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Visa & Permit for Tibet

Visa Information

All foreign visitors are required to have a China visa when entering Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) via China. (Except for Singaporean, Japanese & Mongolian citizens who don’t need a China Visa while the visit is no longer than 15 days in accordance with the treaty between them and China). Additionally, you will need a Tibet Permit, which we will organize as part of our service. No China visa is required if you go through Nepal and we will provide the Tibet Permit on arrival in Kathmandu.

If you have anything unclear or any questions about the visa & permit, please contact to our trip adviser at info@grouptibettour.com.

Arriving Lhasa via mainland China:

If you are planning to arrive in Lhasa via mainland China, you would need to apply for your Chinese visa from the Chinese Embassy in your own country from the closest Chinese Embassy.

Here’s a sample for the visa:

  • China Visa

    The visa application form asks you a number of questions-your travel itinerary, means of transport, how long you will stay, etc-but you can deviate from this as much as you want. You don't have to leave from the place you specify on your visa application form.

    It may ask for you to list the places in China that you plan to visit. You will be kindly suggested to not mention ‘Tibet’ as your destination. You may just tell them that you are planning to visit eg: Beijing, Chengdu, Shanghai or Xian. As the consulate/embassy will ask you to supply the Tibet entry permit first to make sure your visa to be approved without having the Chinese visa first. This will cause problem as it is in the conflict with the requirements at the Tibet travel bureau for the permit application. There’s a chance that your application will be denied and you cannot go to Tibet just because of visa problems.

    The requirements maybe have slight difference in different countries. For details, please refer to the local embassy’s website. For Example: for US travelers, you can refer to http://www.china-embassy.org/eng/visas/

  • Visa Type

    Chinese visas fall into four types: diplomatic visa, courtesy visa, service visa and ordinary visa. Ordinary visas are further divided into the following categories:

    L - Travel F - Business D - Resident G - Transit X - Student Z - Working C - Crew J - Journalist

    The travel agencies can help most tourists who are holding the L, F, X, Z & D visas into Tibet. Except L visa holders, all the other tourists are required to provide working/expert certificate/ visa invitation letter copy or student ID copy for the permit application in the meanwhile.

    Special note: The diplomats, journalists, and government officials may apply the permit under the arrangement by the Foreign Affairs Office of Tibet Government, the travel agencies are NOT authorized to help these ‘tourists’ going to Tibet till now.

  • Arriving Lhasa via Kathmandu:

    If you are coming to Lhasa from Kathmandu, you will be requested to get China visa from Kathmandu because whether you've already got the visa in your country or not, you will have to get a visa in Kathmandu, which is regulated in an official memo between China and Nepal.

    You would need to arrive in Kathmandu at least 2 (urgent application) to 6 days (if you want to apply for the visa with normal charge) before your entry into Tibet.

    Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu issues visas only on Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays from 9a.m. to 11a.m. Regarding to this reason we need to adjust the schedule to fit the time for the visa application.

    You will need to contact the travel agency in Tibet which will help you to get the visa invitation letter in Lhasa first to make sure your visa application in Nepal can be approved successfully. Your Tibet tour has to be settled down in advance and if you will go on your tour in the mainland of China, the full tour itinerary till you out of China must be scheduled on the application form. The deadline (exact date) you are leaving China will be stamped on your visa, so mostly you will need the help from the agency in Tibet and Nepal in the meanwhile for the application. You only need to find a reliable Tibet agency and then he will help you with the visa invitation letter and permits in Tibet. And he will also arrange the local Nepal agency to apply the visa in Kathmandu for you.

    The visa fee (service fee for the application), you may just pay them in cash directly. Here’s the fee for your reference:

    Visa Fee Normal Urgent
    For US Nationality US$190 US$230
    For Other Nationality US$110 US$140

    So the procure could be: Book the tour with a Tibet agency - send a clear picture/scan copy of your pp by email - the Tibet Travel agency helps you to apply the visa invitation letter in Lhasa - fax to the Nepal agency – you arrive in KTM and meet the local Nepal agency - apply the visa at the embassy - get the visa & start the tour in Tibet

    And as you are starting the tour from Nepal, you will also need to apply the Nepal visa: this can be obtained on arrival on arrival at the airport or border and visa fee $ 30.00 valid for 15 days multi-entry visa. Need 1 pp size photo even for Nepalese visa. ($ 30 is min. visa fee.)
    Note: All the requirements/ fees can be changed without prior notice.

Tibet Permit

Considering the less developed tourism industry in Tibet as well as the need to protect its ethnic traditions, cultural relics etc, the Tibet Tourism Bureau (TTB) regulates that non-Chinese citizens, including foreign tourists, Taiwan tourists as well as overseas Chinese who already got the local passport must obtain Tibet Travel Permit (also known as Tibet Visa but actually not a visa) from TTB except a valid passport and China visa if they'd like to visit Tibet.

Tibet Travel Permit Categories:
There are three kinds of permits may be involved during your Tibet tour. The Tibet agency will be able to obtain you all necessary permits if you book a tour with them.? Here’s the types for the permits you may need:

1. Tibet Entry Permit (TTB permit) - which you have to obtain in order to enter Tibet before you get to Tibet. If you do not travel to closed or restricted areas but just have a few days in Lhasa area, you only have to obtain this permit.

If you are taking the train to Tibet, the permit copy should be fine, and please take at least 3 copies on to make sure if they will need it for a record. Most time the travel agency will fax or send to you at least 1 day before you start the tour, you may just need to print it out and take it along with you;

If taking the flights into Tibet, the original permit (physical one) will be checked when you change your boarding pass or pass the check-in counter. Usually the agency will need the exact address where you can get the permit 7 days prior the departure date. The hotel at the last stop city before Tibet would be perfect considering the time for delivering the permit from Lhasa. ?(This does NOT apply to the one who are taking the flights from Kathmandu to Lhasa; the tour guide will hold the original permit waiting at the airport instead)?

2. Aliens' Travel Permit (PSB permit) - which we have to obtain for you when you are planning to travel to the closed areas in Tibet, such as Mt. Everest, Nagri, Sayka, Tsedang and etc.

3. Tibet Military Permit - which we have to obtain for you if you are planning to travel to some military sensitive areas, such as Nagri, Nyingchi or some places through the overland tour to Lhasa from Chengdu or Yunnan or Xining. It takes 1-2 weeks to obtain this permit, so if you want to travel to places like those, it will be best to plan the trip 30 days prior the departure date at least.

Note: The permit situation is subject to rapid and unpredictable change. Contact us directly to get the current situation at once.

How to apply for a Tibet Entry Permit?
If you are planning to enter Tibet from other places of China, you can claim for the Tibet Entry Permit from your travel agent. Please prepare the following documents for the permit application.

  1. Valid passport copy
  2. Valid China visa copy
  3. Occupation

Note: The occupation is needed to distinguish from the diplomats, journalists, and government officials. They will apply the permit under the arrangement by the Foreign Affairs Office of Tibet Government. If you are holding the residence permit, work permit, Student ID in China, your work certificate copy or expert certificate copy or ID copy will be needed ( the one to show you are working/studying in China is okay).

How to apply for the Aliens' Travel Permit?
Your guide will assist you in applying for it after you enter Tibet when it is needed. The original passport, China visa and the Tibet Entry Permit need to be submitted to the Foreign Affairs Section of Public Security Bureau. It normally takes 1-2 hours.

Important Issues about Tibet Permit
  1. All tourists can get Tibet Entry Permit through a travel agency except diplomats, journalists, and government officials who should travel to Tibet under the arrangement by the Foreign Affairs Office of Tibet Government.
  2. The travel agency will only help you to apply the permit unless you book a tour guide with them. None travel agencies can provide ‘permit only’ service.
  3. Only the tour guide can take the original TTB permit in Tibet, so after flying into Lhasa, you will be kindly requested to pass the original TTB permit to your tour guide. The tour guide will help you to get through the check-points and help you to apply the PSB permits with TTB permit.
  4. The places you are going to visit will be listed on the permit that you will need to be accompanied by your tour guide during the visit to the monasteries and temples. If you are going to the places, further closed sites or the one NOT mentioned on the permit alone, you may be stopped by the police and have trouble politically and economically. Furthermore, the travel agency which helped to get you the permit will also be in trouble.
  5. Aliens' Travel Permit (PSB permit) will be applied after you arriving in Tibet. Eg: if you are planning to go to EBC, you will apply the PSB at Shigatse with the help of your tour guide.
  6. Generally, it needs 3-5 working days to get the Tibet permit with the full documents supplied and another 3-5 days to deliver the permit. You will be suggested to present all the documents 15 days prior the departure date of your tour.