A valid passport and visa are required to enter 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 the Chinese government does not issue visas at ports of entry. Chinese Authorities have recently tightened their visa issuance policy, in some cases requiring personal interviews of American citizens and regularly issuing one or two entry visas valid for short periods only.
Visas are required to transit China. Persons transiting China on the way to and from Mongolia or North Korea or who plan to re-enter from the Hong Kong or Macau Special Administrative Regions should be sure to obtain visas allowing multiple entries. Permits are required to visit Tibet as well as many remote areas not normally open to foreigners.
Americans who overstay or otherwise violate the terms of their Chinese visas will be subject to a maximum fine of 5,000 RMB (approximately $600) and 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. 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.