Hitchhikers guide to China in 2023

January 29, 2023
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On January 8th, 2023, China officially lifted its Zero Covid policy after 3 years. Starting December, China gradually opened its borders and lifted all mandatory tests and restrictions, sweeping the country with optimism and joy, but also with its first massive wave of Covid infections.

As of Chinese New Year’s eve, it is estimated that over 75% of the population has been infected and that the first wave is behind us. Nonetheless, at least 60,000 citizens have died, most of them being elderly with pre-existing conditions. Also, many Chinese citizens are still very aware and afraid of the virus, as it is difficult for them to forget and shake the sense of panic and emergency that has settled in their lives for almost 3 years. But it seems that most of them are very happy with the lifting of the policy and the freedom that came with it.

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If you are already planning your upcoming trip to visit your company in China, we made this guide, especially for you. Here is everything you need to know to be prepared for your next trip to China:

  • Authorities have announced that until further notice all past visas are canceled. If you have a 10-year visa that was issued before 26.3.2020 you are required to apply and issue a new one for now and until this issue will be fully examined.
  • No, there is no obligation to quarantine anymore when arriving in China. No more 5+3, 7+2 or 14+7, goodbye and good riddance.
  • You are still obligated to present a negative PCR test before boarding your flight. The test must be done no more than 48 hours before your flight.
  • You are expected to fill out your customs release form through digital channels, this is unrelated to Covid, but to the fact that Chinese bureaucracy is transitioning to digital channels.
  • When you arrive in China, chances are you will not need to get tested for Covid anymore. That is one less line to stand in, leaving us with: Immigration, baggage claim, and waiting for a taxi. But since there are changes from time to time, we recommend you to check with the Chinese consulate in the country where you fly from and in the country where your connecting flight is (for non-direct flights), for any specifics or updated regulations.
  • Except for when visiting retirement homes, there is no requirement to test for covid when arriving in office buildings, government institutions, or any public institute. Even most hospitals have stopped requiring any testing before visiting.
  • You are still required to wear a mask on any public transportation, in public, and will most likely be asked to put on a mask during your flight.
  • At the moment these are the visas that you can issue for your trip to China: a business visa, a working visa, and a family reunion visa. As of the time of writing this guide, there are no tourist visas.
  • There is no requirement for issuing a PU letter, known for being used during 2020 for work and business visas. But, to get a business visa, you are still required to present a letter from a local company inviting you to China or proof that you are taking part in a convention.
  • You can book flights to China that have a stop along the way. As of January, there is no need to book nonstop flights exclusively from your country of origin.
  • Flights that fly to Beijing are permitted to land in PEK and will not be diverted to other locations close to the capital.

We recommend double-checking China’s embassy’s website in the country you are flying from for specific instructions tailored to your needs.

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The biggest issue at the moment when flying to China is the limited number of flights and the very high price tag that they come with. But China has declared that they are eager to get back to at least 70% of flight capacity pre Covid, by March 2023. We recommend making a flight alert on your favorite booking website and staying up to date with fares, as regulations are changing daily.

Chinese citizens have also been eager to go on vacation abroad. The government has announced that passport services will return to full capacity after the Chinese New Year. This is great news for tourism worldwide, as at its peak pre covid, we witnessed over 40 million Chinese tourists scouring the globe.

Even though some countries have shown their fear of new variants coming with a wave of tourists, it seems that Chinese citizens will not be fazed by the idea of preparing a negative PCR test for the flight. After all, most Chinese citizens have been going through daily Covid tests for the past 3 years.

According to some websites, the number of local trips made during CNY this year has recovered to pre-Covid numbers. As an average of 24 million trips were made in the first days of the holiday, and over 2 billion trips are expected to occur during the span of the next 30 days.

Lastly, we recommend knowing that Covid-19 was demoted to a B-class disease. Yet, local governments are still permitted to declare areas as infected and implement lockdowns and emergency laws as they please.

Regardless, these changes have made many citizens and businessmen and women optimistic for 2023. Conventions, trips and events are being planned as you read these lines. For anyone planning to travel this year, regardless if you are starting a business in China or traveling to reunite with your family, we recommend bringing masks and medicine in case they run out like in past events.

We wish you all safe travels! And to a great business year!

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