China Removes All Pre-Entry COVID-19 Testing Requirements for Inbound Travelers

Posted by Written by Giulia Interesse Reading Time: 3 minutes

China has announced the removal of all pre-entry COVID-19 testing requirements for travelers entering the country, effective from August 30, 2023. This move aims to stimulate inbound tourism, normalize travel procedures, and aid the recovery of China’s travel industry.

On August 28, 2023, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin made a significant declaration. Starting from August 30, 2023, travelers heading to China will not have to undergo COVID-19 nucleic acid tests or antigen tests.

The withdrawal of COVID-19 testing requirements will considerably ease the entry process for travelers coming to China.

This will improve travel convenience and is a big step towards normalizing travel procedures in China. It also aligns with the government’s efforts to fully reopen the Chinese economy and revive its travel industry and allied sectors.

Behind the decision: China’s travel landscape in 2023

As the summer tourist season of 2023 draws to a close, a distinct contrast has become visible. While local attractions like Beijing’s Forbidden City buzzed with activity, foreign tourists were notably scarce.

Indeed, efforts to increase international flights, including the China-U.S. agreement to raise round-trip flights, didn’t bring back the pre-pandemic surge in travelers. Even the recent lifting of bans on group tours to overseas destinations is yet to bring forth a drastic revival.

In other words, the aftermath of the pandemic left travelers hesitant to venture abroad, impacting China’s inbound tourism.

Safety concerns remained a significant deterrent for Chinese tourists considering overseas trips. An April survey found that worries about unfriendly receptions, health risks, visa issues, and high costs influenced 58 percent of respondents to reconsider leaving mainland China in 2023.

On the other hand, as China’s economy gradually rebounded, domestic travel flourished. The relaxation of COVID-19-related restrictions led to a surge in domestic air travel, with authorities anticipating a whopping RMB5 trillion (US$700 billion) in travel-related revenue this year. Destinations beyond the big cities, like Chengdu, Kunming, Hangzhou, Xian, and Urumqi, gained popularity.

On the flip side, foreign visitors also exhibited more cautiousness. Now, China seems to have taken several steps in order to reinvigorate its inbound travel market, to facilitate a genuine recovery of the travel sector.

Impact on the inbound travel industry

Stricter travel regulations and heightened safety protocols since the onset of the pandemic have taken a toll on international travel demand, causing a substantial decline in foreign tourists’ footfall in China.

The extended requirement of pre-entry COVID-19 testing, while understandable from a public health standpoint, severely dampened the appeal of traveling to China.

After reopening applications for all types of visas earlier in March 2023, including the resumption of visa-free policies, the government’s latest move aims to rekindle interest in the China travel market and make the prospect of visiting China more alluring.

COVID-19 precautions during travel in China

While China has made substantial strides in reducing travel-related restrictions, it’s essential to remain mindful of COVID-19 precautions during your journey. The virus still lingers in the environment, necessitating a prudent approach to travel safety. Common-sense preventive measures remain crucial as you navigate the country.

Practicing hygiene measures akin to those exercised in other countries is advisable. Regularly washing your hands or using hand sanitizer, wearing a mask in public spaces, and avoiding crowded areas when possible are key practices. Notably, mask mandates in public transport, restaurants, bars, stores, malls, and parks have been lifted. However, it’s noteworthy that the government continues to encourage voluntary mask usage.

It’s imperative to underline that certain settings maintain specific mask requirements. In nursing homes and medical institutions, mask-wearing remains obligatory. Additionally, if you test positive for COVID-19, wearing a mask is compulsory.

These targeted measures underscore China’s dedication to both personal and communal well-being.

As you embark on your travels within China, a comprehensive understanding of these evolving guidelines will contribute to a seamless and safe journey. By blending prudence with newfound freedoms, travelers can responsibly explore the diverse landscapes and cultural experiences that China has to offer.

About Us

China Briefing is written and produced by Dezan Shira & Associates. The practice assists foreign investors into China and has done so since 1992 through offices in Beijing, Tianjin, Dalian, Qingdao, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Suzhou, Guangzhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong.

Please contact the firm for assistance in China at Dezan Shira & Associates has offices in Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, United States, Germany, Italy, India, Dubai (UAE), and Russia, in addition to our trade research facilities along the Belt & Road Initiative. We also have partner firms assisting foreign investors in The Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Bangladesh.