Travel to China is heavily restricted, but not impossible: How to get there during COVID
With the persistence of COVID-19, China has continued to enforce strict travel policies for United States visitors. The entire process, from obtaining a visa to PCR testing, can feel complicated. To navigate regulations and restrictions, here is a step-by-step guide of the experience traveling to China for humanitarian needs.
Keep in mind: while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention categorized China as low-level of COVID-19 cases, the federal agency is continuing to urge travelers to remain up to date with vaccinations.
First, you need to obtain permission to enter China. In my case, my grandmother was hospitalized under critical health conditions.
You can apply for a visa by searching for and emailing your local consulate (such as one in New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., etc). For me, the New York consulate’s email address is [email protected]. You'll need to specify your reason for travel, such as needing to attend to a severely ill family member.
More details on the application procedure and the required documents will be provided in a response email from the Chinese consulate. Foreign passengers can apply for a health code here.
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Depending on your situation, necessary documents can include proof of kinship to the invitee in China such as a birth certificate or marriage certificate, and hospital diagnosis documents such as an official seal from the hospital or a letter from a doctor. If there is no missing information and the details you provided are verified as true, another email will be sent in a couple of days for you to complete.
Second, prepare your physical application to mail to the consulate. To receive your visa, refer and adhere to the information requested in your communication with the consulate office. Be prepared to package these items in an envelope:
An original passport with six months validity and at least one blank visa page
One copy of the passport data page
A visa application form and confirmation page
Proof of residency, such as a copy of your driver’s license, or water or electricity bills
Supplemental material requested by the consulate such as an invitation letter from your relative in China, hospital records and vaccination history
A return envelope to mail the visa and passport back to you
The envelope must be a U.S. Postal Service priority mail express envelope and prepaid with your name, address, and telephone number
The total visa fee will be around $150 for each passport holder and must be paid to the Chinese consulate by money order or check.
Ensure your application materials are prepared in order and adhere to the consulate's guidelines. The address of each consulate varies based on your location. It is essential to meet the criterion above to ensure the speed and potential of receiving your visa.
Third, wait five to ten days for your visa to arrive in the mail. In my experience, the process took a week. Research feasible flights to China, considering your timeline and budget. Sites like flychina.com list possible travel options. Keep in mind that transfer flights are unallowed – all flights must directly land in China.
If you are fully vaccinated with non-inactivated vaccines including Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, partially vaccinated, or unvaccinated, follow the following guidelines set out by the Chinese consulate before boarding the plane:
Take your first PCR test at your flight departure city up to seven days before boarding
Starting from the date of your first nucleic test and remain in your departure city and monitor your health for seven days with a personal health monitoring form.
Within 48 hours before departure, take a second PCR test and an antibody test at a designated facility in the departure city
For more details, visit the embassy site. The consulate will approve your report within 12 hours based on your test results.
At the airport, you will complete an online customer form. Along with your health declaration and other documents, you can board the plane and begin the flight to China.
The stress of returning to a sick loved one can be distracting and frightening. But if you pay attention to the necessary steps outlined by the consulate, the process can be completed with ease.
This is helpful. Literally lists everything you need to prepare. China here I comeeee