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China

If you’re travelling to China, our travel advice and updates give you practical tips and useful information.

Get travel and medical insurance

Before travelling, the Department strongly recommends that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains and legal costs. You should check any exclusions and, in particular, that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.

Overview

Security status

We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution.

Latest Travel Alerts

Typhoon Nepartak is expected to bring hazardous sea and weather conditions to some eastern areas. We advise all citizens to monitor media for updates and follow the advice of local authorities as well as checking with your travel provider or airline for information on any transport disruptions.

The Irish Embassy is aware of reports that there may be possible threats against Westerners in the Sanlitun area of Beijing. We advise citizens to continue to be vigilant at key tourist sites in Beijing during the New Year period.

Emergency assistance

The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems, try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.

Our tips for safe travels

  • Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities
  • Add an alert for your destination within the Travelwise App.
  • Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly in an emergency, such as a natural disaster or a family emergency
  • Follow us on twitter @dfatravelwise for the latest travel updates  
  • Read our Topical ‘Know Before You Go’ guide

Safety and security

Social unrest

The political situation in China is reasonably stable but there can be occasional outbreaks of social unrest. Avoid large gatherings and demonstrations, which may turn violent and could result in legal difficulties. There are strictly enforced regulations against any public demonstrations, which don’t have prior approval of the authorities. Participants may be subject to severe legal action. Stay away from military sites – taking photos of, or near, military or security installations, and some public buildings, may result in a penalty.

Terrorism

Although the threat from terrorism in China is low, there is still a global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by tourists and expatriates.

Crime

China is a relatively safe destination but you are advised to exercise caution: 

  • Don’t carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together - leave spare cash and valuables in a safe place.
  • Don’t carry your passport unless absolutely necessary and leave a copy of your passport (and travel and insurance documents) with family or friends at home.
  • Pick pocketing and theft are increasing so you should be alert to your personal security.

Counterfeit banknotes

Counterfeit bank notes, especially counterfeit RMB100 notes, are increasingly common. Ask in the bank or where you change your money how to identify fake notes. Check notes before accepting them, as you will see many shop owners and taxi drivers doing.

Tourist scams

There are many scams, particularly in the popular tourist areas of major cities, aimed at extorting money from foreigners. Travellers are approached by people inviting them to drink tea, visit an art exhibition or to practice English; the unwitting traveller is either forced to buy expensive (but worthless) artwork or is presented with a very large bill for the tea. In a commercial dispute such as this, the local police are unlikely to act so don’t accept any invitations such as these.

Fake alcohol

It’s very common for bars and nightclubs to serve fake alcohol, which can result in violent behaviour and memory loss and has resulted in Irish citizens being left in very vulnerable positions. We advise you to be aware of your alcohol intake.

Reporting crime

If you’re a victim of a crime while in China, report it to the local police immediately. You can contact us at the Irish Embassy in Bejing if you need help.

Driving

If you’re planning to drive in China, you should be extremely careful as road safety in China can be very poor. If you want to drive, bring your international driving license and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance

Public transport

We would advise against using illegal taxis or buses.

Hiring a vehicle

If you’re hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you’re allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.

Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).

Local laws and customs

Remember, the local laws apply to you as a visitor and it is your responsibility to follow them. Be sensitive to local customs, traditions and practices as your behaviour may be seen as improper, hostile or may even be illegal.

Commercial and Civil disputes

If you are suspected of a crime, or if you are involved in a personal or business dispute, the authorities have the right to confiscate your passport, to prevent you from leaving the country or the particular region you’re in until the matter is resolved.

Illegal drugs

Illegal drug use (no matter what the drug) carries stiff penalties, including fines and long prison terms or even the death penalty, regardless of one's nationality.

Legal age

In China, a person aged 14 years and above is treated as an adult under the law.

Religion

There are restrictions on preaching and distributing religious materials. The Falun Gong movement is banned in China.

Commercial law

In cases of dispute involving commercial law, a lawyer should be engaged as a matter of priority. The Embassy can’t intervene in cases of a commercial dispute.

Chinese nationality and children

Chinese law states that children born to Chinese nationals are Chinese nationals, regardless of the citizenship of the other parent. It’s therefore the responsibility of parents to ensure that their child is correctly registered after birth. The Irish Embassy can’t intervene to help in cases where the child is primarily a Chinese national.

Natural disasters and climate

Earthquake

China is located in an active seismic zone and is periodically subject to major earthquakes. You should familiarise yourself with these guidelines from the US Federal Emergency Management Agency so you know how to respond in an emergency situation.

Flooding

In cases of flooding, you should move to higher ground and wait for the flooding to abate. The Chinese military play a role in evacuating flooded areas; if you’re affected, you should follow their instructions closely for your own safety.

Typhoons

Typhoons are common along the south-eastern seaboard of China between May and November. Check the local and international news before travelling to ensure that you won’t be caught in a typhoon-affected area.

Typhoon Nepartak is expected to bring hazardous sea and weather conditions to some eastern areas. We advise all citizens to monitor media for updates and follow the advice of local authorities as well as checking with your travel provider or airline for information on any transport disruptions.

Additional information

Entry requirements (visa/passport)

Visa

Irish citizens need a visa to visit China. You can get your visa from the nearest Chinese Embassy before you depart.

A new Entry and Exit Law entered into force on 1 July 2013. This affects foreigners resident in China as some visa categories (such as F visas) are changed. In addition, visa extensions cannot exceed the term of the original visa so travellers issued with a 30 day visa can only apply for an extension of 30 days once.

If you plan to work in China and bring your family with you, you may need to submit authenticated birth and marriage certificates with their residence applications. You may also be required to have other documentation authenticated. The Irish Embassy can’t authenticate documents; only the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin can authenticate your certificates, and for them to be legally valid in China they should then be legalised by the Chinese Embassy in Dublin. We recommend that you check these requirements with your employer before you travel.

If you need to extend or apply for a new visa while you’re in China, you must apply through the local Public Security Bureau. The Irish Embassy in China can’t advise on visa requirements or processes. Travellers and Irish citizens resident in China should visit this website for more information on Chinese visa policy..

Registration

Foreigners must register with the local Public Security Bureau within 24 hours of arrival in China. If you’re staying in a hotel or hostel, they will carry out this procedure on your behalf. If you’re staying with friends or family, you must register personally.

Passport

Travellers must keep their passport or a copy of their passport photo and visa page with them at all times.

Hong Kong and Macau Special Administrative Regions

The Hong Kong and Macau Special Administrative Regions operate a different visa policy from mainland China. If you travel from the mainland to either of these areas, you will need to have a multi-entry visa to enable you to return to the mainland.

Tibet

Travel to Tibet is restricted and is only possible if you have a travel permit. Within China, you can apply to the Foreign Affairs Office of the Tibetan Autonomous Region. If you’re applying from abroad, consult your local Chinese Embassy or your travel agent.

Health

Check with your doctor well in advance of travelling to see if you need any vaccinations for China.

Avian Flu/Influenza A(H7N9)

The China Health and Family Planning Commission have confirmed more than 130 cases of infection from a form of Avian Flu known as influenza A(H7N9). To date there has been more than 40 deaths from the outbreak. So far the areas affected are Shanghai and Beijing municipalities and surrounding provinces. Infections peaked in April 2013.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has up to date information on their website:

The following Q&A should also be consulted and can provide useful tips for travellers.