- Apply for a one-time entry visa from your nearest Chinese embassy, consulate or visa centre. The cost of the visa varies depending on your point of departure. For the most part, you will need a PU along with the usual documents.
- Once you have your visa in your passport, you are ready to book your Flight. This visa usually valid for only 90 days from the date is has been issued. .
This is where COVID Jenga begins.
3. Confirm your Flight. Before even deciding the date of your flight and travel back to China, do your homework and book a flight that exists. Many flights seem available on flight websites that are in fact, ‘ghost flights.’ Check approved flights by the Chinese authorities, contact the airline directly and check FlightRadar24.
Do not book any flight through Hong Kong. You will not be allowed to transit your flight to mainland China.
4. Purchase your flight. Instead of waiting on your negative COVID19 test, you can book in advance. Check individual airline’s terms and conditions. In some cases like Air China, there is a no change fees policy.
Congrats you have your visa and flights booked, almost there. The last piece of the puzzle before you can fly is the Health Declaration Form. The China Health Declaration was designed to check the tourists’ medical status upon entering China. You will not be allowed to board your flight to China without this form stamped by the Chinese authorities.
How to get your Health Declaration Form
5. You can download the Health Declaration Form from any Chinese Embassy website. To get it stamped and approved, you will need scanned copies of the following
- Health Declaration form – signed and dated
- COVID Nucleic Acid Test (NAT) and a COVID-19 IgG antibody test results.
- Bio page of your passport
Within 48 hours (2 days) before travelling, you’ll need to have passed a COVID Nucleic Acid Test (NAT) and a COVID-19 IgG antibody test. Generally your local consulate and the embassy will accept these tests from any recognised medical institutions. Check with them to confirm the test will be accepted.
A 48-hour window means there is a very small margin of error when you are organising your departure. You must liaise carefully with your testing supplier and ensure you get your results back the same day.
The good news is that most embassies are working late and weekends to reply with stamped approval. Don’t depend on this. Place as much time within this stage as you possibly can and preferably during weekdays.
Travelling to China through a third country
6. OK so you think you have all that? If you are not travelling direct, then think again. As part of the regulations, if you fly through a third country, you will need to have passed a COVID Nucleic Acid Test (NAT) and a COVID-19 IgG antibody testin that country too.
For instance, if you are travelling from Ireland to China via Amsterdam, you will need to get more testing completed in Amsterdam before you are allowed to board your final flight to China. This, of course, means more logistical headaches and another addition to your already growing list of expenses.
All is not lost. Frankfurt and Helsinki airports have already started ‘ready that day’ tests and we expect more airports to follow suit. During the course of these events, it’s important that you can get a refund from the airline in the case of a positive test.