After three years of border restrictions due to the pandemic, China is fully reopening to foreign visitors and tourists.
In a statement posted on its website Monday, China’s Embassy in the United States said the country will resume issuing all categories of visas for foreigners starting from Monday.
Travellers holding multi-year visas issued before March 28, 2020, the day China officially closed its borders to visitors in an attempt to keep Covid-19 out, can still use them as long as they are not expired, the statement said.
Chinese authorities last month declared a “major and decisive victory” in the way they handled the coronavirus outbreak that engulfed the country following an abrupt relaxation of Beijing’s “zero-Covid” policy late last year.
In 2022, China recorded 115 million cross-border trips, which is far below the 2019 pre-pandemic level of 670 million. Foreigners accounted for 97.7 million of those trips in 2019, this figure dropped to just 4.47 million last year as Covid restrictions kept almost everyone but residents out.
According to the embassy’s statement, visa-free entry will kick off to the southern island of Hainan and for cruise ships that are visiting Shanghai and also for foreigners travelling from Hong Kong and Macao to neighbouring Guangdong province and tour groups from Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states visiting the provinces of Guilin and Guangxi.
The government of China put an end to quarantine for international arrivals in January in a partial reopening met with an outpouring of joy and relief from citizens; both those isolated inside the country for the past three years and those overseas separated from their family and loved ones.
Travellers to the country are still required to take a Covid test 48 hours before departure and fill in the results in their customs health declaration forms.
In an advisory updated March 10, the U.S. State Department urged American citizens to reconsider any travel to China, including Hong Kong and Macao, due to “arbitrary enforcement of local laws” and the risk of wrongful detention.