- We advise you to
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.
- 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
- 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. See Laws.
- 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
- There is a possibility of terrorist attacks in China. Attacks could be targeted or indiscriminate, including in places visited by expatriates and foreign travellers. See
Safety and security.
- We advise you to
exercise a high degree of caution in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (Xinjiang) due to the volatile security situation and heightened ethnic tensions.
- We advise you to
exercise a high degree of caution in Tibet Autonomous Region (Tibet). Do not attempt to travel to Tibet without permission from the Chinese authorities. For details about obtaining a travel permit to Tibet, see
- A visa is required for all travellers to China. See
Entry and exit.
- Australians doing business in China should be aware of the risks and potential legal consequences. 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
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.
Visas and entry requirements
Australian passport holders require a visa for travel to China. You must obtain your visa prior to travel and ensure that you obtain the appropriate visa for the purpose of your visit.
The website of the
Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Australia has detailed visa information for Australians planning travel to China. 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.
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.
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.
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. In particular, travellers with a single entry visa for China should take particular note of this requirement. 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. Travellers should carefully check the details on their visa.
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 are subject to 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 while en route to a third country and do not leave the airport, you will not require a visa.
If travelling to China, your passport must be valid for at least six months after the duration of your intended stay and you must also be able to provide evidence of a return or onward ticket.
If your passport is lost or stolen while in China you will firstly need to obtain an official loss report from the local police (this report can be used when checking in to a hotel and will be necessary for obtaining a new passport and Chinese visa). You will need to obtain a replacement passport from the nearest Australian embassy or consulate, as well as a Chinese visa to allow you to leave China. Issue of a visa by the Chinese authorities can take up to five working days, and can be delayed significantly longer during Chinese holiday periods. Australians who have lost or had their passport stolen in China should not expect the Chinese visa renewal or replacement process to be expedited for them to meet travel or flight schedules. Keep a copy of your passport and Chinese visa in a safe place when travelling in China.
Parents should be aware of the local requirement to register a new born child within 30-days of the child's birth. Parents intending to seek Australian citizenship by descent for children born in China should contact the
Department of Immigration and Border Protection for further advice.
Where one parent is from mainland China, a child born in China will be considered a Chinese national under Chinese Law. This may affect the willingness of local authorities to recognise the child's Australian citizenship and passport. For further information on this, parents should contact the local Entry and Exit Administration Bureau.
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 also 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 a number of 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.
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. It is recommended you use ATMs when accompanied, inside a secure place such as a bank, and during daylight hours to reduce risks.
If you are the victim of petty crime or a scam, report it immediately to the nearest police station. Even though they may not be able to get your money or goods back, they can issue you with an official loss report for insurance purposes.
For further information on how to reduce your risk on various types of scams visit our
Scams page and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's
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/political tension
Demonstrations without prior approval from the Chinese government are prohibited and protestors can be arrested.
Avoid photographing, videoing or participating in protests or other acts which could be seen as provocative by authorities in Tibet, Xinjiang or elsewhere in China.
Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (Xinjiang): We advise you to 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 have 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. Avoid any protests or large gatherings.
Tibet Autonomous Region (Tibet): We advise you to 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. For further information, see
There is a possibility of terrorist attacks in China. 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.
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our
Terrorist Threat Worldwide bulletin.
Money and valuables
ATMs that allow cash withdrawals using 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.
The Chinese Customs Administration requires that travellers carrying over US$5,000 (or equivalent in foreign currencies) in cash must declare it upon arrival in China. The declaration should be kept safely and shown to customs officials upon departure. Travellers who wish to depart China carrying between US$5,000 and the upper limit of US$10,000 (or equivalent in foreign currencies) should obtain permission from a Chinese bank to do so.
Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to
report a lost or stolen passport online or contact the nearest
Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.
Travellers are permitted only in areas open to foreigners. Travel near military installations and near some border areas within China is restricted.
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 3000 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. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), you are 3.5 times more likely to be killed in a motor vehicle accident in China than in Australia. See our
road travel page.
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.
Contact your airline or travel agent for up-to-date information on flights and transport options, for both domestic and international travel.
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.
Please also refer to our general
air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.
You are subject to the local laws of China, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards. 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. Research laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.
In China, a person aged 14 years and above is considered to be responsible for their actions, and 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.
Penalties for drug offences
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 will apply to persons over the age of 14 years.
In recent years a number of foreigners in China have been arrested for allegedly trafficking significant quantities of drugs, mainly when attempting to exit China at the airport in Guangzhou and Shanghai. Chinese authorities have executed foreign nationals who were found guilty of smuggling drugs.
The Australian Government cannot override the laws and penalties imposed by another country and it is not able to intervene or interfere in the Chinese judicial process. Under Chinese law, there is very limited scope to appeal for clemency for any Australians sentenced to death. More information on the risks of carrying drugs is available on the
Australians in China should understand the serious penalties for all forms of drug offences and comply with local laws in full.
Other serious crimes may also attract the death penalty. For more information about the death penalty, visit the
Amnesty International website.
Other legal issues
Demonstrations without prior approval from the government are prohibited. These laws are strictly enforced and if arrested, you could be jailed or deported.
Gambling and the promotion of gambling activities are illegal in China. Anyone found to be in violation of this law may be subject to fines, detention and/or a prison sentence.
Prostitution is also illegal in mainland China and breaching this law may lead to detention or deportation.
Photography of military or government buildings may result in a penalty. Seek permission from local authorities before taking photographs.
Homosexual acts are not illegal in China, but be aware of local sensitivities. See our
LGBTI travellers page page.
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, and at each change of residential location. This can be done by visiting the nearest police station and presenting your passport and valid Chinese visa. Foreigners staying with family or friends in a private home are required to register with the PSB. Failure to do so could result in fines and detention. If you are staying at a hotel, this is done as part of the normal check-in process, after the hotel verifies your passport and valid visa.
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. Failure to carry ID or comply with the registration requirement could result in fines and detention.
Restrictions apply to certain religious activities, including preaching, distributing literature and associating with unapproved religious groups. Falun Gong activities are banned in China. Falun Gong related demonstrations and activities contravene Chinese laws. If you participate, you could be arrested, imprisoned and/or deported.
Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.
Doing business in China
Increased Australian business activity in China has resulted in higher numbers of commercial disputes in recent years. If you are considering entering into a contract of any sort in China, for example a business contract or residential lease, you are advised to seek professional legal advice before entering into the contract.
Australian nationals carrying out business in China who become directly or indirectly involved in a business or civil dispute, or criminal matter or investigation, may be prevented from leaving the country until the matter is resolved. This has resulted in Australians being restricted from leaving China for extended periods of time, sometimes many years.
Business issues that may be classified as civil or commercial disputes in Australia, may be classified as criminal matters in China, particularly business dealings where state enterprises or state assets are involved. Penalties for commercial or 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 may involve other companies or disgruntled employees attempting to resolve business and employment disputes through protests which are often accompanied with threats of violence.
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. You are advised to seek professional legal advice before signing any contract, whether in Australia or after arrival in China.
Points to check carefully include:
- Local laws: Local laws governing business or other activities you wish to undertake in China.
- Employment contracts: Contracts may contain unacceptable conditions. For example, conditions for early termination may state that the employee surrenders the right to a return air ticket, and pay may be withheld.
- Passports: Reputable businesses will not request you to surrender your passport for "safe-keeping". Do not surrender your passport in these circumstances.
- Failure to maintain a valid visa could result in a fine of 500 RMB per day and detention. Employment in China usually requires a 'Z-class' visa and a Chinese residence permit.
Other information for business: Australians doing business in China should see our
business travel advice for general information on the potential for legal and other risks. The Australian Trade Commission (Austrade) provides specific advice on
doing business in China. In addition, our
Living and Working Overseas page provides further information for Australians considering working or living overseas.
Information for dual nationals
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 and have not renounced your citizenship according to Chinese law, it is possible that Chinese authorities will 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 do not advise the Chinese authorities formally that you have become an Australian citizen, or if you continue to maintain a Chinese passport or household registration, it is possible that Chinese authorities will treat you as a Chinese citizen. Similarly, it is possible that certain types of Chinese citizens, such as state functionaries, will not be permitted to renounce their Chinese nationality under Chinese law. You are advised to seek professional legal advice if you are uncertain about your citizenship status under Chinese law.
Dual nationals page provides further information.
We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive
travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. 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.
It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The
World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our
health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.
International standard medical services in China are expensive. We recommend that if you intend to reside 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.
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. Some hospitals in major cities have specialised departments for treating foreigners. 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. Australians should ensure that they are not 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. Seek independent information, such as from health professionals and former patients, to satisfy yourself of the quality of medical service.
Tap water in China may not be safe to drink, depending on your location. Travellers are advised to drink only bottled water with intact seals.
Avian influenza: 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. Australians in China are advised to minimise their exposure to live poultry, avoid visiting live bird and animal markets (including 'wet'; markets) and poultry farms, and to practise good hand and personal hygiene. Proper handling of poultry and poultry products during food preparation and thorough cooking of all parts of the poultry is recommended.
For more information see the Department of Health's
avian influenza (H7N9) page and
avian influenza (H5N1) pages. The website of the
World Health Organization also has information on avian influenza in humans.
Japanese Encephalitis: Japanese Encephalitis (also known as Encephalitis B), a mosquito-borne disease, is endemic in rural areas of Southern China from June to August. A Japanese encephalitis vaccine is registered for use and is currently available in Australia. For further details please consult your travel health doctor.
HIV/AIDS: HIV/AIDS is a significant concern in China. There is a risk of exposure to unsafe blood and blood products in regional China. Travellers should specifically request the use of sterilised equipment. Additional charges may be incurred for the use of new syringes in hospitals or clinics. Exercise appropriate precautions if engaging in activities that expose you to risk of infection.
Rabies: 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.
Malaria and Dengue Fever: 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. In Guangdong, and Guangzhou in particular, there has been a sharp rise in cases of dengue. The risk of contracting dengue rises during the wet season. Speak to your doctor about taking prophylaxis against malaria ; ensure your accommodation is mosquito proof; and take measures to avoid insect bites, including using an insect repellent at all times and wearing long, loose fitting, light coloured clothing.
Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease: Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) is common in China with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. In Asia, outbreaks of HFMD usually start in March/April and peak in May but can continue until August to October each year. It 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. Normal hygiene precautions should be taken including careful and frequent hand washing.
Pollution: 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. If you live in or intend to visit China and are concerned about the levels of air pollution seek medical advice. 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. Follow advice from local authorities about days with high levels of pollution and methods to reduce exposure.
Ministry of Environmental Protection provides air quality data for cities in China. You can monitor the pollution index for many cities through websites and mobile apps such as the
Air Quality Index or the website of the US Embassy which provides air quality index ratings based on the standards of the US Environmental Protection Agency. Information on air quality can also be found on the World Health Organisation website.
Dust storms, which occur on occasion across the north of the country, can cause eye, nose, mouth and throat irritations and exacerbate respiratory and cardiovascular problems.
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.
Where to get help
Depending on the nature of your enquiry, your best option may be to contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurance provider in the first instance.
For most emergency issues, you can call the 24 hour Emergency Police Centre on 110. For medical issues, call the 24 hour Medical Emergency Centre on 120.
Consular Services Charter explains what the Australian Government can and can't do to assist Australians overseas. For consular assistance, see contact details below:
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
Embassy website 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. You can check the latest typhoon information from the
World Meteorological Organisation Severe Weather Information Centre or the
China Meteorological Association.
In the event of an approaching typhoon, identify your local shelter. Flights in and out of affected areas could be delayed or suspended. Available flights may fill quickly. ontact your airline for the latest flight information. The typhoon could also affect access to sea ports in the region. In some areas, adequate shelter from a severe typhoon may not be available to all who may choose to stay. Review and follow hotel or cruise ship evacuation plans. Carry your travel documents at all times (i.e. passport, photo identification, etc.) or secure them in a safe, waterproof location. We also suggest that you contact friends and family in Australia with updates about your welfare and whereabouts. For further information, see our
severe weather page.
China is subject to earthquakes See our
earthquakes bulletin 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.
For general information and tips on travelling with children see our
Travelling with children page.