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Travel Security Advice for China





People’s ReA valid passport and visa are required to enter and exit China and must be obtained from Chinese Embassies and Consulates before traveling to China.  Americans arriving without valid passports and the appropriate Chinese visa are not permitted to enter and will be subject to a fine and immediate deportation at the traveler's expense.  Travelers should not rely on Chinese host organizations claiming to be able to arrange a visa upon arrival.  Chinese authorities have recently tightened their visa issuance policy, in some cases requiring personal interviews of American citizens.  Although a bilateral United States-China agreement provides for issuance of multiple-entry visas with validity of up to one year for tourists and business visitors, Chinese consulates often limit visas to only one entry. public of China was established on October 1, 1949, with Beijing as its capital city.  With well over 1.3 billion citizens, China is the world's most populous country and the fourth-largest country in the world in terms of territory.  China is undergoing rapid, profound economic and social change and development.  Political power remains centralized in the Chinese Communist Party.  Modern tourist facilities are available in major cities, but many facilities in smaller provincial cities and rural areas are frequently below international standards.  Read the Department of State Background Notes on China for additional information.


Visit the Embassy of China’s website for the most current visa information.

Visas are not required of aliens who hold air tickets to the final destination, have booked seats on international airliners flying directly through China, and will stay in a transit city for less than 24 hours without leaving the airport. Persons transiting China on the way to and from Mongolia or North Korea or who plan to re-enter China from the Hong Kong or Macau Special Administrative Regions should be sure to obtain visas allowing more than one entry.  Permits are required to visit Tibet as well as many remote areas not normally open to foreigners.  A travel permit for Tibet can be obtained through local travel agents. Permits cost approximately renminbi (RMB) 100, are single-entry and valid for at most three months.  Most areas in Tibet are not open for foreigners except Lhasa City and part of Shan Nan.  Foreigners can be fined up to RMB 500, taken into custody, and deported for visiting restricted areas.  For information about entry requirements and restricted areas, travelers may consult the Visa Office of the Embassy of China (PRC) at Room 110, 2201 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, Washington DC 20007, or telephone (202) 338-6688 and fax (202) 588-9760. For a list of services and frequently asked visa questions and answers, travelers can view the Chinese Embassy's web site. There are Chinese consulates general in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco.

The Chinese government has instituted a series of quarantine measures in response to the 2009-H1N1 Influenza. Implementation of the quarantine policies is decided by Chinese officials and sponsoring organizations and may vary by location.  Travelers should check frequently with your tour group, sponsoring organization or hotel before traveling to China on what procedures will be in effect for you or your group.  Please be advised that host governments, including local authorities, determine the nature and appropriateness of the measures taken in public health matters.

In 2007, the Chinese government tightened its regulations for altering or renewing visas for individuals already in China.  Visitors can no longer change tourist (L) and exchange (F) -type visas to other types and many applications must now be completed in person.  There have also been reports that entry and exit violations are being more strictly enforced, with recent reports of police, school administrators and hotel staff checking to ensure that individuals have not overstayed their visas.  Visitors are expected to register with the police within 24 hours of arrival in China.  While hotels generally do this automatically with no additional action being required from the guest, Americans planning on staying in private homes with family or friends must go to their local police station to register.  The police have been stricter in the enforcement of this rule and have fined apartment companies, hotels and Americans for violations.

Americans who overstay or otherwise violate the terms of their Chinese visas will be subject to a maximum fine of 5,000 RMB, departure delays, and may be subject to detention.  Travelers should note that international flights departing China are routinely overbooked, making reconfirmation of departure reservations and early airport check-in essential.  An airport user fee for both international and domestic flights is now included in the cost of the ticket price.  Americans are also required to have an exit visa to leave China.  Americans who lose a passport must take into consideration the time needed to get a new passport and a new visa.  Visa issuances can take as long as 7 business days.

In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated new procedures at entry/exit points.  These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian if they are not present.  Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.

Dual national Americans, particularly those with dual Chinese and American nationality, should realize that entering China using their non-U.S. passport could mean that the Chinese Government may not afford them the consular protections to which they are entitled.  While the U.S. Government will offer consular services to all U.S. citizens regardless of dual nationality, use of other than a U.S. passport to enter China can make it difficult for U.S. Consuls to assist dual national Americans who have been arrested or who have other concerns with the Chinese Government.

China does not recognize dual citizenship.  U.S. Embassy and Consulate officials are often denied access to arrested or detained Americans who do not enter China using their U.S. passport.  Lawful Permanent Residents of the United States who do not carry unexpired Permanent Resident Cards ("Green Cards") or other clear evidence that they may re-enter the United States will encounter delays departing from China.  Lawful Permanent Residents should renew and update U.S. residence documentation prior to their departure from the United States.

China considers a child born within its borders to hold Chinese citizenship if one parent is a Chinese national, even if the child applies for and receives a U.S. passport while in China.  In these cases, when parents want to travel overseas with their child, they should contact their local Public Security Bureau for information on obtaining a travel document (lu xing zhen).

Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website.  For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information Sheet.


Americans visiting or residing in China are advised to take routine safety precautions. In particular, travelers should remain aware of their surroundings and of ongoing events.  Travelers should respect local police requirements to avoid travel in some areas.  In light of the greatly increased numbers of older Americans traveling to China, Americans should verify with U.S. tour operators that local guides being used are familiar with medical facilities and emergency medical evacuation procedures.

Security personnel may at times place foreign visitors under surveillance.  Hotel rooms, telephones, and fax machines may be monitored, and personal possessions in hotel rooms, including computers, may be searched without the consent or knowledge of the traveler.  Taking photographs of anything that could be perceived as being of military or security interest may result in problems with authorities. Foreign government officials, journalists, and business people with access to advanced proprietary technology are particularly likely to be under surveillance.

Terrorism is rare in China, although a small number of bombings have occurred throughout the country.  Recent bombings have generally been criminally motivated, frequently the result of commercial disputes and large-scale job layoffs.  The vast majority of these local incidents related to disputes over land seizures, social issues or environmental problems.   Some incidents have become large-scale and involved some criminal activity, including hostage taking and vandalism.  A few instances have been reported of local employees setting off explosives at their places of business after being terminated by their Western expatriate employers. American employers conducting layoff negotiations should do so at a neutral site and always notify the local law enforcement authorities in advance.

Business disputes in China are not always handled through the courts.  Recently, incidents have increased of American citizens being kidnapped or detained by workers or hired gangs for the specific purpose of extorting money, sometimes millions of dollars, or intimidated for other gains. In the latter cases, the American is typically threatened with violence and detained at a factory, hotel, or private residence until payment is negotiated and delivered.  Sometimes the American is physically assaulted or abducted.

Anyone entering into a contract in China should have it thoroughly examined, both in the United States and in China.  Contracts entered into in the United States are not enforced by Chinese courts. Care should also be taken when entering into a lease for an apartment or house.  There have been instances of foreigners involved in lease disputes being evicted from their apartments, and then prevented from re-entering, even to retrieve their belongings.

Americans doing business in China should be aware that if they become involved in a business and/or civil dispute, the Chinese government may prohibit them from leaving China until the matter is resolved.  There are many cases of American citizens being prevented from leaving China for months and even years while their civil cases are pending.  Civil cases may sometimes be regarded as criminal cases, and the defendant may be placed in custody.

U.S. citizens and business owners should be aware that many intending migrants from China will try to enlist their assistance to secure a U.S. visa.  In one common scheme, a PRC national contacts a U.S. business feigning interest in a particular product or service.  The PRC national then asks for a formal letter from the U.S. company inviting him or her (alone or with colleagues) to come to the United States to discuss or finalize a purchase, or establish formal cooperation between the two companies. The PRC national will then use the invitation letter when he or she applies for a U.S. visa to show he/she has a legitimate purpose of travel.  While many such requests may be legitimate, some are not. Oftentimes, the PRC national initiating the contact has no relationship to his/her claimed Chinese employer.  In fact, it is not unusual for these individuals to be part of elaborate human smuggling syndicates.  Visa sections at the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in China are regularly contacted by U.S. businesses that unwittingly have been used to facilitate illegal migration schemes.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs’ website, where the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts, as well as the Worldwide Caution, can be found.

Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the U.S. and Canada or, for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.  These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas.  For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State’s information on A Safe Trip Abroad.


While China’s overall crime rate remains low, the Mission has observed a discernable increase in violent and nonviolent crime throughout the country in the past year, possibly due in part to the worldwide economic slowdown.  Some major metropolitan areas, including Shanghai, have reported an annual increase in certain types of crime compared to the same period in 2008. Senior Chinese officials have warned publicly that during the current economic downturn, the crime rate may increase.

Petty theft remains the most prevalent type of crime impacting Westerners.  Pickpockets target tourists at sightseeing destinations, open-air markets, airports, and stores, often with the complicity of low-paid security guards.  Violence against foreigners, while rare, is increasing.  Over the past year, incidents of violence against foreigners, including stabbings and sexual assaults, have taken place, usually in urban areas where bars and nightclubs are located.  Robberies, sometimes at knifepoint, have occurred in western China and more recently in Beijing.  Historically, the use of firearms in the commission of a crime has been a rare event in China.  However, with the declining economy, the Embassy has observed an uptick in gun-related crimes, including armed robberies of restaurants and banks.  There have been some reports of robberies and assaults along remote mountain highways near China’s border with Nepal.

Narcotics-related crimes are also on the rise in China.  Americans should be aware that Chinese law enforcement authorities have little tolerance for illegal drugs and periodically conduct widespread sweeps of bar and nightclub districts targeting narcotics distributors.  Expatriates from various countries, including dependents of diplomats, have been detained in such police actions.

It is illegal to exchange dollars for RMB except at banks, hotels, and official exchange offices. Due to the large volume of counterfeit currency in China, unofficial exchanges usually result in travelers losing their money and possibly facing charges of breaking foreign exchange laws. If detained by police under suspicion of committing an economic crime involving currency, travelers may be delayed for weeks or months while police investigate the allegations. In general, counterfeit currency is becoming a widespread problem. The Embassy receives regular reports of employees receiving fraudulent 100 and 50 RMB notes from ATMs and taxi drivers. ATM scams are also becoming more prevalent. Travelers should use ATMs that are physically attached to a bank and use Western banking institutions whenever possible.

There have been periodic instances in Beijing and elsewhere of mobs in bar districts attacking foreigners.  Nationalism and anti-Western sentiment may flare up as a result of sensitive issues or current events.  Disputes among Chinese citizens or between Chinese and foreigners can quickly escalate.  Caution should be exercised when visiting bar districts late at night, especially on weekends.  There have been reports of bar fights in which Americans have been specifically targeted due their nationality.  Simple arguments can turn into mob scenes and many times have resulted in the American being detained for hours for questioning with no right to an attorney or consular officer at that stage.  Bar fights are often punished by administrative detention in a local jail for up to two weeks, usually followed by deportation.

Travelers should have small bills (RMB 10, 20 and 50 notes) for travel by taxi.  Reports of taxi drivers using counterfeit money to make change for large bills are increasingly common, especially in Beijing and Guangzhou.  Arguments with taxi drivers over fares or over choice of route usually are not easily resolved on the scene.  In some cases, Americans who instigate such arguments have been detained for questioning and have not been released until the fare is paid or a settlement is reached and the American offers an apology.  There has been an increase in the number of Americans falling victim to scams involving the inflation of prices for tea and other drinksNormally, the scam involves young people who approach English-speaking tourists and ask to have a cup of tea with them to practice their English. When the bill comes for the tea, the charge has been inflated to an exorbitant amount.  When the tourist complains, enforcers arrive to collect the money.  A similar scam involves buying drinks for young women at local bars.

Throughout China, women outside hotels in tourist districts frequently use the prospect of companionship or sex to lure foreign men to isolated locations where accomplices are waiting to rob them or to place them in compromising situations.  Travelers should not allow themselves to be driven to bars or to an individual's home unless they know the person making the offer.  Hotel guests should not open their room doors to anyone they do not know personally.

The Embassy has received some reports of Internet fraud committed against U.S. citizens and intended to secure a visa to the United States or money.  A common scenario involves a Chinese national hiring a consulting company to communicate with an American citizen on his/her behalf.  The intent of the Chinese national is not always clear; however, the business models of many of these consulting companies rely on the American citizen ultimately sending money to the Chinese national for expenses, such as English study; however, the money goes to the consultant instead.  The American citizen may unwittingly carry on telephone conversations with a paid consultant posing as the romantic interest.  In some cases, the American citizen may travel to China to meet his/her Internet friend in person. A visa consultant accompanies the Chinese friend and presents the American with a demand for payment of thousands of dollars in fees.  At times, when the American citizen has refused to pay, s/he has been threatened with physical violence or unlawful detention.  Another common scenario involves a Chinese person claiming he/she or a close family member has been kidnapped or had a large sum of money stolen and asking the American to wire him/her money.  Recently, similar incidents have involved the “virtual” kidnapping of children. In these cases, a scam artist sends the parents a text message claiming to have kidnapped the child and asking for money for the child’s safe return. In such cases, contact the police and the child’s school, as well as the Embassy or nearest consulate immediately before responding. To date, all such matters reported to the Embassy have been fraudulent. We remind American citizens that no one should provide personal or financial information to unknown parties.  For additional information on these types of scams, see the Department of State publicationInternational Financial Scams.

Relationship fraud via the Internet is also a growing industry.  While many Chinese citizens are sincere in their desire to marry and live with Americans they meet over the Internet, some are not.  It is important to remember that many Chinese view immigrant visas to the United States as having a great deal of value, and it is not uncommon for people to enter into relationships for the sole purpose of obtaining a visa. Unfortunately, the Embassy is unable to carry out investigations of relationships of this sort, but all Americans are urged to approach such Internet relationships with caution, and to be wary of situations which appear similar to that described above.

American visitors have encountered scams at the international airports in China whereby individuals appearing to work for the airport offer to take American tourists' bags to the departure area, but instead they carry the bags to another area and insist that the visitor pay an airport tax.  Travelers should be advised that the airport tax is included in the price of the airline ticket.  The airport police or security officers should be contacted if this happens.

The U.S. Embassy is aware of reports that airport thefts and robberies of travelers in China are on the rise, specifically in the domestic airports of Beijing, Zhengzhou, Shenyang, Dalian, Qingdao and Taiyuan. Travelers should take only licensed taxi cabs when traveling to the airport.  The Embassy has received reports of individuals taking unlicensed taxis or “black” cabs to the airport; after exiting the vehicle, the driver departs the scene with the individual’s luggage still in the car.  Additionally, some Americans report that they have been the victims of robberies while in their hotel rooms in tourist areas.  Some Americans have been assaulted during these robberies.

American visitors to China should carry their passports with them out of reach of pickpockets. Americans with Chinese residence permits (juliuzheng) should carry these documents, and leave their passports in a secure location except when traveling.  All Americans are encouraged to make photocopies of their passport bio-data pages and Chinese visas and to keep these in a separate, secure location, and to register with the U.S. Embassy or nearest consulate general. (See Registration/Embassy Location information below).

In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available.  Transactions involving such products may be illegal under local law.  In addition, bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines.   The Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Division in the U.S. Department of Justice has more information on this serious problem.


The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.  If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the U.S. Embassy or nearest consulate for assistance.  The embassy/consulate staff can, for example, help you find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds may be transferred.  Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

China has a system similar to "911" in the United States which the Chinese can use to contact police or other emergency services.  Americans can call 110 while in China to reach this service; however, there are few in any English speakers working for this hotline. Please see our information on Victims of Crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.


While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law.  Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than those in the United States for similar offenses.  Persons violating Chinese laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned.  Penalties for possession or use of, or trafficking in illegal drugs in China are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.  Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.  Please see our information on Criminal Penalties.

In 2006, a Public Security Law went into effect that gives police powers relating to the commission of a wide range of offenses, including the authority to detain and deport foreigners.  The list of offenses has been expanded to include certain religious activities and prostitution-related crimes.

Americans who are questioned by police should immediately notify the U.S. Embassy or the nearest consulate.  Foreigners detained for questioning may not be allowed to contact their national authorities until the questioning is concluded.  Foreigners who are detained pending trial have often waited over a year for their trial to begin.  Foreigners suspected of committing a crime are rarely granted bail.  Criminal punishments, especially prison terms, are much more severe than those in the United States. Several Americans currently incarcerated in China have been implicated in financial fraud schemes involving falsified bank or business documents, tax evasion schemes and assisting alien smuggling, including selling passports to provide aliens with travel documents.

In the past, protesters detained for engaging in pro-Falun Gong activities have been quickly deported from China after being questioned.  Several of these protesters alleged they were physically abused during their detention.  In addition, they allege that personal property, including clothing, cameras, and computers have not always been returned to them upon their deportation.  Chinese authorities report that while they have deported these foreigners quickly after public demonstrations in favor of the Falun Gong, future adherents who intentionally arrive in China to protest against Chinese policy may receive longer terms of detention and possibly face prison sentences.  In one instance, an American Falun Gong practitioner traveling in China on personal business was detained and asked to provide information on other Falun Gong sympathizers in the United States.

Several Americans have been detained and expelled for passing out non-authorized Christian literature.  Sentences for distributing this material may range from three to five years imprisonment, if convicted.  Chinese customs authorities have enforced strict regulations concerning importation into China of religious literature, including Bibles.  Foreigners may import only a "reasonable” amount of religious literature, which is for personal use only.  Larger quantities will likely be confiscated and other penalties may apply.


American Citizens who rent apartments with gas appliances should be aware that, in some areas, natural gas is not scented to warn occupants of gas leaks or concentrations. In addition, heaters may not always be well-vented, allowing excess carbon monoxide to build up in living spaces. Due to fatal accidents involving American citizens, travelers are advised to ensure all gas appliances are properly vented or to install gas and carbon monoxide detectors in their residences. These devices are not widely available in China and should be purchased prior to arrival.

Chinese customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from China of items such as antiquities, banned publications, religious literature (which may be imported for the visitor's personal use only), or vehicles not conforming to Chinese standards.  It is advisable to contact the Embassy of China in Washington or one of China's Consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements.

Some Americans report that items purchased in China and believed to be antiques or genuine gems are often later determined to be reproductions.  Some travelers report that this occurs even at state-owned stores and museum stores.  Travel agencies and tour guides will often escort tour groups to particular shops at which the travel agency or tour guide will share in the profit, and may claim to guarantee the "authenticity“of items sold in those shops.  Travelers should be vigilant when purchasing items in China.

China's customs authorities encourage the use of an ATA (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Carnet for the temporary admission of professional equipment, commercial samples, and/or goods for exhibitions and fair purposes. ATA Carnet Headquarters, located at the U.S. Council for International Business, 1212 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036, issues and guarantees the ATA Carnet in the United States.  For additional information call (212) 354-4480, or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Please see our Customs Information sheet.


Many Americans have enjoyed their teaching experience in China; others have encountered significant problems.  Prospective teachers are encouraged to read the Teaching in China Guide on Embassy Beijing's American Citizen Services web site.  To assist the Embassy in providing up-to-date information to prospective teachers, Americans experiencing problems should inform the Embassy by This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or by calling telephone (86) (10) 8531-4000.


The southeast coast of China is vulnerable to strong typhoons, usually from July to September.  Travelers planning a trip to China can obtain general information about natural disaster preparedness from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Additional information about currently active typhoons can be obtained on the University of Hawaii tropical storm page.


The standards of medical care in China are not equivalent to those in the United States.  Medical facilities with international staffs are available in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and a few other large cities.  Many other hospitals in major Chinese cities have so-called VIP wards (gaogan bingfang).  These feature reasonably up-to-date laboratory and imaging facilities.  The physicians in these centers are generally well-trained.  Most VIP wards also provide medical services to foreigners and have English-speaking doctors and nurses. Generally, in rural areas, only rudimentary medical facilities are available, often with poorly trained medical personnel who have little medical equipment and medications.  Rural clinics are often reluctant to accept responsibility for treating foreigners, even in emergency situations.  Most hospitals in China will not accept medical insurance from the United States, with the exception of the following hospitals, which are on the Blue Cross Blue Shield's worldwide network providers - overseas network hospitals' list: Hong Kong Adventist Hospital, Beijing United Family Hospital, Beijing Friendship Hospital, International Medical Center in Beijing, and Peking Union Medical Center.  Cash payment for services is often demanded before a patient is seen and treated, even in cases of emergency. Travelers will be asked to post a deposit prior to admission to cover the expected cost of treatment.  Hospitals in major cities may accept credit cards for payment.  Even in the VIP/foreigner wards of major hospitals, however, American patients have frequently encountered difficulty due to cultural, language, and regulatory differences.  Physicians and hospitals have sometimes refused to supply American patients with complete copies of their Chinese hospital medical records, including laboratory test results, scans, and x-rays.

Travelers should note that commonly used American medication is generally not available in China.  Medications that bear the same or similar name to prescription medication from the United States are not always the same.  Americans should carry their prescriptions from their doctors if carrying prescription medication into China for personal use.

Ambulances do not carry sophisticated medical equipment.  Injured or seriously ill Americans may be required to take taxis or other immediately available vehicles to the nearest major hospital rather than waiting for ambulances to arrive. 
International SOS operates modern medical and dental clinics and provides medical evacuation and medical escort services in Beijing, Nanjing, Tianjin, Shekou and, as well as 24hr Alarm Centers in Beijing and Hong Kong.  Through its clinics in Beijing (24 hours), Tianjin, Nanjing and Shekou, International SOS offers international standard family practice services, emergency medical services and a range of clinical services, though these can be expensive.

For medical emergencies anywhere in mainland China, Americans can call the International SOS 24-hour "Alarm Center" in Beijing at telephone: (86) (10) 6462-9100 for advice and referrals to local facilities.  International SOS Alarm Centers can also be contacted in Hong Kong at telephone: (852) 2528-9900 and in the United States at: (215) 942-8226. For a full list of International SOS locations and phone numbers, consult the SOS web site.

The U.S. Embassy and Consulates in China maintain lists of local English-speaking doctors and hospitals, all of which are published on their respective American Citizens Services web pages.

For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) web site. Further health information for travelers is available from the WHO.

Tuberculosis is an increasingly serious health concern in China.  For further information, please consult the CDC's Travel Notice on TB.

Some HIV/AIDS entry restrictions exist for visitors to and foreign residents of China.  There are several laws in place that do not permit those with HIV/AIDS to enter China, and long-term residents must obtain clearance from Chinese health authorities. Please verify this information with the Embassy of China before you travel.

For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) websiteFurther general health information for travelers is available from the WHO.


China has no public healthcare system to provide for people without insurance or adequate funds.  If you become sick or injured, you will be expected to pay for your bills, sometimes even before treatment is offered.  The Embassy and the consulates cannot settle bill disputes with hospitals but can assist family or friends in the United States to transfer money to China.

The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.  Before you are admitted to a hospital for treatment, you should obtain pre-certification from your insurance company.  Please see our information on medical insurance overseas.


While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.  The information below concerning China is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

The rate of traffic accidents in China, including fatal accidents, is among the highest in the world. Driving etiquette in China is still developing, and the average Chinese driver has less than five years’ experience behind the wheel.  As a result, traffic is often chaotic, and right-of-way and other courtesies are often ignored.  Travelers should note that cars and buses traveling in the wrong lanes frequently hit pedestrians and bicyclists.  Pedestrians should always be careful while walking near traffic.  Most traffic accident injuries involve pedestrians or cyclists who are involved in collisions or who encounter unexpected road hazards (e.g., unmarked open manholes).  Foreigners with resident permits can apply for PRC driver licenses; however, liability issues often make it preferable to employ a local driver.  Child safety seats are not widely available in China.  Americans who wish to ride bicycles in China are urged to wear safety helmets meeting U.S. standards.

The number of American citizens involved in serious and deadly traffic accidents in Beijing is increasing.  The Embassy strongly encourages travelers to exercise special caution when crossing streets in China's cities as pedestrians do not have the right-of-way.  Please note that many taxi cabs do not have functioning seatbelts for passengers.  If seatbelts are available, visitors are strongly encouraged to use them to reduce the risk of injury.

All drivers should be aware of the Chinese regulations regarding traffic accidents.  Although a recent law states that drivers involved in a minor traffic accident should move their cars to the side of the road as soon as possible, in practice, the police often conduct investigations on the scene of the accident with the cars in their original positions.  Americans who cannot express themselves clearly in Chinese should call the police as soon as possible after an accident and wait to move the cars until the police permit it.

If called to an accident, the police may take 20 minutes or longer to arrive.  Once the police arrive, they will complete a preliminary investigation and arrange a time for you to report to the police station responsible for processing the accident scene.  The police will prepare a written report in Chinese, describing the circumstances of the accident.  They will present the report to you either at the scene, or more likely at the police station, and ask you to sign it verifying the details of the accident.  Do not sign the report unless your Chinese is good enough to completely understand the report and you find it totally accurate. If you either do not understand it or believe it is partly or wholly inaccurate, you may either:

  1. Write a disclaimer on the report to the effect that you cannot read or understand the report and cannot attest to the accuracy thereof, but are signing it because of the police requirement that you do so, and then sign, or;
  2. Write your own version of the accident, in English, on the police form and indicate that your signature only attests to the accuracy of the English version.

Most incidents (such as an accident) will draw a crowd.  Drivers should remain calm.  A crowd will usually move in very close to the accident and participants.  In many cases the bystanders consider themselves to be an ad hoc jury.  They may call for money, usually from RMB 100 to 1,000, to be paid by the party they consider at fault.  The amount is not necessarily relevant to the amount of damage.  A certain amount of bargaining is normal, even at accidents involving two Chinese parties.  If you feel physically threatened, call the police immediately, as well as the Embassy or nearest consulate.  If a traffic police booth is nearby, you may wish to leave the vehicle and walk there to await the arrival of the police accident team.  Alternatively, you may walk to a shop, restaurant, or other location nearby in the immediate vicinity and wait for police.

Your vehicle should not leave the scene of an accident.  Your actions may serve to further incite the crowd if they perceive that you are fleeing to evade responsibility for your share of blame or payment of damages.  The crowd may attempt to keep your vehicle at the accident scene by standing in the way or blocking the roadway with vehicles, bicycles and other objects.

Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.  Visit China’s national tourist office website for more information and national authority responsible for road safety.


The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of China's air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA's website.


For information see our Office of Children’s Issues web pages on intercountry adoption and international parental child abduction. China is not a signatory to the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction.


Americans living or traveling in China are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy or nearest Consulate through the State Department's travel registration website so that they can obtain updated information on travel and security within China.   Americans without internet access may register directly with the U.S. Embassy or nearest Consulate.  By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency.

Beijing:  The U.S. Embassy is located at No. 55 An Jia Lou Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100600.  The American Citizen Services section can be contacted during regular business hours and for after-hours emergencies at (86) (10) 8531-4000 or by This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it For detailed information please visit the U.S. Embassy website. The Embassy consular district includes the following provinces/regions of China: Beijing, Tianjin, Shandong, Shanxi, Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, Shaanxi, Qinghai, Gansu, Xinjiang, Hebei, Henan, Hubei, Hunan and Jiangxi.

Chengdu: The U.S. Consulate General in Chengdu is located at Number 4, Lingshiguan Road, Section 4, Renmin Nanlu, Chengdu 610041; tel. (86)(28) 8558-3992, 8555-3119; after-hours emergencies (86)(28) 1370 8001 422, and This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . This consular district includes the following provinces/regions of China: Guizhou, Sichuan, Xizang (Tibet) and Yunnan, as well as the municipality of Chongqing.

Guangzhou: The main office of the U.S. Consulate General in Guangzhou is located at Number 1 South Shamian Street, Shamian Island 200S1, Guangzhou 510133.  The Consular Section, including the American Citizens Services Unit, is now located at 5th Floor, Tianyu Garden (II phase), 136-146 Lin He Zhong Lu, Tianhe District; tel. (86)(20) 8518-7605; after-hours emergencies (86)(20) 8121-8000; and may be This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . This consular district includes the following provinces/regions of China: Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan and Fujian.

Shanghai:  The Consular Section of the U.S. Consulate General in Shanghai is located in the Westgate Mall, 8th Floor, 1038 Nanjing Xi Lu, Shanghai 200031; tel. (86)(21) 3217-4650; after-hours emergencies (86)(21) 6433-3936This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it This consular district includes the following provinces/regions of China: Shanghai, Anhui, Jiangsu and Zhejiang.

Shenyang: The U.S. Consulate General in Shenyang is located at No. 52, 14th Wei Road, Heping District, Shenyang 110003; tel. (86)(24) 2322-2374; after-hours American citizen emergencies (86)(24) 137-0988-9307. [inquiries about U.S. visas will not be answered via this emergency phone.  Please contact the Consulate during normal business hours for such questions.] This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . This consular district includes the following provinces/regions of China: Liaoning, Heilongjiang and Jilin.

This replaces the Country Specific Information for China dated March 31, 2009, to update sections on Country Description, Entry/Exit Requirements, Safety and Security, Crime, Information for Victims of Crime, Disaster Preparedness, Medical Facilities and Health Information, Medical Insurance, Traffic Safety and Road Conditions, Children’s Issues and Registration/Embassy Location.


The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office also has information on China HERE....


Looking for an Embassy ?, You can also check out our World Wide Embassy Listings Section HERE (For US Citizens) or HERE (For UK Citizens).........


The SW Team......


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