Tibet Travel Permit

UPDATED September 2017: There is a lot of outdated and incorrect information on the internet regarding Tibet Travel Permit (TTP). This post will clearly explain what a TTP is and how you can obtain it.

Getting permits to visit Tibet

UPDATED September 2017

For recommendations on a reputable and affordable travel agency in Tibet, send me an email at: thelandofsnows@gmail.com

The infamous Tibet Travel Permit! If you have been looking online for Tibet travel information, you have probably come across multiple sites that seem to contradict each other regarding the travel regulations in Tibet. I constantly read websites that have either severely outdated travel information on Tibet or the information is simply incorrect. Some websites I have come across, particularly those from travel agencies in North America and Europe, list regulations that are outdated by as many as 20 years! Wrong information can be extremely frustrating for travelers who are trying to plan their journey to Tibet. Here’s a little secret: Getting a Tibet Travel Permit (TTP) is not difficult! It’s very easy! Let me tell you how to do it……….

Snow-covered northern Tibetan Plateau

Travel Permits for Tibet

First, it’s important to understand what a Tibet Travel Permit is…..and what it is not. TTP’s are not a Tibet Visa. Since Tibet is part of China, there is no such thing as a “Tibet Visa”, even though many travel agencies will use this term when referring to TTP’s. When going to Tibet, there is only 1 visa that you need and that is a Chinese Visa (tourist, student, work, business, etc). When entering Tibet from Mainland China, you can apply for a Chinese tourist visa in your home country or at most other Chinese Embassies/Consulates across the globe. When entering Tibet from Nepal, you will have to obtain a Group Chinese Visa at the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu. You will not be able to use a Chinese Visa obtained from anywhere else…it must be from the Kathmandu Chinese Embassy. The travel agency you use will assist you with this. Read the following post of mine on how to get a Chinese Tourist Visa when going to Tibet: Chinese Visa when going to Tibet

Tibet Visa?

A Tibet Travel Permit is not a Tibet visa, but is similar to an entrance ticket. In addition to a Chinese Visa, all foreign travelers must also have a Tibet Travel Permit in order to enter Tibet. TTP’s are issued by the Tibet Tourism Bureau in Lhasa and not by Chinese Embassies/Consulates. These permits are valid for the duration of your journey in Tibet. The permit is not placed in your passport (again, TTP’s are not visas). The permit is 2 pieces of paper. The first lists your itinerary in Tibet, along with your travel dates and the business number of the travel agency you are using. The second page lists your name (as well as the names of anyone traveling with you) as well as your nationality, gender, passport number, profession and birthdate. While you will have the permit (or a copy of it) when you board a flight or train to Lhasa, your guide will handle the permit the remaining time of your journey. You probably won’t see it very often. Your guide will show it to authorities at the numerous checkpoints that are across Tibet.

Tibet travel permit

The black stupa at Samye Monastery

How to get a Tibet Travel Permit

Now, how do you get a Tibet Travel Permit?? Only a travel agency can arrange this for you as part of an organized tour. In addition to a Tibet Travel Permit, you will also require a tour guide, a private vehicle and a driver in order to travel to Tibet. There are NO exceptions to these regulations. You cannot get a Tibet Travel Permit on your own. It is issued from the Tibet Tourism Bureau in Lhasa. To get the permit, follow these simple instructions:

  1. Contact a local, Tibetan-owned travel agency at least 6 to 8 weeks before you plan to arrive in Tibet
  2. Tell them the travel route you wish to follow in Tibet (you have the freedom to design your own itinerary while traveling in Tibet)
  3. Tell the agency the dates you plan to travel in Tibet
  4. Scan and email the agency your passport and Chinese Visa
  5. The travel agency will then take care of EVERYTHING else for you, including obtaining your permits, arranging a vehicle and driver and arranging a guide for your journey.

The travel agency you use will fill out the paper work for your permit, submit it to the Tibet Tourism Bureau and then mail or email the permit to you so that you can board a flight or train to Tibet. **NOTE: If taking the train to Tibet, the travel agency will just email you a copy of the permit. If you take a flight to Tibet, the travel agency will mail you the original permit.

Tibet Visa

Certain areas of Tibet require additional permits such as an Alien Travel Permit or Military Permit. The same applies to these permits….the travel agency you use will take care of these for you. You don’t need to do anything except follow the simple 5 steps listed above! The travel agency you use will know which permits are required for your journey and they will take care of all the required paperwork in obtaining these permits. Remember, permits are just 1 thing that you need in order to travel to Tibet. You need a FULL organized tour. No exceptions. You will also have to have a tour guide, a private vehicle and a driver (Exception are tours that only stay in Lhasa. No private vehicle or driver are required in your stay within the city of Lhasa. A guide is still required for tours to Lhasa.)

Summary of getting a Tibet Permit

In summary, getting a Tibet Travel Permit is NOT difficult…it’s extremely easy!  You don’t have to do anything except contact a travel agency. The agency you use will take care of everything regarding your permit and will then mail or email it to you so you can enter Tibet. The most difficult thing about getting the required travel permits is trying to get accurate, up-to-date travel information on Tibet. For more information on how to get to Tibet, read the following post of mine: How to get to Tibet

For a recommendation on a reputable, Tibetan-owned travel agency to use or if you have any other question about a Tibet Travel Permit, email me at: thelandofsnows@gmail.com

Tibet travel permit

A yak in Tibet

12 thoughts on “Tibet Travel Permit

  1. martijn

    Dear Sir, madam,

    Could you give me a list of tibetian owned travel agencies please?

    I am planning to travel asap to Tibet from Nepal overland and want to see the EBC, Lhasa and Namtso Lake.

    If I read your page correctly I will need:
    !. the group visa in Katmandu. can I arrange this on my own at the Chinese Embassy?
    2. the TTP via travelagency that youll recommend
    3. the ATP for the everest basecamp via travelagency that youll recommend
    4. the military permit for sichuan via travelagency that youll recommend

    And do you also know what the maximum duration is of the permits i need for Tibet?
    Because afterwards i want to go to the mainland of China (Kunming) and then Lao overland. What is the best way to do that?

    Kind regards,

    Martijn Thomassen

    1. Lobsang བློ་བཟང་ Post author

      Hello, No travel permits are required in the Sichuan areas of the Tibetan Plateau. Your travel permits for Tibet are valid for the duration of your journey. If you booked an 8 day journey, your permits are valid for 8 days. If you booked a 40 day journey in Tibet, your permits are valid for 40 days. You do not need to concern yourself regarding travel permits for Tibet. You most likely will either never see them or will only see them the day you arrive to Lhasa. The travel agency you use will make ALL permits for you. You don’t need to do anything in regards to permits. After your Tibet journey, you can fly to Kunming and then travel to Lao overland from there…..very, very easy.

      have a good day….Lobsang

  2. Dechen

    Is it true that as a Tibetan American, I can’t get TTP by using travel agents? I was told that travel agents can’t take any Tibetan from overseas. I just wanted to make sure because I will be in Chengu in June and I want to travel to Lhasa since I am already so close. It will be great if I get someone to help me with this issue. I really want to make this trip.

  3. Minh Thu

    I have plan to go to Tibet from Sep 10, 2015 to Sep 22, 2015. Could you please told me sơm travel agency can take permit for me. We have 6-8 person in group 🙂

  4. stephan mohr

    We want to make a two week tibet trip from Xian by train in July 2015.
    It would be very nice i you could tell us some good travel agency!


    Stephan and Sophie

  5. June Hsu


    If we are flying from LAX, connecting through Guangzhou (China Southern flight) and then Kathmandu (Air China flight), I assume we will only “transit” in Kathmandu airport (if we are able to check in for both legs of the flights in LAX). In this case, do we need to get the Kathmandu Chinese Embassy group visa or can we use the visa from Los Angeles Chinese Consulate?

    Thank you.

  6. jos belanger

    need to know if can get permit in1-weeks oncve in china,maybe go from shangrila by bus,what is approx cost-permit,guide,etc.can i go nepal,india by road once finished tibet,pls advise thx

    1. Lobsang བློ་བཟང་ Post author

      Permits for Tibet will take at least 14 days to process. The overland route from Yunnan and Sichuan provinces to Tibet has been closed for many years. The only way to go overland to Tibet is to take the train. There are no border crossings from Tibet into India. You will first need to go to India.