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 best help is often close at hand so if you have problems, try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.
The Chinese emergency services can be contacted by dialling the following numbers:
Fire service 119
Ambulance service 120
If you need to contact the Embassy in Beijing, you can do so at +86 10 85316200.
Irish citizens in Shanghai, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Jiangxi and Anhui should contact the Consulate General in Shanghai at +86 21 60101360.
Irish citizens in Hong Kong and Macau can contact our Consulate General in Hong Kong at +852 2535 0700.
Our tips for safe travels
- Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities
- Ensure you have sufficient money to support yourself, and the capacity to access emergency funds if needed
- 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
We recommend that Irish citizens in China should download Travelwise, our free smartphone app, and set an alert for 'China', to receive all of our significant security and other updates direct to your phone. - https://www.dfa.ie/travelwise/
You should also follow the Irish Embassy in China on Twitter. In the event of a crisis, we will issue travel advice from @IrlEmbChina, based on updates issued by the authorities in Ireland and China.
Please note that you can only work in China if you possess a valid Z-visa and a valid work permit. You cannot work with a business, tourist or other short-stay visa. Never overstay your visa or work illegally. Immigration laws in China are strictly policed and enforced. Violation of same can result in severe penalties, including arrest, detention, substantial fine, deportation and a ban on re-entry to China.
Teaching English in China
The Embassy strongly recommends that anyone who is considering teaching English in China should research prospective employing schools and language centres thoroughly and ensure their bona fides. All prospective teachers should also ensure that they have the correct visa to work in a Chinese school. It is the Irish citizen and not the school who will be held responsible by the Chinese authorities if they violate the terms of their visa.
When taking-up employment at a school (public or private) you must ensure that your work visa (Z-visa) and work permit allow you to work in that particular establishment. If you change employer, or location, or take up any form of additional part-time employment you should check with the Chinese authorities whether a new visa and work permit are required.
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.
Tensions on the Korean Peninsula
Tensions on the neighbouring Korean Peninsula could escalate with little notice and the security situation could deteriorate suddenly. Tensions may increase before, during and after North Korean nuclear and missile tests, military exercises or as the result of incidents or military activities at or near the inter-Korean border. Monitor developments, remain vigilant and follow the instructions of local authorities.
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.
- 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.
You should exercise caution when hiring a rental bicycle using a QR code as there have been cases of the legitimate barcode being replaced with another false code which redirect money to a different account. Check QR code stickers carefully.
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 or the Consulates in Shanghai and Hong Kong if you need help.
If you are in Shanghai, or in the provinces of Anhui, Jiangsu, Jiangxi or Zhejiang, you can contact our Consulate General in Shanghai.
Driving / Road Safety
If you're planning to drive or cycle in China, you should be extremely careful as road safety in China can be very poor. 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).
All drivers must hold a valid Chinese driver's license and should purchase comprehensive insurance. Foreign driver's licenses and International Driving Permits are not valid in mainland China. Long-term residents may apply for a Chinese driver's license at the Vehicle Management Office in their city of residence.
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.
Arrest or detention
If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the Embassy of Ireland, the Consulate General in Shanghai, or the Consulate General in Hong Kong immediately.
Please note that if you are temporarily and issued with a fine, you must pay the fine within the specified period. If the fine is not paid in time, you may be placed in a detention centre. We recommend that you contact the Embassy or Consulate General immediately for assistance if you have been temporarily detained or fined. The Chinese judicial system can be difficult to navigate if you do not speak fluent Chinese, and the Embassy or Consulate General can assist you in dealing with the authorities and in finding a lawyer.
If you do not have a valid visa or if you have overstayed your visa, you may be fined, detained and/or deported by the Chinese authorities. It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the appropriate visa for tourism, education, employment or any other activity.
Please note that you can only work in China if you possess a valid Z-visa and a valid work permit, and that you may be detained or fined if you do not have both of these documents.
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. If your passport is withheld for any reason, please advise the Embassy or Consulate General that your passport is currently being held by the Chinese authorities.
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. The Chinese police regularly raid bars and clubs to check for the presence of illicit substances, and have also been known to raid private residences.
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 authorities do not recognise dual nationality. If you have both Chinese and Irish nationality and enter on an Irish passport the authorities may not recognise your Irish citizenship and may not grant access to consular assistance. If a former Chinese national has formally renounced Chinese citizenship they may need to carry evidence that they have done so.
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 Red Cross so you know how to respond in an emergency situation.
Latest tsunami warnings can be found on the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre website.
Flooding is common during the wet season (May to November). 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. Avoid visiting isolated or rural areas if a typhoon system is forecast. You should follow the advice of the local authorities.
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)
You must have a valid passport to enter China, with a validity date at least six months beyond the end of your intended period of stay. It's also advisable to take a number of photocopies of your passport with you, and to store a photo of the personal identification and Chinese visa pages of your passport on your phone.
You are legally required to carry your passport at all times when travelling in China and, if living in China, your residency card.
If you lose your passport while in China, you will need to obtain an emergency passport from the Embassy of Ireland in Beijing and then apply for an exit visa before you can leave China. This is a lengthy bureaucratic process which can delay your exit from China for up to two weeks.
Irish citizens need a visa to visit China. To obtain a visa, you should contact the Chinese Embassy in Dublin at chinaemb firstname.lastname@example.org well in advance of your planned visit. Please ensure that you have the correct visa before travelling to China and that you leave the country before your visa expires. If you wish to extend your visa or apply to change your visa while in China you must contact the local Public Service Bureau. Violations of Chinese immigration laws can result in severe penalties, including arrest, imprisonment, fine and deportation.
It is now possible for Irish citizens to visit China for a short period (no more than 144 hours) using various visa-free transit schemes in certain Chinese cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. However, the Embassy is aware of cases where Irish citizens were denied visa-free transit access to China despite complying with all published requirements. The Embassy would recommend that citizens continue to seek a visa in advance of all visits to China.
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. Be aware that 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. The Irish Embassy in China cannot advise on visa requirements or processes, and cannot influence or speed up the process of issuing or converting your Chinese visa.
Chinese authorities may place an exit ban on an individual to prevent them from leaving the country. An exit ban may be placed on an individual in connection to an investigation into the individual, their family or an employer, and in criminal and civil matters, including business disputes. It is not always evident that you are the subject of an exit ban until you try to leave the country. If you are unable to leave the country because of an exit ban, please contact the Embassy or Consulate General immediately and seek legal advice.
Foreigners must register with the local Public Security Bureau within 24 hours of arrival in China. If you are staying in a hotel or hostel, they will carry out this procedure on your behalf. If you are staying with friends or family, you must register personally.
Travellers must keep their passport and visa page with them at all times. It is advisable to make a copy of your passport and visa page and keep it in a safe place while travelling.
Leave a copy of your passport (and travel, insurance, and visa documents) with family or friends at home. You may wish to consider sending scanned copies of these documents to your personal email account for ease of access.
You must have a valid passport to enter China, with a validity date at least six months beyond the end of your intended period of stay. It's also advisable to take a number of photocopies of your passport with you, and to store a photo of the personal identification and Chinese visa pages of your passport on your phone or email account.
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 neighbouring 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.
Many areas in China 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.