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I'm organising a trip to China including a visit to Lhasa in Tibet for a group of four people this April. Most of the trip is now booked, but a possible problem has come to light. One of our group has a two-year Chinese visa which is valid until May in an expired British passport. He also has a new passport. This has already been addressed on this site and elsewhere, and everyone seems to agree that if you have a valid passport and a valid visa in an expired passport, that's fine so long as you take both with you and the visa wasn't defaced when the passport was cancelled. The Chinese embassy have confirmed this on the phone.

But I have a complication. Our Tibetan tour operator is now saying that it is not possible to issue a Tibet Travel Permit unless the Chinese visa is in a current passport. Can anyone shed any light on whether this is accurate, or suggest how I might verify this? It seems surprising to me, but I can't seem to find anything that addresses this on the internet.

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    A quick update. We were able to get a Tibet Travel Permit issued with the visa in an expired passport, though it was a bit difficult. Apparently the form the tour operator needed to submit doesn't cope with this possibility, so she (the tour operator) had to get a friend in the Tourism Bureau to pull some strings. I can imagine someone else in this position in the future might not be lucky enough to have a tour operator with the right contacts to do that, and may therefore have a problem. – Richard Smith Dec 8 '18 at 10:48
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Theoretically you don't need to apply for a new Chinese visa for your new passport. The Chinese embassy also says that a traveller should carry both passports provided that your visa is still valid and the personal details including your name, sex, date of birth and nationality on both passports are exactly the same.

But I think your tour operator has no reason to lie to you. They must have asked about your situation and gotten an answer from the Tibet tourist department. So I guess the only reason is that the Tibet tourist department doesn't know about the rule of a valid Chinese visa in an old passport.

You should know that Tibet permits are actually 2 separate pieces of papers, and your passport number will be listed on one of these papers, and your valid Chinese visa is connected with the old passport number. I think this is the part that confused them, because they don't know which passport number they should list on the permit, the old passport number or the new number? So the officer just said no to your agency.

How about asking your agency to show the officer the new rule of the Chinese embassy, and ask your agency to provide a proof that you are using and will travel with both passports?

You also help other travellers in the same case.

Good luck and remember to come back to update. :)

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I am going through this issue right now. My travel agency said that Tibet refused my Visa because my Chinese Visa was in my expired passport. I had sent both my new passport and my expired passport with a Chinese Visa that was good for another 8 years. I was told that I could go to China with the Visa but not to Tibet. I am in the process of getting a new Chinese Visa in my current passport with less than 3 weeks before I leave.

  • I think the actual answer is it depends who you deal with. It took several attempts, but we were able to get a Tibet Travel Permit with the Chinese Visa in an expired passport, and had no difficulties once it was issued. – Richard Smith Sep 20 at 12:00
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It is okay for you to apply for the Tibet Travel Permit with Chinese Visa in an expired passport. You just need to send your travel agency your old passport, new passport, and your Chinese Visa. And you need the old passport, new passport, Chinese visa, and Tibet Travel Permit to check in when you take the flight to Lhasa.

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