenship and passport. For further information on this, parents should contact the local Entry and Exit Administration Bureau.
Take out comprehensive travel insurance before you depart to cover overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation.
Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs. This can be very expensive and cost you many thousands of dollars upfront.
- what circumstances and activities are and are not covered under your policy
- that you are covered for the whole time you will be away.
Physical and mental health
It's important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling, especially if you have an existing medical condition.
- At least eight weeks before you depart, see your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and implications for your health.
- Get vaccinated before you travel.
Not all medications available over the counter or by prescription in Australia are available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.
Take prescription medicine with you so you remain in good health. Always carry on your person a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor stating what the medicine is, how much you'll take and that it's for personal use only.
Before you leave Australia check if your medication is legal in each country you're travelling to
Tap water in China may not be safe to drink, depending on your location. Drink only bottled water with intact seals.
The World Health Organization has previously confirmed human deaths from avian influenza in China. Avian influenza virus strains H5N1 and H7N9 continue to circulate in poultry in China. The primary source of infection appears to be poultry handled within poultry markets.
- Minimise your exposure to live poultry.
- Avoid visiting live bird and animal markets (including 'wet'; markets) and poultry farms.
- Practise good hand and personal hygiene.
- When preparing food, handle poultry and poultry products properly and thoroughly cook all parts of the poultry.
HIV/AIDS is a significant risk in China. Exercise appropriate precautions if engaging in activities that expose you to risk of infection.
You could be exposed to unsafe blood and blood products, particularly in regional China. Specifically request the use of sterilised equipment. You may need to pay for the use of new syringes in hospitals or clinics.
Japanese Encephalitis (also known as Encephalitis B) is endemic in rural areas of Southern China from June to August. A Japanese encephalitis vaccine is available.
The risk of malaria is heightened in rural areas of the country, particularly in the provinces of Hainan, Yunnan, Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Sichuan, Tibet (Zanbo Valley areas only), Anhui, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi and Shandong. The risk of malaria increases during warm weather. Medicine to reduce the risk of malaria is available.
In Guangdong, and Guangzhou in particular, there has been a sharp rise in cases of dengue fever. The risk of contracting dengue rises during the wet season.
Protect yourself against mosquito-borne illnesses by:
- ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof
- taking measures to avoid insect bites, including using always using insect repellent and wearing long, loose fitting, light coloured clothing
Consult your doctor about:
- taking prophylaxis against malaria
- vaccination against Japanese Encephalitis
Health authorities report a high number of animal and human rabies cases annually in China. Be cautious in all contact with both wild and domestic animals in China.
Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease
Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) is common in China. More serious outbreaks occur from time to time. Outbreaks usually start in March/April and peak in May but can continue until October each year. HFMD mostly affects children under the age of 10 years but adult cases (particularly young adults) are not unusual. The illness is characterised by fever as well as blisters and rashes on the hands, feet and buttocks. HFMD is spread by direct contact with nose and throat discharges and faeces of infected people.
- Wash your hands carefully and frequently.
- Take other normal hygiene precautions.
Major cities in China, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu experience frequent high pollution. Children, the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions, particularly cardiac and respiratory, may be especially affected.
Northern China is particularly susceptible to high levels of pollution. In 2015, Chinese authorities began issuing red alerts for periods of expected high pollution. When a red alert is in place, authorities implement measures such as closing schools, limiting car use and suspending construction activity. Flights schedules are regularly delayed in China because of smog.
Dust storms occur on occasion across the north of China. They can cause eye, nose, mouth and throat irritations and exacerbate respiratory and cardiovascular problems.
- If you live in or intend to visit China and are concerned about the levels of air pollution, seek medical advice.
- Follow advice from local authorities about days with high levels of pollution and methods to reduce exposure.
Quarantine requirements vary throughout the provinces and municipalities in China. Contact the nearest
Embassy or Consulate of China for the most up to date information.
International standard medical services in China are expensive. If you intend to stay in China for an extended period of time, explore options for local health insurance or ask your employer if health coverage is provided through your employment.
Some hospitals in major cities have specialised departments for treating foreigners. However, the standard of medical care and the range of familiar medications available in China is often limited, particularly outside of major cities. Medical personnel in rural areas of the country may lack adequate training.
Hospitals and doctors often require cash payment, prior to providing medical services, including for emergency care. Medical evacuation from China is very expensive.
Travel to China for medical treatment is increasing. Seek independent information, such as from health professionals and former patients, to satisfy yourself of the quality of medical service. Do not be lured to uncertified medical establishments where medical standards are lacking or where the establishment is not able to provide the medical service or patient care advertised.
Where to get help
Depending on what you need, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, travel agent, travel insurance provider, employer, or airline.
- Police: 110
- Firefighting: 119
- Ambulance: 120
Always get a police report when reporting a crime.
Tourism services and products
For complaints relating to tourism services or products, contact your service provider directly.
Read the Consular services charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.
For consular services in China, contact the Australian Embassy in Beijing or our Consulates-General in Shanghai, Guangzhou or Chengdu.
Australian Embassy, Beijing
21 Dongzhimenwai Dajie
Sanlitun, Beijing 100600
Telephone: (+86 10) 5140 4111
Facsimile: (+86 10) 5140 4292
Australian Consulate General, Shanghai
Level 22, CITIC Square
1168 Nanjing Xi Lu
Telephone: (+86 21) 2215 5200
Facsimile: (+86 21) 2215 5252
Australian Consulate General, Guangzhou
12th Floor, Development Centre
No. 3 Linjiang Road
Zhujiang New City
Telephone: (+86 20) 3814 0111
Facsimile: (+86 20) 3814 0112
Australian Consulate General, Chengdu
27th Floor, Square One
18 Dongyu Street, Jinjiang District
Telephone: (+86 28) 6268 5200
Facsimile: (+86 28) 6268 5222
Check the relevant website listed above for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.
In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the Embassy you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.
Natural disasters, severe weather and climate
The direction and strength of typhoons can change with little warning.
Flights in and out of affected areas could be delayed or suspended. Access to sea ports may also be affected. In some areas, adequate shelter from a severe typhoon may not be available to all who may choose to stay.
In the event of an approaching typhoon:
- review and follow hotel or cruise ship evacuation plans
- identify your local shelter
- carry your travel documents at all times (i.e. passport, photo identification, etc.) or secure them in a safe, waterproof location
- follow the advice of local authorities
- monitor media reports for the latest information
- contact friends and family in Australia with updates about your welfare and whereabouts
- if you plan to travel, contact your airline for the latest flight information. Available flights may fill quickly.
Earthquakes and tsunamis
China is subject to earthquakes. Read the
Earthquakes page for advice on travelling to and living in an earthquake-prone region.
All oceanic regions of the world can experience tsunamis, but in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, there is a more frequent occurrence of large, destructive tsunamis because of the many large earthquakes along major tectonic plate boundaries and ocean trenches.
If there is a natural disaster: