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When Will China Issue Tourist Visas Again


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Marilyn Mcrae



China, with its rich history, diverse culture, and breathtaking landscapes, has long been a popular destination for travelers around the world. However, due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, international tourism has come to a screeching halt, and the issuance of tourist visas to China has been suspended for an extended period. This has not only impacted the tourism industry but has also left travelers eagerly anticipating the day when they can once again explore the wonders of China.


The temporary halt on tourist visa issuance has been a necessary measure to prevent the spread of the virus and protect public health. As countries worldwide grapple with the ongoing pandemic, China has taken cautious steps to gradually reopen its borders while closely monitoring the situation. Travelers are anxiously awaiting updates on when they can expect China to resume issuing tourist visas.


In this article, we will delve into the current status of tourist visa issuance, the factors affecting the resumption of visa issuance, the potential timeline for resumption, and the impact this hiatus has had on the tourism industry. Whether you are a travel enthusiast planning a trip to China or a tourism industry professional monitoring the situation, this article aims to provide insight into the future of tourist visa issuance in China.


Current Status of Tourist Visa Issuance

As of the time of writing, China is still not issuing tourist visas to foreign travelers. This restriction has been in place since March 2020 when the Chinese government imposed strict travel restrictions to control the spread of COVID-19. While the situation has improved since then, China continues to prioritize the health and safety of its citizens and visitors.


The suspension of tourist visa issuance means that individuals who wish to visit China for leisure or non-essential purposes are unable to obtain the necessary visa to enter the country. This applies to both individual travelers and organized tour groups. Even those who hold valid Chinese visas issued before the pandemic are currently unable to enter China for tourism purposes.


It is important to note that there are some exceptions to this rule. Certain individuals, such as diplomats, essential business travelers, and individuals with humanitarian reasons, may be eligible for a visa under specific circumstances. However, the issuance of these visas is subject to strict evaluation and approval by the Chinese authorities.


The decision to suspend tourist visa issuance is in line with the Chinese government’s efforts to prevent imported cases of COVID-19. By restricting entry for non-essential travel, China aims to minimize the risk of new infections and protect the health and safety of its population.


While the current status of tourist visa issuance remains unchanged, it is essential to stay updated with official announcements and contact the Chinese embassy or consulate in your country for the latest information. As the global situation evolves and travel restrictions are gradually lifted, it is expected that China will resume tourist visa issuance in due course, albeit with certain precautions and requirements in place.


Factors Affecting the Issuance of Tourist Visas

The resumption of tourist visa issuance in China is dependent on several factors that impact the country’s decision-making process. These factors include:

  • Public Health Considerations: The primary concern for the Chinese government is the health and safety of its citizens and visitors. The decision to resume tourist visa issuance will be based on the control of COVID-19 both within China and globally. As the pandemic evolves, China will closely monitor the situation, including the number of cases, vaccination efforts, and the effectiveness of containment measures.
  • Bilateral Agreements: China may consider resuming tourist visa issuance in accordance with bilateral agreements with specific countries. This could involve establishing travel bubbles or corridors with countries that have successfully controlled the spread of the virus. These agreements would require mutual consent and a shared commitment to public health protocols.
  • Reciprocity: China’s decision to resume tourist visa issuance may also be influenced by the policies of other countries regarding Chinese travelers. If other countries open their borders and ease restrictions on Chinese tourists, China may reciprocate by allowing entry for foreign visitors. This approach would promote fair and balanced international travel.
  • Vaccination Progress: The global vaccination effort plays a crucial role in the resumption of international travel. China may prioritize tourists who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or have received vaccines approved by Chinese health authorities. Vaccination passports or certificates may be required as part of the visa application process.
  • Entry Protocols and Quarantine Measures: The Chinese government will carefully evaluate the entry protocols and quarantine measures in place to ensure the safe arrival and stay of foreign tourists. Specific requirements, such as pre-departure testing, health declaration forms, and quarantine arrangements, may be implemented to minimize the risk of importing new cases.

It is important to note that the factors mentioned above are subject to change based on the evolving global situation and recommendations from public health experts. The resumption of tourist visa issuance will be a gradual process, with careful consideration given to ensure the well-being of both visitors and the local population.


Potential Timeline for Tourist Visa Resumption

While it is difficult to predict an exact timeline for the resumption of tourist visa issuance in China, there are indications that progress is being made towards reopening the country’s borders to international tourists. The timing will depend on several factors, including the global control of COVID-19, vaccination efforts, and bilateral agreements.


1. Phase-based Approach: China is likely to adopt a phased approach to reopening its borders. This means that tourist visa issuance may initially resume for travelers from select countries with low COVID-19 transmission rates and effective vaccination programs. These countries could be those that have established travel bubble agreements or have demonstrated a good track record in controlling the virus.


2. Bilateral Agreements: Opening tourism channels with specific countries will be an important factor in determining the timeline for visa resumption. China may negotiate agreements with countries that have successfully controlled the spread of the virus and have mutual interests in promoting tourism. These agreements would involve strict health protocols and monitoring mechanisms.


3. Vaccination Passports and Certificates: As vaccination programs progress globally, China may consider allowing tourists who have been fully vaccinated or have received Chinese-approved vaccines to enter the country. International cooperation and consensus on the recognition of vaccination passports or certificates will play a significant role in resuming tourist visa issuance.


4. Ongoing Assessment: The Chinese government will continuously assess the global situation, paying close attention to the number of COVID-19 cases, transmissibility of new variants, and the effectiveness of containment measures. Timelines for tourist visa resumption may be adjusted based on these assessments to ensure public health and safety.


It is important to stay informed about official announcements from the Chinese government and consult the Chinese embassy or consulate in your country for the most up-to-date information regarding the resumption of tourist visa issuance. As the global situation improves and countries work together to control the pandemic, the timeline for visa resumption is expected to become clearer, offering hope for travelers eagerly waiting to explore the wonders of China once again.


Impact on the Tourism Industry

The suspension of tourist visa issuance in China has had a significant impact on the country’s tourism industry. From hotels and restaurants to tour operators and attractions, businesses that rely on international tourists have experienced a sharp decline in revenue since the onset of the pandemic.


1. Economic Consequences: The tourism industry is a key driver of economic growth in many regions of China. With the absence of international visitors, local businesses have suffered financial losses, leading to job cuts, reduced incomes, and closures. Tourism-related revenue, such as entrance fees to attractions and purchases at local shops, has plummeted, affecting the livelihoods of individuals and communities.


2. Loss of Cultural Exchange: Tourism serves as a bridge between different cultures, allowing for the exchange of ideas, traditions, and perspectives. The halt in tourist visa issuance has limited opportunities for cultural exchange and understanding between locals and international visitors. This has resulted in a loss of mutual learning and appreciation of diverse cultures.


3. Impact on Attractions and Infrastructure: Many tourist attractions in China heavily rely on international visitors for their operations. Without tourists, these attractions have had to scale back operations or even temporarily close, impacting the maintenance, improvement, and sustainability of the infrastructure. The absence of visitors also means a decrease in the financial resources needed to support ongoing conservation efforts.


4. Shift in Domestic Tourism: While international tourism has declined, there has been a shift towards domestic tourism as local residents look to explore their own country. This has mitigated some of the economic impact on the tourism industry, but it does not fully compensate for the loss of international visitors who typically spend more and stay longer.


5. Adaptation and Innovation: To cope with the challenges posed by the suspension of tourist visa issuance, businesses in the tourism industry have had to adapt and innovate. Many have embraced digital platforms to offer virtual tours and experiences, while others have focused on attracting domestic travelers through targeted marketing campaigns and customized packages.


It is important to note that the resilience of the tourism industry in China should not be underestimated. With a rich cultural heritage, stunning landscapes, and a track record of successfully managing crises, the industry is poised to recover once international travel resumes. However, recovery will require coordinated efforts from stakeholders, government support, and a continued focus on maintaining health and safety standards.



The suspension of tourist visa issuance in China due to the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on both international travelers and the tourism industry. While the exact timeline for the resumption of tourist visa issuance remains uncertain, there are promising signs of progress towards reopening China’s borders.


Factors such as public health considerations, bilateral agreements, vaccination progress, and entry protocols will influence the resumption of tourist visa issuance. As the global situation improves and countries work together to combat the virus, the tourism industry in China can start to rebuild and recover.


It is crucial for travelers to stay informed about official announcements and consult their local Chinese embassy or consulate for the latest information on tourist visa issuance. As travel gradually resumes, it will be important for tourists to adhere to health protocols and guidelines to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience in China.


The impact on the tourism industry has been significant, with economic consequences, loss of cultural exchange, and challenges faced by attractions and infrastructure. However, through adaptation, innovation, and a focus on domestic tourism, the industry in China has shown resilience and determination to recover.


As the world gradually emerges from the pandemic, the wonders of China will once again be open for exploration. The rich history, vibrant culture, and captivating landscapes will welcome international visitors with open arms. By staying informed, remaining patient, and adhering to health guidelines, travelers can look forward to embarking on new adventures and creating lasting memories in the remarkable country of China.