Do not list Tibet on your Chinese Visa Application

UPDATED 28 September 2016: It is important to NOT list Tibet as one of your destinations when completing your Chinese Visa Application. Doing so will almost certainly give you problems. Read this post to learn why and how to fill out your application.

UPDATED September 2016

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Tibet China Visa

If you are planning to travel to Tibet, one of the first things you will need is a Chinese Tourist Visa.  After that, you can have a travel agency apply for your Tibet Travel Permit (a Tibet Visa does not exist as Tibet is part of China). When applying for your Chinese visa, there is a section on the application that will ask you to list the places in China that you plan to visit. It is important that you NOT list Tibet as one of the destinations. Do not list Tibet or any Tibetan towns (Lhasa, Shigatse, Yushu, Garze, Ngari, Labrang, etc) inside the Tibet Autonomous Region or the ethnic Tibetan regions of Amdo and Kham. If you do, you almost certainly will have problems and most likely will either be denied a visa or you will be asked to fill out another application while omitting Tibet.

The main issue is that Chinese Embassies and Consulates across the globe almost always will ask for your Tibet Travel Permit (there is no such thing as a Tibet Visa) if you list Tibet on your visa application. However, the Tibet Tourism Bureau in Lhasa will normally only issue you a Tibet Travel Permit after you have received a Chinese Tourist Visa…a classic Catch-22 situation. So you can’t get a Tibet Travel Permit without a Chinese Visa and you can’t get your Chinese Visa (if you list Tibet on your visa application) without a Tibet Travel Permit! If this sounds strange and confusing, you are right! Having lived in various regions of Tibet for over 14 years, I can tell you that there are many other strange things like this in this country that make no sense!

Tibetan pilgrims walking around the main stupa’s at Tashi Lhunpo Monastery in Shigatse

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When filling out your Chinese Visa Application, simply list a couple of major cities in China, such as Beijing, Chengdu, Kunming, Shanghai or Guangzhou. ***It is important to understand that you are still able to go to other places in China, including Tibet, even if you don’t list them on your visa application. The Chinese Embassy is just looking for a couple of places on your application, not an exhaustive list of places you plan to visit.

For most nationalities, you will also have to submit proof of hotel bookings when you apply for a Chinese Visa. If you are going to Tibet, it can be tricky as you cannot list Tibet on the application which means you cannot submit hotel bookings for Tibet. An easy way around this is to book nights at a hotel on the Chinese travel site C-Trip. On C-Trip, you can usually make hotel bookings without having to pay a deposit and without having to submit your credit card information. Simply make a hotel booking at a MAJOR Chinese city, print it out and then immediately cancel your booking. The Chinese Consulate/Embassy where you apply for your visa will not call the hotel to actually check and see if you have a booking there. In all the years I have lived and worked in Tibet, I have NEVER heard of anyone having any problems getting a Chinese visa by following my instructions.

The last item that most nationalities will need to submit is proof of your flight to and from China. Be sure to only submit your flight to/from a major city in Mainland China. Do not include a flight that shows you are going to Tibet. If you do, you almost certainly will have problems. Since Lhasa is only connected internationally to Kathmandu, this should not be a problem. Just show proof of your flight to Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Kunming or any other major city in Mainland China. There is no need to show proof of any flight to Lhasa unless you plan to enter Tibet directly from Nepal.

Tibet China Visa

The road leading to Western Tibet

I know that a few people have had no problems getting a Chinese Tourist visa while listing Tibet on their visa application form, however, the overwhelming majority of people do have problems if they list Tibet. As stated earlier, you are free to visit other areas of China, including the Tibet Autonomous Region, even though it was not listed on your visa application.

If you plan to go from Mainland China to Tibet and then overland to Nepal, please read the following link for useful information on how to obtain a Chinese visa: Chinese Visa when going overland from Tibet to Nepal.

If you have any questions about getting a Chinese visa, obtaining a Tibet Travel Permit or any other questions on Tibet Travel, please feel free to email me at: thelandofsnows@gmail.com  I gladly offer my travel services free of charge!

Tibet travel permit

16 thoughts on “Do not list Tibet on your Chinese Visa Application

  1. Pingback: Chinese Visa when going from Tibet to Nepal | The Land of Snows

  2. Pingback: Tibet Travel Permit | The Land of Snows

  3. Sonam Marpa

    I am a Tibetan living in USA. After so many attempts, I was able to obtain a visa to China. I am traveling to Shangri-La and some other places in Sichuan. I have the instruction from consulate in Chicago that I should send my trip itinerary to an office in Kunming and also register when I reach Yunnan. My arrival date is Oct 6th and my guide, Thupten Tsering tells me that the office in China are closed on 1st week of October. My plan is to take flight to Shangri-La the next day and start with my trip.

    What should I do if I am not able to register at Kunming? Is there other way to follow there instruction? Kindly advice.

    Thank you so much

  4. Ming Han

    I am from Singapore and those holding a Singapore passport get waiver on the visa if the visit to China is not more than 14 days. I have heard that 2 visas need to be applied, one to China and then another one for entry to Tibet. But what about countries like S’pore, Japan and Brunei which are the only 3 countries not needing a visa to visit China? The question is …is Tibet also a special case here, in that while Singaporeans don’t need a visa to enter China, but to enter Tibet (somehow Tibet is not part of China now for this purpose) a visa is still required regardless of whether it’s under or more than 14 days?

    1. Lobsang བློ་བཟང་ Post author

      Hello…There is no “Tibet Visa” as Tibet is part of China. All Singaporeans are required to be on an organized tour in Tibet, just like all other nationalities. Singaporeans can get a 14 days visa-on-arrival for China, but still need an organized tour to go to Tibet. For Tibet, you require travel permits that only a travel agency in Tibet can get you. These permits are not a visa….they are similar to entrance tickets. Again, Tibet is part of China and does not have its own visa.

      Lobsang

  5. Kelly

    Thank you for this post, it is super helpful for me as I am planning on going to Tibet from Beijing once my contact is up later this year. I will make sure NOT to mention my intended plan!

  6. Anita Kong

    I am a Singaporean and have interest to travel to Tibet. I would like to know the longest visa period I can obtain (beside a non-visa of 14 days to China). Can I obtain a 60 days visa to China?

  7. Vinita

    Hi I’m from NZ and already booked flights to Lhasa through travel agent…..now I have heard that Tibet is closed – what can I do as I can’t change my flight…..

    1. Lobsang བློ་བཟང་ Post author

      Tibet is only closed for a brief 5 day period in June. If your travel time in Tibet is during that brief closure, there is nothing you can do. You can get a letter from the travel agency you are using in Tibet stating that you cannot go to Tibet due to the closure and you can then use your travel insurance to get reimbursed.

      Lobsang

  8. Gaby Motuloh

    Hi,
    Thank you so much for the very useful information and stunning photos in your website.
    I am from Jakarta Indonesia and thinking of flying from to Xining (through Xiamen/Fuzhou) then taking train to Lhasa. My ticket therefore will show XINING as the destination. Do you think it may cause a problem in getting Chinese Visa?

    1. Lobsang བློ་བཟང་ Post author

      Gaby, Xining is in Qinghai and not the Tibet Autonomous Region. It is fine to list Xining on your application, but as stated in my post, it is BEST to only list MAJOR cities in China, such as Beijing, Chengdu, Shanghai, etc.

      Lobsang

  9. Gautam Chakraborty

    lobsang, Thanks for your useful tips. Me and my wife are indian passport holders, planning a visit to xining then lhasa (by train), samye, shigatse, manas sarovar etc. Are indians allowed to visit the ruins of guge kingdom, tholin in ngari province? Are the allowed to go to takster village from xining apart from the lake and bird islands? Lastly, do you think that kyirong border might reopen in october?
    regards

  10. RLR

    Hi Lobsang, do you have any advise for travelling OUT of Tibet via the train (Lhasa to any main city in China)? What is the best time to take this train out and what is the best way to get this ticket for June timings? Any other things we may need to know?

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