Tibet Permit and How to Get the Tibet Travel Permit
General Information About Tibet Travel Permit
The Tibet Travel Permit, also known as Tibet Entry Permit, is a document that foreign tourists need to obtain in order to visit Tibet. Issued by the Tibet Tourism Bureau, Tibet Travel Permit is required for all non-Chinese passport holders, including foreign tourists, Taiwan residents, and overseas Chinese. Tibet travel permit is essential for entering Tibet and will be checked at various points during your trip, including airports, train stations, and some tourist attractions.
Tibet, here refers to the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), which is a part of China. Some travelers mistakenly refer to the Tibet Travel Permit as a ‘Tibet visa’, but this is not correct. Travelers do not need an extra visa for Tibet, however, they are required to obtain a Tibet Travel Permit in addition to a valid Chinese visa to visit Tibet. The Tibet Travel Permit can only be obtained through a registered travel agency. For the latest information, please check Tibet Permit and Tibet travel updates.
2023 Tibet Travel Updates: Tibet is open for International Tourists
Tibet officially reopened its borders to international travelers on April 7th, 2023, including the Gyirong border between Tibet and Nepal. This is a great opportunity for overseas visitors to explore the enchanting land of Tibet in 2023. Our updated 'Ultimate Guide on How to Visit Tibet' is packed with essential information to help anyone planning their Tibet adventure in the upcoming months.
Table of contents:
- What does Tibet Travel Permit Look Like
- Who Needs a Tibet Permit, Who Doesn't, and Who Can't Obtain One
- Can I Get A Tibet Permit Without Tour
- Tibet Travel Permit Cost: How Much is a Tibet Permit
- How Long Does it take to Get a Tibet Permit
- How to Apply for Tibet Travel Permit
- Where to Collect Your Tibet Permit Before Boarding the Flight/Train to Tibet
- When will Tibet Travel Permit be checked
- Other Tibet Permits and Travel Documents
- Chinese Visa for Tibet
- Special Notes for Tibet Travel Permit
- Contact Us for Tibet Travel Permit
1. What does Tibet Travel Permit Look Like
The Tibet Travel Permit is an official document issued by the Tibet Tourism Bureau. It typically consists of two pages on A4-sized paper.
One page includes your booked tour itinerary, including your planned duration of stay, entry and exit points, the cities or regions you plan to visit in Tibet, and the tour operator's name.
The other page is a name list for your group, which includes the full names, gender, nationality, and passport numbers of all tourists.
Both pages feature a red stamp or seal from the issuing authority.
2. Who Needs a Tibet Permit, Who Doesn't, and Who Can't Obtain One
|Who Needs||Who doesn't||Who Can't Obtain One|
Foreign nationals (non-Chinese passport holders)
Chinese citizens(Holding Chinese passports or ID card)
Overseas Chinese citizens without Chinese passports
Hong Kong and Macau residents with valid Home Return Permits
Taiwan residents, including MTP (Mainland Travel Permit) holders
Overseas Chinese with Chinese Passport or ID
- Visa-free passport holders: travelers from certain countries have visa-free access to mainland China, but they still need a Tibet Travel Permit to enter Tibet. For instance, citizens of countries such as Singapore or Japan may be able to stay in mainland China for up to 15 days without a Chinese visa, but they still need to obtain a Tibet Travel Permit using their passports to visit Tibet.
- Indian nationals (Indian passport holders) who plan to visit Mount Kailash, Lake Manasarovar, or other parts of Ngari Region in Western Tibet need to book their tour and obtain a Tibet Travel Permit through a Nepali or Indian travel agency that has cooperation with the Foreign Affairs Office of TAR or the Tibet-India Pilgrim Reception Center.
Indian passport holders who are not traveling to Mount Kailash or other parts of Ngari Region in western Tibet can obtain a Tibet Travel Permit through a registered travel agency, just like other international tourists.
- Residents of Hong Kong and Macau who hold an HK/Macau Home Return Permit can travel to Tibet without a Tibet Travel Permit. It is important to note that an HK/Macau SAR visa or passport is not accepted as a substitute for the Home Return Permit.
- Diplomats, journalists, and government officials who want to visit Tibet need to apply for the Tibet Travel Permit through the Tibet Foreign Affairs Office, rather than a regular travel agency.
3. Can I Get A Tibet Permit Without Tour
No, you cannot get a Tibet Permit without booking a tour. As per the regulations set by the Chinese government, foreign tourists, overseas Chinese citizens without Chinese passports, and Taiwan residents must book their visit to Tibet through a registered travel agency, and independent travel is not allowed for these visitors in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). The registered travel agency will handle the process of obtaining the Tibet Permit on the travelers' behalf, and the tour package will include a licensed tour guide, a private vehicle with a driver, and a pre-planned itinerary.
If you travel to other Tibetan areas in China, such as those places in Qinghai, Sichuan, and Yunnan, then you do not need a Tibet permit. However, it's important to note that some areas in the Kham and Amdo regions, may require a different type of permit, depending on local regulations.
4. Tibet Travel Permit Cost: How Much is a Tibet Permit
It is free of charge for travel agencies to apply for the Tibet permit on behalf of travelers at the Tibet Tourism Bureau office. However, travel agencies may charge an application service fee, which is normally already included in the cost of the booked Tibet tour.
5. How Long Does it take to Get a Tibet Permit
The processing time for a Tibet Travel Permit can vary depending on the complexity of your travel itinerary. If you plan to visit the regular travel sites in central Tibet and the Mount Everest Region along the Friendship Highway to Nepal, it takes around 7-10 working days to process the Tibet Permit at the Tibet Tourism Bureau.
However, if you plan to visit some military areas such as Mount Kailash and other sites in far western Tibet or do the overland travel from Sichuan or Yunnan to Tibet, then the permit application will take about 3 weeks as there are other permits required to visit this region, including the Alien's Travel Permit, Military Permit, and Foreign Affairs Permit.
There is also an urgent application option, which takes 4-5 working days, but it incurs an extra charge.
6. How to Apply for Tibet Travel Permit
Just as above mentioned that individual travelers cannot apply for the Tibet Travel Permit themselves. They need to work with a travel agency and book a tour package to Tibet. The travel agency will handle the process of obtaining the Tibet Travel Permit on behalf of the travelers. The agency will collect the necessary documents from the travelers and submit them to the Tibet Tourism Bureau for processing. Once the permit is approved, the travel agency will provide the original copy (or copies varies based on your entry point) to the travelers before they depart for Tibet.
Generally below Documents Required to Apply for Tibet Permit
- The copy (in color)of your passport data page (Make sure your passport has at least six months of validity remaining at the time of your trip.)
- The color of your valid Chinese visa.
- Additional document required for non-tourist (L) Chinese visa holders:
A proof letter or a relevant document to state your purpose of visit to China is required. These might include an invitation letter from your Chinese business partners, a work permit from your employer in China, or Chinese student ID card.
- Share the title of your job occupation (Travel agency can not handle Tibet permit for Diplomats, journalists, and government officials).
If you are currently living and working in China, a Chinese visa (or residence permit) and a proof of employment letter (or student card) are required to apply for the Tibet Travel Permit. Our travel agency can provide a template of the employment letter to assist our clients in preparing this document.
For those who live outside of China and plan to enter and travel to Tibet from the Chinese side, you need to apply for your Chinese visa (normally a tourist visa) on your own before the travel agency handles your Tibet permit application. When applying for a Chinese visa, avoid mentioning your plans to visit Tibet. Doing so may result in complications or a denied visa application. Instead, provide an itinerary for mainland China to ensure a successful visa application.
If you're planning to enter Tibet from Nepal, you'll only need to provide a copy of your passport's data page to apply for the Tibet Travel Permit. Additionally, you don't need to obtain a Chinese visa in advance. Your travel agency will assist you in applying for a Group China visa at the Chinese embassy in Kathmandu using your original passport upon your arrival. The process for obtaining a Group China visa typically takes 3-5 working days, so it's important to plan a few extra days in Nepal to account for this visa application process before heading to Tibet. Reading more about How to get China Group Visa when traveling from Nepal to Tibet.
We highly recommend that you plan your Tibet trip at least one month in advance especially during the peak season to ensure there is sufficient time for the permit application process and to address any potential delays or issues.
7. Where to Collect Your Tibet Permit Before Boarding the Flight/Train to Tibet
Before boarding your flight or train to Tibet, you need to collect your Tibet Travel Permit.
If you are traveling to Tibet by plane from mainland China, you will need the original copy of the Tibet Travel Permit in order to board your flight. Most travel agencies will arrange to have your Tibet Travel Permit delivered to your hotel in the departure city. Therefore, please ensure that you provide your travel agency with the correct hotel information.
If you plan to take the Tibet train to Lhasa, a printed copy (2) of your Tibet permit will suffice. However, if you intend to take the Tibet train from Chongqing, Xi’an, or Lanzhou to Lhasa, you will need to present the original Tibet Permit at train station.
If you plan to travel from Nepal to Tibet, then you will get your Tibet Travel Permit along with your China Group Visa from our Nepal Travel Agency before traveling to Tibet.
8. When will Tibet travel permit be checked
Your Tibet Travel Permit will be checked at various points during your journey and throughout your stay in the Tibet Autonomous Region.
When traveling from mainland China to Tibet, your Tibet Permit will be checked by the airport or train station staff before boarding your flight or train to Tibet. Without a Tibet Travel Permit, you will not be allowed to board.
When traveling from Kathmandu to Tibet by road, your Tibet Permit will be checked when crossing the China-Nepal border. If you fly to Tibet from Kathmandu, your Tibet Permit will be checked at customs when you arrive at Lhasa airport.
During your travel in Tibet, your Tibet Permit will be checked multiple times at different checkpoints and during hotel check-ins. Normally your Tibetan guide will keep your Tibet Permit for safekeeping.
9. Other Tibet Permits and Travel Documents
In addition to the Tibet Travel Permit, there are other permits and travel documents you might need, depending on your specific itinerary and the areas you plan to visit within the Tibet Autonomous Region:
Alien’s Travel Permit: It is required if you wish to go beyond the Lhasa region and visit the 'unopened' areas in Tibet, such as Mount Everest and Mount Kailash. It is issued by the Foreign Affairs Section of the Public Security Bureau (PSB) office, and is sometimes referred to as a PSB permit. While it is not required for entering Tibet or for visiting Lhasa and Namtso Lake, it is mandatory for visiting Shigatse, Shannan, Nyingchi, and other areas. The following is a list of unopened areas that require an Alien’s Travel Permit (PSB permit). Normally your tour guide will help you apply for this permit upon arrival in Lhasa, which usually takes a few hours. The cost for Alien’s Travel Permit is 50CNY per person and it is normally included in your tour fee.
You need a Alien’s Travel permit to visit the following places:
- Gyantse County: Palcho Monastery and Kubum Stupa, etc.
- Shigatse Area: Sakya Monastery, Mount Everest Base Camp, Rongbuk Monastery, Shalu Monastery, etc.
- Shannan Region: Samye Monastery, Trandruk Monastery, Yungbulakang Palace, the Tomb of Tibetan Kings, etc.
- Nyingchi Region: Basum Tso Lake, Pomi, Rawok Tso Lake, etc.
- Ngari Region: Mt. Kailash, Lake Manasarovar, Tsaparang and Guge Kingdom, Ali, etc.
- Chamdo Region
Military Permit and Foreign Affairs Permit
Visitors planning to travel to military-sensitive areas in Tibet, such as Mount Kailash in Ngari Prefecture or Rowok Lake in Chamdo, require a Military Area Entry Permit. Moreover, certain border areas, such as Mount Kailash and far-western Tibet, require both a Military Area Entry Permit and a Foreign Affairs Permit. The Military Area Entry Permit is issued by the military affairs office, while the Foreign Affairs Permit is issued by the Foreign Affairs office in Lhasa. To visit Tholing and Tsaparang in western Tibet, you'll need a permit from the local Cultural Antiquities Department. The application for these permits can take up to 10-15 working days, normally your travel agency will submit your permit application about one month before your scheduled arrival in Tibet.
Please note that these additional permits are typically arranged by the travel agency as part of your tour package.
10. Chinese Visa for Tibet
When planning a trip to Tibet, foreign tourists need a valid Chinese visa, in addition to the Tibet Travel Permit. If you are entering Tibet from mainland China, you will need a regular Chinese visa, which is usually a Type L (tourist) visa. However, if you are entering Tibet from Nepal, you will need a China Group Visa.
Here's a brief overview of both types of visas:
Regular Chinese Visa (Type L):
- For tourists entering Tibet from mainland China.
- Apply at the Chinese embassy, consulate, or visa center in your home country.
- Prepare necessary documents, such as a valid passport, a recent passport-sized photo, and a completed visa application form.
- Avoid mentioning Tibet in your application; provide an alternative travel itinerary within mainland China.
China Group Visa:
- For tourists entering Tibet from the Nepal side,
- This is a special visa issued in Kathmandu, Nepal, by the Chinese embassy.
- A China Group Visa is a single-entry visa, issued as an A4-sized paper document rather than a sticker in your passport.
- Your travel agency will handle the application process on your behalf.
- Prepare two passport-sized photos for the application.
- The visa processing time usually takes 3-5 working days.
- All group members must enter and exit Tibet together as the visa is issued for the entire group.
- For travelers already obtained the Chinese Tourist Visa or any other type of individual visa, the individual visa will be canceled when applying for the Group China Visa in Kathmandu.
- Important Note on China Group Visa on Arrival in Nepal in 2023: The China Group Visa on Arrival in Nepal requires a minimum of 4 applicants, and there is no maximum limit. All applicants from one group must come to the Visa Center together for the application process.
11. Special Notes for Tibet Travel Permit
Only the guide could hold your Tibet permit after you step on Tibet land according to the travel policy. When the tour ends, your Tibet permits are required to return to the Tibet Tourism Bureau office.
If the travelers intend to climb Mount Everest, the additional mountaineering license/permit is required, which can be only arranged by the designated travel agencies.
12. Contact Us for Tibet Travel Permit
If you have any other queries in your mind regarding the Tibet permits, please feel free to contact us anytime via email (email@example.com) or call (+86-28-85593923). We are always open to provide you our valuable assistance. In addition, you can always use the Tibet FAQ to check other more questions about traveling to Tibet.