April Update: Returning to China for the first time in 3 years? Here’s what you need to know…

Returning to China for the first time in 3 years? Here is what you need to know – UPDATED April 2023

We are now in Q2, and people are again flocking to China. High-profile business people like Tim Cook in Beijing and Maye Musk in Guangzhou have also returned. So when are you returning to China? First, let’s look at the updated situation on travelling back to China.


Whilst flights from Europe are getting cheaper month by month, flights from the US remain expensive. Additionally, from 1st April, Lufthansa will be operating three flights a week to Shanghai and in August, they will become daily.

Flight prices remain a lot higher than pre-covid. This inflation is partly due to capacity and considerable travel demand in both directions. We can expect flight capacity to reach 50-60% of pre-covid levels by the end of 2023.

We still recommend flying to Hong Kong and taking a train or transfer flight, as there is more capacity and flights are generally cheaper. However, for those looking to fly directly,  here is a list of each flight currently carrying passengers in and out of mainland China.

Covid Testing

The list of countries that no longer require Covid tests to travel to China is growing, which is an exciting prospect! Travellers from these 31 countries will not have to complete a PCR test before boarding:

New ZealandMongolia
South AfricaTanzania
Sri LankaVietnam

Whilst the UK, US, and Germany are still not on the list, hopefully, they will be soon.

Unfortunately, if you are flying from a country not on this list, you will still require a 48-hour Covid test to board. This test must be a PCR test, as Rapid Antigen tests are invalid. On the plus side, there is no specific list of certified testing centres, a centre certified in your country is sufficient. For example, the pharmacy Boots could provide a valid test in the UK.

PCR test requirements for returning to your home country

Although many countries have dropped this requirement, some still require a Covid test for your return flight. In the last three weeks, Kinyu has helped two businesspeople who forgot about this requirement, so PLEASE remember to check! The UK is dropping this requirement on 5th April, and Japan recently announced the same. Every city has designated test sites for this, but the process can be cumbersome. So, it is best to find a local person to help you. If you have a Chinese supplier or team member in China, they may be able to assist you. However, don’t worry if you don’t; at Kinyu, we provide this support to our China Desk members.

The UK is dropping its requirement for a Covid test this week.

There are many test centres throughout various Chinese cities that you can use, provided you can show the result on your phone in English. Unfortunately, officials have shut down most test sites, so the safest option for international travellers is to go to an international hospital, such as United Family Hospital in Guangzhou. However, it is essential to note that the result may take up to 12 hours to arrive – so leave enough time! The test Centxdfre in Hong Kong airport will also suffice, but leave plenty of time for the result to come through – in Hong Kong; it usually takes 3-4 hours.

If you need to find a local one in another city, don’t hesitate to contact us, and we will help you.


We have great news in this department! Officials have not reinstated visas issued before March 2020, so if you have a 10-year permit from the China consulate in the US, this should now be valid! Although many visas will probably expire by now, you may need to apply for a new visa.

China has also announced they are re-issuing tourist visas, significantly boosting cross-border travel and making visa centres even busier with applications. Therefore, you must get your application in early, especially if you plan to visit the upcoming trade fairs.

The application forms have changed slightly – the application form has undoubtedly become much more detailed, so be prepared to fill in much more information about your family and employment! Here is an article explaining all the relevant documents you might need to support your application. Unfortunately, tourist visas are still not open for application.

You may still need an invitation letter from a business in China. Kinyu SCM has a verified template for this. If you want us to send you a copy – please request one here.

144-hour visa-free transit policy

Are you struggling to get a visa? Fortunately, some areas in China have reinstated the 144-hour transit visas. As a result, you can fly to China on a transit visa, and you do not need to apply in advance. This visa requires an onward flight ticket to a third country, and you use it at the airport on arrival. The transit document is valid for 144 hours, with limitations on where you can travel. For example, you can fly into Beijing and travel within Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei provinces on this transit visa. You can find more information on how it works here. Kinyu recently met a client in Guangzhou who used this method, and it was highly successful.

A Pre-Covid example of the 144-hour transit visa
You will see these QR codes and instructions to fill in. Thankfully there is an English version!

Keep up to date with the latest

These policies can change at terse notice. As a result, you must keep abreast of the most recent policy announcements. We will update this article occasionally to help keep you informed, but we will not refresh it daily, so it’s essential to check if this information applies to you. It is also important to note that China may have different requirements depending on the country you come from and for the reason you are travelling. This article was written for Kinyu customers based in UK, EU and US.

Get in touch for more support.

We are happy to hear from people travelling to China, so please feel free to get in touch here for any questions or if you need to find a local one in another city.

Benjamin King

CEO, Kinyu

Need More On-The-Ground Tips & Resources?

Join our monthly digest for an overview of our blogs on Supply Chains, China HR policies, and managing Asia supply chain operations remotely.

By submitting my information, I agree to Kinyu's Privacy Policy.

Benjamin King

CEO, Kinyu

Need More On-The-Ground Tips & Resources?

Join our monthly digest for an overview of our blogs on Supply Chains, China HR policies, and managing Asia supply chain operations remotely.

By submitting my information, I agree to Kinyu's Privacy Policy.