For urgent consular assistance call
+61 2 6261 3305 from overseas
1300 555 135 from within Australia
For information about COVID-19, read our article.
Do you or someone you know need help?
12 January 2021
There's a ban on overseas travel from Australia. You can’t leave Australia unless you get an exemption from the Department of Home Affairs.
All our 177 travel advisories on Smartraveller are set at 'Do not travel' due to the health risks from the COVID-19 pandemic and the significant disruptions to global travel.
If you’re overseas and wish to return to Australia, be prepared for delays and read our advice on trying to get home.
When you arrive in Australia you must quarantine for 14 days at designated facilities in your port of arrival, unless you have an exemption. At this time, vaccination against COVID-19 does not change this quarantine requirement. You may be required to pay for the costs of your quarantine. View State and Territory Government COVID-19 information for information about quarantine and domestic borders.
If you're staying overseas, make plans to stay for an extended period. Follow the advice of local authorities and minimise your risk of exposure to COVID-19. Stay in touch with family and friends so they know you're safe.
Our network of embassies and consular posts around the world will provide you with up-to-date local advice and support throughout this difficult period. Be aware consular services may be limited due to local measures.
Do you or someone you know need help?
For urgent consular assistance call
+61 2 6261 3305 from overseas
1300 555 135 from within Australia
For information about COVID-19, read our article.
Do you or someone you know need help?
Full travel advice: Safety
Full travel advice: Health
Full travel advice: Local laws
Full travel advice: Travel
Full travel advice: Local contacts
Petty crime occurs, including:
If you resist, you can be injured if criminals turn violent.
Criminals target travellers in crowded areas, including on transport.
There are Scams that target travellers.
Scammers invite travellers for a massage, teahouse service, or to a cafe or bar nearby. They offer various reasons and may say they wish 'to practise English'.
Afterwards, they present travellers with an inflated bill. They won't let the traveller leave until they pay the bill by credit card.
Sometimes travellers are asked to carry concealed drugs out of China.
Never carry parcels or luggage for others.
Always pack your own bags.
ATM scams occur. Sometimes scammers set up fake ATMs that take the user's card.
Only use ATMs inside a secure place such as a bank or shopping centre. Do this during daylight hours.
If you're the victim of a crime or scam, report it to the nearest police station right away.
Always obtain a police report when reporting a crime.
Be careful of scams if paying a taxi fare with a RMB100 note. The taxi driver may swap the note for a fake note. They will then return the fake note and refuse to accept it as payment because it’s counterfeit.
Armed bandit attacks are a risk in remote areas bordering:
Be careful if travelling in these areas.
Public protests and events that draw large groups of people can turn violent.
The Chinese Government prohibits demonstrations they haven't approved. Authorities may arrest protesters.
Avoid protests, demonstrations and large gatherings.
Don't photograph, film or participate in protests or other acts that authorities may consider provocative.
Security in the region is unstable due to ethnic tensions. Increased security measures are in place.
People of Uighur descent are particularly affected.
Security checks in major cities in Xinjiang are common. Be ready to show photo ID if asked.
Violent incidents causing deaths and injuries have occurred across Xinjiang.
The government may restrict movement and communications in Xinjiang with little warning.
In the past, protests have turned violent and people have been killed or injured.
If you're travelling to Tibet, get permission from Chinese authorities first.
You must also apply for a Tibet Entry Permit from the Tibet Tourism Bureau.
You can only lodge applications for Tibet Entry Permits through specialised travel agents in China.
You can only travel as part of an organised tour.
Terrorism is a threat worldwide.
Attacks could be targeted or random. They may include places travellers and expats visit.
In recent years, terrorist and other violent attacks have caused injuries and deaths in public places. Targets include railway stations and markets.
You could become the victim of violence directed at others.
Typhoons can happen along the southern and eastern coasts between May and November.
The direction and strength of typhoons can change with little warning.
If there's a typhoon:
If a typhoon is approaching:
If you plan to travel, contact your airline for the latest flight information.
China can experience earthquakes and large, destructive tsunamis.
If there's an earthquake or tsunami:
Check with the Tsunami Warning Centre for updates on seismic activity and tsunamis.
If you're near the coast, move to high ground straight away if advised, or if you:
Don't wait for official warnings such as alarms or sirens. Once on high ground, monitor local media.
This advice predates COVID-19 and the Australian Government's travel ban for all Australians.
Get comprehensive travel insurance before you travel. Your policy needs to cover all overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation. The Australian Government won't pay for these costs.
You'll probably need a special insurance policy that covers travel to high-risk destinations. Most Australian policies won't cover you for travel to ‘Do not travel’ destinations.
If you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. This applies to everyone, no matter how healthy and fit you are.
If you're not insured, you may have to pay many 1000s of dollars up-front for medical care.
Consider your physical and mental health before you travel, especially if you have an existing medical condition. Consider whether you may be in a vulnerable category for COVID-19.
See your doctor or travel clinic to:
Do this at least 8 weeks before you leave.
Not all medication available over the counter or by prescription in Australia is available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.
If you plan to bring medication, check if it's legal in China. Take enough legal medicine for your trip.
Carry a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor stating:
COVID-19 remains a risk in China. Chinese authorities have put health measures in place.
Tap water in China may not be safe to drink, depending on your location.
Drink only bottled water with sealed lids.
People have died from avian influenza in China. Avian influenza virus strains continue to circulate in poultry in China.
The main source of infection seems to be poultry handled in poultry markets.
To protect yourself from avian influenza:
When preparing food, handle poultry properly. Thoroughly cook all parts of the poultry.
HIV/AIDS is a significant risk in China.
Take precautions if you engage in activities that expose you to risk of infection.
If you need medical treatment, you could be exposed to unsafe blood and blood products. This is a particular risk in regional China.
Ask for sterilised equipment. You may need to pay for new syringes in hospitals or clinics.
Japanese encephalitis is widespread in rural areas of southern China from June to August. The disease is also known as encephalitis B. A vaccine is available.
The risk of malaria increases during warm weather and is greater in rural areas, particularly in the provinces of:
The risk of malaria increases during warm weather.
Dengue cases have risen sharply, especially in Guangdong and Guangzhou. Risks increase during the wet season.
To protect yourself from disease:
Animal and human rabies are common. Health authorities report many cases each year.
Be careful with both wild and domestic animals in China.
If you're bitten or scratched by an animal, get medical help straight away.
Hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) is common. Sometimes serious outbreaks happen.
Outbreaks usually start in March or April and peak in May. However, outbreaks can continue until October each year.
The disease mostly affects children under the age of 10 years. Adult cases, particularly in young adults, are not unusual.
People with HFMD experience fever, and blisters and rashes on the hands, feet and buttocks.
The disease is spread by direct contact with nose and throat discharges, and faeces of infected people.
To protect yourself from illness:
High pollution levels are a problem.
Children, the elderly and those with pre-existing heart and lung conditions may be especially affected by pollution.
Authorities issue red alerts when pollution is expected to be especially bad.
When a red alert is in place, authorities:
Flights are regularly delayed in China because of smog.
Dust storms occur across the north of China. They can:
Get medical advice if you're worried about air pollution.
Follow advice from local authorities about days with bad pollution and how to reduce your exposure.
Parts of China are at altitudes of over 3000m, including:
If you travel to those areas, you may get altitude sickness.
People with lung, heart or chest problems should take extra care. Even if you're healthy, you can still be affected.
Symptoms of altitude sickness include:
In severe cases, fluid can build up in your lungs, brain or both, which can be fatal.
To protect yourself from altitude sickness:
If you're affected by severe altitude sickness, get to lower ground as soon as possible.
International standard medical services in China are expensive.
If you plan on staying in China for a while:
Some hospitals in major cities have special departments for treating foreigners.
However, the standard of medical care and the range of medications is often limited, especially outside major cities.
Medical staff in rural areas may not be properly trained.
Hospitals and doctors may ask for up-front cash payment before treating you. This includes emergency care.
Medical evacuation from China can be very expensive.
Travel to China for medical treatment is increasing.
Research and choose your medical service providers carefully. Ask health professionals and former patients about the quality.
Avoid uncertified medical service providers. Their standards may be poor and they may not be able to provide the medical care advertised.
You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that may appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling.
If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.
The Australian Government can't intervene in the Chinese justice process.
In China, authorities treat a person aged 14 years and above as an adult under the law.
If detained, a person of this age will be:
The Australian Government can't help you if you're a dual national and you travel on your:
China has the death penalty for drug offences and other serious crimes.
If you're sentenced to death, it's unlikely that Chinese authorities will grant you leniency.
Penalties for all types of drug offences including use, possession, manufacturing, selling or trafficking are severe and include life in prison or the death penalty.
Authorities strictly enforce these laws, even for small quantities of 'soft' drugs, such as marijuana. Laws apply to people aged 14 years and older.
Authorities conduct random drug tests. Police raids on nightclubs and bars frequented by foreigners have increased, with patrons subjected to urine and / or hair tests. A positive drug test can result in fines, detention and deportation, regardless of when or where the drugs were used.
Authorities have executed foreigners for drug offences.
Authorities may not allow you to leave China if you're involved in a:
Sometimes people aren't aware of an exit ban on them until they try to leave China.
Exit bans can affect you even if you're not directly involved in the legal proceedings. Authorities have stopped some Australians from leaving China because of a dispute involving family members. Sometimes it is years before authorities allow people to leave China.
If you're involved in local legal matters:
China has strict laws on national security. These laws can be interpreted broadly. You could break the law without intending to.
Authorities have detained foreigners because they're 'endangering national security'. Australians may also be at risk of arbitrary detention
In China, it's illegal to:
If you break these laws, you could be:
Under Chinese law, you must register your place of residence with the local Public Security Bureau. You must do this within 24 hours of arriving and each time you change your residential location.
If you're staying at a hotel, staff do this as part of the normal check-in process.
If you're staying elsewhere, such as with family or friends, visit the nearest police station. Present your passport and a valid Chinese visa.
You must always carry identification and show it to police if they ask for it.
Authorities will accept your passport or a Chinese residence card as forms of identity.
If you don't register your place of residence or carry identification, authorities can fine or detain you.
Homosexuality is not illegal in China, but be aware of local sensitivities.
Some Australian criminal laws still apply when you're overseas. If you break these laws, you may face prosecution in Australia.
China has experienced higher numbers of commercial disputes involving Australians in recent years. This is due to increased Australian business activity.
Before starting business relationships:
Get professional legal advice before entering into any contract in China. This includes residential leases and business contracts.
Many business issues that Australians think of as civil or commercial are classified as criminal matters in China. This is especially the case if state enterprises or state assets are involved.
Penalties for commercial and economic crimes are often severe.
Cases of Australians and other foreigners being held against their will at their workplace have increased. These incidents involved other companies or employees trying to resolve business and employment disputes. They do this through protests, and often with threats of violence.
Disputes over working and living conditions for Australians working in China are common. This is particularly the case for those teaching English.
If you’re considering travel to China for work:
If you don't maintain a valid visa, authorities can fine or detain you.
Get professional legal advice before signing any contract, whether in Australia or China.
Carefully check local laws about business or other activities you wish to undertake in China.
Employment contracts may contain conditions that disadvantage you. For example, if your contract is terminated early, conditions may state that:
Don't surrender your passport to your employer for 'safe-keeping.' Businesses with a good reputation won't ask you to do this.
The Chinese Government doesn't recognise dual nationality. It won't let us provide consular help to Chinese-Australian dual nationals who travel on their:
If you're a Chinese-Australian dual national:
If you're a former Chinese citizen, Chinese authorities may:
This can happen even if you entered China on an Australian or other foreign passport, and you:
Authorities may not allow certain categories of Chinese citizens, such as state officials, to renounce their Chinese nationality under Chinese law.
Get professional legal advice if you're not sure of your citizenship status under Chinese law.
If your child is born in China and you plan to get Australian citizenship by descent, contact the Australian Department of Home Affairs for advice.
If one parent is from mainland China, authorities will consider a child born in China to be a Chinese national.
Local authorities may not recognise the child's Australian citizenship and passport.
Contact the local Entry and Exit Administration Bureau for details.
Visa rules may have changed since COVID-19. Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. Make sure you meet all entry and exit conditions. Check with the nearest embassy, consulate or immigration department of the destination you're entering. If you don't meet the conditions, the Australian Government can't help you.
You may need a full visa for travel to China, even as a tourist.
Transit visas, issued on arrival, are available for some short visits.
If you need a full visa, you must get this before you travel.
See the Embassy of the People's Republic of China for visa types.
If you're already travelling or living in China, contact the Foreigners Entry and Exit Administration Section of the local Public Security Bureau (PSB) for visa information.
Authorities will scan your fingerprints when you arrive if you're aged between 14 and 70 years.
Authorities have strict penalties for visa violations. Penalties include:
Make sure you leave China before your visa expires.
Entry and exit conditions can change at short notice. Contact the nearest embassy or consulate of China for details about visas, currency, customs and quarantine rules.
The number of direct flights between China and Australia has reduced significantly.
China has suspended all visas on arrival, including transit visas.
Foreigners holding valid Chinese residence permits for work, personal matters and reunion may now be able to enter China without applying for new visas. Contact your nearest Chinese embassy/consulate to confirm your visa remains valid, or to apply for a new visa.
If you travel to China despite our advice, you must provide a negative COVID-19 test result prior to flying. You'll be subject to health screening, including body temperature and swab tests on arrival in China, and 14-days mandatory quarantine in the city where you clear Chinese immigration. Quarantine will be served at a designated hotel, local isolation centre or medical facility at your own expense. These requirements may change at short notice. Contact your nearest Chinese embassy/consulate or your airline to confirm current requirements.
International flights to Beijing, excluding those from Hong Kong, may be diverted to provincial airports for initial health screening. If you don't pass health screening, you'll be subject to 14-days mandatory quarantine in a regional city. Ask your airline if you will fly directly to Beijing or be diverted elsewhere in China.
You may be able to transfer through Chinese airports for onwards international travel. You must remain airside and have a boarding pass with confirmed seats on an international flight departing within 24 hours. Confirm if your flights are eligible for direct transfer with your airline or travel agent.
Local travel restrictions are in place across parts of China. You may be quarantined if authorities believe you're sick or are travelling from a place considered a hotspot.
Wear a face mask in public places, including airports, train stations, public transport and hotels.
Health apps that track your location, record your travel history and quarantine status may be required to access public facilities, including public transport, restaurants, commercial buildings, shops, hotels, tourist sites and parks.
If you're staying in China:
If you need emergency consular assistance contact DFAT’s consular emergency line on +61 6261 3305
The following information may not apply while COVID-19 travel restrictions are in place.
Hong Kong and Macau are Special Administrative Regions (SAR). They have separate visa and entry rules to mainland China.
If you're planning to leave mainland China to visit Hong Kong or Macau, you may need a new Chinese visa to re-enter mainland China. Get the right visa before you leave Australia.
You may be asked to present your previous passport and Chinese visa, if you:
If you've visited China before, authorities may deny you a visa-on-arrival if you can't show your previous China visa.
Some visas issued in Hong Kong or at Hong Kong-Macau-Chinese mainland border crossings are valid for limited travel to designated areas only, such as:
It's illegal to use these permits to travel to other parts of China. Carefully check your visa limitations.
Australian passport holders can transit through some international airports or ports in mainland China without a visa.
Strict conditions apply. You must:
Authorities can change the designated airports and ports, and requirements, at any time.
Transit periods vary depending on the entry port.
Check with the nearest embassy or consulate of China for the latest information.
If you're transiting through an airport in China for less than 24 hours and don't leave the airport, you won't need a visa.
If you’re a parent of a newborn baby born in China, you must register the child with the local Public Security Bureau. You must do this within 30 days of the child's birth and will require the child’s birth certificate for registration.
Apply for a Chinese visa in the child's passport. The child won't be able to leave China without a valid visa.
For the registration process you need:
For citizenship issues, see the 'Dual citizenship' section under Laws.
Some countries won't let you enter unless your passport is valid for 6 months after you plan to leave that country. This can apply even if you're just transiting or stopping over.
Some foreign governments and airlines apply the rule inconsistently. Travellers can receive conflicting advice from different sources.
You can end up stranded if your passport is not valid for more than 6 months.
The Australian Government does not set these rules. Check your passport's expiry date before you travel. If you're not sure it'll be valid for long enough, consider getting a new passport.
Your passport is a valuable document. It's attractive to people who may try to use your identity to commit crimes.
Some people may try to trick you into giving them your passport. Always keep it in a safe place.
If your passport is lost or stolen, tell the Australian Government as soon as possible:
If you get a new passport while in China, you need to get a new Chinese visa. Otherwise you won't be able to leave China.
Chinese authorities can take up to 10 working days to issue a visa. It can take longer during Chinese holiday periods.
Authorities won't speed up the process to meet your travel or flight schedule.
To replace your passport and visa:
You can use the police report when checking in to a hotel.
The currency in China is the Renminbi (RMB).
Chinese law limits the amount of foreign currency you can carry in and out of China.
If you're carrying more than $US5000 cash or the same amount in another currency, you must declare it when you arrive in China.
Keep the declaration. You need to show it to customs officials when you leave.
If you plan to leave China carrying more than $US5000 or the same amount in another currency, you need permission from a Chinese bank.
You can't leave China with more than $US10,000 or the same amount in foreign currency.
ATMs are widely available in major Chinese cities. They accept all major credit cards.
Credit cards are widely accepted in major cities, especially in international hotels and restaurants.
In smaller cities, you may find it harder to use international cards.
Authorities restrict travel by foreigners in China.
If you plan to travel outside of major tourist areas, check that the area is 'open to foreigners'. For example, restrictions apply near military installations and some border areas.
Travel and living conditions vary greatly between cities and less developed rural areas.
In rural areas, you may have trouble accessing these services:
Quarantine rules vary throughout different parts of China. Contact the nearest embassy or consulate of China for details.
All drivers must hold a valid Chinese driver's licence.
Foreign driver's licences and International Driving Permits aren't valid in mainland China.
Long-term residents can apply for a Chinese driver's licence at their local Vehicle Management Office.
If you're going to China on a visa with less than 90 days validity, you may be able to get a provisional driver's licence. This will be valid for the length of your visa.
If you're hiring a car in China, check driving licence requirements with your car-hire company.
Age and health restrictions apply, and vary depending on the class of driver's licence.
Travel by road is dangerous because of:
You're 4 times more likely to die in a motor vehicle accident in China than in Australia.
To ride a motorcycle, you must hold a valid Chinese motorcycle licence.
Australian motorcycle licences and International Driving Permits (IDP) issued for motorcycles aren't valid in mainland China.
Rules for applying for a motorbike licence, including a provisional motorcycle licence, are similar to those for cars. Contact your local Vehicle Management Office.
You don't need a licence to ride an electric bike.
Check your insurance covers you for riding all types of motorised bikes.
Always wear a helmet.
Use only licensed taxis or limousine services with a good reputation, preferably those arranged through your hotel.
Always insist that the meter is used.
Most taxis in China don't have seatbelts.
Taxi drivers may swap legitimate RMB100 notes for fake notes. They will then return the fake note and refuse to accept it as payment because it’s counterfeit.
Ridesharing apps are widely used in major Chinese cities.
Tour operators, public buses and ferries might not meet safety standards, especially in rural areas.
Transport operators may not:
Always use available safety equipment, such as lifejackets or seatbelts.
If appropriate safety equipment isn't available, use another provider.
Many airlines have temporarily reduced or stopped flights to China. Further travel restrictions can come into effect at short notice.
DFAT doesn't provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths.
Check China's air safety profile with the Aviation Safety Network.
Contact your airline or travel agent for up-to-date information on domestic and international flights and transport options.
Depending on what you need, contact your:
Always get a police report when you report a crime.
Your insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.
Contact your travel provider with any complaints about tourist services or products.
Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.
For consular services in China, contact the Australian Embassy in Beijing or our Consulates-General in Shanghai, Guangzhou or Chengdu.
Level 22, CITIC Square
1168 Nanjing Xi Lu
Phone: (+86 21) 2215 5200
Fax: (+86 21) 2215 5252
12th Floor, Development Centre
No. 3 Linjiang Road
Zhujiang New City
Phone: (+86 20) 3814 0111
Fax: (+86 20) 3814 0112
Check the relevant website for details about opening hours and any temporary closures.
In a consular emergency, if you can't contact an embassy, call the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on:
Or fill out our consular contact form.
Be the first to know official government advice when travelling.