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.
- Safety and security
- Local laws and customs
- Natural disasters and climate
- Additional information
We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution.
Latest Travel Alerts
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.
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
Safety and security
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.
There is an underlying global threat from terrorism. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers. The Hong Kong S.A.R. Government has put in place extensive measures to combat terrorism including upgraded police capability, improved air travel security, improved border controls and upgraded emergency services response.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 Beijing if you need help.
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. For holders of an Irish driving licence who wish to drive in Hong Kong, you may do so on the strength of your valid Irish driving licence or international driving permit if you are a visitor to Hong Kong (visitors mean that you arrive in Hong Kong other than to take up residence for a period not exceeding 12 months).
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
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 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.
Security restricted articles
Hong Kong has strict laws regarding the import and/or possession of any type of weapon and items that may resemble weapons, including replicas, antiques, toys and fashion accessories. The laws apply to individuals in Hong Kong and those transiting Hong Kong airport, and apply to hand luggage, checked luggage and luggage in transit. Please see the website of the Civil Aviation Department for further information.
In China, a person aged 14 years and above is treated as an adult under the law.
There are restrictions on preaching and distributing religious materials. The Falun Gong movement is banned in China.
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
Natural disasters and climate
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.
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 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.
Hong Kong has a sub-tropical climate with distinct seasons. The only predictable weather events that could have a significant impact on your travel plans are typhoons. Typhoon season begins in May and ends in November. When a typhoon is approaching, warnings are broadcast on television and radio. Please see the website for the Hong Kong Observatory in relation to the various weather signals and warnings.
Entry requirements (visa/passport)
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..
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.
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
Entry requirements (visa/passport)
To enter Hong Kong you must possess a passport that is valid for at least one month beyond the date of your intended stay, adequate funds to cover your stay and evidence of onward/return transportation. Many neighboring areas require that your passport is valid for at least six months before they will allow you to enter, so if you plan on regional travel beyond Hong Kong, make sure that your passport is valid for at least six months beyond the date you plan to enter such areas. You do not need a visa for tourist visits of up to 90 days.
Hong Kong S.A.R. can experience high levels of air pollution. We advise all Irish visitors and residents to monitor the updates and advisories from the Air Quality Health Index.
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.
Check with your doctor well in advance of travelling to see if you need any vaccinations for China.
Avian Flu/Influenza A(H7N9)
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has advised that there has been a steep increase in human cases of avian influenza A(H7N9) recorded in 2017 in China. The number of cases is already higher than the previous waves of the illness recorded in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
As a precaution, you should avoid visiting live animal markets, poultry farms and other places where you may come into close contact with domestic, caged or wild birds; and ensure poultry and egg dishes are thoroughly cooked.
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.